Many savers put their money in a money market account instead of a savings account – primarily because of the better interest rate. That’s not to say bank savings accounts don’t offer competitive rates as well. (See These Savings Accounts Have Highest Interest Rates.) 

Money market accounts often have other perks that may be attractive to you. These perks help distinguish a money market account from a bank savings account.

Money Market Account (MMA)

A money market account (MMA) is a type of savings account offered by banks and credit unions and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) with a limit of six transactions per month. One distinguishing feature of MMAs is that many (but not all) offer check-writing privileges from within the account, something savings account normally do not offer.

The minimum deposit required to open a MMA is often higher than for a savings account, although no- or low-minimum accounts are also available. Common minimums are $1,000, $2,500 or even $10,000. While MMA interest rates are generally higher than those of most bank savings accounts, the biggest difference between MMAs and savings accounts can be found when comparing with local banks.

MMA Versus MMF

Money market accounts and money market funds (MMFs) are sometimes confused. A MMF, also known as a money market mutual fund, is an investment product, not insured by the FDIC, with an interest rate (yield) that fluctuates with the stock market. (For more, see Is a money market account the same as a money market fund?)

Top Money Market Accounts

The best interest rates for money market accounts, as with savings accounts, are typically found online. When shopping, however, you should still check local banks. Sometimes they surprise. The list below includes financial institutions that consistently offer some of the highest paying interest rates on money market accounts.

Dime Savings Bank

Dime Savings pays 1.10% on its money market accounts, which require a minimum of $1,000 to open. There are no monthly fees, and no monthly minimum balance is required. The bank offers free online and mobile banking but does not offer check writing privileges within the account. Dime Savings also offers free 24/7 automated telephone service. 

Northeast Bank

Northeast Bank’s Pearl Money Market account is open to new customers only and pays 1.10%, with a $5,000 minimum opening balance. While a balance of only $0.01 is required to earn the stated interest, you have to maintain a balance of $2,500 in order to avoid $7 monthly fees. Northeast allows pre-authorized, automatic, telephone or computer transfers and also offers check and debit card transactions. 

Sallie Mae Money Market Account

When you think of Sallie Mae you likely think of student loans. But Sallie Mae also has an online bank that offers a high-yield MMA. The interest rate is 1.19% for the first 180 days and 1.05% for the balance of the first year. The current regular rate, which is variable, is 0.9% with no minimum deposit or regular monthly fees. Check writing and mobile check deposits are both offered, along with 24/7 online access to your account. ATM withdrawals, however, are not allowed. 

EverBank Yield Pledge Money Market Account

EverBank says it will keep its interest rate among the top 5% of banks nationwide and starts things off with a new-customer promotional 6-month rate of 1.6%, which drops to 0.61% beginning in month 7. This works out to an APY of 1.11% for first year. These promotional rates apply to the first $150,000. After the first year or for anything over $150,000 the rate is 0.61%. There are no fees if you maintain a positive balance, check writing is offered and mobile check deposits are allowed. You must deposit $1,500 to open an account, and if you maintain a minimum average daily balance of $5,000, EverBank will refund any ATM fees you pay. 

ableBanking Money Market Savings 

This division of Northeast Bank pays 1.00% APY and, due to its low overhead, the bank pays a $25 bonus to a charity of your choice when you open an account. You must deposit a minimum of $250 to open an account, and there are no check-writing privileges. The minimum balance required to earn the stated interest, however, is just $0.01, and there are no regular monthly fees. 

(For more, see Money Market Accounts vs. Savings Accounts.)

The Bottom Line

Money market savings accounts are a low-risk way to stash some cash and still get a reasonably competitive interest rate. Before opening any account – including those mentioned here – make sure you understand minimum required deposits, balances, fees and other limitations. Also be on the lookout for so-called teaser rates – two are mentioned here – and make sure the current ongoing rate is acceptable to you. To do your own homework, use this BankRate search tool.

 

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