How I Picked the Best Money Market Accounts for 2017
Now that you have read through my top recommendations for money market accounts in 2017, I want to add a quick word about the considerations that went into this list.
The majority of customers who open a money market account do so because they want to earn a higher interest rate than that which a savings account would provide.
With this in mind, I prioritized the APY in my search, compiling a list of banks which offered the highest rates available today. This effectively restricted my search to online banks.
Customer service does not weigh as heavily into a list of online banks, so interest rates, fees, features and benefits were my prime considerations. This is why service is not factored into my analysis. In fact, here were the features I ended up prioritizing:
- No or low minimum deposit: A lot of money market accounts are limited to customers with large accounts, especially if you are searching locally. Many online banks on the other hand have low or no minimum deposit requirements, making MMAs accessible to the average consumer.
- High APY: This was my #1 criteria, since it is also the #1 reason most customers open a money market account.
- No or low maintenance fees: It is common for MMAs to include monthly maintenance fees. With some banks, these fees are charged no matter how high your balance is. I have selected only banks that are willing to waive this fee or skip it altogether.
- Reasonable overall terms and fees: I selected accounts which have sensible terms and fees surrounding overdrafts, wire transfers and so on.
- Added perks for convenience and ease-of-use: The banks that made my list offer great features like check writing privileges, remote check deposit, unlimited ATM withdrawals, online bill pay, and 24/7 account access online.
If уоu prioritize a firm handshake, face-to-face relationships, and mоrе reliable service, don’t оvеrlооk local bаnkѕ in уоur ѕеаrсh for mоnеу mаrkеt ассоuntѕ. There are рlеntу that have fared well in J.D. Pоwеr’ѕ 2015 Retail Banking Study. Just keep in mind that you are рrоbаblу going to get a much lower intеrеѕt rаtе than уоu would online.
Other Money Market Accounts Worth Considering
During my search, I did come across a few other solid MMAs which did not quite make the cut for my top three. I want to tell you about them in case some of them might suit your needs.
- ableBanking Mоnеу Mаrkеt Savings: This account offers an ongoing APY of 1.02%, which is higher than the non-promotional rates of my top three MMAs. The minimum to open an account is just $250, and the bank will give $25 to a charity of your choice when you join. Major dоwnѕidеѕ? No сhесk writing and higher fееѕ than the соmреtitiоn, including $30 for оvеrdrаftѕ.
- Optimizer Plus Mоnеу Market Aссоunt from Synchrony Bank: This account has no minimum balance requirement, and offers an APY of 0.85%. It includes ATM withdrawals and check writing. But you need a minimum balance of $1,500 to avoid the $15 monthly service fee.
- Money Market Savings Account from Bank of Internet USA: There is no minimum balance requirement for this account and no monthly fees, though you need $100 to open an account. Features include mobile deposits, check writing and bill paying. Fees can be high, especially for wire transfers ($30 for outgoing payments). The APY is 0.75%, which is pretty good, but not as impressive as the other accounts I recommend.
- Discover Bank’s Money Market Account: One more MMA to think about is this account, which includes check writing, bill pay, a debit card, and free withdrawals at over 60,000 ATMs. The catch is that you need $1,000 to open an account. The APY is 0.95% by default, 1.01% if your account has a balance of $100,000+.
These are all great choices, but I strongly recommend scrolling back up and applying for any of the top three online money market accounts I suggested. These accounts offer amazing promotional interest rates, low or no fees, and the most comprehensive features and benefits around.
Money Market Account Quick Guide
Now that you are familiar with the top money market accounts for 2017, you may want to learn a little bit more about money market accounts: how they work, how they compare to other types of accounts, and how to decide if a money market account would benefit you.
Is a Money Market Account Right For You?
A money market account is a low-risk investment vehicle. In that sense, it is much like a savings or CD account. The difference is that the bank can invest your balance in other low-risk instruments rather than just loaning it to other customers. This is why the bank can afford to pay out a higher interest rate.
One exciting feature of money market accounts is that they pay a monthly dividend with compounded interest. That mеаnѕ the interest уоu еаrn is automatically reinvested in your account, allowing уоu tо еаrn intеrеѕt on уоur intеrеѕt.
A money market account allows you to earn more than you would with savings or CD accounts. The interest rates on these accounts have plunged since the 1980s, and are now a fraction of what they once were.
At the same time, a money market account does not expose you to the kind of risk you would deal with investing in stocks, currency pairs, or other high-risk investments. Moreover, you do not need to do anything to manage your investment. You just kick back and enjoy the benefits of your account while the bank does all the work.
The bottom line is this: A mоnеу market ассоunt is one of the safest routes for investing your money. You are not going to retire on the intеrеѕt you earn, but it’s a perfect “ѕtаrtеr” ассоunt to get your foot in the door until you bесоmе more invеѕtmеnt-savvy.
Where Does the Bank Invest Your Money?
Of course, you should never open any kind of account or make any investment without understanding where your money is going and what it is doing.
When you open a money market account and make a deposit, the bank invests your balance in short-term debt obligations. Generally these take the form of certificates of deposit, government bonds or highly-rated companies. This maximizes the security of your funds while providing you with a solid return.
Money Market Accounts vs. Savings Accounts and CDs
As you have probably picked up on by now, money market accounts share a lot in common with savings accounts and CDs, with a few key difference. Can’t figure out which type of account makes sense for you? Here are the key similarities and differences to help you out.
Here is what money markets accounts, savings accounts, and CDs all have in common:
- FDIC insured: All three types of accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000. Should the bank go out of business, you will be reimbursed in full, including the principle and interest.
- Low risk: There is virtually no risk to the principle of your account. The interest rates are clearly defined, and as long as you are charged no fees or penalties, you really cannot lose money through any of these investments.
- High liquidity: This is something money market accounts share in common with both savings accounts and liquid CDs. If you need to withdraw your balance as cash at any time, you can (within limits—see below) without penalties.
Here is what makes money market accounts different from savings accounts and CDs:
- The bank can invest your money: This is not the case with money in a savings account, which can only be loaned to others.
- The account minimum is typically higher: Most accounts require a deposit of $1,000 or more, though a few allow you to get started with less.
- There are restrictions on withdrawals: Federal law limits you to six transfers per month (whether via telephone or check). You can however make unlimited ATM withdrawals or debit card payments.
- You earn a higher interest rate: This is a big deal in today’s world. CDs used to pay interest rates approaching 12% in the 1980s, but now usually pay just 0.16-0.86%. The average savings account pays even less—around just 0.06%. Some pay even less. There really is no contest here. Money market accounts are the clear winners.
If you can meet the minimum balance requirement and do not make a lot of monthly transfers, there really is no reason not to opt for a money market account.
Advantages of Money Market Accounts
- High Interest Rates: The higher yield of money market accounts is their greatest advantage. With this type of account, the interest rate is compounded on a tiered, monthly basis. This means that as your balance goes up, so do your profits.
- Low Risk: Thanks to FDIC insurance, this is among the safest investments you can make.
- Easy Access: With non-liquid CDs, your money is locked away for months or years. If you want to access it, you have to pay a penalty. With money market accounts that include debit cards and unlimited ATM withdrawals, that is not the case. You earn the same high APY (or even higher), without the inconvenience.
- Check Writing, Debit Card, and Other Great Features: Thanks to the awesome abundance of features available with many money market accounts today, you can enjoy most of the same features and benefits you would with a standard checking account.
- Available To All: These days, thanks to online banking, money market accounts are no longer an investment vehicle purely for the rich—even consumers with relatively small balances can open and maintain one of these high-yield accounts.
Disadvantages of Money Market Accounts
- High Initial Deposit Requirement: In most cases, you will need $1,000 or more to open an account.
- High Ongoing Balance Requirement: Many banks will charge you penalties if you fail to meet their ongoing average daily balance requirement, which can also be high.
- Your Transfers Are Restricted: The maximum of 6 monthly transfers is a federal restriction. Thankfully, ATM withdrawals and debit card payments are typically excluded.
- There May Be Monthly Fees: It is common for MMAs to include monthly maintenance fees which can be quite hefty. Some banks will allow you to forego these fees by maintaining a certain minimum average balance.
- Interest Rates May Sometimes Decrease: Interest rates in money market accounts can fluctuate up and down. On the whole however, they are still higher than those of savings accounts.
Additional Tips on Choosing Money Market Accounts
When choosing a money market account, take the following steps to make sure you are selecting the right product for your needs.
1. Compare interest rates.
Check the interest rates offered by the MMAs you are considering against those of savings accounts, CDs, and other MMAs. In general, you will find that online banks and local credit unions offer higher yields than large national banks. Make sure you note both the promotional introductory rates and the long-term rates.
2. Check the minimum deposit and balance requirements.
When you are selecting an MMA, you will be weighing the deposit and balance requirements against the interest rates. While you can open an MMA at some banks with just $100, the trade-off is a lower interest rate. Rates are typically tiered, rising in proportion to the balance in your account. Try and choose an account which has minimum requirements you can afford, but which still offers you a competitive interest rate.
3. Steer clear of high fees.
Watch out for high monthly maintenance fees, penalties for falling below a certain balance threshold, high fees for wire transfers, and severe overdraft fees. Stick with MMAs which are not going to bleed you dry.
4. Compare other account features.
Some money market accounts are very basic, but the best ones offer functionality quite like that of a checking account. That means you can use a debit card for purchases, make unlimited ATM withdrawals, and even pay bills through online banking.
5. Choose a reliable, reputable company.
Finally, while you are focusing on account features, do not forget to also consider the overall reputation of the bank or credit union offering the account. Check to make sure that the institution insures its accounts, is transparent about its terms of service, and has demonstrated its commitment to customer service.
Still need help choosing the right money market account? Scroll back up the page to check out the top money market accounts for 2017 with the highest yields, lowest fees, and best features!
Money Market Accounts FAQ
Q: How do the withdrawal restrictions work?
A: There is a withdrawal limit on all money market accounts, as per federal requirements. This prevents you from making more than six transfers per statement cycle, whether to other accounts you possess or to third parties. Exceeding that limit can result in account closure or penalties.
The good news is that this restriction does not affect your debit card or ATM use. So you can use your account to pay for goods and services as usual, so long as you stick with your card or cash.
Q: Why choose a money market account over a CD?
A: Many CD accounts are not fluid; if you withdraw from them, you can incur a penalty. This is not the case with a money market account. You can access your cash like you can money in a savings or checking account. Money market accounts also can pay higher yields than a CD, so switching to an MMA is a win-win.
Q: How do you open a money market account?
A: That part is easy. Just apply online. The whole process can be completed in a matter of minutes, and you can get approved fast!
Open a Money Market Account Now to Start Earning More Interest Today
Tired of the low interest rate you are earning from your traditional savings account? It is time to take your finances to the next level and start enjoying the profits which come with a high yield money market account. Click “Learn More” on any of the top three accounts I have recommended to apply quickly and easily online and get started earning high interest today!