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Banking

Here are the best money market accounts of December 2021

Select reviewed dozens of money market accounts and found the top choices for your savings goals.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Editor's Note: APYs listed in this article are up-to-date as of the time of publication. They may fluctuate (up or down) as the Fed rate changes. Select will update as changes are made public.

Money market accounts — typically seen written as MMAs — are a type of savings account that financial institutions offer consumers. Account holders make a minimum deposit and see their savings earn interest, growing over time.

What makes MMAs stand out from other savings vehicles like brick-and-mortar savings accounts, high-yield accounts and CDs, however, is their checking account features.

Many of the best MMAs offer savers perks they would normally find in a checking account, such as check-writing privileges, debit cards and ATM access with out-of-network fee reimbursements.

To determine which MMAs are the best overall, Select analyzed and compared dozens of accounts offered by online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions. To rank the top five, we favored those accounts that had the benefits of a checking account as well as higher-than-average APYs. We also took into account minimum deposits, additional fees and ease of use.

The national average APY on MMAs is currently 0.07% for deposits under $100,000, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The accounts we selected for this ranking all offer a rate that is more than seven times the national average. They are all FDIC-insured, have zero monthly maintenance fees and all but one require no minimum deposits to open an account.

Below, we review the top five MMAs that all offer check-writing abilities, plus most have debit cards and/or offer ATM access to your cash. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best money market accounts.)

Best money market accounts

Money market account FAQs

Best overall money market account

Ally Bank Money Market Account

Information about the Ally Bank Money Market Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Ally Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 for each transaction that exceeds the limit*

  • Overdraft fees

    $25

  • Offer checks?

    Yes

  • Offer debit card?

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Access to checks and a debit card
  • No minimum deposit or balance requirements
  • No monthly service fees
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • Free access to unlimited withdrawals at 43,000+ Allpoint® ATMs nationwide
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursement up to $10 per month
  • 24/7 high-rated customer service
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • Offers mobile check deposit

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • $10 excessive transactions fee*
  • $25 overdraft fee

Runner-up

Synchrony Bank Money Market Account

Information about the Synchrony Bank Money Market Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Synchrony Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None, but may result in account closure

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checks?

    Yes

  • Offer debit card?

    No, but ATM card

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Access to checks and an ATM card
  • No minimum deposit or balance requirements
  • No monthly service fees
  • Physical branch access
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • Free ATM access at machines with Plus or Accel® logos
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursement of up to $5 per month
  • Offers an IRA money market account so you can keep adding to your retirement plan

Cons

  • No debit card
  • Physical branch is limited to Bridgewater, NJ
  • Account could close if you make more than 6 transactions in a statement cycle*
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursement is not as high as other accounts

Best for free checks when you open an account

Sallie Mae Money Market Account

Information about the Sallie Mae Money Market Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Sallie Mae is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.55%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 for each transfer that exceeds the limit*

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checks?

    Yes

  • Offer debit card?

    No

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Access to checks and Sallie Mae sends them for free when you open an account
  • No minimum deposit or balance requirements
  • No monthly service fees
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*

Cons

  • No debit card or ATM card
  • No physical branches
  • $10 excessive transactions fee*

Best for ATM access

NBKC Bank Personal Money Market

Information about the NBKC Bank Personal Money Market has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. NBKC Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.40%

  • Minimum balance

    None to open; $0.01 to earn interest

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    N/A

  • Overdraft fees

    None

  • Offer checks?

    Yes

  • Offer debit card?

    No, but ATM card

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Access to checks and an ATM card
  • No minimum deposit (just $0.01 to earn interest)
  • No monthly service fees
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • Physical branch access
  • Free access to unlimited withdrawals at 32,000+ MoneyPass® ATMs nationwide
  • Out-of-network ATM reimbursement up to $12 per month

Cons

  • No debit card
  • Physical branches are limited to Kansas City, MO
  • Customer support hours are limited to weekdays and only over the phone (no live online chat)

Best for larger deposits and a higher APY

Axos Bank High Yield Money Market Account

On Axos Bank's secure site
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.25%

  • Minimum balance

    $1,000 to open

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per item

  • Overdraft fees

    $25

  • Offer checks?

    Yes

  • Offer debit card?

    Yes

See our methodology, terms apply. Axos Bank is a Member FDIC.

Pros

  • Access to checks and a debit card
  • No balance requirements once account is opened
  • No monthly service fees
  • Physical branch access
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • No fees for using out-of-network ATMs (but the ATM provider may charge you)
  • Offers mobile check deposit

Cons

  • $1,000 minimum deposit to open (but still low compared to other MMAs)
  • Physical branches are limited to California, Nevada, Ohio
  • No out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement
  • $10 excessive transactions fee*
  • $25 overdraft fee
  • Few customer reviews

Money market account FAQs

How does a money market account work?

A money market account (MMA) combines features of both a checking and savings account.

MMA savers can withdraw or spend the cash in their account like they would if it were a checking account, including writing checks, swiping their debit card, using their ATM card or making an electronic transfer.

The difference between an ATM card and a debit card: An ATM card can only be used for ATM access (withdrawing cash) and not to directly make purchases, while a debit card is much more functional. A debit card can be used to buy things or to take out cash from your account when you make a purchase at a store, in addition to allowing you to make transactions at an ATM.

You earn interest at a higher rate with a MMA than with an interest-bearing checking account, but you are subject to the same federal withdrawal and transfer limit that savings accounts have: six per statement cycle (not counting ATM withdrawals). This means that MMA savers are limited to the number of checks that they can write from their account each month. (Note that this federal law, known as Regulation D, has been temporarily lifted during the coronavirus outbreak.)

What is the difference between a money market account and other banking products?

While the annual percentage yield (APY) you earn with a MMA is higher than what you would likely earn with a checking account, traditional savings account or even a short-term CD, MMA rates tend to be around the same as what high-yield savings accounts offer these days. The minimum deposit and balance requirements are often higher with MMAs than with high-yield savings, but if you have a large chuck of cash you can rest assured this is also a safe place to put it.

To earn the highest APY, your best bet is to put money into a long-term CD. MMAs offer more flexibility and access to your funds than CDs, which come with term lengths and penalties for withdrawing your cash before your maturity date.

Can you lose your money in a money market account?

You won't lose your money in a MMA.

Most MMAs, like those included on this list, are covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per person. If you are opening a joint MMA with a spouse, the insurance limit is doubled.

This means that if your bank were to suddenly collapse and go bankrupt, your money is covered up to this $250,000 limit and will be refunded to you. When shopping around for the best MMA, check that the bank is FDIC-insured. Be sure not to confuse money market accounts with money market funds, which are investment products that are not insured.

Keep in mind that while you won't lose the money in your MMA, any withdrawals that you make will lower your principal balance/earnings.

What are the disadvantages of a money market account?

MMAs are great savings vehicles for earning a higher-than-average interest rate while also having the ability to access your cash directly without needing to transfer it from your savings to your checking account.

There are some downsides to having a MMA, however, when you compare it to its sibling savings products. Here are three disadvantages that stand out:

  1. MMAs may offer checking account features, but they are subject to the withdrawal and transfer limit of six per statement cycle.
  2. MMAs may pay higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts, but they often require larger minimum deposits to open an account and higher balances to earn interest and/or have your monthly fee waived.
  3. MMAs provide more access to your money than a CD does, but their APYs are not as high as the longer-term CDs.

Should I put my money in a money market account?

MMAs can be useful depending on what you plan to do with the money you put into one.

As an alternative to a high-yield savings account, MMAs are a good option for earning interest to reach a certain savings goal.

While you use your checking account for everyday purchases, MMAs could be useful to fund a larger expense once a month, like a mortgage. You wouldn't have to worry about transferring the funds to a checking account if they were stored in a typical savings account and you stick to the MMA withdrawal limit. Plus, the money sitting in your MMA collects more interest than it would in a checking account.

Since many MMAs allow customers to access their funds via a debit card, check or ATM (up to the federal withdrawal limit), these accounts may not be the best option for building an emergency fund. The money is almost too easy to tap into and you could end up spending more than saving. If you can resist the urge to unnecessarily spend what's in your MMA, however, these are good products if you have more of an immediate need for cash.

Why is my money market interest rate so low?

MMAs have variable interest rates, which means they can fluctuate. Similar to when you sign up for a typical checking, savings or high-yield account, you have the risk of your rate dropping after you open a MMA.

APYs typically go up when the economy is doing well and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and likewise drop when the economy weakens and the Fed lowers interest rates. Amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, this year we have seen the latter take place.

When shopping around, just remember that the rates and fee structures that banks advertise for their MMAs are not guaranteed forever. They are subject to change without notice, and they will often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate.

Our methodology

To determine which money market accounts (MMAs) offer the best return on your money, Select analyzed dozens of MMAs offered by online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions.

We found that the APY offered by online banks and credit unions far outpaced those offered by most national brick-and-mortar banks. While many credit unions have good MMA options, they didn't make our final list because the majority require membership, which can require you to jump through several hoops to qualify. This is a ranking of only MMAs, excluding any money market funds (which are investment products).

We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those accounts that offer competitive APYs, or higher-than-average rates, as well as no (or low) required minimum deposits to open an account and zero monthly maintenance fees.

While the accounts we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the highest APY rates, we also compared each MMA on a range of other features, including check-writing abilities, debit card and ATM access, website and mobile features, as well as factors such as insurance policies and customer reviews when available. We also considered users' deposit options and the frequency with which the interest compounds.

All of the MMAs included on this list are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per person. If you are opening a joint account MMA, the insurance limit is doubled.

The rates and fee structures banks advertise for their MMAs are not guaranteed forever. They are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. If you open a MMA, the APY you earn is a variable rate — meaning it can go up and down at any time.

Your earnings depend on the amount you deposit into your MMA, your APY, any additional contributions and associated fees, as well as withdrawals that you make from your account. Generally, larger deposits and a higher interest rate will earn you the most money. Any withdrawals will lower your principal balance/earnings.

To open a MMA for the first time, most banks and institutions require a deposit of new money, meaning you can't transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.