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Banking

The best money market account for saving money and writing checks

CNBC Select reviews the Sallie Mae Money Market Account so you can decide if it's right for you.

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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. CNBC will update as changes are made public.

Money market accounts (MMAs) are type of deposit account banks offer that are sort of like savings accounts, but they offer check-writing abilities that make it easier than traditional, high-yield and CD accounts to access your cash.

By being able to write checks from their savings account, users have direct and immediate access to their money. And, if you don't touch the money in your account, it will continue to grow, earning interest over time.

The Sallie Mae Money Market Account ranks on our best MMA list for sending new users checks for free when they open an account, as well as for offering an above-average interest rate.

Below, we review the Sallie Mae Money Market Account and give you all the details on its features, including the annual percentage yield (APY), access to your cash, perks and fees so you can decide if this MMA is right for you.

Sallie Mae Money Market Account review

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*

Sallie Mae Money Market Account APY

The current APY is 0.45%. Users of the Sallie Mae Money Market Account start earning interest right away with no minimum balances required in their account.

Interest compounds daily and is paid monthly on your account.

Access to your cash

Sallie Mae lets users write checks from their MMA, plus it offers free electronic transfers between your MMA and an account with another bank.

Writing a check and transferring are the only two ways to access your funds with this account.

All withdrawals and transfers are limited to up to six per statement cycle as required by federal law (limit waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D).

Perks

With a Sallie Mae Money Market Account, you can earn interest at a higher rate than you would with a traditional savings account and you are easily set up to write checks from your account from the start.

Some banks charge new account users a fee for requesting checks to use with their MMA, so Sallie Mae stands out in that it gives them for free when you sign up. Any check orders placed after your account opening will cost $5.

Anyone can benefit from this perk if you often use checks to pay for purchases or cover your monthly bills.

Fees

In addition to having no minimum balance requirements, the Sallie Mae Money Market Account also doesn't charge a monthly maintenance fees.

If your transactions (including check-writing) exceed the six-per-statement-cycle limit, Sallie Mae may charge a $10 excessive transaction fee for each transaction over the limit. (Note that this is currently waived amid the ongoing pandemic.)

Bottom line

The Sallie Mae Money Market Account is a pretty straightforward choice for those looking to save while also having immediate access to their funds.

In addition to offering a higher-than-average interest rate, Sallie Mae gives new users checks for free when they open an account, doesn't charge a monthly service fee and requires no minimum deposits or balances.

The biggest drawback of the Sallie Mae Money Market Account, however, is that it doesn't come with a debit and/or ATM card likes other MMAs do. Get access to checks, plus a debit card (with ATM access) by signing up for either the Ally Bank Money Market Account or the Axos Bank High Yield Money Market Account.

Learn more: 4 savings accounts that can help you grow your net worth—and what to know about each

Our methodology

To determine which money market accounts (MMAs) offer the best return on your money, CNBC 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.