Money market accounts

July 27, 2023
Banks and credit unions provide customers with money market accounts, similar to savings accounts but also include certain checking account perks. Getting a debit card and limited check-writing abilities is possible, and the interest rate is usually greater than a standard savings account. Money market accounts (MMAs) are better used for quick fixes than long-term savings. High-yield checking accounts, often known as high-interest checking accounts, are offered by several financial institutions. Two possible substitutes for MMAs are high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

What are money market accounts?

An interest-bearing bank or credit union account is a money market account (MMA). Money market deposit accounts (MMDAs) are a subset of money market accounts that provide additional services. You can usually write checks and use a debit card with a money market account, and the interest rate is usually greater than with a standard savings account (passbook). There is a possibility that they have limitations that make them less versatile than a standard checking account. They play a crucial role in deducing one's true wealth.

The concept of money market accounts

Traditional and internet banks, as well as credit unions, all provide their clients with access to money market accounts. The qualities of a checking account are combined with the advantages of a savings account to provide the following for account holders:

     i.     Earnings interest is another perk of MMAs that is similar to savings accounts. When contrasted to a regular savings account, the interest rate is often rather high. However, the interest rate is often variable, meaning it changes due to fluctuations in the market.

    ii.     Withdrawals, deposits, and transfers may all be made at any ATM if you have a debit card, which certain banks provide.

   iii.     Customers may be able to access their funds by check and debit cards.

Opening a money market account (MMA) at a bank often requires a minimum deposit, and the account balance must always be kept over a specific level. Certain banks may assess a service fee if the account balance drops below the minimum.

If you have short-term financial objectives, a money market account may be better than a traditional savings account because of the higher interest rate. Therefore, an MMA might be a smart option if you put money aside for a particular purpose, like a trip, a down payment on a vehicle, or a rainy day or emergency fund. They are not meant to be used for things like retirement.

The evolution of money market accounts

The federal government capped or limited interest rates paid on savings accounts at credit unions and financial institutions until the early 1980s. To compete with money market mutual funds' higher interest rates, several financial institutions offered free small equipment like toasters and waffle irons in exchange for depositors' money.

Brokerage firms and mutual fund providers began offering money market mutual funds to investors in the 1970s. The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act was approved in 1982 after intense lobbying from the banking sector. The new legislation uncapped interest rates on money market accounts, allowing banks and credit unions to offer rates competitive with the money market.

Cases where a money market account is not appropriate

Although money market accounts are a fantastic way to save money, they are inappropriate for every situation. Here are some examples of why it could be more prudent to consider other banking solutions:

·       Banking daily

A checking account is a preferable option if you require a bank account for regular usage. Because of transaction constraints, money market accounts are best as savings vehicles with occasional usage elsewhere.

·       Rates are fixed

Money market accounts feature fluctuating interest rates that might change daily. CDs might be a better alternative if you want confidence that your money will perpetually receive a higher rate, particularly if you can afford to stay undisturbed for a defined amount of time.

·       Balance necessities

Some money market accounts demand large balances to get exceptionally high APYs, which may prevent some individuals from receiving enough interest to justify the investment. A high-yield savings account with a reduced balance minimum would be a better choice.

How to pick the ideal money market account

If you believe a money market account is ideal for you, there are several factors to consider before opening one. Here are some factors to consider while looking for the best money market account:

·       Rates

The fundamental attraction of money market accounts is the possibility of earning considerable income over time. Look for an account with a high annual percentage yield.

·       Fees

But it is not just about the rates. On money market accounts, some banks levy monthly maintenance fees. Others waive fees if you satisfy specific conditions, such as maintaining a minimum balance. Paying monthly fees might nullify much of the earnings you hoped to gain when you created the account in the first place.

·       Deposit requirements

Banks, like other bank accounts, have deposit requirements for creating a money market account. Before establishing a new account, double-check the requirements.

·       Conditions must be balanced.

It would help if you also looked for a money market account with balance restrictions that you can satisfy to benefit from those low rates.

·       Additional advantages

While a free debit card and check-writing rights are not essential, they are nice extras that may make a difference when comparing comparable account options.

The pros and drawbacks of money market accounts (MMAs)

A money market account has benefits and downsides, particularly compared to others. Their benefits include higher interest rates, check-writing capabilities, and debit card access. Clients are often required to deposit a particular amount of money to create an account and maintain an account balance over a specified level. Most charge monthly fees if the amount falls below a certain threshold.

Limitations on transactions, fees, withdrawal limits, and minimum balance requirements are all potential drawbacks. Customers of banks and credit unions are often required to make an initial deposit and maintain a minimum balance in their accounts. Many charge maintenance fees monthly if the amount drops below a certain threshold. Although there are a few MMAs with competitive rates, the majority will not be able to compete with other options offering better yields. Many other kinds of accounts are available at banks and credit unions, some of which may provide advantages over money market accounts. Even if the Federal Reserve loosened up on the frequency of withdrawals, certain banks might still restrict how often money may be taken out of MMAs.

Contrasting savings accounts with money market accounts (MMAs)

The higher interest rates offered by money market accounts are one of its main selling points. In May 2022, for instance, the median MMA interest rate was 0.08%, while the median savings account interest rate was 0.07%.

The gap between the two kinds of accounts widens when average interest rates are greater, as in the 1980s, 1990s, and most of the 2000s. Since money market accounts can invest in CDs, government securities, and commercial paper, they can provide greater interest rates than savings accounts.

The interest rates of money market accounts fluctuate with market conditions and the pace of inflation. The rate at which interest is compounded may significantly affect a depositor's return, particularly if the depositor has a sizable sum in the account. MMAs are similar to checking accounts in that they both allow for the issuance of checks and often come with a debit card, whereas savings accounts do not.

You may want to check both money market account rates and savings account rates to be sure you are getting the optimum product for your needs since the borders between high-yield savings accounts and money market accounts continue to blur.

Contrasting checking accounts and money market accounts

Like savings accounts, money market accounts and checking accounts have certain similarities. The deposit limit for this account is infinite. Certain offer debit cards, which account holders may use to conduct POS transactions. A person may use an MMA to write checks.

The Federal Reserve eliminated Regulation D limits on accounts like MMAs in April 2020. Previously, account holders could only make six electronic payments and transfers every month. All impacted were pre-authorized transactions (which incorporates overdraft protection), mobile payments, electronic transfers, payments to third parties through check or debit cards, ACH transactions, and wire transfers. Those who deposited too much were charged a fee.

The federal government has relaxed its laws on MMAs, although individual banks may still have their limits and constraints. Therefore, it is crucial to inquire with your bank about the regulations.

Comparing money market accounts (MMAs) with mutual funds

Unlike the bank and credit union accounts discussed above, money market mutual funds supplied by brokers and mutual fund firms are not FDIC- or NCUA-insured. (Mutual funds are another option offered by certain banks, although they, too, lack insurance.) However, they are extremely low risk since they invest in secure short-term instruments, including certificates of deposit, government securities, and commercial paper.

Rapid withdrawals are possible from money market accounts and mutual funds. But the company that provides them may restrict the number of times investors can withdraw their money or cash in their stock. Some have minimum check amounts before they issue one. Mutual funds that invest in money markets provide better returns than money market accounts.

Money market accounts (MMA) substitutes

Many other kinds of accounts are available at banks and credit unions, some of which may provide advantages over money market accounts.

·       Passbook savings accounts

In contrast to money market accounts, regular savings accounts often impose neither a minimum deposit nor a minimum balance. Similar to money market accounts, they also provide interest payments. Passbook savings accounts are guaranteed by the FDIC or NCUA, much as money market accounts. Inquire about any withdrawal limits imposed by your bank.

·       High-yield savings accounts

Several financial institutions offer high-yield savings accounts; the interest rate may exceed money market accounts. Even high-yield savings accounts have safety nets like the FDIC or NCUA. For example, the accounts may be more restrictive than money market accounts by demanding direct deposits.

·       Regular checking accounts

Unlike a money market account, there is no restriction on the number of transactions made from a checking account. They also have insurance from either the FDIC or the NCUA. Their primary drawback is that they provide an almost nonexistent interest rate.

·       High-interest checking accounts

These accounts are similar to high-yield savings accounts in that they provide interest rates that are competitive with or even higher than those provided by money market accounts. Another similarity to high-yield savings accounts is that they may have more stringent conditions, such as a monthly debit transaction threshold.

They also limit the amount you may borrow (say, $5,000) over which the excessive interest rate no longer applies. High-yield checking is similar to traditional checking; both provide free check writing, debit card and ATM use, and federal deposit protection via the FDIC or NCUA.

·       Rewards checking account

The benefits of this checking account may include a sign-up bonus, higher returns, reimbursement of ATM fees, frequent flyer miles, or cash back. The major drawback is the same as high-yield checking: hefty fees unless the depositor meets the institution's specific requirements. In all other respects, a reward checking account is identical to a standard checking account, down to the FDIC or NCUA protections.

·       Certificates of deposit

It is a kind of savings account with a predetermined maturity date, often between three and ten years. Depositors get a greater interest rate than they would with a standard savings account in return for committing their funds for that period. However, there is often a penalty for missed interest if they withdraw their money (or a portion of it) before the term is over.

Some certificates of deposit (CDs) do not have early withdrawal penalties but pay less interest overall. CDs provide the security of FDIC or NCUA insurance. Still, they do not usually allow you to do anything beyond the original deposit, such as make checks or use a debit card.


A deposit account can also be called a money market account (MMA). MMAs may be opened by customers at any financial institution. In comparison to savings accounts, MMAs have higher interest rates. Withdrawals from an MMA are limited to six per calendar month, unlike with a savings account, which has no such restriction.   An MMA has stricter minimum balance requirements. Also, there are fewer restrictions on the money market, and clients face steep penalties for transgressions like making too many withdrawals at once.