Finding the Best Money Market Accounts
Money market accounts, or MMAs, are a viable alternative to traditional savings accounts and typically have a higher annual percentage yield (APY). Because they combine some of the benefits of both savings and checking accounts, they are extra attractive to many consumers.
|CIT Bank Read More||1.80%||$100|| |
|Sallie Mae Bank Read More||1.50%||$0|| |
|UFB Direct Read More||1.70%||$25,000|| |
|Discover Bank Read More||1.35%||$2,500|| |
|Northern Bank Direct Read More||1.75%||$5,000|| |
|TIAA Bank Read More||1.75%||$500|| |
How We Determine the Best Money Market Accounts
SmartAsset’s experts scrutinized more than 30 accounts to determine this year’s best MMAs. As part of our consideration, we pored over APYs, minimum balance requirements and monthly fees to appraise the MMA offerings. In addition, we took into account the quality of each bank’s customer service.
Best Overall Money Market Account: CIT Bank Money Market Account
The CIT Bank Money Market Account is a strong offering, as it boasts a 1.80% APY and no monthly fees. Additionally, you only need to deposit $100 to become an account holder. This is an online-only account, so branch access is literally nonexistent. However, CIT is a regional bank, with branches located almost exclusively in southern California. That doesn’t mean you can’t open an account if you don’t live in the Golden State, though.
In fact, most of the bank’s MMA customers only use online and mobile services. CIT has a user-friendly website, as well as a highly-rated mobile app on the Apple App Store. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its Android-based app, as users have rated it under three stars.
Like every bank account, CIT Bank’s MMA doesn’t come without its own shortcomings. For example, you will not receive a debit card or checks from the bank when you open your account. CIT currently also does not support online bill pay, though the bank claims that it’s on the way. People Pay, CIT’s free money transfer service, does help with these issues to a certain extent. However, you are limited to a maximum money transfer amount of $50 a day through this program.
Runner-Up for Best Overall Money Market Account: Sallie Mae Money Market Account
It’s the best of both worlds -- a robust APY without the stress of having to reach a high required balance to earn it. And in the case of Sallie Mae’s high-yield MMA, you won’t even have to worry about a minimum balance at all. In fact, you will receive a 1.50% APY compounded daily, tying it for fourth highest APY in our study. All the better, Sallie Mae completely avoids monthly maintenance fees.
Sallie Mae offers clients over-the-phone customer service seven days a week paired with a highly-quality website. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the bank’s mobile app, as past customers have complained about insufficient transaction histories and an inability to transfer funds between Sallie Mae accounts.
The majority of the other financial institutions on this list have extensive ATM networks that allow you easy access to the funds in your account. Sallie Mae doesn’t include such a service for its customers, and because of this weakness, it should be seen as a bank that can deliver solid financial growth for your MMA without providing the customer experience most of its competitors do.
Best Online/Mobile Experience: UFB Direct High Yield Money Market Account
UFB Direct is an online-only banking option that can afford you a solid 1.70% APY on its High Yield MMA, which is seven times the national average. Although some other offers on this list boast higher rates, the combination of UFB Direct’s APY with its absent monthly fees and minimum monthly balance requirements make it as good an option as any.
A lofty level of customer service is where this bank really separates itself from the pack. As a matter of fact, it reached the highest score in three of our four customer experience categories, only falling short due to its lack of physical locations. 24/7 phone services are available to all current and prospective account holders. You’ll also receive an UFB Direct Visa® debit card so you can swipe at any ATM you want.
Given that UFB Direct has no face-to-face representatives, its online banking website and app are paramount to how well it can satisfy its customers’ needs. Its app is available on both the Android and iOS app stores, with each offering mobile check deposit. Features include online bill pay, wire transfers between accounts and mobile check deposits.
Best High-APY MMA for ATMs: Discover Bank Money Market Account
This is actually quite a strong offering if you’re in the market for an online MMA. Using your new debit card at fee-free ATMs should be easy, as Discover Bank has accumulated a massive 60,000 ATM network all around the U.S. There are no hidden fees, and you can even request an official bank check at no charge. If you do incur a fee, though, Discover offers “First Fee Forgiveness,” which allows you to avoid one excessive withdrawal, insufficient funds, money market minimum balance or stop payment fee each year.
At Discover Bank, MMA customers receive a 1.35% APY when their balance is under $100,000, though that rate jumps to 1.40% when their balance crosses the $100,000 threshold. There is a $2,500 minimum opening balance for the aforementioned APYs.
After around 1.5 million ratings in the iOS App Store, the Discover Mobile app holds a rating of 4.8 out of 5, making it the 21st most popular financial app. From the app, you’ll be able to handle anything from general mobile banking and transfers to online bill pay and mobile check deposit, along with getting a fee-free ATM locator. If you encounter some sort of issue with the app, fear not, as Discover also has a 24/7 customer service hotline ready to help you out.
Best Money Market Account With Free Checks: Northern Bank Direct Money Market Account
Even though much of the world has gone digital, checks remain one of the simplest ways to make payments and take care of debts. Northern Bank Direct isn’t the only bank on this list that gives customers free checks for their MMAs, but it sacrifices the least to make that possible with a 1.75% APY. In other words, the incorporation of both a high APY and no monthly maintenance fees fails to appear with any other bank that includes free checks in this study.
Although you’ll handle much of your business with Northern Bank Direct via its website or mobile app, you can still visit a branch to do your banking. However, you can access what’s available in-person remotely as well, including online account transfers, transaction histories and online bill pay. If you need money and you’re not near any of this bank’s locations or ATMs, your best bet is to use your ATM card at a fee-free SUM® ATM, a network with which Northern Bank Direct is partnered.
Northern Bank Direct only has branches in Massachusetts and is a part of Northern Bank. S&P Global Market Intelligence ranked it the best community bank in the nation in 2015 and named it the best bank in New England for seven years running.
Best Online and Branch Customer Experience: TIAA Bank Yield Pledge® Money Market
TIAA Bank offers a unique pledge to all of its Yield Pledge® Money Market account holders: your yield will be in the top 5% of Competitive Accounts, no matter what. The bank has evidently delivered on that promise, as it’s currently offering a one-year intro APY of 1.75% on balances up to $250K for first time account holders, while keeping its monthly maintenance fees at $0. It has five ongoing APY tiers, which you'll find in the table below.
This MMA really stands out because of its impressive customer service package. TIAA Bank offers a free mobile app for both iOS and Android that allows you to handle just about all of your banking needs, including mobile check deposit, personal payments and cross-account transfers.
You'll also get either a Visa® debit card or an ATM card when you create your account and will have access to a sizeable free ATM network and a full ATM fee reimbursement program that applies to all accounts with more than $5,000.
|Yield Pledge® Money Market Account Rates|
|$24,999.99 or less||1.01%|
|$25,000 - $49,999.99||1.30%|
|$50,000 - $99,999.99||1.40%|
|$100,000 - $10,000,000||1.55%|