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2018's Best Money Market Accounts

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by Chris Thompson Updated

Finding the Best Money Market Account in 2018

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.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Sallie Mae Bank Sallie Mae Bank logo Read More 1.75% $0
  • Best Overall MMA
  • Great APY with no minimum balance
United Bank United Bank logo Read More 1.95% $500
  • Best High APY MMA With a Low Balance
  • High APY
CIT Bank CIT Bank logo Read More 1.85% $100
  • Best High APY MMA With a Low Balance Runner-Up
  • No monthly fees
Bank of Internet USA Bank of Internet USA logo Read More 1.05% $0
  • Best Online/Mobile Experience
  • Highly-rated mobile app on Apple and Android
Discover Bank Discover Bank logo Read More 1.75 - 1.80% $2,500
  • Best High APY MMA for ATMs
  • High APY
Northern Bank Direct Northern Bank Direct logo Read More 2.26% $5,000
  • Best Money Market Account With Free Checks
  • No fee checks and ATM card
TIAA Bank TIAA Bank logo Read More 1.10% $5000
  • Best Non-Online-Only Customer Experience
  • Large free ATM network

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.

If you're interested in saving money, consider opening up a CIT Savings Account. Earn over 8 times the national average with a 2.25% APY on balances of at least $25,000 OR monthly deposits of $100 or more with an initial $100 minimum deposit.

Best Overall Money Market Account: Sallie Mae Money Market Account

Sallie Mae Bank

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 1.75% 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 High APY MMA With a Low Balance: United Bank Advantage Money Market Account

United Bank

United Bank’s Advantage's 1.95% MMA is desireable if you're looking for your money to grow. While some institutions require opening investments of as much as $25,000 even to receive significantly worse rates, this account calls for just $500 to ensure its APY. There are also no monthly maintenance fees.

United Bank ranks similarly in customer service to other banks with branches, though online banks typically deliver best on that front. All that aside, you can expect to get your own ATM/debit Mastercard® and the ability to handle your banking online or through your mobile device. You also will not be obliged to pay any charges at in-network ATMs, including the 55,000 Allpoint ATMs around the world. 

If you’re on the go, the “Bank With United” mobile app will allow you to deposit checks remotely, take care of your monthly bills and find free ATMs closeby. You can even add your United Bank debit card to Apple Pay to make swiping your card even quicker.

Best High APY MMA With a Low Balance Runner-Up: CIT Bank Money Market Account

CIT Bank

With a 1.85% APY, $100 minimum balance requirement, no monthly fees and a lack of branch access for the vast majority of the U.S., the CIT Bank Money Market Account is almost a mirror image of United Bank’s offering above. But because its APY is slightly lower, CIT has been relegated to the runner-up spot.

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.

Best Online/Mobile Experience: Bank of Internet USA Smart Money Market Account

Bank of Internet USA

If its name didn’t already make it crystal clear, Bank of Internet USA is an online-only banking option that can afford you a solid 1.05% APY, which is seven times the national average. Although some other offers on this list boast higher rates, the combination of Bank of Internet USA’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 firm really separates itself from the pack. As a matter of fact, it reached the highest score in three of four customer experience categories, only falling short due to its lack of physical locations. Online chat and 24/7 phone services are available to all current and prospective account holders. You’ll also receive a Bank of Internet USA Visa® debit card so you can swipe at any ATM you want. But whereas most banks have their own ATM network, Bank of Internet USA will actually reimburse you any ATM fees you incur by the end of the next business day.

Given that Bank of Internet USA 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 averages well abobe a four-star rating between the Android and iOS App stores. Features include online bill pay, wire transfers between accounts and mobile check depositing.

Best High APY MMA for ATMs: Discover Bank Money Market Account

Discover Bank

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 1.50% APY when their balance is under $100,000, though that rate jumps to 1.55% when their balance crosses the $100,000 threshold. However, there is a $10 monthly maintenance fee if your account balance is less than $2,500 and 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

Northern Bank Direct

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 1.51% 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 Non-Online-Only Customer Experience: TIAA Yield Pledge® Money Market

Yield Pledge Money Market

TIAA Bank offers a unique pledge to all of its money market account holders: your APY will remain in the top 5% of rates for all competitive accounts, no matter what. The bank has evidently delivered on that promise, as it’s currently offering a one-year intro APY of 2.15%, while keeping its monthly maintenance fees at $0. It also has four ongoing APY tiers:

Balance APY
$100,000 - $10,000,000 1.90%
$50,000 - $99,999.99 1.70%
$25,000 - $49,999.99 1.60%
$10,000 - $24,999.99 1.15%
$9,999.99 or less 1.10%

But this MMA really stood out because of its impressive customer service package. TIAA Bank has 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. This banking institution also boasts a full-service online chat and 24/7 customer service phone line, possibly making the online aspect of TIAA Bank a bit less intimidating for those who are not tech-savvy.

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.

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Best Places to Save

SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places in the country where people have the opportunity to save money. Zoom between states and the national map to see the best places to save.

Rank County Median Household Income Cost of Living Purchasing Power Estimated Tax Rate

Methodology Where you live can have a big impact on how easy it is to save money based on several regional factors. Our study aims to find the most suitable places for people to save based on median household income, average living expenses and income tax burden.

First, we calculated the average cost of living in each county for a household with two adults (one working). We then created a purchasing power index for each county. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living.

To better compare income tax burdens across counties, we applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for a family making $50,000 annual income in each location. Next, we created an effective tax rate index for each county, which reflects the counties with the lowest ratio of income taxes to the assumed $50,000 annual income.

Finally, we calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall best places to save score. We used a three-fourths weighting for purchasing power and a one-fourth weighting for tax rates. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect places that are better to save.

Sources: US Census Bureau 2016 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study