What Is a Money Market Account?

A variation of savings accounts with a higher interest rate.

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What is a Money Market Account? 

A money market account is a type of savings account that is an interest-bearing account at your bank. These accounts are a little different from the other types of savings accounts that we have been talking about. 

A money market account will pay a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. The average interest rate in a money market account is 0.08% compared to the average traditional savings account of 0.06%. 

What is really unique about this account from a traditional or high yield savings account is that you have access to writing checks and using a debit card with this account, which almost makes it like a checking account. While a money market and checking account both have the ability to write checks and have a debit card, there are some major differences. In a checking account, you have unlimited withdrawals. With a money market account, you don’t have unlimited withdrawals – because it’s a savings account. All savings accounts have some type of limit to how much you can withdraw. 

They are different from traditional savings accounts though because you can use this account almost like a checking account where you will have a checkbook and debit card with this account. 

Choosing a Money Market Account

Just like all savings accounts, you want to make sure you are comparing a few banks to make sure you are finding the best money market account. You want to look at the rates, monthly fees, and any minimum balances. Generally, you want the best rates, no monthly fees, and a reasonable minimum balance. 

Let’s compare a few different accounts together. 

Let’s first look at Ally Bank. Their Money Market Account has a rate of 0.50% on all accounts. You can withdraw money from any AllPoint ATM for free. There is no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance required to have this account. You have a 6 withdrawals per month limit. 

Let’s now look at PNC bank. To open this account, you need at least $100. There is a monthly maintenance fee of $12, but if you keep $5,000 in your account then this fee is waived. The interest rate for this account is 0.02%. There is also a 6 withdrawal limit per month on this account. 

By now you should realize that Ally Bank is a premium bank to use for all of your saving goals. Not only do they have zero fees and no required minimum balance, but their rates are also much higher. They have a 0.5% interest rate compared to 0.02% at PNC bank. 

These are things that matter because you want to know your money will earn as much interest as possible and also allow you to avoid any fees. If you wanted a Money Market account and didn’t have the required amount for PNC you have the option to open up with Ally. 

Positives 

Some benefits of a money market account are that they have a higher interest rate compared to a traditional savings account. They are also protected under insurance so you know your money will be in a safe place. You also have the ability to write checks and have a debit card, which allows you to access your money a bit faster. A money market account is like a blend of a savings account and a checking account. 

Negatives

Some drawbacks to a money market account are that you may find banks that have a higher minimum balance required to waive fees as well as higher fees associated with this account. With the ability to write checks and use a debit card, you might be tempted to spend this money. Let’s compare that to a CD where you cannot even access your money after a certain period of time, a money market account is a much more liquid account, which can be good or bad. A money market account also has limited transactions to withdraw your money.

How to use

I like to be as honest about my own personal finance with you all because I think examples from others are the best way to learn about finances. I personally do not have a money market account. I really didn’t know too much about them before doing my research for this episode. I’m actually really surprised about what I learned. I had no idea that this account is almost like a mash-up of a savings account and checking account. I actually am really impressed by this account and what it can offer! 

It’s very similar to a traditional savings account, and if you go with the Ally money market account it’s actually a really great interest rate. It’s not as good as a high yield saving account, but it’s way better than a traditional or CD. 

So here’s how I’d use a money market account if I had one. 

If I were in High School or College, I might consider this account as my primary savings account. I might even choose this as my only bank account if I don’t have bills to pay. You want a checking account to be able to pay your credit card bills and any other adult bills. If you don’t really have this responsibility you can use this account as a savings and checking. I know when I was in high school and college I didn’t really spend a lot of money. I had a few things come up each month, but that was really it. If you know you only need to withdraw money 6 or fewer times a month, then this is a good account for you. If you need to withdraw more than 6 times, then don’t use this as a main account. You can use this as a place to keep the money for any short-term savings and use the debit card to pay for that event or thing you were saving for. If you can find an account with a high-interest rate then you also know your money will grow slightly higher than in a traditional savings account. 

If you are an adult, you also might want to use this type of savings accounts over a traditional savings account, but not in lieu of a checking account. This would be a great account to keep those non-regular bills and short-term saving goals. What I really like about this account is that if you need to write a check or use the debit card for an emergency you can do this with your account without going to the bank to withdraw the cash or waiting to transfer the money from your savings to your checking account. I almost see a money market account as an elevated traditional savings account. I still love high yield savings accounts, but who knows, maybe I’ll move my traditional savings account and make it a money market account! 

Wrap up 

Let me know, do you have a Money Market Account? If you don’t have one, why not? 

Thank you for listening to No Fear Finance, an Amalfi Media show. Make sure to check out the other Amalfi Media content because we have something for everyone! Thank you to everyone for the constant support! 

Until then, have a great week and see you all on Monday. 

Sara

Sara is a Content Portfolio Specialist on-site at Eli Lilly & Company. She is a professional librarian, Accredited Financial Counselor candidate, and adjunct instructor teaching personal financial literacy. Sara enjoys traveling and cooking!

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