The Best Money Market Accounts
How We Found the Best Money Market Accounts
15 banks evaluated
2 experts interviewed
6 top picks
The Best Money Market Accounts
Ever wish your savings account earned more interest? A money market account is an alternative to checking and savings that almost always boasts a higher interest rate than a checking account, and it’s available from about half of the 30 largest banks in the country. "A money market account is what you might end up with if your checking and savings accounts got together and had a child,” says Amanda Dixon, a senior reporter at Bankrate. “You might get the debit card and the limited check writing that's usually missing from savings accounts, and at some banks, you'll earn a higher yield with a money market account."
But there’s a trade-off. Under federal law, you can still only make six transfers or withdrawals per month with a money market account. “Money market accounts aren’t meant to be used on a daily basis for transactions,” says Matthew Goldberg, a consumer banking expert at Bankrate. “Exceeding six transfers or withdrawals per month could result in a fee, the account could be converted to a transaction account, or the account could be closed.”
Of course, your regular old savings account has the exact same restrictions thanks to the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation D. The good news is that “ATM withdrawals and withdrawals made inside a branch with a teller don’t count toward the Regulation D monthly limit of six transfers or withdrawals per month,” says Goldberg. “So it’s good to know that these withdrawal options may exist, if your money market account offers an ATM card or a debit card for ATM withdrawals.”
We found the best money market accounts of 2019 based on a variety of factors: good APY rates (beyond an introductory period), few fees, and few restrictions, all at a bank with a great reputation. The best money market account for you depends on your banking style and priorities, but our picks below are a great place to get started.
The 6 Best Money Market Accounts of 2019
- Ally Bank -
Best Customer Service
- Discover Bank -
Best With No Fees
- TIAA Bank -
Best Intro Rate
- BMO Harris -
Highest Potential Rate
- Synchrony -
Great Low-Balance APY
- State Farm Bank -
Best ATM Refunds
The Best Money Market Accounts of 2019: Summed Up
How We Chose the Best Money Market Accounts
We started by looking at the 50 largest financial institutions in the United States — both online banks and “brick-and-mortar” banks with physical branches — to determine which offered money market accounts. That left us with 15 prime candidates. From there, we compared APY rates (annual percentage yield, aka the interest your account will earn over the course of a year), fees, features, restrictions, minimum deposits, and customer surveys to determine the seven best money market accounts of 2019.
Note: Banks occasionally change APY rates in response to fluctuations in the market and federal interest rates, so the APYs you see below will not stay at the same rate indefinitely.
Best Customer Service - Ally
Why we chose it
High customer satisfaction
In J.D. Power’s annual survey of online bank customers, Ally boasts a perfect five out of five Power Circles for overall satisfaction, as well as perfect ratings for opening a new account, products and fees, and transactions. Ally’s only four-out-of-five score is for communication, though that still ranks as “better than most.” Further, Ally is the highest-rated bank that offers money market accounts in Consumer Reports’ annual survey of more than 10,000 online bank customers. If a smooth customer service experience is essential for your day-to-day banking, Ally can't be matched.
Debit card and check writing
Not every money market account comes with debit cards or checks, but Ally’s does, making it much easier to actually pay for things in addition to storing your money (without these, you’ll have to transfer your money into a checking account before spending it). Plus, the debit card lets you get around the six monthly transfer limit, since ATM withdrawals don't count against it. Allpoint ATMs are free for Ally account holders, and the company also reimburses up to $10 per statement cycle (per month) in fees from other ATMs. Just remember, “checks written from a money market account will count toward your limit of six transfers or withdrawals per month,” says Goldberg, so you'll need to keep track of how often you use Ally's check and debit card privileges outside of ATMs.
No minimum deposit
Even among the best money market accounts, some banks still require a minimum deposit in order to open a new account. Discover requires $2,500, while TIAA and BMO Harris both ask for $5,000. With Ally, you can open a money market account with $0 and transfer as little or as much as you want over time.
Points to consider
Mediocre APY rate
Compared to most brick-and-mortar banks, Ally’s current annual percentage yield for money market accounts is very high: 0.75% (as of November 21, 2019). But compared to some of its online bank competitors, it’s just okay. Discover, for instance, currently offers 1.55% to 1.60%, and a full percentage point really adds up over time.
Best With No Fees - Discover
Why we chose it
High APY rate
Discover consistently offers one of the highest APY rates in the industry — an astounding 1.55% to 1.60% as of November 21, 2019. That’s better by an order of magnitude compared to most traditional banks, like PNC Financial’s 0.02% to 0.16% money market rate. But it’s also nearly twice as high as some online banks like Ally and Synchrony.
In June 2019, Discover eliminated all fees from its checking, savings, and money market accounts. For money market accounts specifically, that means no fees for minimum balance, excessive withdrawal, stop payment orders, or insufficient funds. Keep in mind, though, that while Discover won’t charge a fee for withdrawals that exceed the federal monthly maximum of six, “if you go over these limitations on more than an occasional basis, your account may be closed” — a standard practice for banks, but one that you may overlook if you take Discover's slogan of "No. Fees. Period." at face value.
Great customer surveys
Like Ally, Discover enjoys spectacular customer satisfaction scores with J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Customers awarded Discover a perfect five out of five Power Circles in J.D. Power’s annual survey of online banks, and Consumer Reports readers were similarly impressed in their annual survey, awarding Discover the second-highest rating of any online banks with money market accounts (a single point behind Ally).
Points to consider
$2,500 minimum deposit
You need $2,500 to open a money market account with Discover. That’s not outrageously high (BMO Harris asks for $5,000), but it’s enough to make Ally’s $0 very attractive if you don’t already savings built up. That said, since Discover’s money market account doesn’t enforce a minimum balance, you wouldn’t have to keep all $2,500 in the account after you opened it.
Best Intro Rate - TIAA Bank
Why we chose it
Very high intro APY
TIAA Bank’s introductory rate on money market accounts (2.00% for the first year, as of November 2019) is one of the highest rates you’ll find. Even better, TIAA Bank’s “Yield Pledge” promise guarantees that your yield will remain among the highest in the industry, regardless of market fluctuations. “On a weekly basis, we assess competitor yields and will adjust ours as needed to ensure they’re among the top 5% of competitive accounts,” TIAA Bank claims on its money market page. After the introductory period, TIAA Bank’s money market rates are still among the industry’s best, particularly when you store more than $25,000.
Nonprofit parent company
TIAA Bank isn’t itself a nonprofit, but it’s a for-profit subsidiary of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA, formerly known as TIAA-CREF), a nonprofit founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1918 to provide teacher pensions. In 2017, TIAA bought the Jacksonville, Florida-based Everbank and soon rebranded it as TIAA Bank. Since then, TIAA Bank has shouldered the philanthropic mission of its parent company, donating almost 9 million dollars to charities like Habitat for Humanity and United Way. While this doesn't have a direct impact on your banking experience, it’s nice to bank with a company that’s committed to community giving.
Points to consider
High minimum deposit
Unfortunately, TIAA Bank does require one of the highest minimum deposits to open an account — $500 as of November 2019. Some banks like Ally and Synchrony don’t require a minimum deposit at all. Then again, as of November 2019, TIAA Bank’s money market rate on balances below $10,000 is only 1.01%; if you’re working with less cash than that, there are better options anyway, like Discover.
Highest Potential Rate - BMO Harris
Why we chose it
Great APY rate in 42 states
As of November 2019, at least, though rates rarely drop more than a few 10ths of a percent at a time, and usually not more often than a few times per year). But there’s a caveat: The 2.05% rate isn’t available in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, or Wisconsin. In fact, rates in those states could be dramatically lower. For instance, a resident in Chicago (where the bank is headquartered, ironically) only qualifies for a 0.25% to 1.25% rate, depending on the size of their balance.
Physical bank locations in 8 states
At Reviews.com, we’re all about online banks thanks to studies (like Bankrate’s) that show that seven out of 10 Americans would save more money by switching to an online bank. But if you’re among the 34% who prefer access to a physical branch, BMO Harris Bank operates more than 600 branches in the Midwest, Arizona, and Florida — in the same eight states where it offers lower money market rates.
Points to consider
$5,000 minimum deposit
Like TIAA Bank, BMO Harris requires a hefty $5,000 minimum deposit to open a new money market account. But since it doesn’t enforce a minimum balance thereafter, you don’t necessarily have to keep $5,000-plus in the account indefinitely after opening it.
Low online banking satisfaction
BMO Harris Bank’s money market rates are spectacular, but its online banking interface has a lot of room for improvement. In J.D. Power's annual survey of online banking customers, BMO Harris did not fare well: just two out of five Power Circles for ease of navigation, appearance, clarity of information, and range of services. That puts BMO Harris in 20th place out of 22 banks. To be clear, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a bad experience with BMO Harris as a whole, but you may want to consider a different company if easy mobile banking is important to you.
Other Money Market Accounts to Consider
Great Low-Balance APY- Synchrony
Synchrony Financial is a relative newcomer to the online bank scene, founded just 15 years ago. Overall, its money market rates aren’t as high as those of the other banks in this review, except when it comes to balances beneath $5,000. Since Synchrony has no minimum balance requirement for money market accounts, you can open one with, say, $10, and immediately start accruing an impressive 1.20% APY (as of November 2019). That’s better than Ally, the other no-minimum-deposit pick on our list. Also, Synchrony provides money market account holders with check-writing privileges. Still, if you plan on storing more than $5,000 in your money market account over the next few years, Synchrony’s rates can’t compete with those of our top picks.
Best ATM Refunds - State Farm
Yes, believe it or not, State Farm operates an online bank in addition to its insurance offerings. You can open a checking, savings, money market, or certificate of deposit account with State Farm, and since it’s an online bank, the rates are very competitive. State Farm Bank’s money market rate is good (1.85% introductory as of November 2019), and we like that it offers check-writing and debit card privileges, but the real standout benefit is its ATM refund policy. Most banks will refund non-network ATM fees up to a certain limit each month (often $10), but State Farm Bank will refund as many non-network ATM fees as you need — as long as you make a deposit into your account that same month (that’s the catch).
That said, we can't recommend State Farm over our top picks; its low-balance APY rates fall short of the competition, and we don't love that the company charges monthly maintenance fees if you fail to maintain a minimum average daily balance of $500. You can waive this fee if you make a direct deposit into your account once per statement cycle, but it's an unnecessary hassle that none of our other picks require.
Money Market Accounts FAQs
What is a money market account?
A money market account is a deposit account that works like a hybrid between a checking account and a savings account. Usually, a money market account earns more interest than a checking account in exchange for limiting your monthly withdrawals and transactions (federal law allows only six per month). But unlike a savings account, some money market accounts offer check-writing and debit card privileges.
What is a money market rate?
A money market rate, also called the APY (annual percentage yield) rate, is the rate at which your account will earn interest over the course of a year. For example, if you store $1,000 in a money market account with a 1.00% APY rate, you’ll have $1,010 in your account after one year.
What’s the difference between an APY rate and an APR or interest rate?
You may see both of these rates quoted on a bank’s website, and the interest rate — also called the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) — will always be a little bit lower than the APY. That’s because the APY calculates how much interest you’ll earn over the span of a year (which is cumulative), whereas the APR is how much interest accrues during each individual accrual period (usually a month). In other words, the APY calculates the interest on your interest, whereas the APR does not.