Banking

Here are the best money market accounts for August 2021

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The best money market rates of August 2021

*As of August 2021, the national average APY on money market accounts is 0.08% according to the FDIC.

Banks and

credit unions
are battling it out to offer higher rates and better terms for people who want to use a money market account. That’s great news for savers, because you have several strong options for the best account to build your savings.

It’s important to note that, unlike certificates of deposit (CDs), you do not lock in a fixed interest rate when you open a money market account. The annual percentage yield (APY) is variable, since it’s based on what the Federal Reserve does. So while it’s smart to look at interest rates when comparing money market accounts, it’s not the be-all and end-all.

Below you’ll find our picks for the best money market accounts right now. Each of these accounts is insured by the FDIC and appropriate for modest and super savers alike. Our top picks are free of monthly service fees, with the exception of CFG Bank, which waives its fee if you maintain an account balance of $1,000. Users can access each of these accounts online or with a mobile app.

Our expert panel for this guide

We consulted banking and financial planning experts to inform these picks and provide their advice on finding the best money market accounts for your needs. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.

PFI Banking Expert Panel (updated 2021)



Insider


We’re focusing on what will make a money market account most useful, including APY, access to your money, and more.

More on our top money market account picks

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

0.50% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • High APY
    • No monthly service fee
    • Paper checks
    • Debit card
    Cons
    • $5,000 opening deposit
    • $1.50 out-of-network ATM fee
    • Earn APY on balances up to $250,000
    • Call customer support during business hours
    • Compounded interest to maximize your savings

    Why it stands out: Northern Bank Direct pays one of the highest rates in the industry for money market accounts, and it pays the same rate for all balances up to $250,000. You’ll also get paper checks and a debit card.

    Rate: 0.50% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $5,000

    What to look out for: Minimum opening deposit. The $5,000 initial deposit is higher than what many banks require.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.40% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • No monthly service fees
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • Paper checks
    Cons
    • No debit card
    • No way to deposit cash
    • Comes with paper checks, but no debit card
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured

    Why it stands out: Sallie Mae pays a competitive rate, and the bank doesn’t require an opening deposit. Sallie Mae also sends paper checks for you to access your money.

    Rate: 0.40% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $0

    What to look out for: No debit card. Although you’ll receive paper checks, you won’t get a debit card with this money market account.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • No monthly service fee
    • Access to a debit card
    • Access to paper checks
    • Out-of-network ATM reimbursements of up to $10 per month
    • 24/7 customer service
    • Easy-to-use mobile app
    • Link to other Ally bank accounts
    Cons
    • Not the highest money market account APY
    • No physical branch locations
    • $10 excess transaction fee (paused during COVID-19)
    • Access to checks and a debit card
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured


    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    Why it stands out: You can get a debit card and paper checks when you open a money market account with Ally, and there’s no minimum deposit. The bank reimburses up to $10 per month in fees charged by out-of-network ATMs.

    Rate: 0.50% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $0

    What to look out for: Excess transaction fee. If you make more than six withdrawals per month, you’ll pay a $10 fee. (Ally may waive this fee during the COVID-19 pandemic, though.)

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.35% APY

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • Competitive APY
    • No monthly service fee
    • Comes with a debit card and paper checks
    Cons
    • No physical branch locations
    • Only reimburses $5/month in out-of-network ATM fees
    • Access your cash online, by phone, or via ATM
    • No opening deposit or minimum account balance
    • Comes with a debit card and paper checks


    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    Why it stands out: Synchrony doesn’t have a minimum opening deposit, and the bank sends you both a debit card and paper check.

    Rate: 0.35% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $0

    What to look out for: Out-of-network ATM withdrawals. On the plus side, Synchrony reimburses up to $5 per month in out-of-network ATM fees. But you can find banks that refund more money.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.45% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • Low opening deposit of $100
    • Connect your account to Zelle or PayPal
    • No monthly service fee
    Cons
    • No paper checks
    • No debit card
    • No way to access funds at an ATM
    • No physical locations
    • Connect to Zelle and PayPal
    • Interest compounded daily, paid monthly
    • FDIC insured


    Read Our Review
    Read Our ReviewA looong arrow, pointing right

    Why it stands out: With CIT Bank, you’ll earn the same rate regardless of how much money is in your account, and there’s no minimum balance requirement. You can link your CIT Bank money market account with PayPal and Zelle to make payments. 

    Rate: 0.45% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $100

    What to look out for: No check writing or debit card access. You can make payments from your account digitally through sites such as Zelle and PayPal, but it might be inconvenient to not be able to write a check, pay with a card, or withdraw money from an ATM.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.15% to 2.00% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY for low balances
    • $5 opening deposit
    • No minimum balance
    • Paper checks
    • No monthly service fee
    Cons
    • Low APY for high balances
    • No debit card
    • Reverse-tiered account, with 7 tiers
    • Earn high rates on balances under $10,000, with highest rates under $2,000
    • Call customer support during business hours, or automated line 24/7

    Why it stands out: While some money market accounts offer higher rates for higher balances, Premier Members Credit Union takes the opposite approach — it rewards people who have lower balances with higher rates. Premier Members also doesn’t require a minimum balance, and it includes check-writing privileges.

    Rate: Premier Members Credit Union’s reverse-tiered rates are as follows:

    • $0 to $2,000: 2.00% APY
    • $2,000.01 to $5,000: 1.10% to 2.00%
    • $5,000.01 to $10,000: 0.72% to 1.10%
    • $10,000.01 to $50,000: 0.34% to 0.72%
    • $50,000.01 to $100,000: 0.30% to 0.34%
    • $100,000.01 to $250,000: 0.21% to 0.30%
    • More than $250,000: 0.15% to 0.21%

    Minimum opening deposit: $5

    What to look out for: Account balance. You may start with a low balance and earn a high rate, but if your account balance grows substantially, you could end up earning less than you would with a different company.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.35% to 1.00% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • No opening deposit
    • No monthly service fee
    • Paper checks
    • Debit card
    Cons
    • Interest compounds monthly, not daily
    • $500 monthly direct deposits required to earn competitive APY
    • Reverse-tiered account
    • Earn highest APY on balances under $25,000
    • Earn only 0.10% APY without monthly direct deposits of $500 and enrollment in digital statements
    • Interest is compounded and paid monthly
    • Call or chat online

    Why it stands out: This is a reverse-tiered account that pays a higher rate for lower balances. If your account balance stays under $25,000, you’ll keep earning the highest rate possible. Affinity Plus also provides you with both paper checks and a debit card, giving you easy access to your savings.

    Rate: 0.35% to 1.00% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $0

    What to look out for: Interest. You must set up monthly direct deposits of at least $500 and sign up for digital statements to qualify for a competitive rate — otherwise, you’ll earn 0.10% APY. It’s also worth noting that interest compounds monthly, while many competitors’ rates compound daily, giving you the opportunity to build more wealth.

    Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.49% to 0.59% APY

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Competitive APY
    • Lowest tier still has high APY
    Cons
    • $1,000 opening deposit
    • $1,000 minimum balance to earn APY
    • $1,000 minimum balance to avoid $10 monthly service fee
    • No debit card
    • No paper checks
    • Earn highest APY on balances of $25,000 or more
    • $1,000 opening deposit and minimum balance to earn APY
    • Avoid $10 monthly fee with balance of $1,000
    • Call customer service during business hours, or automated line 24/7
    • Interest compounded daily and paid monthly

    Why it stands out: Many money market accounts offer a higher APY to accounts with higher balances. Typically, there’s a big difference between most companies’ highest and lowest rates. But CFG’s lowest rate is already higher than many competitors’ top rates. CFG’s best rate is one of the highest you’ll find today.

    Rate: 0.49% to 0.59% APY

    Minimum opening deposit: $1,000

    What to look out for: Minimum opening deposit and account balance. You’ll need $1,000 to open a money market account with CFG. You’ll need to maintain this amount to earn interest and to avoid a monthly service charge of $10. Also, remember that money market account rates can fluctuate with the federal funds rate. Although CFG’s rate is the best now, that may not always be the case.

    Other money market accounts accounts we considered and why they didn’t make the cut

    • Axos Bank (Member FDIC): This money market accounts offers both paper checks and a debit card with your account, but its rates are lower than other accounts on our list. Read Insider’s full review of Axos here
    • TIAA Bank (Member FDIC) : This money market account offers a decent introductory APY, but its rate drops after the first year, depending on your balance, and it requires a $500 initial deposit. Read Insider’s full review of TIAA Bank here
    • NBKC Money Market Account: This is a solid money market account, but its rate isn’t quite as high as what you’ll earn with our top picks. Read Insider’s full review of NBKC here
    • UFB Direct (Member FDIC) : You need a balance of at least $25,000 to earn UFB Direct’s highest APY, and you must make an initial deposit of $5,000.
    • Investors eAccess (Member FDIC) : This money market account doesn’t require any initial deposit or minimum account balance, but its APY is slightly lower than more competitive money market accounts.
    • BMO Harris (Member FDIC) : You’ll need to place an initial deposit of $5,000 and maintain at least that amount to earn any interest. Read Insider’s full review of BMO Harris here
    • Discover (Member FDIC) : This low-fee account pays a decent rate, but Discover requires a $2,500 initial deposit. Read Insider’s full review of Discover here
    • Redneck Bank (Member FDIC) : This is another solid reverse-tiered option, but it requires a $500 opening deposit, and rates don’t go as high as Premier Members’ rates.
    • BBVA (Member FDIC) : You’ll earn a mediocre APY, and pay a $15 monthly service fee if your balance is under $10,000. 
    • Sun East Federal Credit Union (Member FDIC) : Sun East offers a low APY, and you’ll have to make and maintain an account balance of $2,500.
    • Pacific National Bank (Member FDIC) : You’ll need an initial deposit of $5,000 to open this account; you’ll need to maintain a $5,000 balance to avoid monthly fees and $10,000 to earn interest.
    • Prime Alliance Bank Personal Money Market Account (Member FDIC): You’ll earn a decent rate with this account, but it doesn’t grant you easy access to your money with checks or a debit card.

    Which banks are the most trustworthy?

    Here are the Better Business Bureau trustworthiness scores for each institution on our list:

    The BBB measures trustworthiness by looking at responses to customer complaints, honesty in advertising, and transparency about business practices. Ally has the lowest grade on our list due to its high number of complaints on the BBB website.

    Of our top picks, two banks have recent public scandals: CIT Bank and CFG Bank.

    In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sided with the California Reinvestment Coalition in its allegations against a division of CIT Bank called OneWest Bank. The CRC claimed that OneWest discriminated against Latinx and Black people in Los Angeles. Although OneWest never admitted to the discrimination, the bank did agree to pay over $7 million to homeownership programs for racial minorities in LA.

    In 2018, the CEO of CFG was found guilty of income tax evasion and bank fraud. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

    If any of these issues worry you, you may decide to go with one of the banks in this guide with a better BBB score and/or no scandals.

    Frequently asked questions

    Why trust our recommendations?

    Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account — a high APY, for example — we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.

    How did we choose the best money market accounts?

    There are a lot of money market accounts out there. Through our research, we’ve found that the best money market accounts are offered by banks with a strong online presence and mobile access.

    We reviewed money market accounts at nearly two dozen institutions to identify the strongest options. We also cross-referenced our list against popular comparison sites like Bankrate and NerdWallet to make sure we didn’t miss a thing. 

    While interest rates are an important aspect of any money market account, several offer the same annual percentage yield (APY). To differentiate between them, we also considered minimum deposit and balance requirements, overdraft and excess transaction fees, ability to access funds, and any other standout features. 

    Why open a money market account over a high-yield savings account?

    Money market accounts typically make it easier to access your money than

    high-yield savings accounts
    . Many come with check-writing privileges, debit cards you can use at ATMs, or both. Money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts both offer more interest and nearly as much flexibility as traditional checking or savings accounts. 

    Are you on the fence about whether to open a money market or high-yield savings account? You could choose a company and compare its money market and savings accounts. One may have a higher rate, lower initial deposit, or lower monthly fee. 

    You may want to work with a specific bank or credit union, but it only offers either a high-yield savings account or a money market account, not both. This limitation could help you make a decision, too.

    Are money market accounts worth it?

    Yes — a money market account has very few downsides, if any. There’s no risk that you’ll lose money, your account is insured by the FDIC (usually up to $250,000, but up to $1 million in some cases), and it gives you a shot at beating inflation.

    The only time a money market account may not be worth it is if you’re paying excessive maintenance fees that eat into your interest payments or you find yourself restricted by the monthly transfer limit or time it takes for your money to get to your checking account.

    Which banks have the best money market interest rates?

    Right now, the following banks offer the best money market interest rates:

    • CIT Bank
    • Ally
    • Synchrony Bank
    • Axos Bank
    • Sallie Mae
    • CFG Bank
    • Northern Bank Direct
    • Prime Alliance Bank
    • Premier Members Credit Union, for savers with $2,000 or less
    • UFB Direct, for savers with at least $25,000
    • Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, for savers with less than $25,000

    However, rates fluctuate along with the federal funds rate, so banks that offer the highest APY now might not down the road, and ones with lower rates now could hike their rates later.

    Generally you’ll find the best interest rates at

    online banks
    . If you’re more comfortable banking with a brick-and-mortar, you can usually open a money market account there, too — just know that you may not be getting the best possible interest rate.

    How often do money market account rates change?

    Interest rates on money market accounts closely follow the federal funds rate. That is to say, rates are variable and can change multiple times per year at the whim of the

    Federal Reserve

    The Fed meets eight times a year and decides whether to increase, decrease, or maintain interest rates. If the Fed cuts rates, the APY on your savings account can drop within days. When rates are lower, you won’t earn as much interest on your savings. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save at all. When interest rates inevitably go back up, you’ll see a greater return on your money than if you started from scratch. 

    Because the Fed spent several years raising rates since the Great

    Recession
    , it cut interest rates three times toward the end of 2019 in an effort to regulate the economy and side step another recession, and it slashed rates twice in 2020. Although rates are at an all-time low, they will eventually increase and continue to fluctuate over time.

    The experts’ advice on choosing the best money market account for you

    To learn more about what makes a good money market account and how to choose the best fit, four experts weighed in:

    Here’s what they had to say about money market accounts. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

    What makes a money market account good or not good?

    Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

    “You might like a money market account if the APY is higher than what you’ll find with a high-yield savings account. Money market accounts should also give you a way to access your funds, whether it’s a debit card, paper checks, or access to Zelle. Whichever one the bank offers, make sure it’s the right fit. For example, if a bank only offers paper checks, but you make all your payments digitally, then that money market account probably isn’t for you.”

    Roger Ma, CFP:

    “I don’t really recommend a money market accounts for parking your money. I don’t know if their fees are really that competitive versus high-yield savings accounts. For most people, I think what makes sense is a high-yield savings account for your emergency fund and any short-term goals.”

    How should someone decide whether to put their money in a high-yield savings account, money market account, or CD?

    Tania Brown, CFP:

    “So I guess we’ll start off with how much money you want to put in and the level of transactions you want to have. If you want to have any transactions, that automatically takes out CDs. Then you’re stuck between the high-yield savings and the money market account.”

    Mykail James, CFEI:

    “How soon do you need the money? What kind of access do you need to it? And if you want your money to grow and you want to keep temptation away, then I would put it in a CD.”

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