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Money market accounts vs. CDs

The key differences and how they can affect your ability to save.

Updated

Fact checked

Money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) can offer competitive interest rates and features, but they’re completely different products. Compare money market vs. CD accounts to see which one is right for you. Your choice between the two may affect how you access your money, the interest rate you’ll earn and more.

What’s the difference between money market vs. CD accounts?

Money market accounts are a type of savings account that usually come with a debit card and checkwriting privileges. CDs are a type of savings account where you lock your money away until a set maturity date — usually three months to six years in the future. But you earn a higher interest rate in return.

A few key differences to be aware of before choosing where to put your savings:

Money marketCertificate of deposit
Best forEarning interest while having flexible access to your money with check and debit capabilities.Earning a fixed interest rate for a specific amount of time — but you’ll pay a penalty unless you open a no-penalty CD.
InterestUp to 2%Up to 2.5%
Check writingUsuallyNo
ATM accessUsuallyNo
Eligible for FDIC insuranceYesYes
Minimum depositUp to $25,000Up to $10,000
Six-transaction limitYesNo
Withdrawal penaltyNo — Unless you withdraw more than six times in a monthYes — Unless it’s a no-penalty CD

Why do CDs pay more interest than other accounts?

When you deposit money into a CD, your money is locked away until it reaches maturity. And since you’re agreeing to keep your money in the bank for a fixed period of time, the bank is willing to pay you a higher interest rate.

Money market vs. CD accounts: Which is better for me?

Money market accounts are best for those who want to maintain easy access to their money. They’re often used for emergencies and vacation funds because you can withdraw money whenever you need to.

A CD is best for those who have a large chunk of cash they know they won’t need until a specific date. You’ll typically earn the best APYs on terms of 12 months or longer, so CDs are great for stashing away money earmarked for mid- and long-term goals.

Which account type is better after a fed rate cut?

What you should do with your money after a fed rate cut ultimately depends on your savings plan. CDs are a great option because you can lock in a high interest rate before financial institutions drop APYs. But you’ll have limited access to your money — unless you open a no-penalty CD. Money market accounts may have lower rates, but your money is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

When the Fed cuts rates, you may want to take a diversified approach. Keep some cash in your money market or savings account, but move a portion of it into a CD. This allows you to maintain easy access to your money but also lock in a high interest rate before APYs drop.

Pros and cons of money market vs. CD accounts

Money market accounts and CDs have a few pros and cons worth mentioning:

Money market accounts

Pros
  • Flexibility. Money market accounts typically come with check-writing abilities and a debit card, giving you access to your money if needed.
  • Solid APY. These accounts can pay APYs that are similar to or higher than savings accounts.
  • Account features. Some accounts come with features like bill pay, direct deposit and budgeting tools.
Cons
  • Possible deposit requirements. These accounts can have much higher deposit requirements than CDs.
  • Fees. Monthly maintenance fees and other service charges are common with these types of accounts.

CDs

Pros
  • Highest APY. Certificates of deposit can pay some of the highest APYs of all consumer deposit accounts.
  • No fees. Unlike most deposit accounts, certificates of deposit don’t have monthly fees or other service charges.
  • Encourages saving. With incentives to keep your money in the account and penalties to withdraw, you’re encouraged to keep saving.
Cons
  • No account features. Unlike most deposit accounts, CDs don’t come with features like bill pay or direct deposit.
  • Possible deposit requirements. Most require a minimum deposit of at least $500 to $1,000 to open.
  • Limited access. With the exception of no-penalty CDs, you can’t access your money unless you’re willing to pay a penalty.

How to compare money market vs. CD accounts

When comparing your options, consider these factors that could affect how you save:

  • Interest rates. You’ll generally earn higher interest rates with CDs, but consider whether that extra interest is worth restricted access to your money.
  • Deposit requirements. Money market accounts generally have higher deposit requirements than CDs, though they can vary significantly.
  • Features. While CDs generally have higher interest rates, they won’t offer perks and benefits like money market accounts might.
  • Fees. CDs don’t typically have fees, whereas money market accounts could have service fees, overdraft charges, excess withdrawal fees and more.
  • Access. Money market accounts offer far more access than certificates of deposit.
  • Security. Both of these accounts are eligible for FDIC deposit insurance, but only if the issuing bank is covered.

Compare money market and CD accounts

Use the tabs on the table to view popular money market accounts and CDs. Customize your view by sorting each tab by APY, minimum deposit and more. Or, click the “Compare” box next to your favorite choices for a side-by-side comparison.

$
$
months
Name Product Interest rates (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open Interest earned
CIT Bank Savings Builder High Yield Savings Account

0.50% on $25,000+ or set up a direct deposit of $100+ each month
0.30% on $0 to $24,999
$0
$100
No account opening or maintenance fees. Daily compounding interest. Earn one of the nation's top rates
CIT Bank Money Market
0.55%
$0
$100
A savings account with a higher-than-average rate and minimal fees.
Discover Money Market

0.50% on $100,000+
0.45% on $1 to $99,999
$0
$2,500
This money market account offers a competitive APY.
UFB Direct Premium Money Market Account

0.40% on $25,000+
0.10% on $0 to $24,999.99
$10 per month
(can be waived)
$5,000
Enjoy the security and earning potential of a savings account while maintaining the flexibility to write checks.
BBVA Money Market

0.21% on $1,000,000+ for 3 months (0.20% after)
0.13% on $10,000 to $999,999.99 for 3 months (0.10% after)
0.05% on $0 to $10,000
$15 per month
(can be waived)
$25
Earn a promotional APY for your first 3 months and access your money by ATM, check or bill pay.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product 1-year APY 18-month APY 2-year APY 3-year APY 5-year APY
CIT Bank Term CDs
0.3%
0.3%
0.4%
0.4%
0.5%
Radius Bank CDs
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
0.5%
BBVA CD
0.15%
0.15%
0.2%
Discover CDs
0.6%
0.6%
0.65%
0.7%
0.8%
Discover IRA CDs
0.6%
0.6%
0.65%
0.7%
0.8%
Barclays Online CDs
0.3%
0.3%
0.3%
0.3%
0.3%
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

CDs and money market accounts are both used for saving, but they couldn’t be more different. CDs often offer higher interest rates, but money market accounts give you more access to your money. The right account for you depends on your financial needs and goals. Before you open an account, compare both options carefully to find out which account is right for you.

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