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Money market vs. checking accounts

The right choice depends on how often you use it and whether you want to earn interest.

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Both money market and checking accounts can help you manage your money with the help of checks and debit cards. Checking accounts offer unlimited access and more account features. Money market accounts pay interest, which can be more beneficial with a higher balance.

What’s the difference between money market and checking accounts?

Money market Checking
About Interest-bearing account offering flexible access to your money while you save Unlimited access to your money, allowing you to deposit funds, write checks, pay bills, cover expenses and withdraw cash
Interest Yes Sometimes
Check writing Typically Yes
ATM access Typically Yes
FDIC insurance Yes Yes
Minimum deposit Varies up to $25,000 Low
Six-transaction limit Yes No

What is the federal six-transaction limit?

Regulation D is a federal regulation that restricts all types of savings accounts to six “convenient” transactions per month. This includes checks, debit card payments, phone transfers and automatic transactions like bill pay. But this regulation is temporarily suspended, so check with your bank to see if this policy is still in place.

Money market vs. checking accounts: Which is best for me?

Choose a money market account if you’re primary goal is to save, but you want the convenience of withdrawing money with checks or an ATM card if needed. Choose a checking account if you plan on using the funds for everyday spending and need unlimited access to your money.

If you don’t want to give up the high APYs that come with money market accounts, consider an interest-bearing checking account. The rate may be slightly lower than what you’d earn with a money market account, but you won’t be limited to six outgoing transactions a month.

Pros and cons of money market vs. checking account

Money market and checking accounts have distinct differences, so keep these pros and cons in mind:

Money market accounts

Pros
  • More interest. Money market accounts generally pay more interest than checking accounts.
  • Flexible access. Unlike traditional savings accounts, you’ll get a debit card and checks to access your money.
  • Fewer service charges. Since these accounts are still limited to six transactions per month, you’ll likely incur less service charges than you would with a checking account.
Cons
  • High minimum deposit. Money market accounts usually have higher initial deposit requirements than checking accounts.
  • Limited transactions. Unlike checking accounts, these accounts are limited to six transactions a month. But due to COVID-19, you’ll want to check with your provider to see if this rule is still in place.
  • Monthly fees. Most money market accounts have monthly fees. And while they’re often avoidable, the conditions may be harder to meet than conditions on checking accounts.

Checking accounts

Pros
  • Unlimited transactions. There are no limits on how many transactions you can make per month.
  • Easily avoidable monthly fees. These accounts usually have low monthly fees and multiple ways to avoid them.
  • Low minimum deposit. Checking accounts generally have low or no initial deposit requirements.
Cons
  • Less interest. Most checking accounts don’t pay interest. The ones that do usually pay much less than money market accounts.
  • Other fees. Beyond monthly fees, checking accounts also often have ATM charges, overdraft fees, transfer fees and more.

Compare money market and checking accounts

Name Product Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
HSBC Premier Checking
$1
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
Get a 3% cash bonus, up to $600 (max. $100 per month) during first six months after account opening. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by September 30, 2020, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
BBVA Online Checking
$25
No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
$3
A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
$50
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free. A spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC.
N26
N26
$0
Fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
$0
A digital bank account with no hidden fees, no minimum account balance and no maintenance charges.
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$
$
months
Name Product Interest rates (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open Interest earned
CIT Bank Money Market
0.50%
$0
$100
A savings account with a higher-than-average rate and minimal fees.
Discover Money Market

0.40% on $100,000+
0.35% on $1 to $99,999
$0
$2,500
This money market account offers a competitive APY.
BBVA Money Market

0.10% on $1,000,000+ for 3 months (0.07% after)
0.08% on $20,000 to $999,999.99 for 3 months (0.05% after)
0.05% on $10,000 to $19,999.99 for 3 months (0.02% after)
$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.
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.
Nationwide Money Market Plus
0.50%
$8 per month
(can be waived)
$1,000
Enjoy low fees and up to $10.00 domestic ATM fees reimbursed per month.
Axos Bank High Yield Money Market account
0.61%
$0
$1,000
Offers the security of traditional savings with the advantage of high interest rates and limited transactions.
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How to compare money market vs. checking accounts

Each account type was designed for a purpose, and knowing how to compare them can help you determine which is right for you:

  • Interest rates. While some checking accounts pay interest, you’ll almost certainly earn more interest with a money market account.
  • Deposit requirements. Money market accounts generally have higher initial deposit requirements.
  • Features. Money market accounts generally offer basic account features, but you’ll likely get more perks and benefits with a checking account.
  • Fees. There’s a good chance that both accounts will have fees. Compare options to find the best rates.
  • Access. Money market accounts provide some access to your money, but are still subject to the federal six-transaction limit — unless your bank has temporarily suspended this policy. If you want unrestricted access, a checking account may be a better fit.
  • Security. Both of these accounts are eligible for FDIC deposit insurance, but only if the issuing bank is FDIC-insured.

Editor's pick: Axos Bank Rewards Checking

  • Earn up to 1.25% APY
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements

Editor's pick: Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.

  • No overdraft or NSF fees
  • Low foreign currency conversion rate
  • Digital money management tools

Bottom line

Money market and checking accounts are both designed to help you manage your money, but the best option for you will depend on your situation. Money market accounts are generally better for saving, whereas checking accounts can provide unrestricted access to your money.

Once you decide which type is right for you, compare your options to find the best account.

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