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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 marketChecking
AboutInterest-bearing account offering flexible access to your money while you saveUnlimited access to your money, allowing you to deposit funds, write checks, pay bills, cover expenses and withdraw cash
InterestYesSometimes
Check writingTypicallyYes
ATM accessTypicallyYes
FDIC insuranceYesYes
Minimum depositVaries up to $25,000Low
Six-transaction limitYesNo

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
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, plus a $200 signup bonus when you meet deposit requirements
Citibank® Account Package
Citibank® Account Package
$0
No access to ATMs
$2.50
Earn a $400 bonus after opening new eligible checking and savings accounts and completing required activities.
NorthOne Business Banking
$50
More than 300,000 ATMs across America.

$0
A digital bank account featuring free cash deposits, on-demand customer support and streamlined bookkeeping integrations.
BBVA Free Checking
$25
1,000 fee-free ATMs across the country
$3
Pay a $0 monthly service charge and get free access to BBVA ATMs.
Chase Total Checking
$0
Access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches nationwide
$2.50
Get a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit within 60 days of opening your account. Chase's simplest checking account is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches. Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Chime Spending account
$0
38,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$2.50
Get rid of fees with this mobile-first bank offering consumer-friendly accounts. Chime can also help you save easily and access your paycheck faster.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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

0.55% on $25,000+ or set up a direct deposit of $100+ each month
0.31% on $0 to $24,999
$0
$100
Go to site
View details
No account opening or maintenance fees. Daily compounding interest. Earn one of the nation's top rates
CIT Bank Money Market
0.60%
$0
$100
Go to site
View details
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
Go to site
View details
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
Go to site
View details
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
Go to site
View details
Earn a promotional APY for your first 3 months and access your money by ATM, check or bill pay.
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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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