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An emergency fund. A college fund. A retirement fund. A new car fund. A house down-payment fund. A vacation fund.

Everyone has financial goals and dreams that require them to set aside money. How you save that money depends on whether you plan to access it in the short term or the long term.

For retirement funds, there are options like 401(k) and other accounts. For college, a popular choice is a 529 plan. But when it comes to saving money in the short term, there are choices like high-yield savings accounts and money market accounts. But what’s the difference between them? And which one is right for your needs?

What Is a High-Yield Savings Account?

Traditional savings accounts often offer very low interest rates, sometimes as low as 0.01% annual percentage yield (APY). On the other hand, a high-yield savings account pays a higher APY, with some banks offering around 5%. This means that if you have $100 in a high-yield savings account at 5% APY, you would have $105 after 12 months.

Compared to a traditional savings account, a high-yield savings account is a smarter choice because it offers a higher yield on your money.

What Is a Money Market Account?

A money market account is a hybrid between a savings account and a checking account. You deposit your money into a financial institution, which treats it like a savings account and allows you to earn interest. You can also write checks and get cash at an ATM with a money market account, although there may be limits on the number of withdrawals you can make.

Unlike a certificate of deposit, which requires you to leave your money with the bank for a specific period of time, a money market account is liquid and allows you to access your deposits anytime.

Many banks and credit unions offer APYs similar to high-yield savings accounts, including some rates that exceed 5%.

High-Yield Savings Vs. Money Market

The choice between a high-yield savings account and a money market account depends on how you want to access your money. If you want the convenience of writing checks or making ATM withdrawals, a money market account might be a better option. However, if you need to access your money quickly from a high-yield savings account, it may take a few days for the transfer.

Why Choose High-Yield Savings Over a Money Market?

One downside of high-yield savings accounts is the slight wait time to access your money. However, the upside is that these accounts typically have low or no minimum deposit requirements. In contrast, money market accounts often require minimum deposits and balances that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Why Choose a Money Market Over High-Yield Savings?

If the convenience of writing checks and ATM access is more important to you, a money market account might be more appealing. However, it’s important to be aware of potential fees associated with money market accounts.

Is One Account Safer Than the Other?

Both high-yield savings accounts and money market accounts are insured by the FDIC or NCUA, providing coverage up to $250,000 per depositor and per account category. This means that your money is protected in case of bank failure.

Final Take

Before opening either account, it’s important to compare factors like the APY, minimum deposit requirements, maintenance costs, withdrawal limits, ATM fees, and minimum balance requirements. Shopping around and understanding the details will help you make an informed decision and maximize your savings.

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