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One could be forgiven for confusing a savings account with a money market account (MMA for short). There are, however, some key differences between the two account types. Here’s what you need to know about savings accounts and a MMA.

Savings accounts and a MAA are different from each other practically in name only. From a saver’s perspective, there is really no difference.

There are many misconceptions about the supposed differences between savings accounts and money market accounts. If you’ve ever tried to learn about these differences online, even from reading major banking industry websites, you may have received a great deal of misinformation.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.20% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

Savings Accounts vs. Money Market Accounts

Withdrawal limits

Whether you open a savings account or a money market account at a bank in the United States, the bank handles it the same. It applies your cash to their books as an asset and records a liability in the form of your deposit.

The government considers both savings accounts and money market accounts as deposit accounts, not transaction accounts. Savings and money market accounts are not meant for frequent transactions. They are both limited by Regulation D, a Federal Reserve Board regulation that indicates that customers may make only six pre-authorized withdrawals from deposit accounts each month.

ATM and teller withdrawals do not count against this limit, but debit card transactions, checks, and online transfers do. You may have read online that only savings accounts have this limitation. However, the limitation applies to all deposit accounts, including money markets.

Interest rates

Money market accounts may offer higher interest rates, but not necessarily.

Take this list of high-yield savings interest rates, for example. It includes both money market accounts and savings accounts, and the most current rates offered. As you’ll notice, the rates across banks don’t prove the hypothesis that money market accounts have higher interest rates in general.

When the same institution offers money market accounts and savings accounts as separate products, the money market account often has a higher interest rate. But even this isn’t consistent from bank to bank.

For example, some banks offer a “high-yield savings account” as well as a traditional savings account. This more impressive-sounding product might provide a higher interest rate at that institution than all other products.

Fees

Banks may assess higher fees and minimum deposit amounts for money market accounts.

Because customers perceive money market accounts as more sophisticated than savings accounts, banks often limit customers to a select audience by requiring a higher initial deposit amount. This is particularly true when the benefit of choosing this type of account includes a higher interest rate.

Furthermore, the bank may charge a monthly or annual fee for the privilege of owning this type of account. While fees and high minimum deposits are common, many banks offer money market accounts for free. Shop around and read the fine print before you commit.

Related: Ally Bank Savings Account Review

Checks

Banks often offer check-writing privileges for money market accounts.

Well, some do and some don’t. Money market accounts are deposit accounts, which means customers may still make only six withdrawals per month, as described above. This is still true, even if the bank provides a checkbook.

Banks differ in how they penalize customers who exceed six withdrawals per month. In most cases, there is a fee for each withdrawal over the limit. Other banks may threaten to close your account if you exceed the limit. Banks may close your account if you exceed the withdrawal limit in three of the last twelve months.

While banks offer checks for money market accounts, some could, in theory, offer checks for savings accounts if they desired. Most do not.

Fun fact: you don’t even need an official document from the bank (or a mail-order check designer) to draw a check on an account. Any piece of paper with your account number, your bank’s name and routing number, the amount, the name of the recipient, and your signature will do. You may not even need to include your account number and bank’s routing number in some cases.

It might be difficult to find someone to accept a check written with a felt-tip pen on a cocktail napkin without a hassle. But courts have ruled in the past that a hand-written document intended to function as a check is considered a legal form of payment. Thanks to the Check 21 Act, paper checks are even less a part of the payment process than they were throughout the twentieth century.

FDIC insurance

Money market accounts and savings accounts are FDIC insured.

FDIC insurance doesn’t come automatically, but it is available for all types of deposit accounts held at banks located within the United States. This includes savings accounts and money market accounts.

More misinformation online states that money market accounts are riskier and could “break the buck” — or drop in value. While this is true for money market funds or money market mutual funds, it is not true for money market accounts or money market deposit accounts.

Money market accounts can be insured by the FDIC just like savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Always check the bank’s website to confirm that the bank is covered by FDIC, and if you are unsure, search for the bank using FDIC’s own Bank Find tool.

If the institution offering savings accounts or money market accounts is a credit union rather than a bank, the insurance comes from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This coverage is effectively the same as FDIC insurance.

Related: Variety of Savings Accounts: Where I Keep My Cash

Money market funds: not savings accounts and not money market accounts

Money market funds — some institutions go so far as to confusingly call these “money market fund accounts” — are not FDIC or NCUA insured.

The money market fund product is often offered by both banks and brokerages. Banks use the customers’ money to invest in low-risk securities, like government or municipal bonds with short maturities. This differs from both savings accounts and money market accounts, with which banks use deposits garnered to lend to other customers.

With money market funds, the bank hopes to earn more from the bonds than it pays out to investors. A money market fund is an investment vehicle, not a form of savings, though it is almost as safe as an insured deposit account. There was a concern a few years ago during the economic crisis that money market funds would break the buck, but for the most part, investors were safe even during the worst financial crisis of the past few generations.

Investors in money market funds are subject to a management expense ratios that reduce the net return.

The differences between savings accounts and money market accounts are negligible. Plus, most are due to differences created by banks, not inherent differences in the products overall.

Be sure to read the terms of conditions to determine how you may use the account. And understand any fees they may charge you, and be aware of the penalties for not abiding by the terms.

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Aspiration Summit checking account offers a unique blend of features. From an excellent interest rate to virtually no fees, Aspiration is ideal for consumers looking to be treated fairly by a bank. Read our Aspiration Summit checking account review for all the details.

In the world of cash back and interest rates, I try to make as many purchases as I can with a good cash back credit card. Utilities, groceries, clothing, merchandise . . . the list of what I use my credit card for is endless.

And yet, as much as I try, I still end up spending more using my checking account and debit card than I do with my credit card. This means I’m missing out on cash back opportunities.

Yes, a good checking account is vitally important to a healthy financial lifestyle. But paying unnecessary fees is the easiest way to drain your checking account, especially without the benefit of a great interest rate. Plus, there are way too many banks out there willing to provide such a disservice to you and your account.

Well, the Aspiration Summit Checking Account is the antithesis of those high fee accounts. It offers its customers a fantastic interest rate without the detraction of a single fee.

Here’s how it works.

Aspiration Summit Checking Account

Aspiration Summit Checking Account review

The Aspiration Summit Checking Account is backed by Radius Bank and is FDIC-insured.

After being approved, you’ll receive a Radius Bank debit card. You can use the card just about anywhere. Unlike other checking accounts, it requires no minimum amount of debit transactions in order to receive the fee-free account. There is also no minimum balance requirement.

Even more intriguing, 10% of all revenue that Aspiration generates goes to charity. So, how can they offer all of this?

Well, oddly enough, it’s not available to everyone. In order to become an Aspiration Summit Checking Account holder, you must receive an invitation.

While that may sound daunting, all it takes is a short form with personal information. Soon after, you’ll receive an invitation asking you to join (I received my invitation 4 days after requesting an invite). Any U.S. citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18 with a Social Security Number and a checking or savings account can request an invitation.

There are three primary benefits to owning this checking account. They are:

  1. The current interest rate for accounts with more than $2,500 is 1.00 APY. (It’s 0.25% APY for less than $2,500.)
  2. There are no fees and no minimum balance requirements to maintain. The minimum starting balance to open an account is $10.
  3. Aspiration will never charge you a fee to use an ATM.  Not in the United States or around the globe. Not ever. (The ATM operator may charge you their own fee, though, so be aware.)

To my knowledge, no other account in the country offers all three benefits above. It’s rare enough to find a checking account that offers a high interest rate. When combined with absolutely no fees or ATM fees worldwide, I had no choice but to sign up for an account for myself.

Now my mortgage, electric bill, and every other non-credit card purchase flow through my Aspiration Summit Checking Account.

Aspiration Summit Checking Mobile App

For mobile users, there’s an available free app in the iTunes store. The app allows you to manage your Aspiration Summit Checking Account. Aspiration does a good job of keeping the app updated, too. In fact, the new 1.4.5 version was just updated June 23rd, 2017.

Current features of the mobile app include:

  • Deposit a check with your phone’s camera. No more searching for your bank or an ATM!
  • The only money Aspiration makes are the “tips” you choose to pay them — and you’re free to choose zero
  • Easy transfers between Aspiration and your other accounts
  • Pay your bills, or send a check to a friend
  • To-the-minute balance & transaction tracking
  • Touch ID lets you sign in with your fingerprint (on supported devices)
  • 3D Touch QuickActions (on supported devices)
  • Aspiration works with Apple Pay, Mint, Venmo, & Paypal
  • Two-factor authentication for stronger security

The only time your checking account has the potential to lose money to fees is when it is overdrafted. The bank charges $25 overdraft fee anytime it attempts to draw funds from your account and you do not have them.

Related: 5 Most Annoying Banking Fees

If your account remains negative for five consecutive days, a $5 daily overdraft fee charge kicks in. This will be charged until the account balance is brought back up to the black. Because you cannot also own a savings account, there is no overdraft transfer protection service. So, please do whatever is necessary to keep proper track of your debits.

Rarely do I come across a financial product that I have a hard time finding fault with. Whether a high annual fee, a limited set of circumstances, or some other catch, financial companies that want you as a customer do so to make money. However, the Aspiration Summit Checking Account holds none of these negatives.

For anyone in need of a checking account or looking to upgrade their current checking account, start here:

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Bank of America has a long history of supporting the arts through philanthropy and raising awareness. But they’re stepping up their game in 2017 with their Museums on Us program.

This program allows qualifying Bank of America members to get into local museums for free on certain weekends, through the rest of this year! Here are some details of the program:

Who is Eligible?

Anyone who holds a Bank of America credit or debit card or a Merrill Lynch debit or credit card can participate. You’ll just have to show up at the right museum on the right weekend with both your card and a photo ID.

Here’s the catch: this is only good for one free general admission ticket. It doesn’t apply to special events or exhibits. And you can’t bring guests with you.

However, if you have a Bank of America credit card with an authorized user, that person can get into the museum for free, as well. It sounds like an excellent option for a free date night to me!

Resource: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2017

Plus, many of these museums already allow children under a certain age to get in for free, so it could make for a great family adventure at no cost. Even if the museum does charge for your children, the little ones are usually at a very discounted rate, making the adventure definitely worthwhile.

When Can You Go?

Do you fit the bill? Or have you been considering a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit card, anyway? Here’s when you can take advantage of this free museum admission:

  • August 5th and 6th
  • September 2nd and 3rd
  • October 7th and 8th
  • November 4th and 5th
  • December 2nd and 3rd

You’re responsible for figuring out if the museum is actually open on those days, of course, but most participating museums should be.

Related: Which Credit Card Should Be Your First?

Where Can You Go?

Here’s another catch: the list of participating museums is fairly short, especially if you’re outside of a major metropolitan area. But if you’re traveling to a larger city, you could have loads of options.

In Chicago, for instance, you have a long list of options. These include:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • National Veterans Art Museum
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • The DuSable Museum of African American History
  • The National Hellenic Museum

New York City has an impressively long list of participating museums, of course, as do Miami, San Antonio, and Charlotte, NC.

You can check out the full list of available options here. Just keep in mind that it could be a good idea to call ahead and confirm participation before you count on those free tickets!

Should You Get a Bank of America Card for This?

In short: probably not. There’s much more that goes into choosing a credit card than a random one-off perk that you might use once per year. The benefits or lower interest rate on another card might easily outweigh the free museum tickets.

With that said, it’s one perk to consider if a Bank of America credit card is already in your wallet or on your to-apply-for list!

So, how about you? Will you be taking advantage of this Bank of America perk?

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I created my small business in 2010. One of the very first things I did was sign up for a business checking account.

Living in Miami at the time, there was a brick-and-mortar Citi location just a half block away. So, that is the bank I signed on with.

The “green” business checking account was their basic package. It offered no interest rate but free service. Correction: the account was free as long as I kept a $5,000 average daily balance.

Compare that account to the Capital One Spark Business Checking Account now available to consumers? Well, the differences between a good business checking account and a bad one are obvious.

Capital One Spark Business Checking Interest Rate

One of the immediate attractions to the Spark Business Checking Account is that it pays an interest rate.  For the first year, all new account holders will receive an APY of 1.00%. After the first year is up, the ongoing APY will change to 0.40%.

On the surface, the APY compared to high yield savings account stinks.  The fed is slowly and steadily raising interest rates, though, and now banks are following, finally offering account holders interest rates above 1%.

However, for checking accounts, you’ll find there are very few that offer an interest rate… let alone one that can compete with a savings account for the first year. And for those that still think the interest rate isn’t very good, consider that there are better places to hold your business funds than in an online checking account.

There is no minimum balance requirement to earn the APYs listed above, and there are no restrictions or caveats.

Spark Business Additional Features

In addition to a very competitive interest rate, the Capital One Spark Business Checking account will offer the following perks:

  • No monthly account maintenance or service fees
  • Free online bill pay and online invoicing
  • Access to the Spark Mobile Checking App
  • 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide

No monthly account maintenance fees. Monthly maintenance fees are the fastest way to hate your checking account. This is especially true for small businesses, when you review your statement each month to find a charge you did not expect, because of a rule you did not remember. Oh, the RAGE.

Well, Capital One is offering this business account with no fees and no strings attached. The only fee you’re going to receive is a non-sufficient funds fee if you attempt to overdraw your account or write a check that your bottom can’t cash.

One of the annoying parts of my initial Citi Business checking account was that I had to make at least 12 debits each month, otherwise I would be charged a $9.99 monthly maintenance fee. That’s not the case here.

Free online bill pay and invoicing. Everybody offers free online bill pay, so no big deal. But online invoicing? Now, that can be expensive.

A lot of companies I’ve worked with and/or requested work from use things like Freshbooks or Quicken to invoice. Those services are not free. And they add up. Opening a Capital One Spark Business Checking Account and using the invoicing feature can save you the $20+ a month from outside invoicing services.

Spark Mobile Checking App. For the technologically-advanced (AKA not my parents), Capital One offers a great app for download. It assists in tracking your balance, making deposits, setting up bill pay, and scheduling other payments.

Currently available in the Google Play shot, it has a very good rating of 4.5 stars. Looking through some of the most recent one star reviews, the common theme is that the app can kick you out while taking a picture of your check to deposit.

40,000 Free ATMs. Capital One runs on the Allpoint network, so any ATM transaction from one of these ATMs is fee-free. If, however, you decide to withdraw money from your account on an ATM not in the network (think Casinos, for example), then the ATM you use will charge a fee and Capital One will charge a fee.

In the United States, there are just over 38,000 ATMs on the Allpoint network and another 2,000 Capital One-specific ATMs. So, a quick online search is likely to point to an ATM nearby.

Spark Business Checking Snapshot

Capital One has created a very strong offering here, promising not to draw on the account of its customers for everyday transactions.

Compared to other online checking accounts, that’s already a win. When you add the quality interest rate and additional features, though, any business would likely benefit from keeping their checking account with Capital One.

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Current and Historical Checking and Savings Account Rates

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Since many banks are constantly updating their interest rates offered on savings, money market and checking accounts, this chart should come in handy. On the 1st of every month, this page is updated to show the most accurate rate information available. This list is organized in two sections. The first section includes FDIC-insured savings or […]

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CiT Bank Offering Bonuses Up to $400 for New High Yield Savings Accounts

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A while back, I wrote about the opinions of Scott Adams on his eventual success as the creator of the comic strip Dilbert. I focused on the failure aspect of the article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal and I wanted to revisit the topic, as only touched lightly on the success factors. Specifically, […]

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