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Finance

How to Choose a Checking Account: Seek Low Fees, High Rates

MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT

Like savings accounts, money market accounts limit your number of monthly transactions, and they hold cash that you won’t need right away.

They offer slightly higher interest rates — 0.08% is the national average — than basic savings accounts, but often have higher minimum balance requirements. In some cases, they come with a debit card and the ability to write checks.

What to look for: Compare the money market account rates to those on savings accounts. Go with the option that offers the lowest fees, the best rate and the most reasonable balance requirement.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best money market accounts

CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT (CD)

A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a timed deposit: You promise to leave your money with the bank for a set term — typically, from a few months to five years — and in return the bank offers higher interest rates. The longer the term, the higher the rate.

A three-month CD has a national average rate of 0.09%; a six-month CD, 0.13%; a one-year CD, 0.24%. The national average for a five-year CD is currently 0.79%.

It’s a big commitment, so ask questions. You’ll want to ensure your money is in the account that best suits your financial needs.

What to look for: The right terms. Be comfortable with the agreement: Withdrawing before the end of the term results in a costly penalty. Look for a rate higher than 1%. Otherwise, you’re better off with a high-yield savings account that lets you access your money.

» MORE: Best CD rates

Mix and match

You don’t have to keep all accounts under the same roof. You might find a good checking account at a nearby credit union, a solid savings account online and an attractive CD at a bank. Mix and match as you see fit.

  1. only takes a few minutes to open an account online or at a branch. Once you’re all set up, explore how your account’s tools and features can help you meet your financial goals.

This article was originally published on Nerdwallet.

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