LOS ANGELES -- The interest on money market accounts, the high yielding favorite of American savers in the early '80s, has been eclipsed by standard savings accounts and certificates of deposit, according to a new California banking study.
Consumer Action, a San Francisco-based consumer group, concluded that most depositors would earn more interest and pay less in fees by switching their savings from a money market deposit account to a savings account or a certificate of deposit.
Money market accounts were created in 1982 to help savings institutions stop the outflow of deposits into competing money market mutual funds. While money market rates were in double digits in 1982, passbook savings accounts were restricted by law to pay no more than 5.5 percent. The legal ceiling on passbook accounts was removed last year.
Money market rates are pegged to short-term obligations, such as Treasury bills and commercial paper.
As interest rates have fallen, rates on money market deposit accounts have fallen more than rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Only one-third of the 94 financial institutions surveyed had money market deposit accounts that paid more than savings accounts.
The study, released Thursday, found the yield on savings accounts on July 1 at the institutions surveyed ranged between 4.59 percent and 5.734 percent. The yield on six-month certificates of deposit of $2,500 varied between 5 percent and 7.53 percent.
The yield on money market deposit accounts ranged from 4.49 percent to 6.03 percent.
The study also found a large difference in fees. Money market deposit accounts often had minimum balance requirements of $1,000 or $2,500 and charged monthly fees of $5 to $10. In comparison, minimum balance requirements on savings accounts were often as low as $100 to $200 and monthly fees as low as $1 per month. The survey also found that many institutions offer certificates of deposit with minimum balances as low as $500