Investors often confuse money market accounts and money market funds for obvious reasons. These two investments have some similarities, but also some key differences. Before you decide which one is right for your investment portfolio, it's important to understand the fundamentals of these products. Don't be confused by semantics when making your decisions.

Money market accounts are interest-bearing bank accounts used primarily as savings instruments. They have some check-writing privileges, but most money market accounts limit the number of transactions to around six per month. Some banks also impose minimum dollar amounts on transactions. Money market accounts typically pay higher interest rates than standard savings accounts or interest-bearing checking accounts, but they also have high minimum balances. Most money market accounts must carry a balance of at least $1,000, but minimums of $5,000 and $10,000 are also common.

BankingMyWay's Money Market section lets you compare rates and balance requirements from banks in your area. Sovereign Bank ( SOV), Bank of America ( BAC) and Citibank ( C), for example, all require a $10,000 minimum for their money market accounts, with rates ranging from 1.5%, 1.25% and 1.010% respectively.

Money market mutual funds, on the other hand, are a type of mutual fund that is invested in short-term, low-risk, highly liquid investments like U.S. Treasuries and commercial paper. Money market funds strive to maintain a net asset value of $1. Investors are paid out in fractional shares just like other mutual funds. These funds also have check-writing privileges, but tend to have much lower balance requirements than money market accounts and no restrictions on transactions.