CD Accounts: Reviews & Comparisons
Are you in search of a low-risk way to build your savings? If so, consider a Certificate of Deposit (CD).
But is a CD account right for you? Here's everything you need to know.
Who should consider a CD account?
Senior citizens who need a portion of their investment portfolio in simple, safe, and predictable investments are the ideal candidates for CD accounts. But senior citizens aren't the only people who can benefit from a CD account. You should consider a CD if you want a safe place to put your money without the low annual percentage rate (APY) of a traditional savings account.
Unlike a traditional savings account, however, you can't dip into your CD whenever you want. You're restricted from taking withdrawals for a specific period. This feature can make CDs a good option for those who struggle to save money, but it isn't a wise place to keep your emergency fund.
What are CD early withdrawal penalties?
If you withdraw money before your CD term is up, you'll likely have to pay a steep penalty. The severity depends on the terms of your CD—a longer term usually results in a higher penalty. The policy on early withdrawals varies from bank to bank, including penalty amounts as well as how the penalty is calculated.
Some banks charge an early withdrawal fee based on the amount withdrawn, while others charge based on the total balance of the account. Either way, these penalties can eliminate interest you've earned on your CD and possibly even eat away at your principal. That's because many banks will dip into your principal if you haven't yet earned enough interest to cover early withdrawal fees. You'll lose out on money you would have gained while also losing some of the money you initially deposited. So you'll want to avoid putting money in a CD if you think you'll need it soon. Otherwise, you may end up walking away with lessmoney rather than more.
In addition to early withdrawal penalties, some CDs come with other fees as well. For instance, with a brokered CD, you may have to pay a flat fee or a percentage of the amount you are investing. If that's the case, you'll want to ensure the interest rate makes it worthwhile before locking in your money. Don't open a CD account until you fully understand the potential fees associated with it.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of CD accounts?
Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks of CD accounts.
- Higher interest rates. As mentioned earlier, CD accounts offer higher interest rates than most checking, savings, and money market accounts.
- Low risk. CDs give you the opportunity to earn some interest without the risk of investing in stocks and bonds.
- Many options. With many types of CDs available, you have a wide selection of options to help you find one that best fits your needs.
- Fixed rates and terms. Fixed rates and terms give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much money you’ll earn over a set period. If you adhere to the terms of your CD, you can expect to get back the entire amount of your original investment plus interest.
- Easy to understand. CDs are straightforward and easy to understand. This is not always the case with other investment strategies.
- Low liquidity. You won't have easy access to your money. If you need to make an early withdrawal, you'll have to pay a penalty.
- Lower earning potential. Your money may lose purchasing power over time if the rate of inflation exceeds the interest rates on your CD.
- Low returns. Though CDs offer higher rates than other bank accounts, the return is lower compared to other asset classes. High-risk investments like stocks and bonds offer higher returns than low-risk investments like CDs.
How do CDs work?
A CD is an agreement between you and your bank or financial institution. You agree not to make any withdrawals for a certain time period. In return, the bank or financial institution pays you a specific interest rate for that period, which is typically fixed. Your APY will depend on the term length and how much you invest. So, you'll usually receive a higher APY when you invest more money and opt for a CD with a longer term.
You can maximize your earnings even more by implementing strategies like CD laddering, bump-up CDs, variable-rate CDs, and promotional rates. To find the best CD rates, perform an online research and reach out to several banks and financial institutions. You'll likely discover that online banks offer better interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks because they have lower overhead costs. So, they're often able to offer their customers a higher interest rate.
What is CD laddering?
CD laddering involves setting up multiple CDs at one time with staggered maturity dates. Rather than cashing out a CD when it reaches maturity, you can roll it over into a new one and continue to earn interest. For instance, if you have $10,000 to invest, you could arrange a CD ladder by spreading out your money in the following way:
- $2,000 in a one-year CD
- $2,000 in a two-year CD
- $2,000 in a three-year CD
- $2,000 in a four-year CD
- $2,000 in a five-year CD
Once your one-year CD matures, you can reinvest that money into a new five-year CD. You can continue this pattern when the second-year CD ends. Eventually, you'll get to the point where your ladder is comprised of long-term CDs that allow you to maximize your interest. With this strategy, you can benefit from the higher interest rates that come with longer-term investments and enjoy access to your money at short-term intervals.
How should you compare CD accounts?
Before you open up a CD, make sure it is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration or NCUA. By doing so, you can protect your CD in the event a bank or another financial institution fails. Aside from that, you'll want to make sure you do your research to find a CD that best fits your needs.
For example, check the table above to see which CD type is best for your goals. You should also find out what fees and rates each account offers.
SuperMoney's CD comparison tools make it easy to filter CDs based on your needs and preferences. Then compare the CD accounts available side by side and see what other users have to say about each financial institution.
Minimum Opening Deposit
APY (Annual Percentage Yield)