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Finding the Best CD Rates

By MoneyRates Team

CD rates can vary greatly from bank to bank, even among CDs of the same length. Shopping around for the best CD rates can make the difference between earning some extra money and missing out on an opportunity.

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Here’s an example: consider two 5-year CDs, each with $50,000 deposited in it. One has an annual percentage yield (APY) of 2.35 percent, while the other has an APY of 1.80 percent. How much of a difference in earnings would that APY difference make over the terms of these CDs?

Here’s how much each CD would be worth at the end of five years:

APY Estimated savings at end of 5 year CD term
2.35% $56,158
1.80% $54,665
Difference $1,493

* doesn't include fees

There may be other differences to consider, such as fees or early withdrawal penalties, but just on the basis of their interest rates, finding the higher-yielding CD in this case would be worth nearly $1,500 over five years. Who would want to leave that kind of money on the table?

To help you get more for your money by shopping for better bank rates, MoneyRates has compiled a searchable database of different rates offered by banks around the country. Using the tool below, you can specify the type of account, desired CD length, and amount of deposit. The results will allow you to compare different rates on deposit accounts that meet your specifications.

Here are four other key considerations as you shop for the best CD rates:

1. Higher CD rates vs. risk of early withdrawal fees

Generally speaking, the longer the CD term, the higher the yield. But rates can change. If you lock into a CD and interest rates stay the same or fall during the term, it’s no problem. If rates climb in the months or years after, you'll wonder what your options are for taking advantage of higher rates.

How to minimize impact of withdrawal penalties

If this is a major concern, focus on where the withdrawal penalty is low enough that it might make sense to take the hit and then reinvest at the higher rate. Be sure to crunch the numbers before moving your money. 

Here's an example that might help: You open a 2-year CD with a 2% APY and an early withdrawal penalty of six months in interest. CD interest rates have since climbed to 5% in this scenario.

Why look for higher CD rates

If you break your CD to open a new one with a higher rate, it will cost you half your interest to that point, effectively reducing your APY for the first year to about 1%. But, if you’re able to secure that 5 percent interest rate during the second year, your average APY for the two-year term will equal about 3%, or 1% more annually than you would have earned if you stuck with the original CD.

To make this a viable strategy, you should review the potential penalties before you open a new CD. If you find two CDs that are identical in most ways, compare their early withdrawal penalties. The one with the smaller penalty may offer you more flexibility if you need to exit the account sometime during the term.

2. CD interest rates and trends

You don't have to be an economist to follow interest rate trends, including for short term CD rates. For most savers, paying attention to the news headlines is enough. Decisions that could move short term interest rates are made by the Federal Open Market Committee. 

Historically, interest rates have dipped lower, lower and then lower again, affecting deposits of all stripes, including CDs. Here's a look at the average yield on a 12-month CD since 2009. This makes shopping around critical in maximizing your savings.

National average CD rates (12 month) 2009-2016 from FDIC

3. The power of the CD ladder

If you’d like your savings to earn maximum interest while still maintaining some regular liquidity, a CD ladder may be the way to go. This consists of multiple CDs with staggered maturity dates, which allows you regular, penalty-free access to a portion of your savings while still earning higher interest rates overall.

Why invest using a CD ladder

This is a great option if you intend to use or reinvest some portion of your savings on a regular basis, but don’t anticipate needing the whole of it at any given time. When done correctly, you can end up with a stable of long-term CDs in which at least one account reaches maturity every few months, offering you the option to access it or simply push it ahead to reach maturity at a chosen point in the future. After seeing your options, narrow down your list for the best long term CD rates.

Length of CD terms

  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 1 year
  • 1.5 years
  • 2 years
  • 2.5 years
  • 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5 years

4. Unconventional CDs

While traditional CDs are by far the most popular type, some banks offer their own twist on the usual product. A raise-your-rate CD is a special type of certificate that allows you to bump up your interest rate one or more times during the term (assuming rates have in fact risen), and indexed CDs forgo a fixed interest rate in favor of a variable rate that moves in accordance with a benchmark indicator.

Foreign CD investments

Even more exotic, CDs that are denominated in foreign currencies allow investors to effectively gamble on the relative values of a nation’s currency. These vehicles may come with more risk than a typical CD though, as they may allow a loss in principal if the chosen currency loses value over the course of the term.

FDIC insurance coverage and CDs

If safety and stability are paramount to you, a conventional CD may be your best choice – so long as you ensure that the bank you choose is insured by the FDIC. FDIC insurance coverage is designed to protect funds up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution in the event of a bank failure, and it has never failed to cover insured deposits since the FDIC’s inception in 1933.

FDIC-insured banks must display the FDIC emblem in their branches or, in the case of online-based banks, on their website. Credit unions also have deposit insurance and are considered just as safe as traditional banks.

Interested in other savings or banking options? Explore more information on savings accounts, money market accounts and checking accounts on MoneyRates.

Advertiser Disclosure
Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the savings offers appearing on this site are from advertisers from which this website receives compensation for being listed here. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). These offers do not represent all deposit accounts available.

Certificate of Deposit Accounts

Update List
5 years Term
2.35% APY
$25000 Minimum to earn APY
Rates as of 8/21/2017
FDIC Insured
Advertiser Comments
  • Great Rates + Safety = Peace of Mind
  • Member FDIC

See more rates.

5 years Term
2.25% APY
$500 Minimum to earn APY
Rates as of 8/21/2017
FDIC Insured
Advertiser Comments
  • 10-day CD Rate Guarantee
  • Choose your monthly interest disbursement
  • Low $500 minimum deposit

See more rates.

5 years Term
2.25% APY
$0 Minimum to earn APY
Rates as of 8/21/2017
FDIC Insured
Advertiser Comments
  • Consistently Competitive Rates
  • 24/7 Customer Care
  • Ally Bank, Member FDIC

See more rates.

Type: Certificates of Deposit
Advertiser Comments
  • Wide selection of maturity dates
  • Predictable returns
  • Competitive Interest rates

See all rate listings.

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