When it comes to secure, stable investments, a certificate of deposit, frequently referred to as a CD, from a major bank is possibly at the top of the heap. Renowned as a low-risk form of investment, a certificate of deposit with a relatively high interest rate can be a worthwhile way to store cash that’s unlikely to be used in the short to near term, or even as a way to secure long-term cash assets.
In general terms, a CD is a fairly similar form of investment to a savings account. Investors deposit their money into an account, which is later locked off for the bank to access. These ‘lock’ terms are generally between three and fifty months, although longer-term CDs may extend for over ten years at a time. Generally speaking, these long-term CDs offer lucrative interest rates for their investors.
Unlike a bank account, however, CDs are always held until maturity – funds that are withdrawn in the middle of a maturity period can encounter fines, the forfeit of interest, or may even be held by the bank in question without release. Generally speaking, the incentive for the investor is the high interest rates offered in comparison to a savings account – CDs tend to offer much higher returns.
We’ve looked at some of the top CD interest rates, and walked away with some interesting data on how banks classify and manage their CDs for consumers. From differences between business and personal CD rates to interesting statistics about how the FDIC can protect your investment, read on for a primer on worthwhile interest rates, ensuring your investment is safe, and finding a good CD.
Certificates of deposit are generally regarded as fairly low-risk investments. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission – the United States’ leading body on financial regulation – flat out calls them as such in many of their financial primers. But despite the low risk of many CDs, there’s still the possibility than your investment could fail potentially leaving you mightily out of pocket.
This is particularly common in higher-interest certificates of deposit, which often operate outside the bounds of the FDIC – the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This federal corporation is one of several protective organizations in the United States, and is designed to eliminate risks for people that plan to invest in savings accounts, term deposits, and certificates of deposit accounts.
Unlike other financial organizations, many of which fail to ultimately protect the people that they supposedly insure, the FDIC does protect those that invest in banks which operate under it. Since the formation of the FDIC in 1934, not a single depositor has lost their deposit when it was stored as part of an account in a bank, investment firm, or credit union protected by FDIC insurance.
So while there may be higher bank CD rates available at a non-FDIC bank, it’s worth considering the risk of this investment against the relatively lower risk offered by an FDIC bank. Insurance is available for deposits of up to $250,000 – larger deposits may also be covered in some cases. This isn’t a huge amount, however for most CDs and other investment accounts, it’s welcome security.
Generally speaking, bank CD rates change based on the current economic conditions. Periods in which banks expect investors not to withdraw their investment may also come with higher rates, although this isn’t always true. Longer deposits, such as those held for over five years, also come with a higher rate of interest, allowing depositors to let their money ‘appreciate’ in value over time.
There’s also an interesting split in interest earnings between personal and business CDs. While the business banking world may be renowned for its more lucrative rates of return, it’s individuals that win out when it comes to certificates of deposit. The average interest rates for personal CDs, for the most part, are higher than their business counterparts, often by a relatively healthy margin.
However, this isn’t always the case, and in many credit unions and banks it may be better to operate as part of a smaller LLC or corporation than as an individual. The rates offered to individuals vary, so it’s always best to investigate. In certain cases, however, significantly better interest rates may be available when you structure your investment as part of a small company or personal corporation.
Standard certificate of deposit rates, as of now, range from a meagre 0.50 percent low-rate interest to fairly worthwhile 1.24 percent interest rates, most of which come from smaller banks. It’s worth noting, however, that many of the smaller banks offering better interest rates are covered by FDIC insurance. This can make them a lucrative investment for those with capital available to deposit.
Other banks, particularly those limited to a specific region, may offer better rates. Recent studies of smaller banks, particularly regional and city-based banks, revealed that rates span all the way up to 1.8 percent APY. On a national level, taking into account all banks and credit unions offering a CD service, the average interest rate is in the league of 0.75% APY – not a highly lucrative offer.
If you’re considering investing in a CD from a major national bank or smaller credit union, it’s very important to do your due diligence. Checking financial stability, interest rates, and other conditions isn’t just a useful task – it’s a necessity. With this information on your side, a smart deposit strategy, and the right amount of available capital, a certificate of deposit can be a stable, worthy investment.