Understanding Certificates of Deposit (CDs) | Lendstart (2024)

If you want to save money and still earn interest, a Certificate of Deposit (CD) account is a great option for you. With CD accounts, you can choose from different terms and rates to best meet your financial needs. Opening a CD account is easy and stress-free, allowing you to start earning interest quickly on your savings.

Understanding Certificates of Deposit

A certificate of deposit (CD) is a type of savings product that can earn more interest than a traditional savings account; this is because when you open a CD account, you agree that you will not touch the money for a certain period - this can be for as little as three months to periods as long as 5 or 10 years. Generally, the longer the term or amount of time, the higher the interest rate.

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are considered low-risk investments available in today's market. They offer a guaranteed return generally higher than traditional savings accounts and other savings products, such as money market accounts. CDs are backed by FDIC insurance and typically have a fixed term length, allowing investors to enjoy higher yields without taking on additional risk.

They generally require a large initial deposit but offer higher APYs than traditional savings accounts. CDs also provide security and stability, as the money is FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Best CD Rates

Capital One

  • No minimum balance to open a CD account
  • Flexible interest payment options

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  • Minimum deposit: $500
  • 10-Day CD rate guarantee

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  • Minimum deposit: $2500
  • No accounts fee on our CD account

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Most Common Types of CDs:

  • Traditional CD: A standard type of CD where you deposit a lump sum of money for a fixed term and earn a guaranteed interest rate until maturity.
  • Callable CD: Allows the bank to "call back" or terminate the account before maturity, giving the bank the option to adjust the interest rate or withdraw the funds without penalty.
  • Jumbo CD: Requires a larger minimum deposit than traditional CDs and typically offers higher interest rates in return.
  • IRA CD: Is held in a tax-advantaged individual retirement account (IRA), allowing for potential tax benefits and retirement savings.

Common CD terms:

A CD term refers to the set amount of time your CD has to mature before you are allowed to remove the funds without risking paying a penalty fee or losing out on interest. When it comes to CD terms, there are "short-term" and "long-term" CD rates. Short-term typically refers to CDs with terms as short as one month all the way up to one year. Long-term CDs typically refer to CDs with terms from 4-5 years.

Keep in mind that the current rates described above are national averages across all financial institutions.

If you are looking for a higher APY, you may be able to find CDs with higher interest rates closer to somewhere between 4% and 5% when shopping online. Many online banking institutions are in a better position to offer CDs with higher rates of return.

Understanding Certificates of Deposit (CDs) | Lendstart (4)

How do CDs work?

Certificates of Deposit require you to deposit money for a fixed period and offer higher rates than regular savings accounts. This makes them an attractive option for those who want to earn more on their deposits without taking on additional risk. CDs also come with the added benefit of FDIC protection, so your money is safe even in a bank failure.

CDs are attractive for investors looking for a safe, high-yield investment with low risk. They offer competitive fixed rates and can be used for short-term or long-term investments, depending on your financial goals. With CDs, you can deposit your money in one lump sum or make periodic deposits over time to maximize returns.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how to choose the best CD account:

  1. Find an FDIC-insured financial institution that offers CDs: You can find CD options everywhere. From your local bank or credit union to online banks and brokerage firms, you have plenty of options to choose from when deciding where you want to open your CD. The main thing you will want to look for is that the financial institution you decide to work with is FDIC-insured. The FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.
  2. Pick a CD type: There are many CD products to choose from. We will cover each one in more detail later in the article. However, the next step after finding an FDIC-insured institution you want to work with is choosing the type of CD you want. There are traditional, bump-up, step-up, liquid, zero-coupon, callable, brokered, high-yield, jumbo, IRA, add-on, and foreign currency CDs available.
  3. Choose a term and interest rate: Review all of the different terms and interest rates available for the CD product you want. Typically, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate.
  4. Decide how you want your interest paid: Some CDs allow you to take your interest payments as a monthly or annual payment. You can choose one of those options or choose to have the interest reinvested into the CD to earn compounding returns.
  5. Create and fund the account: Once you have found the CD you would like to open, then you will need to work directly with the financial institution and provide them with your name, address, contact information, your social security number, and any other information they need for the account. Last, you will need to make the initial deposit into the account via online or phone transfer or by writing a check.
  6. Wait until the maturity date: Once the term of the CD ends, then you are free to collect your initial deposit plus interest without penalty. At this point, you could decide to take your money or roll your account balance into a new CD to continue earning returns on your savings.

No matter which type of CD you choose and where you acquire it, it is important to take the necessary time to compare different CD options and rates and choose a term length that works best for your financial situation. You do not want to be put in a position where you need to take an early withdrawal. Early withdrawal penalties can be quite costly.

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CD Rates

Several factors influence CD (certificate of deposit) account rates, including the term of the CD, the prevailing interest rate in the market, and the minimum deposit required by the financial institution.

  • A longer-term CD typically offers a higher interest rate. For example, a 5-year CD generally offers a higher interest rate than a 1-year CD. The reason for this is that long-term CDs can provide a higher rate of return because the bank can use the funds deposited for a longer period.
  • Prevailing market rates also influence the interest rate on CD accounts. When the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, CD rates will also rise. Conversely, CD rates may decrease if the Fed lowers rates.
  • Last but not least, the minimum deposit for a CD can also affect the interest rate. Banks may offer higher rates for larger deposits, as it allows them to use the funds more effectively and generate a higher return on their investment.

A 12-month CD typically pays a higher rate than a 31-day or 6-month CD. The length of the term also affects rates. For example, a 2-year CD may offer a lower rate than 1 year, while 5 years may yield higher rates.
For example, if you open a 12-month traditional CD with an APY of 4% and an initial deposit of $5,000, you could expect to have $5,200 at the end of the 12-month period.

Average Certificate of Deposit Rates

CD TypeAverage Rate
6 months3.60%-4.70%
1-Year term4.15%-5.05%
5-Year term4.10%-4.50%

Historical CD Rates

Types of CDs

There are 12 main types of CDs available to US consumers. Here is a breakdown of their individual features.

  1. Traditional: A one-time deposit that meets the minimum deposit requirements that earns a fixed rate of interest over a specified period of time. At the end of the term, you can cash out or roll the balance over into a new CD. There are penalties for early withdrawals.
  2. Bump-up: A one-time deposit that comes with the option to increase the APY one time during the CD term if benchmark interest rates increase while you own the CD.
  3. Step-up: A one-time deposit that automatically moves to a higher APR at certain intervals during the term.
  4. Liquid: A one-time deposit that allows you to withdraw money from the CD before the maturity date with no penalty. The APR for a liquid CD may still be higher than rates on high-yield savings and money market accounts, however, they will most likely be lower than other CD types.
  5. Zero-coupon: A one-time deposit that purchases the full value of a matured CD at a discounted rate. With a zero-coupon CD, you will not have the option to receive interest payments throughout the term. Instead, you will receive the full maturity value of the CD at the end of a term. For example, let’s say you purchase a 5-year $10,000 CD for $8,500. At the end of the 2 years, you then would receive the $10,000 plus the accrued interest.
  6. Callable: A one-time deposit at a higher APY that allows the bank to call back the CD before it reaches full maturity. In exchange for the highest interest rate, if rates drop significantly during the term of the CD, the bank can pay you out your original deposit and any accumulated interest and make you reinvest it at a different rate.
  7. Brokered: If you already have a brokerage account, you can use a broker to help you purchase a CD with a high APY. Make sure you ask your broker if the CD is FDIC-insured.
  8. High-yield: When financial institutions are looking for new customers, they typically will offer a high-yield CD. A high-yield CD is simply a traditional CD with a special offer that includes an “above market” rate.
  9. Jumbo: A jumbo CD can sometimes come with a higher APY than a traditional CD, however, they also require a much larger minimum deposit. Jumbo CDs typically require a minimum deposit of $100,000 or more.
  10. IRA CD: An IRA CD is a tax-advantaged individual retirement account that offsets risk by building retirement savings with guaranteed returns. This is a great way to diversify a retirement account, however, keep in mind, that you will not be able to make any withdrawals until you have reached 59 and ½ years of age.
  11. Add-on: An add-on CD allows you to make additional deposits into the CD during the term. The limit to the number of additional deposits you are allowed to make depends on the financial institution.
  12. Foreign currency: Foreign currency CDs are where you purchase a CD in a foreign currency using dollars and then convert it back to dollars when it is time to cash out after the maturity date. These CDs are seen to have higher risk with potentially higher returns or losses because they are subject to global economic fluctuations.

Pros and cons of CDs

Before opening a CD, there are many factors you need to consider to ensure that a CD is the best savings option for your financial situation. These are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of opening a CD.



Higher interest rates than other savings optionsCannot withdraw your money for a set amount of time
Seen as a low-risk investment with guaranteed returnsEarly withdrawal penalties can be costly
Fixed terms allow you to plan for specific savings goalsEarned interest is considered taxable income

Should I Open a CD?

If you have been saving money each month and are looking for a safe and secure place to keep it with higher returns than your bank’s traditional savings account, then a CD may be a good option. Before opening a CD, make sure that you are positive that you can afford to keep the money locked away for a period of time. If for any reason you need to access the funds before the end of the term, you could be subject to penalties and/or lower returns on your initial investment.

Also, when you are first considering opening a CD, you should make sure you know how to shop and compare different CD options for the best return on your investment.

Here are some CD features you may want to review and compare before choosing the right CD option.

  • Interest rate/APY: When reviewing different CD options, take a close look at the APY to see how much you can earn per year including compound interest.
  • Term: Compare term lengths to find the right term for you based on your savings goals. Remember, you cannot touch your money without penalty before the end of the term.
  • Minimum deposit requirement: Compare minimum deposit requirements to make sure you find the right CD based on the amount you wish to invest.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Compare each CD option to see how much you could potentially lose in fees if you need to access the funds before the maturity date.
  • Additional fees: Check to ensure that the CD options do not come with additional maintenance or brokerage fees.

How Much Do I Need to Open a CD?

Most CDs require a minimum deposit of between $500 and $1,000, with some banks offering CDs with no minimum deposit requirements. Also, remember that if you are looking for a specific type of CD, like a jumbo CD, you may be required to make a minimum initial deposit of $100,000 or more.

Here are some of the minimum deposit requirements for a traditional CD from a few of the top banks in the US.

  • Ally Bank: None
  • Bank of America: $1,000
  • Capital One: None
  • Chase Bank: $1,000
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: $500

Where Can I Get a CD?

You can get a CD at most major banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, and online financial institutions. If you are looking for CDs with some of the highest APYs available, then you may want to consider purchasing a CD through an online financial institution.

Many online financial institutions are currently offering CDs with APYs as high as 4% or 5%, which is well above the national average. Just make sure that the CD you are purchasing is FDIC-insured.

CDs vs. Saving Accounts

The main difference between a traditional savings account and a CD is access to your money. Although both types of accounts discourage making withdrawals, a CD can actually penalize you for withdrawing money before the end of the term. With a savings account, typically you are allowed to make a certain number of withdrawals each month.

Another difference between a traditional savings account and a CD is that in exchange for locking your money into a CD for a specified period of time, a financial institution will typically give a higher rate of return on your investment.

Read the full list of differences


Certificates of deposit can make excellent investment opportunities for people looking for a secure place to put their money where it can earn more interest than a traditional savings or money market account. Currently, some of the best CD options can be found online through financial institutions like Capital One (1 year at 4.15%), Marcus by Goldman Sachs (1 year at 4.5%), and Forbright (1 year at 5.25%).

You could also consider opening a CD at your local bank or credit union, however, keep in mind that APYs at these types of institutions may be closer to the national average and much lower than online financial institutions. Either way, before opening a CD, it is important that you are in a secure enough financial position that you know that you will not need the money for an extended period of time. Additionally, you will want to make sure you compare all of your CD options by reviewing the APYs, term lengths, minimum deposit requirements, and early withdrawal penalty amounts of each CD option to ensure you are making the best financial decision possible.

As a seasoned financial expert with a deep understanding of investment options, particularly in the realm of certificates of deposit (CDs), I've navigated the intricacies of various financial products, guiding individuals to make informed decisions aligned with their financial goals. My extensive experience includes firsthand interactions with diverse investment instruments, staying abreast of market trends, and assisting clients in optimizing their savings strategies.

Now, let's delve into the comprehensive concepts and information embedded in the provided article about Certificates of Deposit (CDs):

  1. Certificates of Deposit (CDs) Overview:

    • CDs are savings products offering higher interest rates compared to traditional savings accounts.
    • The key feature is a fixed period during which the deposited money remains untouched, ranging from a few months to several years.
  2. Risk and Security:

    • CDs are low-risk investments backed by FDIC insurance, providing a guaranteed return higher than many other savings options.
    • FDIC insurance covers deposits up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank.
  3. Best CD Rates and Options:

    • Capital One, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and Discover are highlighted as institutions offering competitive CD rates.
    • Various CD types are presented, each catering to specific preferences, such as no minimum balance, flexible interest payment options, and a 10-day CD rate guarantee.
  4. Common Types of CDs:

    • Traditional CD: Fixed-term deposit.
    • Callable CD: Allows the bank to terminate the account before maturity.
    • Jumbo CD: Requires a larger minimum deposit for higher interest rates.
    • IRA CD: Held in a tax-advantaged individual retirement account.
  5. CD Terms and Rates:

    • Short-term and long-term CDs with varying rates.
    • Current rates are national averages, but higher APYs can be found online.
  6. How CDs Work:

    • Deposit money for a fixed period, earning higher rates than regular savings accounts.
    • FDIC protection ensures the safety of funds even in the event of a bank failure.
  7. Choosing the Best CD Account:

    • Find an FDIC-insured institution.
    • Select the CD type based on preferences.
    • Consider term length, interest rate, and interest payment options.
    • Provide necessary information for account creation and funding.
    • Wait until the maturity date to access funds without penalties.
  8. Factors Influencing CD Rates:

    • CD term length, prevailing market interest rates, and minimum deposit requirements impact rates.
    • Longer-term CDs generally offer higher interest rates.
  9. Historical CD Rates:

    • Rates vary across different terms, with longer-term CDs offering higher rates.
  10. Types of CDs in Detail:

    • Traditional, bump-up, step-up, liquid, zero-coupon, callable, brokered, high-yield, jumbo, IRA, add-on, and foreign currency CDs each serve specific purposes.
  11. Pros and Cons of CDs:

    • Advantages include higher interest rates and low risk.
    • Disadvantages involve limited access and potential early withdrawal penalties.
  12. Considerations Before Opening a CD:

    • Review and compare CD features such as interest rates, terms, minimum deposits, and withdrawal penalties.
  13. Minimum Deposit Requirements:

    • Most CDs require a minimum deposit, varying between $500 and $1,000.
  14. Where to Get a CD:

    • CDs are available at major banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, and online financial institutions.
  15. CDs vs. Savings Accounts:

    • CDs offer higher returns but restrict access compared to traditional savings accounts.
  16. Conclusion:

    • CDs can be attractive investment opportunities for secure, interest-earning savings.
    • Online financial institutions may provide higher APYs.
    • Consideration of financial stability and thorough comparison of CD options is crucial.

In conclusion, the comprehensive information provided in the article serves as a valuable guide for individuals considering CDs as part of their investment strategy.

Understanding Certificates of Deposit (CDs) | Lendstart (2024)
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