What’s The Deal With CD’s?

Certificates Of Depositcds

(You didn’t think I meant compact disks, right?)

I’m not sure what’s happened, but everyone seems to want to know about CD’s these days. I’ve had at least 6 people ask me about this in the last couple months. In fact, my best friend’s fiancée asked about them last week.

Are your banks trying to pitch you on buying these or something? Just curious. With a strange amount of interest on these and because they’re easy to explain, I’m going to write about them.

So What Is A Certificate Of Deposit?

It’s an investment product offered by banks that offer a specified rate of return over a set period of time. The period of time varies depending on the bank, but common time frames are 6-Month, 1-Year, 2-Years, 3-Years, and 5-Years.

They are super easy to understand.

The deal is that you deposit a preset amount of money with your bank and agree to let them hold onto it for a period of time that you choose. In return for letting them hold your money, they will pay you interest on the money you deposited. At the end of the time period you get your principal (money you deposited) back.

If you’re wondering how this benefits them, it gives them cash reserves. Banks have a complex system of managing all the money that comes in and out. Basically, while your money is being “held” in the CD, they’re lending out your money to other customers or simply holding it because federal law mandates banks to keep a certain amount of money in reserves. But don’t worry, you’ll get your money back. CD’s are FDIC insured and are one of the safest investments you can make. You might as well go buy some T-Bills.

So They’re Safe To Invest In? Sweet, Dude! Sign Me Up.

Yes, they’re basically risk free investments that will make you money.

BUT: How much money you make largely depends on 2 things.

  1. How much you deposit
  2. How long you’re willing to deposit it for (this is the key to CD’s)

The more money you deposit and the longer you’re willing to let them hold onto it, the better interest they will pay you. I’m tempted to explain why time value of money (TVM in the finance world) makes this the case. But, for now, just know you’ll make more money for letting  them hold onto it longer.

So How Much Can I Make?

Ah, finally, what you really wanted to know. The best answer to this is you’d need to figure out how much money you’re willing to invest in one and how long you’d be OK with not having access to that money. This is because if you withdrawal from the CD before it matures, there’s a pretty big penalty. You don’t wanna do that.

You can check your own banks rates on CD’s, but here is a list of the BEST rates I could find. (As of 9/15/2016)

6 Months – Capital One 360 (0.9%) No min deposit

1 Year – Barclays (1.20%) No min deposit

2 Years – First Internet Bank (1.36%) $1,000 min deposit

3 Years – Barclays (1.50%) No min deposit

5 Years – First Internet Bank (1.92%) $1,000 min deposit

I found all these using NerdWallet.com. These also assumed my zip code and a minimum balance of $1,000. You can go play around with their tool to see if you can find higher ones that I did. You probably can, I didn’t dig that hard. I just wanted to give you an example of the going rate for them these days.

So the first thing you’ll notice is that to get higher rates, sometimes there is a minimum amount you need to deposit and that the longer you keep it in there, the more you make. Unless you find a CD like the ones Barclays seems to be offering right now that don’t require a minimum. This happens sometimes because banks just need to raise their capital reserves.

Great! I’ll Go Buy Some!

Well not so fast. Here comes the catch.

You knew there had to be one, right?

CD rates are at historical lows. Check out this graph from Bankrate.com.

dhd

Sorry to disappoint but the rates on CD’s have literally never been lower. You’ll notice a serious drop off somewhere between 2005 and 2010. I’ll let you figure out what happened there.

Anyways, this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy any. Just that they are not what they used to be.

Warning, Unqualified Opinion Ahead!

The reason I’m confused why people are so interested in these is because there are just so many better options out there to make money. Especially for college students who 1) don’t have tons of cash to invest and won’t earn a ton of interest money 2) don’t know where they’ll be 6 months, 1 year, 5 years from now as a CD requires.

Things are going to change for you a lot in the next few years. I’m going to tell you the same thing I told my best friends fiancée:

“What happens when you need that money for something next year?”

Now, this is something I’d really only say in a select set of situations. Investing money is very wise to do at a young age because of the immense benefits of compound interest. It’s the only way you could possibly ever retire! But investing in CD’s in my opinion is just not worth the draw backs of the time factor as well as the minimal amount you receive for all that commitment.

The stock market will give you way better returns than a CD as I’m sure you know.

BUT, that’s actually not what I recommend you do unless:

  1. Have a solid emergency savings account first
  2. Pay off all bad debt (there is a difference between good and bad)
  3. Get a retirement account set up and begin contributing (This is investing, but not in the same sense as a non-retirement investment account that invests in stocks, funds, ETF’s…etc.)

I probably just opened a can of worms. I swear this website will explain all that stuff.

But here’s my deal.

If you’re looking to make a bit of money on your savings (or at least better than your banks measly .01%)…

Check out an online savings.

Online banks can pay beyond 100x better than your brick and mortar bank. They can also pay better than lots of Money Markets!

This is because they don’t have the costs of running an actual retail location you can walk into. It’s all online. Less costs means they can pass the savings onto you in the form of higher interest rates on your savings.

The case for an online bank:

  1. Higher interest rates
  2. Higher than almost any CD under 1 year
  3. Take out your money anytime! No need to commit! (which I know you love)
  4. Often times, better user interface than your regular banks website
  5. Better customer service
  6. Move your money between your bank and online savings account very easily
  7. No monthly fees

OK, So How High?

Up to 1.05%! (Synchrony High Yield Savings)

Ok, so that’s not a ton of money. But hey, it is WAY better than your banks .01% by a huge margin.

You might be able to find a bank with 1.10%. Offers like that happen every so often.

Who Do I Use?

Ally Bank.

They pay 1.00% on all balance tiers. No minimum. I also really like their user interface and think they’ve got good customer service from my own experience with them. I just opened with them 6 months ago. So far, so good! They deposit my earnings at the end of each month. Now again, it’s not a ton. But it’s better than nothing.

I’ll do a full review of Ally soon, but just figured you’d might wanna know who I use. Not being paid by them to say this!

I’ve hoped you’ve learned something and feel better educated on CD’s pros and cons!

Please comment below! I want to hear from you guys. (Yes, you can comment anonymously if you like. Just don’t enter your info and press submit)

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Until next time!

Matt Dalton

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