How to Find the Best CD Rates

Written by , June 20, 2013

How to Find the Best CD RatesWhen it comes to investing, Certificates of Deposit (or “CDs” for short) are among the best products for beginners. They are FDIC insured, which means that unlike stocks and bonds your principal investment is insured against loss. And in exchange for agreeing to keep your money on deposit for a term of a few months or years, the bank offers a higher interest rate than your standard savings account. Unfortunately CD rates are fairly low now, however they often pay more than the meager rates that are paid for savings accounts.

CDs are easy to understand and set up. The most difficult part of getting started with CDs is often finding the best rate. Interest rates vary significantly from institution to institution, and the bank that had the best rate a few months ago might not have the best one now.

Here’s some banking advice on how to go about finding the best rates on CDs.

  • Go online. There are a number of websites that offer current information on CD rates. Among the most popular is Bankrate.com, which allows users to look up the best rates from both local and online banks. You can also search by term length and minimum deposit. Most national banks are listed there, but smaller local banks may not be.
  • Call your local bank. It might be well worth your time to call locally-based banks that are not listed on Bankrate.com and inquire about their CD rates. Some offer very competitive rates to keep existing customers happy and draw new ones in.
  • Don’t forget about credit unions. Since they are member-owned and not operated to earn a profit, credit unions are great places to go for just about any financial product. CDs are certainly no exception. Credit unions do have membership requirements, but many allow anyone who lives or works in their service area to join.
  • Negotiate with your current bank. If you have a long and positive relationship with your bank, they may be willing to offer you a higher CD interest rate than they offer new customers. Some automatically give better rates to those with established accounts and high balances. If yours doesn’t, don’t be afraid to ask if they can meet or beat another bank’s rate. It’s quite possible that they will be willing to do so in order to keep your business.
  • Take step-ups into consideration. Some banks offer step-up CDs that allow customers to adjust their interest rate once during the term. These are great to have if interest rates are forecasted to rise. If you’d like the option to switch to a higher rate if it becomes available, a step-up CD might be your best bet even if it doesn’t currently offer the top rate.
  • It may take some searching to find the best CD rates, but it’s time well spent. Even though your money won’t be tied up as long as it would with other accounts, a slightly higher interest rate can really make a difference in your earnings.

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