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Updated on Monday, November 9, 2020
Three-year CDs are a great choice for your mid-term savings goals. They offer higher APYs than 1-year certificates, while avoiding the time commitment of a longer 5-year CD term. To make sure you give your account the best chance to grow your money, you’ll want to find the best CD rates available.
MagnifyMoney can help you find the right 3-year CD for your savings. Using data from DepositAccounts.com, a LendingTree-owned site, we’ve found the highest 3-year CD rates available nationwide. We also looked at each account minimum deposit and each bank’s relative health to ensure we featured the best offers.
The 10 best 3-year CD rates in November 2020
1. Generations Credit Union — 1.26% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Generations Credit Union computes dividends daily and pays them monthly or at maturity on its 36-month CD. It requires a $500 minimum deposit to get started. You may incur a penalty of 90 days’ dividends for early withdrawal.
You are eligible to join Generations, a division of Community 1st Credit Union, if you live in Washington state. If you live outside Washington, you can join by becoming a member of the Northwest Energy Coalition or the Northwest Credit Union Foundation.
2. Pen Air Federal Credit Union — 1.05% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Pen Air Federal Credit Union requires a $500 minimum deposit to open and start saving with a 36-month certificate. The penalty for an early withdrawal will equal 180 days’ interest.
Founded in 1936, Pen Air is based in Pensacola, Fla., with 15 branded locations in northwest Florida and southeast Alabama plus CO-OP Shared Branch and ATM access nationwide. Pen Air membership is open to active duty or retired military; civil service employees; employees at partnering select employer groups; immediate family members of eligible members; and members of the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Inc., for which Pen Air will pay the one-time $3 donation on your behalf.
3. Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union — 1.15% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
All of Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union CDs are available for a minimum deposit of $1,000, including this 3-year certificate. If three years is just a bit too long, you’ll still earn a high APY if you opt for the slightly shorter 30-month CD instead.
You don’t need to be a teacher to join this credit union, which has been around since 1936. You can join Evansville FCU by work, organization or family association or by making a $5 donation to the Mater Dei Friends & Alumni Association.
4. Georgia’s Own Credit Union — 1.10% APY, $500 minimum deposit
If you can keep your money invested in a CD for three years, you can get this high APY from Georgia’s Own Credit Union. There may be a penalty equal to 270 days’ interest if you withdraw your funds early. Interest is credited monthly or compounded quarterly.
Georgia’s Own Credit Union serves communities in Georgia, but anyone can join by supporting the credit union’s charity, Georgia’s Own Foundation. Membership starts at $10.
5. Hiway Federal Credit Union — 1.10% APY, $25,000 minimum deposit
You’ll need $25,000 to contribute if you want to get the high APY on this 36-47 month CD. If you have less cash on hand, but can still swing at least $10,000, you’ll still get an APY that would make this list. Any amount below $10,000 and you might want to go with another institution’s CDs. Also note that you may lose 180 days’ dividends if you need to access your cash before maturity.
Founded in 1931, Hiway Federal Credit Union was established for employees of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Now almost anyone can join Hiway FCU if you live, work, worship or attend school in the Metro Community Area; work at a qualifying company or government agency; are related or know an eligible individual; join the Minnesota Recreation and Park Foundation with a onetime $10 contribution; or join the Association of the United States Army with a one-time $40 contribution.
6. Partner Colorado Credit Union — 1.05% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Partner Colorado Credit Union solidly makes our list and for a minimum deposit of only $500. If you withdraw any of your funds before the maturity date, however, you’ll lose 180 days’ interest. This includes requests to withdraw interest only.
Many people who live or work in Colorado — and their family members — qualify for membership to Partner Colorado Credit Union through partner companies, organizations and residence in certain geographic areas. It’s also easy to join by donating just $5 to the Partner Colorado Foundation.
7. United Texas Bank — 1.05% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
With a $1,000 minimum deposit required, the United Texas Bank’s 36-month CD can grow your money nicely at its solid rate. The penalty for an early withdrawal will equal six months’ interest on the amount withdrawn.
Founded in 1986, United Texas Bank is locally owned and headquartered in Dallas.
8. Superior Choice Credit Union — 1.05% APY, $25,000 minimum deposit
The minimum is a bit steep for this 3-year CD compared to the others on this list, but if you don’t have that much to invest, a minimum of $2,500 will get you a rate that’s not too far off the top 10. And if you have even more ($50,000 and over), you’ll score an even better rate.
Membership to Superior Choice is open to residents of certain counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but you can also join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council or the Douglas County Historical Society in Superior, Wis.
9. Lafayette Federal Credit Union — 1.01% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Lafayette Federal Credit Union offers a handful of certificates, including its 3-year Fixed Rate Certificate, which requires $500 to open and earns 1.01%APY. Interest is compounded and paid quarterly. An early withdrawal from this 3-year account will trigger a penalty equal to 360 days of dividends.
Established in 1935 and headquartered in Rockville, Md., Lafayette Federal credit union has branches in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., plus CO-OP Shared Branches. You can join LFCU if you live or work in its serviced areas, work at a partner company, are an immediate family member of a current member or are a member of the Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council. Existing and new members of the American Consumer Council may also join.
10. CommunityWide FCU — 0.90% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
To take advantage of the competitive rates on a CommunityWide FCU CW certificate account, you’ll need to deposit at least $1,000 at opening. It offers competitive rates on all CDs, including its mid-term 36-month certificate account. CFCU will assess a penalty on any early withdrawals from a CD that depends on the amount you withdraw and the remaining days of your term.
Communitywide FCU was first founded as the West Washington Association Federal Credit Union in 1967. It went through a few different name changes before landing on its current name in 1985. It is headquartered in South Bend, Ind., and has branches throughout the state in addition to CO-OP Shared Branches.
Inflation impact on 3-year CD rates
Inflation reduces the value of any savings or investment balance, including CDs. Your earnings have to exceed the inflation rate for there to be a real return on your money. While mid- and long-term CDs can lock in a high rate today, there’s still potential for inflation to lower your earnings.
For a more inflation-proof savings strategy, consider stock- and bond-based investment products. They can come in handy for long-term savings since their earnings have a better chance of exceeding the inflation rate.
Should I pay early withdrawal penalties if 3-year CD rates rise?
In today’s current rate climate, the zero odds of a Fed rate hike in 2020 don’t point to an increase in 3-year CD rates any time soon. That said, an early withdrawal can sometimes be worth paying the penalties, although you’ll want to do the math and check whether the gains are greater than the costs. Calculate the penalty you would end up paying and ensure it’s lower than the returns on the new CD. This early withdrawal penalty calculator from DepositAccounts.com can run the numbers for you and tell you outright whether breaking your CD is worth it or not.