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Updated on Saturday, May 1, 2021
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 May 2021
1. Hiway Federal Credit Union — 0.95% 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.
2. Partner Colorado Credit Union — 0.70% 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.
3. Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union — 0.95% 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. 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.
5. American Heritage Credit Union — 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum balance
To score this 3-year CD rate from American Heritage Credit Union, you’ll first need to open a savings account with at least $15, which establishes your membership. Then, you can opt for a CD. Dividends are compounded and credited monthly, but you may face a penalty of 360 days’ dividends if you withdraw your money early.
There are a few ways to become a member of American Heritage, which is based in Philadelphia. You are eligible if you work for one of its workplace partners or have an immediate family member with an account. Those who live, work, worship or attend school in or around Philadelphia are also eligible. If none of these apply to you, you also can qualify as a member of the Kids-N-Hope Foundation, and American Heritage will even make the donation for you.
6. Wings Financial Credit Union — 0.80% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit
Wings Financial Credit Union offers 3-year CD rates for a range of investment amounts. For this APY, you’ll need to deposit at least $10,000. For lower amounts, you’ll still get a rate that would make our top 10. The penalty for an early withdrawal from this CD is 730 days’ dividends.
Wings membership is available to anyone who works for the aviation industry as well as anyone who lives or works in certain metro areas of Michigan, Florida, Georgia and Washington, and specific counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin. You can also join by making a donation of at least $5 to the Wings Financial Foundation.
7. Pen Air Federal Credit Union — 0.80% 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.
8. Latino Credit Union — 0.55% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Interest accrues daily but isn’t compounded in this certificate of deposit from Latino Credit Union. If you cancel the CD early, you’ll pay the lesser of 180 days’ interest or all interest earned.
You can open an account once you establish membership with the credit union online. The easiest path to membership is with a one-time $10 family membership to the Latino Community Development Center (LCDC), an organization that offers financial education.
9. MutualOne Bank — 0.55% APY, $500 minimum deposit
This 36-month CD from MutualOne will net you an APY that comes in toward the bottom of our top 10. If you withdraw any money before the maturity date, a penalty of 180 days’ interest will be imposed and charged to your account. You’ll have 10 days after the CD matures to withdraw funds; otherwise, the CD will automatically renew.
Based in Massachusetts, MutualOne Bank was formed in 2012 when two banks — Framingham Co-operative Bank and Natick Federal Savings Bank — merged. Framingham Co-operative Bank traces its establishment all the way back to 1889.
10. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union — 0.82% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit
Investments of $2,500 and more will net you this APY. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union also offers bonus rates for higher account balances, so consider opening your account with more than the minimum. Dividends are paid monthly, and you can choose to leave them in the account for further compounding, transfer them to another account or have them mailed to you as a check. You can also use your CD funds as collateral on loans with the credit union.
If you aren’t an employee of Northrop Grumman Corporation or its subsidiaries or related to an employee, you can get a membership to the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation, which will qualify you for credit union membership.
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 odds 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.