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Updated on Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Five-year CDs offer some of the highest savings interest rates available. In exchange for keeping your money on deposit for half a decade, banks are willing to dole out higher returns on these long-term accounts. For example, in September, the average 1-year CD interest rate is 0.50% APY and the average 3-year CD rate was 0.74% APY, compared to the average 5-year CD rate of 0.93% APY in the same month.
Longer term CDs do exist, but even their yields don’t often exceed 5-year CD rates. The highest yield on a nationally available CD of six or more years is 1.30% APY.
To make sure you’re getting the best CD rates, MagnifyMoney has uncovered the highest 5-year CD rates available nationwide. Using data from DepositAccounts.com, we found that the best 5-year CD rates earned well above the national average interest rate for 5-year CDs. We also took minimum deposit requirements into consideration, to check for wider customer availability.
The 10 best 5-year CD rates in September 2020
1. Generations Credit Union — 1.65% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Generations Credit Union offers a competitive rate for a low minimum deposit amount. Dividends are computed daily and paid monthly or at maturity. Withdrawing funds before the CD matures may result in a penalty fee.
Generations Credit Union is a division of Community 1st Credit Union. Anyone who lives or works in the state of Washington is automatically eligible to join Generations. For those outside Washington state, you may join Generations by becoming a member of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation for a $20 fee or the Northwest Energy Coalition for a $40 membership fee.
2. Service Credit Union, 1.50% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Another great high-rate 60-month CD comes from Service Credit Union. It requires at least $500 to open an account and start earning interest. The penalty for early withdrawals equals one year’s worth of dividends, according to Service Credit Union customer service.
Service Credit Union membership is available to residents or those employed in select areas of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well as active duty military, veterans and their families and Department of Defense employees and their families. You can also join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council — free if you use the promo code “Service.”
Service Credit Union was founded in 1957. It has branch and ATM locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Germany and at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. You can also access 5,000 shared branches and 30,000 fee-free ATMs within the SUM and CO-OP networks.
3. Greenwood Credit Union — 1.10% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
You can get started with a Greenwood Credit Union 60-month certificate of deposit with just $1,000. Then, you can grow your money at 1.10% APY. Dividends are compounded daily and credited monthly, and the account issues quarterly statements. The penalty for an early withdrawal will equal six months’ dividends, which would have been earned on the amount of principal withdrawn.
Greenwood Credit Union was founded in 1948 in Warwick, R.I., where it remains today with its single branch. Members also have access to CO-OP shared branches and ATMs nationwide. You can also access your accounts online and on mobile. Greenwood membership is open to everyone.
4. Wings Financial Credit Union — 1.41% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit
Wings Financial Credit Union offers a few options on its certificates, where different rates apply to different balances and can depend on how often you receive dividend payouts. Interest is paid out quarterly. The early withdrawal penalty equals two years’ dividends (730 days), which is the highest penalty on this list.
Wings Financial was founded in 1938 by Northwest Airlines employees. Today, membership is open to those who live or work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area or the Seattle-Tacoma area; work in the U.S. aviation industry; are related to current members; and members of the Wings Financial Foundation.
5. Georgia’s Own Credit Union — 1.40% APY, $500 minimum deposit
While you need just $500 to open Georgia’s Own Credit Union’s 5-year certificate, its competitive rate applies to all balances. Interest is credited monthly or compounded quarterly. If you make an early withdrawal from the 60-month certificate, you stand to lose 450 days’ interest.
Georgia’s Own Credit Union offers membership to community members in select Georgia areas, employees and retirees of Premier Partners, members of the Getting Ahead Association and family members of current members. If you live outside the areas served in Georgia, you can join by becoming a member of Georgia’s Own Foundation with a $10 donation.
6. Wheelhouse Credit Union — 1.30% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit
You’ll need to make a fairly substantial investment to earn this high APY, but if you have as little as $500 you can put away, you’ll still get a rate that lands on this list. Dividends are calculated daily and paid quarterly.
If you live or work in San Diego, where Wheelhouse is based, or someone in your family is already a member of the credit union, you qualify for membership. If these stipulations don’t apply to you, you can also join by becoming a member of the Zoological Society — it comes with a steep price tag (the exact cost depends on the plan you choose), but supports the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.
7. Pen Air Federal Credit Union — 1.35% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Open a 60-month Pen Air Federal Credit Union Certificate Account with a $500 minimum deposit. The penalty for an early withdrawal will equal 180 days of dividends.
Founded in 1936, Pen Air is headquartered in Pensacola, Fla. and has 16 locations in Florida and Alabama. You qualify for Pen Air membership if you are active duty or retired military, a civil service employee, an employee at a partnering Select Employer Group or an immediate family member of eligible individuals. You can also become a member by joining the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Inc.
8. The Federal Savings Bank — 1.35% APY, $500 minimum deposit
You’ll need only $500 to open this Federal Savings Bank 5-year CD. The penalty for an early withdrawal from this account equals one year of interest.
Established in 2000, The Federal Savings Bank is veteran owned and focuses heavily on mortgage lending throughout the U.S. It has two retail banking branches in the Chicago area.
9. Quorum Federal Credit Union — 1.35% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Quorum Federal Credit Union requires a $1,000 minimum deposit on its 60-Month term account. Quorum will charge no more than 180 days of dividends earned for any early withdrawals made.
Quorum was founded in 1934 by a group of Kraft employees. Today, employees and retirees of select employee groups and folks associated with other affiliated groups and associations may become Quorum members. Or you can become a member by opening a basic savings account with them for only $5, which is funded by Quorum if you are approved.
10. Hiway Federal Credit Union — 1.35% APY, $25,000 minimum deposit
Typically, Hiway Federal Credit Union Certificates require a $500 minimum deposit, but you’ll need to deposit at least $25,000 to unlock the highest rate available on this 60-month certificate. The penalty for an early withdrawal from this account will equal 365 days’ worth of dividends.
Hiway Federal Credit Union was founded in 1931 to serve employees of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Today, it is based in St. Paul, Minn., and opens up membership to employees of qualifying companies or government agencies; members of Minnesota Recreation & Park Foundation; members of the Association of the U.S. Army; and those who live, work, worship or attend school in the Metro Community Area. You may also qualify through a current member or household member.
5-year CDs vs. savings accounts
If you’re simply looking for the highest rates available, 5-year CDs are going to seem much more appealing than a savings account. Even the best savings accounts can’t quite reach the 5-year CD rates you’ll find above. Plus, 5-year CDs lock in their rates at opening for the term of the investment, guaranteeing your rate of return. This can make for a great savings vehicle for conservative investors, who don’t want to ride the waves of an ever-changing economy.
Looking at the numbers, a $5,000 deposit into a 5-year CD at 3.25% APY would result in $881 of extra savings at maturity. Meanwhile, making a $5,000 deposit into one of the best savings accounts at 2.25% APY lands you with nearly $595 in savings after five years.
Savings accounts do provide easier access to your money, though. If you find yourself in a pinch suddenly, you can make a quick ACH transfer online or a withdrawal at a branch or ATM. Withdrawing from CDs isn’t as easy, especially when you account for the money you’ll lose to early withdrawal penalties. As you can see from the accounts above, early withdrawals from a 5-year CD can result in the loss of six months’ to two years’ worth of interest.
5-year CDs vs. other investment options
Investing in individual bonds — Treasury, municipal, or corporate — can be a solid alternative to saving with 5-year CDs. Non-Treasury bonds do have some risk by default as they don’t have the FDIC/NCUA insurance coverage limits. You can use these bonds to build a ladder similar to a CD ladder, so each bond matures a year or so apart.
An alternative to creating a bond ladder is to invest in a mutual fund or ETF of bonds. Unlike a ladder, however, the value of a bond mutual fund or ETF does fluctuate with interest rates. So when interest rates go up, the value of those investments will drop and vice versa.
The best way to maximize your 5-year CD investment
If you’re putting away money for five years, you’re going to want to make it worthwhile. For starters, CDs are best for those who have already maxed out their other savings accounts and have their emergency savings in a liquid savings account for easy access. They’re also better if you have a higher deposit to stash away. That will earn more interest in the long term for more tangible savings.
For example, placing $1,000 in a 5 year CD with a 3.25% APY will yield about $176 in savings by the end. Making a $10,000 deposit, on the other hand, lands you with a little over $1,764 in interest. That $176 is a good chunk of change, but you should make sure it’s enough to justify stashing away $1,000 now instead of perhaps waiting to make a larger deposit.
A great way to utilize a 5-year CD is to include it in a CD ladder. A 5-year, five-CD ladder is a standard and easy-to-track method of saving. You open five CDs, each maturing a year apart. Once a CD matures, you renew it as a new 5-year CD. Eventually, all your CDs will be 5-year accounts, maturing a year apart. You can also choose to withdraw your money whenever an account matures if you need to use those funds. This allows you to take advantage of the longer terms’ higher rates and bigger savings.