Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit April 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Having fair credit doesn’t mean you’re ineligible for great credit cards. We’ve rounded up the top credit cards with the best offers in a range of different categories that you’re still likely to be approved for, even with fair credit. These credit cards can help you build credit as long as you use them wisely. In this guide, we’ll show you the best credit cards for fair credit scores as well as how to use them to boost your credit score even higher.

Here are some of the products we will be discussing today:

Check If You’re Pre-qualified

Before applying for any credit card it’s helpful to check if you’re pre-qualified from a variety of institutions. The soft credit check the institutions perform does not harm your credit score and allows you to compare credit options. Sites such as CreditCards.com provide good tools that can match you to offers from multiple credit card companies without impacting your credit score. You can read our complete guide to getting pre-qualified for a credit card here.

Build Credit with Secured Cards

A great approach to rebuilding credit is to get a secured credit card. In order to get the card, you will have to deposit money that will be your line of credit. To effectively rebuild your credit, you must use the card, and we recommend not charging more than 20% of your credit line. For example, if you have a $500 credit line, you should not charge more than $100. Then, pay off your balance in full every single month. You can even build credit with $10 a month on a secured card and see your credit score rise.

After you’ve consistently managed your secured card well over a period of time, you may be able to increase your credit line beyond your initial deposit or migrate to an unsecured credit card.

We’ve reviewed the best secured cards in the market and found our top pick — the Discover it® Secured. This card has a $0 annual fee, a reasonable security deposit and offers an easy transition to an unsecured card. In addition, Discover offers a rewards program and free access to your FICO® score.

Discover it® Secured

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Secured

Annual fee
$0
Minimum Deposit
$200
Regular APR
25.24% Variable
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/New

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Bankruptcies May Be OK If you have a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your credit report, it won’t automatically disqualify you from getting approved for the Discover it® Secured. However, there are no guaranteed approvals. This is a positive if you’ve had trouble getting a credit card in the past.
  • Helps You Rebuild Your Credit This is a great way to improve your credit when you don’t qualify for other cards. Discover reports to the major credit bureaus, which means your good behavior will be rewarded.
  • Free FICO® Score Each month you will receive your free FICO® Score. This is a great tool for you to monitor your credit score. If you practice proper credit behavior, you will see your score increase.
  • Offers a Rewards Program Not only can you improve your credit, but you’ll also earn rewards points as you do so. This is a great feature that many secured cards don’t offer and is a reason why we consider Discover number one. Earn 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases. During your first year, you get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned, automatically (new cardmembers only).
  • Easy to Transition to an Unsecured Card Some companies will make it difficult to transition from a secured to unsecured card. Not Discover. They start automated monthly reviews at month eight. This helps facilitate you from a secured to unsecured card.

Cons Cons

  • Rewards LimitedThe higher 2% reward tier is limited to the first $1,000 you spend at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. Regardless, that’s $20 back, which is a great reward when your goal is to increase your credit score.
  • Be Careful Not to OverspendAs with the other cards in this review, you have to be careful that the rewards program doesn’t entice you to overspend. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your credit score. Make sure that your primary goal, to raise your credit score, precedes the urge to spend too much money in order to get rewards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

Discover it® Secured is a great product for those with fair credit. By practicing responsible credit behavior you will begin to see improvement in your credit score while also earning rewards. Make sure you don’t let the rewards program lure you into overspending. With proper practices, you’ll be on your way to an unsecured card and a better credit score.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Secured

Best for Cash Back

If you have fair credit and want a cash back card the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a good option. As a consumer with fair credit you may not qualify for all cash back cards, but you may qualify for the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card since it is made for those with average/fair/limited credit. With this card you will earn unlimited cash back, with no changing categories, and the rewards never expire.

However, this card comes with a high 26.96% (Variable) APR and $39 annual fee. To earn enough cash back rewards to pay for the card itself each year you’ll need to spend $2,600 annually ($217 per month). To net a cash back of $50 you need to spend $5,933 in a year ($494 per month). This card may be an option for you if you want to earn more than 1% cash back.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s website

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$39
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Regular Purchase APR
26.96% (Variable)
Credit required
bad-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day If you’ve got average/fair/limited credit, this is the highest cash back rate that you’ll see. By spending $225 per month on the credit card, you’ll earn more in rewards than you pay in annual fees. If you spend at least $650 per month on the credit card, you’ll beat out the 1% rewards rate that some secured credit cards offer.
  • Access to your credit score Free access to your credit score is great for those looking to rebuild their credit. You will be able to monitor your credit score using CreditWise as well as take advantage of tools to help you practice good credit behavior.

Cons Cons

  • Annual fee This card comes with a $39 annual fee, unlike other cash back rewards card we mentioned. This is important to consider when deciding what credit card is best for you. Plus, you may not be stuck with the fee forever. Capital One has shown willingness to upgrade users to fee-free accounts when their credit scores improve. You will need to call to ask for the upgrade though.
  • High interest rate This card has a high 26.96% (Variable) APR that is similar to most credit cards for people with average/fair/limited credit. Make sure you pay your bills on time and in full every month to avoid high interest charges. By doing this you will be able to benefit from the cash back rewards.
Bottom line

Bottom line

If you can’t qualify for one of the credit cards above, this is an excellent rewards credit card option. The $39 annual fee isn’t our favorite, but it’s better than the nonsense fees that you see from other lenders. As long as you spend at least $225 per month on this card, you’ll come out ahead. Once you improve your credit, you can consider some of the better rewards credit cards.

Best Low Ongoing APR

No one wants to carry a balance on their credit cards, but if you must, it’s best to get a card with a low ongoing APR. Many lenders charge high APRs around 25%, but you can potentially qualify for a variable APR as low as 8.90%. This card will charge you less money on your debt than the typical credit card, which can save you big dollars in the long run.

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

APPLY NOW Secured

on Aspire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Read Full Review

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
10.40% - 18.00% Variable
Duration
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

Magnify Glass Pros

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months If you need to make a big purchase and can pay it off within the next 6 months, this card will save you a ton of money in interest charges. Your balance won’t accrue any interest, whether it’s from a purchase or a balance transfer during the 6-month introductory period.
  • Low ongoing APR At an APR as low as 9.65% and topping off at 18%, this card rivals many personal loans for having the lowest interest rate, especially if you don’t have excellent credit. This is a major benefit if you can’t afford to pay your statement in full each month, as other cards charge high APRs around 25%.
  • No annual fee You won’t pay anything to keep this card in your back pocket, making it especially good to keep for emergencies. This card has no fee in addition to the low APR, increasing your benefit of having it for unexpected purchases. Even if you only use it on occasion, it is at no harm to you since it’s fee-free.
  • High credit limits Don’t worry if a big emergency pops up; you’ll likely be able to cover it with this card. Aspire boasts generous credit limits on their product information page, which is a benefit, especially if you have fair credit as you may struggle to be approved for a high credit limit from other cards.

Cons Cons

  • 1% foreign transaction fee This is a great card to have for emergencies — as long as you’re at home. The 1% foreign transaction fee isn’t as high as other cards that charge 3%, though you can find cards with no fee.
  • No rewards program You might also take note that the Aspire Platinum MasterCard does not include any rewards program. This is what allows them to charge low fees. Aspire offers the Platinum Rewards MasterCard and World Rewards MasterCard as rewards card options, but they both require a good to excellent credit score.
Bottom line

Bottom line

With no annual fee, a low interest rate, and high credit limits, this card seems perfectly designed to have on hand in case of emergencies. You do have to join the Aspire credit union, but there is no fee — you only need to keep $5 in a savings account for your membership to stay active. Though Aspire charges a low APR, make it a goal to only spend what money you have to avoid paying interest and work toward raising your credit score.

Read our full review of the Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Best for Small Business Owners

Running a business is hard. Small business credit cards can make it a bit easier for you by giving you rewards for everyday purchases. Nevertheless, be aware: Business credit cards forego certain protections that personal credit cards have under the Credit CARD Act. For example, card issuers can change the payment due date or interest rate without giving you prior notice.

Still, small business cards can be a great option for you to build your credit and save money, even if you don’t have a traditional brick-and-mortar business. You can apply for these cards with just a DBA or even your own name, if you’re a freelancer.

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s website

Read Full Review

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
1% Cash Back on every purchase
Regular Purchase APR
25.24% (Variable)
Credit required
fair-credit
Average/Fair/Limited

Magnify Glass Pros

  • $0 annual fee You won’t pay anything for using this card — assuming you pay off your purchases each month to avoid interest charges, of course. This is a great feature since many other cards charge yearly fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees This card is perfect for jet-setting business travelers because it won’t slap you with a foreign transaction fee (typically 3% of the purchase). Whether you travel frequently or on occasion, this card has you covered.
  • 1% cash back on every purchaseMake your business essentially 1% cheaper to run. You earn unlimited cash back on all purchases with no expiration and no minimum to redeem. This is a great way for your business to save money while making everyday purchases.
  • Free cards for employees You won’t have to pay any fees to ensure your employees have the ability to buy the things needed to run your business. You don’t have to worry about reimbursing employees for purchases they’ve made on their personal card, since employee cards are convenient and free.

Cons Cons

  • High 25.24% (Variable) APR If you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll pay a hefty interest rate more commonly found among people with poor credit. This is very high and can rack up debt if you aren’t careful with your spending and payments. Be sure to create a budget to make sure you and your employees don’t spend more than you can pay off at the end of the month, which will help you avoid paying interest.
Bottom line

Bottom line

This card has many benefits for small business owners who have fair credit and can act as a great way to earn rewards on purchases — all with a $0 annual fee. There really aren’t many downsides to the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business — as long as you’re able to pay your credit card bill in full each month. Otherwise, you’ll be slapped with a high interest charge.

Read our full review of the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Best for Students

You may have a fair credit score because you are a student. Student cards provide a great way for you to build your credit score and establish good credit history. The Discover it® Student Cash Back is made with students in mind and offers ways to help you build credit and also earn rewards.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Regular APR
15.24% - 24.24% Variable
Credit required
fair-credit
Fair

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Free FICO® score Keep tabs on your FICO® score while you work to raise it. As a student, you’re new to credit and will want to start developing good credit history. Checking your FICO® score on a monthly basis will help you develop good habits to monitor your score.
  • High-earning cash back potential Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases. Keep tabs on the cash back calendar to see what the categories are for a given quarter.
  • Cash back rewards match for your first year At the end of your first year, Discover will double the amount of cash back rewards you’ve earned. This is a great bonus that increases your cash back in year one. Make sure you don’t overspend and get into debt to get a greater reward, because you’ll damage your credit score.
  • Cash back for good grades Discover will give you a $20 statement credit at the end of each school year if you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You can earn the statement credit for up to five years by submitting the Good Grade Reward request at the end of the school year (September-August). This is a great added bonus for students with superb GPAs.

Cons Cons

  • Must opt in to 5% rewards categories Discover requires you to opt in for the quarterly rotating places in order to get the 5% cash back. Set a reminder for yourself at the beginning of each quarter to log in to your account and activate the rewards places. Otherwise, you’ll just earn a flat 1% cash back. This is key to remember in order for you to maximize the cash back you’ll receive.
  • High interest rates Discover has a high interest rates of 15.24% - 24.24% Variable APR to be aware of. You want to make sure that you pay your bill in full every month to avoid being charged interest as well as a late payment fee (which is waived the first time). Use the waiver as a reminder to set up autopay or alerts to pay your bill on time going forward.
Bottom line

Bottom line

With a $0 annual fee, a free FICO® score, and excellent opportunities to earn cash back, this is a great card designed with students in mind to help build credit while putting more money back in your pocket. Just be sure you don’t use it as an excuse to spend more money than you can pay off, otherwise it’ll have the opposite effect on your credit score.

Read our full review of the Discover it® Student Cash Back

AvantCard Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Avant's website

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

AvantCard Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
26.24%
Annual fee
$29
Credit required
bad-credit
Poor/Limited/Average Credit

Magnify Glass Pros

  • Fast and easy application process
  • No deposit required
  • No hidden fees
  • Report to all three major credit bureaus
  • Zero fraud liability for unauthorized charges
  • Conveniently pay your card through our online portal, 24/7
  • All states except Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00

FAQ

There’s a lot of math that goes into computing your credit scores, but at the end of the day, a fair credit score is defined as being between 649 and 699. Here’s how a fair credit score sits in relation to other credit scoring classes:

  • Excellent: Above 760
  • Good: 700-759
  • Fair/Average: 649-699
  • Poor: 600-648
  • Very Poor: Under 599

You can check your credit score for free on sites like Credit Karma, Chase Credit Journey, or AnnualCreditReport.com.

Having a good or excellent credit score unlocks a lot of advantages, such as lower interest rates and better approval odds for high-value credit cards and other financial products. These advantages will result in more dollars in your wallet at the end of the day. For example, having a high credit score can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments over your lifetime, especially for big-ticket loans like a home mortgage.

But if you have a fair credit score, don’t fret! There is a reason that your score is less than optimal, and thus there are real, concrete steps you can take to boost your credit score into the good and excellent range.

If you play your cards right, you can even join the exclusive 800+ credit score club (unfortunately, it’s not an official club, and you don’t get a shower of balloons and confetti once you reach it — but you will get access to some of the most exclusive financial products).

There can be many reasons why your credit score is below 700. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • You have late payments on your credit report. Having even just one late payment on your credit report can seriously harm it because payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. Unfortunately, unless it’s an error, you’ll just need to wait for it to drop off of your credit report in seven years. To prevent this from happening, make sure all of your debt payments are set up on autopay. That way, you won’t have to worry about it.
  • You have a lot of credit card debt. Credit utilization ratio is one of the biggest factors in calculating your credit score — it affects 30% of the final score. It’s simply how much you owe relative to how much you are allowed to spend. For example, let’s say you have two credit cards with a $5,000 limit each, and you owe $2,000. Your credit utilization ratio is 20% because you owe $2,000 out of a possible $10,000. Luckily, this is one of the easiest factors to correct that will boost your credit score big time in the short run: Pay off your balance, and your score will bump up immediately.
  • You don’t have a long credit history. Although credit history doesn’t factor into the calculation of your credit score as much as the credit utilization ratio and payment history, it still makes up a sizable chunk at 15%. There’s not much you can do about this one: Simply wait for your accounts to age.
  • You have a lot of credit inquiries. Banks don’t like to see you applying for credit like an out-of-control spender in Las Vegas. Each time you apply for credit or a loan, it’s recorded on your credit report as a credit inquiry, and it stays there for two years. To minimize the number of credit inquiries you have, always shop around and make sure creditors use a soft pull credit check unless you’re absolutely ready to apply for the line of credit. This factor makes up just 10% of your credit score, but it’s an easy one you can affect as long as you’re careful about applying for credit.
  • You don’t have a wide variety of account types. You may be an ace at handling your student loans, but creditors also want to know you can handle other types of credit like mortgages and credit card debt, too. The more types of credit accounts you have on file, the better. However, we don’t recommend taking out a loan just for the sake of boosting your credit score — that costs money, and you’ll only receive a modest benefit from it because credit mix only makes up 10% of your credit score.

As you can see, you do have a lot of options when it comes to fine-tuning your credit score into the good or excellent category. We recommend the helpful credit score simulator at Chase Credit Journey to check your current score and see how these adjustments can potentially change your credit level. It’s available whether you’re a Chase customer or not. Give it a try!

Applying for a credit card is easy. You’ll need some basic information like name, address, and Social Security number. You’ll also need employment and income information. Simply enter it into the online form on the credit card company’s website, visit a branch of the bank (if they have one), or call the credit card company directly. You’ll usually receive instant notification if you’ve been approved or not.

There are many ways for you to increase your credit score. Ultimately practicing responsible credit behavior is the best way to see your score rise. Here are a few ways you can increase your credit score:

  • Have someone add you as an authorized user: If you have a willing (and very trusting) friend or family member with better credit, you can ask them to add you as an authorized user onto one or more of their credit cards. Their credit will not be harmed by this (as long as you don’t rack up charges or missed payments), and the credit card will show up on your credit report just as if you had applied for it — boosting your credit utilization ratio, number of accounts, and account age if you keep it for a long time.
  • Increase your credit history length: Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time, but you can still affect your credit history length. Your credit score is partially based off of average credit history length, and the more old accounts you have, the better. If you already have credit cards open, consider keeping them open so your average credit history won’t decrease and ding your credit. Each new credit card you get will drop your average account age, and it’ll take longer to boost this portion of your score.
  • Maintain a low credit utilization: Credit utilization (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is one of the biggest factors in calculating your credit score. The lower, the better. To decrease your utilization ratio, simply pay off your credit card. You can also request a credit limit increase from your credit card issuer to lower your credit utilization ratio — just make sure not to rack up a balance again with that extra credit or you’ll be back to square one.

Missing a payment can single-handedly cause your credit score to drop by 100 points or more. To avoid this, simply set up your credit card on autopay for the minimum amount due — that way you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment.

You can always apply for a personal loan if you need some cash right now for something. You can use this tool to shop around for the best interest rates without hurting your credit score. It’s smart to avoid hard inquiries until you’re ready to actually apply for a personal loan so that your credit isn’t dinged with multiple inquiries.

Each credit card is different, so you’ll need to check the fine print. Usually, though, you’ll need to both charge a purchase and pay off your bill before you’re eligible for those cash back rewards. Then, they’ll tally up this amount and periodically either send you a check, or offer a statement credit.

If you’re running a small business, it’s often easy to mix your personal and business accounts, especially if you’re self-employed. This creates an accounting nightmare to sort through, so it’s recommended (but not required) that you have a separate business banking account and credit card, if you need one.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Best of

The Best 5-Year CD Rates in 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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 April, the average 1-year CD interest rate is 1.37% APY and the average 3-year CD rate is 1.86% APY, compared to the average 5-year CD rate of 2.25% APY.

Longer-term CDs do exist, but even their yields don’t often exceed 5-year CD rates these days. The highest yield on a CD of six or more years is 3.45% APY, though the next best rate comes in at 3.25% APY. 5-year CDs are also useful components to a CD ladder. When you build a ladder with CDs maturing a year apart, you can renew each one into a 5-year CD at maturity. This locks in the higher long-term rates for years to come.

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, similar to MagnifyMoney, a LendingTree owned company, 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 2019

InstitutionAPYMinimum deposit amount

The Federal Savings Bank

3.30%$10,000

Alabama Credit Union

3.03%$500

Affinity Plus FCU

3.25%$500

Main Street Bank

3.25%$500

Sun East FCU

3.25%$500

Tampa Bay FCU

3.25%$500

Presidential Bank

3.25%
$1,000

Service Credit Union

3.25%$1,000

Superior Choice Credit Union

3.25%$10,000

Georgia Banking Company

3.20%$500

The Federal Savings Bank, 3.30% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

To earn the highest rate on this list, you’ll need at least $10,000 to spare, as this is the minimum opening deposit required to open a 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 all 50 U.S. states. It has two retail banking branches in the Chicago area.

learn more Secured

on The Federal Savings Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Alabama Credit Union, 3.03% APY, $500 minimum deposit

The 60-month CD from Alabama Credit Union works better for those who have a lower minimum deposit starting point than the top-ranked CD. Plus, the rate is still competitive — only nominally lower than our top pick. Alabama Credit Union will assess a penalty equal to 360 days’ worth of interest for any early withdrawals you make from a 60-month CD.

Alabama CU was founded in 1956 to serve the University Of Alabama community, and is based in the school’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama Credit Union membership is available to employees of Value Partners (its name for the businesses and organizations it works with) and some members of their families, residents of select local communities and members of select associations.

learn more Secured

on Alabama Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Affinity Plus FCU, 3.25% APY, $500 minimum deposit

To start earning at Affinity Plus FCU’s competitive rate on a 60-month basic certificate, you’ll need an opening deposit of at least $500. Early withdrawals from this account may trigger a penalty of 365 days’ worth of dividends.

Your Affinity Plus FCU membership eligibility depends on the organization where you’re employed or volunteer, your school or place of residence, work or worship or through eligible/current members; you can also easily join by making a one-time $25 donation to the Affinity Plus Foundation. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union was founded in 1930 and is currently headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.

learn more Secured

on Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Main Street Bank, 3.25% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Main Street Bank offers a great rate on its 60-month CD (and its 3-year CD) for a low minimum deposit of $500. An early withdrawal from this account will land you a penalty of 180 days’ worth of interest.

Founded in 2005, Main Street Bank is headquartered in Bingham Farms, Mich., and has a few branches in the Detroit area.

learn more Secured

on Main Street Bank (MI)’s secure website

Member FDIC

Sun East FCU, 3.25% APY, $500 minimum deposit

At Sun East FCU, you only need $500 to start saving through a 60-month certificate of deposit. Plus, Sun East insures your deposits up to $500,000. The penalty for early withdrawals will depend on when during the term you make your withdrawal, according to Sun East FCU customer service.

Founded in 1949 by Sun Oil Company employees, Sun East serves members throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Sun East FCU membership depends on your place of residence, family members, employer or community, though you can also join with a $10 donation to the Sun East Charitable Foundation.

learn more Secured

on Sun East Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Tampa Bay FCU, 3.25% APY, $500 minimum deposit

You can earn Tampa Bay FCU’s high 60-month share certificate rate on all balances starting at $500. The penalty for making an early withdrawal from this account will be six months of last dividends earned.

Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935 by City of Tampa workers and was originally called Tampa City Employees Credit Union. Today, membership at Tampa Bay FCU is open to employees at select companies, select association members and members/residents of certain areas and organizations. You may also qualify through a current member or by joining Prime Time Club with a one-time, non-refundable $5 fee.

learn more Secured

on Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Presidential Bank, 3.25% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

You’ll need a slightly higher minimum deposit to open a Presidential Bank CD which requires at least $1,000. The bank will assess a penalty of 24 months’ worth of interest on any early withdrawal you make from its 5-year CD — the largest penalty listed here.

Presidential Bank was founded in 1985. Its main office is located in Bethesda, Md., with a handful of branches in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

learn more Secured

on Presidential Bank (MD)’s secure website

Member FDIC

Service Credit Union, 3.25% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

Another great high-rate 60-month CD comes from Service Credit Union. It requires at least $1,000 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.

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 to 5,000 shared branches and 30,000 fee-free ATMs within the SUM and CO-OP networks.

learn more Secured

on Service Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Superior Choice Credit Union, 3.25% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

While you only need $2,500 to open a Superior Choice Credit Union 5-year share certificate, you’ll need at least $10,000 to earn at its most competitive rate. All other balances will earn at a lower APY. According to Superior Choice Credit Union customer service, making an early withdrawal from this account will result in a percentage of your balance being charged as a penalty, including accrued interest.

Superior Choice Credit Union was established in 1932. It has a handful of branches in near its Superior, Wisc., headquarters, including one in nearby Duluth, Minn. You can also access over 30,000 fee-free ATMs and 5,000 branches nationwide and in Canada through the CO-OP Network.

learn more Secured

on Superior Choice Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Georgia Banking Company, 3.20% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Georgia Banking Company’s 5-year certificate closes out our list. You’ll need a $500 minimum deposit to start earning at the given interest rate. The bank’s early withdrawal penalty equals six months interest.

Georgia Banking Company was established in 1998, and currently has two branches in the Atlanta metro area.

learn more Secured

on Georgia Banking Company’s secure website

Member FDIC

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 (the most common rate in our list) would result in $882 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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

TAGS:

Advertiser Disclosure

Best of

The Best 3-Year CD Rates in April 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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, similar to Magnify Money, 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 top picks.

The 10 best 3-year CD rates in April 2019

InstitutionAPYMinimum deposit amount

WebBank

3.00%$2,500

CD Bank

3.07%$10,000

Veridian Credit Union

3.05%$1,000

North American Savings Bank

3.05%$5,000

Citizens Access

2.90%$5,000

BankDirect

3.05%$10,000

M.Y. Safra Bank

3.01%$1,000

Main Street Bank

3.00%$500

Sun East FCU

3.00%$500

USALLIANCE Financial

3.00%$500

WebBank — 3.00% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit

WebBank offers five Time Deposits, or CDs. Its 3-Year Time Deposit offers a competitive rate on balances of $2,500 and over. WebBank compounds interest daily, which can grow your savings a little faster. An early withdrawal from a 3-Year Time Deposit will trigger a penalty equal to nine months’ simple interest.

WebBank, founded in 1997, is headquartered in Salt Lake City. It holds an industrial bank charter and maintains Strategic Partnerships in order to provide its customers with a variety of financial products beyond its savings and CD accounts.

learn more Secured

on WebBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

CD Bank — 3.07% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

Maybe it’s no surprise that CD Bank offers competitive CD rates, including on its 36-month account. The CDs require a pretty high deposit of $10,000 to open and start earning interest, which is credited semi-annually. Making a withdrawal from the 36-month CD before maturity will result in a heavy penalty equal to 24 months worth of interest.

As its name might suggest, CD Bank offers only CD accounts for now. CD Bank is an online division of TBK Bank, which is itself a subsidiary of Triumph Bancorp, Inc.

learn more Secured

on CD Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Veridian Credit Union —3.05%APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

If you’re okay with waiting an extra five months for your CD to mature, Veridian Credit Union offers a 41-Month Bump-Up Certificate. It starts off with a competitively high rate and gives you the chance to bump it up once during the term if rates go even higher — plus, you need only $1,000 to open up this account. Unlike most banks/credit unions, Veridian assesses early withdrawal penalties depending on how much you want to withdraw, and how long the CD has until its maturity date.

Veridian Credit Union was first founded as John Deere Employees Credit Union by John Deere employees in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1934; it changed its name to Veridian Credit Union in 2006. You can become a Veridian Credit Union member in a few different ways, including through your place of residence, your employer and family membership. You must open a Member Equity Savings account with at least $5 to join.

learn more Secured

on Veridian Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

North American Savings Bank — 3.05% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit

While you need only $1,000 to open a 36-Month CD from NASB, you’ll need a balance between $5,000 and $1 million to earn at its more competitive rate — balances outside of that bracket earn at a pretty paltry interest rate for CDs. Its penalty for early withdrawals equals 6 months’ worth of interest on the amount withdrawn.

North American Savings Bank was founded in 1927 and has a handful of branches in the Kansas City, Mo. area.

learn more Secured

on North American Savings Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Citizens Access — 2.90% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit

With competitive rates across the board, Citizens Access 3-year CD offers a high rate for those who can deposit at least $5,000 at opening. Early withdrawals from a 3-year CD will trigger a penalty of 180 days’ of interest.

Citizens Access is the online division of Citizens Bank, which traces its roots back to 1828 and is now headquartered in Providence, R.I.

learn more Secured

on Citizens Access’s secure website

Member FDIC

BankDirect — 3.05% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

If you have an extra $10,000 to save away for a few years, consider BankDirect’s 36-month CD. It offers a high interest rate and compounds interest daily. If you make a withdrawal from the account before maturity, you’ll face a penalty of 180 days’ worth of interest.

BankDirect, which operates without branches, first went live on the internet in 1999. It is a division of Texas Capital Bank, N.A.

learn more Secured

on BankDirect’s secure website

Member FDIC

Main Street Bank — 3.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit

You can save towards a future goal easily with Main Street Bank’s low minimum deposit of $500 and competitive rates, including on its 36-month CD accounts. Early withdrawals from the 36-month CD will trigger a penalty of 180 days’ interest.

Main Street Bank was founded in 2005 and has a few locations just north of Detroit.

learn more Secured

on Main Street Bank (MI)’s secure website

Member FDIC

Sun East FCU — 3.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit

You only need $500 to start saving with a Sun East FCU 36-Month Certificate of Deposit, and your deposits are insured up to $500,000. Making an early withdrawal from the account may result in a penalty of 180 days’ worth of dividends.

Sun East FCU was founded in 1949 by Sun Oil Company employees. Today, it serves members throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. You can join Sun East’s membership through your place of residence, family members, employer or by way of your community affiliation (e.g. where you might attend church or school, or a location where you might volunteer). You can also choose instead to make a $10 donation to the Sun East Charitable Foundation.

learn more Secured

on Sun East Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

USALLIANCE Financial — 3.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit

USALLIANCE Financial offers a high-yield, fixed-rate 36-month CD with a minimum deposit of only $500. USALLIANCE compounds interest daily and credits it monthly. Early withdrawals from the account may trigger a penalty equal to 360 days of interest.

USALLIANCE Financial was founded by IBM employees in 1966. Today, you can join USALLIANCE Financial through your place of residence, employer, place of worship, school or organization.

learn more Secured

on USALLIANCE Financial’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Georgia Banking Company — 3.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Georgia Banking Company earns at a high interest rate on its 3-year certificate with an opening deposit of just $500. The bank will assess a penalty equal to six months’ interest on early withdrawals from this account.

Georgia Banking Company started in 1998 and now serves the Atlanta area with two physical locations, as well as its nationwide customers online, on mobile and over the phone.

learn more Secured

on Georgia Banking Company’s secure website

Member FDIC

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 2019 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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

TAGS: