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Earning Interest

APY vs. Interest Rate on Savings and CD Accounts — Explained

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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When you’re signing up for a checking or savings account, the first thing you are likely to review is the account’s APY and interest rate. They may seem similar but they are actually two very different terms.

An interest rate is the percentage of your deposit that banks pay you in order to hold your money with them. APY is an acronym that stands for for annual percentage yield. It refers to the total amount of interest you earn on your savings over a year, and it factors in compounding interest. APY gives a truer picture of how much money you will make from your certificate of deposit (CD), savings or money market account, than by looking at a simple interest rate alone.

The higher the APY, the more money you can expect to earn from your deposit in your CD, money market or savings accounts.

Understanding the various types of interest rates

For deposit accounts, there are two types of interest rates you need to know: simple interest and compounding interest.

Simple interest

Simple interest is easy to calculate — it’s calculated only on the principle you deposit in your bank account. It means if you invest $10,000 at an interest of 2%, for instance, you will earn $200 in interest at the end of the year.

Simple interest rates are typically used with brokered CD accounts purchased through brokerage firms like Fidelity, Vanguard or Charles Schwab, said Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts.com, a fellow LendingTree-owned site. Instead of receiving compounding interest, holders of brokered CDs normally get paid simple interest monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

Compounding interest

Compounding interest is more complicated, because it takes into account the interest you earn on both the interest and principle. When you leave the interest you earn in a bank account instead of taking it out, the overall interest paid is calculated based on the total balance, including the interest you’ve earned over time. So as each month passes, you are earning interest on an increasingly larger pool of money.

That’s why compounding interest can be such a powerful tool and why you’ll hear many experts encourage folks to save as early and often as they can so that they have more time to enjoy the power of compounding.

Here is how compounding interest works. Let’s say you put $10,000 in savings account that earns an interest rate of 2%. After one year, you will have earned $200. So you’ll start year two with a total balance of $10,200. Now, you’ll earn the same 2% but you’ll be earning it on a higher balance (your original deposit plus $200 in earned interest). At the end of year two, the total interest on your deposit will be $204 — ($10,000+$200) x 2% = $204 — and you’ll be left with a total of $10,404.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY) vs interest

Most deposit accounts where you earn the interest use APY.  It is a number that accurately represents how much you will make from a deposit in a given year, factoring in both the interest rate and compounding period.

If interest is paid on an investment once per year, which means it has an annual compounding period, as shown in the above-mentioned example, the APY and interest rate are the same.

But in reality, most banks offer more frequent compounding periods, which could be quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily. In these situations, the compounding effect occurs on a much smaller scale but more frequently. As a result, the returns are higher.

Most banks offer an APY, so that account holders don’t have to calculate on their own. But if you are curious to know how an APY is calculated, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides the mathematical formula on its website.

Read more about the difference between APR and interest rate when it comes to mortgages here.

How to calculate APY

You can use DepositAccount.com’s compound interest calculator to calculate how much return you will eventually get on your investments over certain time periods. But if you’re someone who likes to see how the math works out, we’ll cover the formula as well.

APY = 100*[(1 + (interest rate/compounding cycles)^compounding cycles)) – 1]

Compounding cycles is the number of times a year your interest compounds.

Now if the 2% interest on that investment of $10,000 compounds daily (365 times of a year), at the end of the year, you will earn $202.01 in interest on that deposit. In this case, the APY is 2.0201%.

Here is how we arrived at the result:

APY = 100 * [(1 + (.02/365) ^ 365) – 1]

APY = 2.0201%

The deposit compounds monthly, meaning it has 12 compound cycles:

APY = 100 * [(1 + (.02/12) ^ 12) – 1] = 2.0184%

Blended APY

Blended APY comes into play when there are rate tiers in accounts. That means depending on how much you’ve invested, a portion of your balance earns one interest rate, while another portion earns a different interest rate. A blended APY averages the different interest rates and also factors in compounding.

Some financial institutions reward low balance savers by placing the highest rate with the lowest deposit, but if the balance grows they start using a reverse tier system where they blend the APY as the balance grows, Tumin explained.

These tiered rates are typically applied in money markets, savings and reward checking accounts, Tumin said. There can be more than two rate tiers, which it can make it more complicated to determine the final amount of interest you’ll earn over time.

Banks and credit unions that offer products that apply blended APYs usually list the rate tiers for different ranges of deposits. In this example, the blended APY is neither 1% nor 2%. The exact blended APY is calculated based on how much you have invested.

The formula that you can use to calculate the blended APY is:

Blended APY = (Amount1 * Rate1 + Amount2 * Rate2) / Total Amount

For example, let’s say you open a savings account that gives you 2% APY on your investments below $10,000 and 1% APY on deposits above $10,000.

You have $20,000 to deposit.

So, what we get from the $20,000 is:

Blended APY = ($10,000 * 2% + $10,000 * 1%) / $20,000 = an effective APY of 1.5%

Blended APY vs fixed APY:

Would you be better off picking an account with the blended APY or another account with a fixed APY of 1.5% on your entire balance?

It depends on your total balance.

Let’s say you put $15,000 in that same two-tiered account (2% on your first $10,000; 1% on deposits above $10,000).

Using the same formula from above, your blended APY would be 1.67%, beating a 1.5% APY.

But if you dump $50,000 into this account, your blended APY then would be 1.2%.

In this case, a fixed 1.5% APY would be a better deal for you.

When looking for savings accounts, you should shop around and compare the expected returns based on your initial investment.

Understanding the difference between APY, interest rate and APR

In the family of interest rates, APY has a sister called APR, which stands for annual percentage rate.

APR is often used to describe the interest rate you pay on loans and credit card debt. However, once in a while, you’ll see APR mentioned for deposit accounts, which essentially means a simple interest rate in that context, Tumin said.

When you are shopping for a loan, instead of looking at the interest rate, you should focus on APR, which provides a clearer picture of how much the loan will cost you.

An interest rate is the percentage of a loan amount that it costs to borrow money.

Essentially, APR reflects the amount of interest you pay on the money you borrow from a lender every year, and it also factors in how the interest is applied to your balance and associated fees and other costs. But unlike APY, APR does not take compounding into account.

If a lender charges no additional fees, the loan’s APR and interest rate are identical. But if you have to pay an origination fee for a loan, for example, it will increase the APR on that loan, making it higher than a simple interest rate.

Although lenders often advertise the interest rates, the Federal Truth in Lending Act requires that every lender to disclose the APR, so you can use the APR as a good basis to compare the true costs of loans. However, your monthly payment is calculated based on the interest rate, not APR. Here’s an example that shows how monthly payments are calculated using a loan calculator from LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney. The fees and other costs, such as discount points and origination fees are often paid at the closing of a loan or will be calculated into your loan balance.

This article contains links to DepositAccounts.com. Like MagnifyMoney, DepositAccounts.com is a subsidiary of LendingTree.

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.

Shen Lu
Shen Lu |

Shen Lu is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Shen Lu at [email protected]

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Best of, Earning Interest

The Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts in January 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The Best Online Savings Accounts

Updated January 22, 2020

There are no excuses for sticking with a low-rate savings account these days. Online savings accounts provide consumers with interest rates that are way above those offered by conventional banks. The best online savings accounts can easily earn you an APY of 1.70% or greater, while the average rate offered by a traditional brick-and-mortar bank remains at a paltry 0.27%.

If you’re still skeptical about switching to an online bank, consider the facts. Your funds are just as safe stashed with an FDIC-insured online bank as they would be with the bank branch on Main Street, and you’re likely to get better technical support with an online-only bank website and app. Many offer round-the-clock customer support and online chat features that make it easy to resolve issues without needing to visit a branch in person. Along with higher rates, you may end up saving on the cost of the account. With lower overhead costs, online banks typically charge lower fees.

Every month we review and compile the best savings account offers from online banks. Our ranking factors in features such as a higher-than-average interest rate, no minimum balance requirement, and superior ATM access.

1. High Rate: Capital One – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance

360 Performance Savings from Capital OneA consistent rate leader for its deposit accounts, Capital One now offers its 360 Performance Savings. With a 1.70% APY on all balances and no monthly fee, you get a chance to boost your savings uninterrupted. There are no minimum balances required to open or maintain the account, either.

Capital One is able to offer higher rates and lower (to no!) fees on this online savings account compared to traditional in-branch offerings. Still, you can head to a Capital One branch or Capital One Café to open a new 360 Performance Savings account, if you prefer. You cannot use an ATM to withdraw or deposit funds, but you can visit a branch, call the bank or make your own online transfer. You can access all accounts on your mobile device through the Capital One app, as well.

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2. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (and no fees)

High Yield Savings Account from American Express National BankOur sponsored advertiser, American Express National Bank, offers a Personal Savings account, which earns a 1.70% variable Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 12/11/2019. The account charges no monthly fees and requires no minimum deposit, making it an affordable account to open. You must fund your account within 60 days of applying for the account, and the FDIC insures your deposits up to $250,000. Overall, the account is a great option for anyone who wants the flexibility of earning a high interest rate on a sum of money you’ve stashed away, minus the withdrawal restrictions of a certificate deposit.

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on American Express National Bank’s secure website

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3. High Rate: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (but no ATM access)

High-yield Online Savings Account from Goldman Sachs Bank USA

Our advertiser Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the consumer bank of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, offers a 1.70% APY on deposits. There isn’t a minimum balance requirement to earn the APY and there are no transaction fees. Upon opening the account, you can deposit funds via electronic transfer, wire transfer, or deposit by check. You can get access to your funds via electronic transfer or wire transfer. Goldman has been investing heavily in Marcus, its online consumer bank. Marcus is already offering some of the best savings accounts and personal loans in the market, and further expansion is expected. The savings account has consistently been paying one of the highest rates in the market. With a 1.70% APY, you can get one of the highest rates in the market from a well-known brand. The maximum deposit is $1,000,000 and deposits are FDIC insured up to the $250,000 limit.

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on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

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4. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance

Online Savings Account from BarclaysBarclays is a large, old British bank, based in London and with more than 325 years of history. Although Barclays is huge in the United Kingdom, it is a challenger brand in the US. Barclays offers savings products with highly competitive rates. These deposits are used to fund their rapidly growing American credit card business. The online savings account has a 1.70% APY with no minimum balance to open and no monthly fees. Your deposits are FDIC insured up to the legal limit. The Barclays website has a good look and feel. And you can have the confidence of keeping your money with one of the world’s largest and oldest universal banks.

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on Barclays’s secure website

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5. High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance, (and ATM access)

High Yield Savings from Synchrony BankSynchrony Bank pays a healthy 1.70% APY. There is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee. In addition to the great rate, you can get an ATM card. Most internet-only banks require you to transfer funds electronically, which can take a few days. If you ever need quick access to your funds, the ATM card makes access easy. You might not recognize the Synchrony brand in the banking space, but it is a large, well-capitalized business. Synchrony used to be a part of General Electric (GE), and was spun out as a separate company. Unfortunately, the digital experience is not the best, but they now have a mobile banking app.

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Member FDIC

6. Favorite Online Package: Ally Bank – 1.60% APY, no minimum balance and you can get a free checking account

Online Savings Account from Ally BankAlly is a bank without branches that had been consistently paying high interest rates on savings accounts. While Ally is still offering rates way above what brick-and-mortar banks are offering, it seems this online bank no longer wants to be seen as the online bank with the most competitive rates. The current APY on Ally’s savings account is 1.60%. Although Ally has dropped its rate significantly, we still favor this online bank. It doesn’t require a minimum balance to earn the APY and, even better, you can open a free checking account (also with no minimum balance requirement and eligible for the 1% cash back offer). This makes access to your savings account incredibly easy – because you can transfer funds online (or via the app) and have immediate access via checks, debit cards and ATMs. With an Ally account, you will have access to their full suite of expanding (and market-leading) products such as CDs, money market account, checking account, and IRA accounts.

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

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7. High Rate: HSBC Direct – 2.00% APY, $1 minimum to open, no minimum balance to earn APY

HSBC Direct Savings from HSBC DirectHSBC Direct is the online division of financial giant, HSBC Bank. Based on the amount of assets HSBC Bank has acquired to date, it is the 14th largest bank in the U.S. While HSBC Direct may sound like a new player to the online banking game, this division was actually around prior to the 2008 financial crisis and offered extremely competitive rates. After the financial crisis, the bank renamed the online division to HSBC Advance and slowly started to decrease its online savings account rates, much like other online banks were doing around that time.

Fortunately, HSBC has decided to reenter the online banking space. Since the initial launch in July of 2018, the bank has consistently increased its HSBC Direct Savings Account rate from 1.70% APY to 2.00% APY. You only need $1 to open the account and the APY will be applied to any balance below $2 million. You may fund the account via ACH transfer and the account can be opened online. You will have to deposit new money to the account, which means that you cannot be a member of the HSBC Group in the United States. The account doesn’t have a monthly maintenance fee and all deposits are FDIC insured.

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on HSBC Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

8. High Rate: Vio Bank – 1.95% APY, $100 to open

High Yield Online Savings Account from Vio BankVio Bank is the online division of MidFirst Bank, a national private financial institution with over $16 billion in assets. Vio Bank was recently created and is not yet as established as Marcus, Barclays, American Express, Synchrony, and Ally Bank. However, this online bank launched its High Yield Online Savings account with a strong APY (at the time of its launch) and has been consistently competitive since it launched. It’s currently offering an outstanding 1.95% APY on all balances. You only need $100 to open the account. You can fund the account via ACH.

There are a few limitations to keep in mind: incoming ACHs take anywhere between two to five business days to post and the online bank may place a hold your ACH for two or three business days. When you’re ready to transfer funds out of the account, you’ll be limited to $5,000 per outgoing ACH. You’ll also be limited to transferring an aggregate monthly total of $20,000 via outgoing ACHs. As is with every other savings account, you’ll also be limited to making six withdrawals per monthly statement cycle. The good news (aside from the high APY) is that Vio Bank doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee. Vio Bank also has a mobile banking app where you can conveniently manage your accounts on-the-go. Also, its website is mobile friendly so it should be fairly easy to do your online banking from a smart phone, as well. We think this online bank is very promising and hope it continues to offer one of the best savings account rates in the nation.

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on Vio Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

9. High Rates on two savings accounts: Customers Bank – 1.95% or 1.95% APY, $5,000 or $25,000 to open depending on account

High-Yield Savings Account from Customers BankCustomers Bank was established in 1997 and has grown to be known as a “super-community bank” in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and New England. The bank has over $9 billion in assets, making it a mid-sized bank. Currently, Customers Bank is offering two outstanding rates on two different accounts. Its Digital Savings Account requires a minimum deposit and balance of $5,000 to earn a high rate of 1.95%. This account doesn’t have any monthly fees. You can open this account here.

If you have $25,000 to deposit, the High-Yield Savings Account is a better fit for you. If you can deposit and maintain a minimum of $25,000 into the account, this bank will reward you with a 1.95% APY. You’ll have to maintain this balance to continue earning the high rate. You must fund the account within 30 days of receiving application approval. This account doesn’t come with any monthly fees.

A few items to be aware of: these accounts don’t come with checks or a debit card. Customers Bank does have ACH transfer limitations of $5,000 per day and $50,000 per statement cycle. You can easily open these accounts online and manage the account via Customer Bank’s website or mobile banking app. Deposits are FDIC-insured.

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on Customers Bank’s secure website

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10. High Rate: CIBC Bank USA – 1.85% APY, $1,000 to open

CIBC Agility Savings - Online Only from CIBC USACIBC Bank USA is the U.S. division of a Canadian based bank. This division was established in 1991 and has since acquired over $27 billion in assets. Currently, CIBC Bank USA is offering an online-only savings account with a competitive APY of 1.85%. You’ll only need $1,000 to open the account. While there isn’t a monthly maintenance fee, you may be charged $10 if you make more than six transactions per statement cycle. CBIC Bank USA does have a mobile banking app, but make sure that you download the app for the U.S., not Canada.

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on CIBC USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

11. High Rate: Citizens Access – 1.85% APY, $5,000 minimum balance amount

Online Savings Account from Citizens AccessCitizens Access is the online division of Citizens Bank. This division was recently created to provide the best savings rates to consumers. While the online division is brand new, the bank its backed by isn’t. Citizens Bank has been around for a while and has grown to have over $122 billion in assets. While you need to deposit and maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 to earn the 1.85% APY, you’ll be funding an account that comes with no fees. If your balance happens to fall below $5,000, the APY will drop to 0.25%. One downside to this online-only bank is that they don’t currently have a mobile banking app. This means that you’ll have to do all of your banking through their website. Luckily, their website is mobile-friendly.

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on Citizens Access’s secure website

Member FDIC

12. High Rate: Betterment – 1.83% APY, $10 minimum to open

Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve - Promo Rate from BettermentBetterment is an investment company and one of the best robo-advisors. Since its creation, the mission of this company has always been to empower its customers to make the most of their money. With this mission in mind, the online brokerage decided to offer a high-yield savings account with an outstanding rate. While this account is not like your typical online savings account, it does come up with an outstanding rate – especially if you take advantage of the promotional rate. How is it different from other savings accounts? For one, Betterment is not a bank and is not FDIC insured. Fortunately, the company has partnered with a number of banks to offer FDIC insurance to accountholders. Essentially, your funds are deposited with the partner banks and will be insured up to $250,000 at each partner bank. One big benefit that Betterment is currently offering is the ability to opt out of depositing your money at a specific bank.

If you’re comfortable with the way this account is structured, you’ll be rewarded with a 1.83% APY. You only need $10 to open the account and there isn’t a minimum balance amount to earn the APY. This account doesn’t come with any maintenance fees and you can transfer money from the Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve account as many times as you want. If you choose to withdraw money from this account, it’ll be transferred to your linked checking account within 1 to 2 business days. While these types of emerging cash management accounts may not be for everyone, we do feel like they deserve a place on this list due to their outstanding rates.

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on Betterment’s secure website

FDIC Insured

13. Unique Bank + Highest Overall Rate: Fitness Bank – 2.20% APY, $100 minimum to open

Fitness Savings (12,500+ Steps) from FitnessBankFitness Bank is unique and new online bank. It’s a division of Affinity Bank, which has been around since 2002 and has acquired over $318 million in assets. Affinity Bank decided to launch a concept like no other to reward actively fit individuals with the highest APY currently available. While most institutions choose to offer tiered rates based on balance amounts, Fitness Bank offers tiered rates based on the average number of steps you take on a daily basis. To earn the high 2.20% APY, you’ll need to take an average of 12,500 steps or more per day. If you only take an average of 10,000 to 12,499 steps per day, you’ll earn an APY of 2.00% (which is still a great APY). You’ll earn 1.75% APY if you take an average of 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. Taking an average of 5,000 to 7,499 steps per day will qualify you for an APY of 1.25%. Finally, if you take anywhere between 0 to 4,999 steps on average per day, you’ll only earn 1.00%.

Fitness Bank will track your steps by requiring you to download its Step Tracker app. The bank will then calculate your average steps from the previous month to determine which tier you qualify for. Once the bank determines which rate your activity qualifies you for, you will continue earning that rate for an entire month until the bank recalculates your activity. The activity requirement will be waived for the first month so that you can get your app all set up and start logging in some steps. For this first month, you’ll automatically earn the 2.20% APY.

In terms of actual money, you will need at least $100 to open the account and you’ll need to maintain this balance to waive the $10 monthly maintenance fee. The bank does impose a limit on the amount of money you’re able to transfer in and out of the account via ACH. You cannot transfer more than $15,000 per day in or out of the account. You also cannot exceed more than six certain withdrawals or you’ll incur an excessive withdrawal fee of $10 for each additional withdrawal. In addition to the Step Tracker app, Fitness Bank has a mobile banking app to manage your account.

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on FitnessBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

14. High Rate: Elements Financial – 2.10% APY, $2,500 minimum balance amount

Helium Savings 1 year Promo - New Money from Elements FinancialElements Financial was established in 1930 and currently has over $1.6 billion in assets. Its success is most likely attributed to its ability to reach customers nationwide. Anyone can become a member of this credit union just by opening a checking or savings account, or by applying for a loan or credit card. Regardless of the account you choose to open, Elements Financial will open a savings account for you and deposit $5 into the account to get you started.

If you choose to open a savings account with this credit union, you should consider opening the Helium Savings account. The credit union is currently running a promotion on this account with a 2.10% APY that is guaranteed for one year (or 12 statement cycles). Once the promotional period ends, the rate will drop to 1.30% (or whatever the rate is at the time the promotional period ends for you). The account requires a minimum deposit of $2,500 of new money to earn the APY, but you only need a minimum of $100 to open the account. However, you won’t earn interest if you have less than $2,500 in the account. Existing customers don’t qualify for the promotional APY. There aren’t any monthly maintenance fees associated with this account. You’ll be given an Elements ATM card to withdraw money from the credit union’s surcharge-free network. The credit union also has a mobile app that allows you to manage and maintain the account on-the-go.

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on Elements Financial’s secure website

NCUA Insured

15. High Rate: BrioDirect – 2.05% APY, $25 minimum balance amount

High-Yield Savings from BrioDirectBrioDirect is powered by Sterling National Bank, which is a large bank in New York with over $29 billion in assets. This online brand recently launched with a high 2.05% APY. You only need $25 to open the account and you’ll need to maintain at least this amount on a daily basis to earn the APY. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee and can be funded via ACH, wire transfer, or check. There are limitations to the amount of money you can transfer in and out via ACH. BrioDirect limits incoming ACH transfers to $500,000. The bank limits outgoing ACH transfers to $25,000 per transaction and a total of $125,000 per month. You are able to link as many external bank accounts as you’d like to this account. You can also initiate ACH deposits and withdrawals from other banks. You can manage this account online or from Sterling National Bank’s mobile app.

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on BrioDirect’s secure website

FDIC Insured

16. High Rate: First Foundation Bank – 2.00% APY, $1,000 to open

Online Savings Account - New Money Only from First Foundation BankFirst Foundation Bank officially launched in 2008, but its leadership has been in the financial services industry since 1990. This bank was established by the same group that leads the Keller Group, a wealth management firm. The bank has grown to acquire over $6 billion in assets. In October, this bank launched an Online Savings Account with a high APY of 2.00%. You’ll need to have a balance of at least $1,000 in order to open that account and you’ll need to maintain that amount in order to earn the high APY. If your balance falls below $1,000, the APY will drop to 1.00%. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee.

While Regulation D applies to this account, First Foundation Bank will provide an ATM card if you request one from the bank. The bank will reimburse ATM fees from other banks and ATM operators up to $20. There is a limit to the amount of money that you can withdraw. If you’re withdrawing from an ATM, the bank sets a daily limit of $500. The daily point-of-sale limit is $1,500. If you’re transferring money online or via ACH, the daily limit is $5,000 and the monthly limit is $10,000. If you need to transfer more than the preset limits, you’re able to call the bank and request that they increase the limit. The bank allows you to maintain the account online and through their mobile banking app.

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on First Foundation Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

17. High Rate: Prime Alliance Bank – 1.96% APY, $10,000 minimum balance amount

Personal Savings Account from Prime Alliance BankPrime Alliance Bank was established in 2004 to provide financial assistance to local businesses and residents. However, through its online banking platform, it’s now able to reach more customers while keeping that local bank service. Today, it’s grown to acquire over $455 million in assets. While the bank’s Personal Savings Account doesn’t require a minimum amount to open the account, you will need to have at least $10,000 in the account to earn the high APY of 1.96%. If your balance is below the amount, you’ll earn 1.86% APY. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee. You’re able to request an ATM card and withdraw as much as you need from an ATM, but the account is limited to six certain withdrawals and transfers due to federal regulations. You’re able to maintain the account online or through the bank’s mobile app.

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on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

18. High Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.95% APY, $500 minimum to open

High Yield Savings Account from Quontic Bank Quontic Bank, the Adaptive Digital Bank, was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in New York City. With a small physical presence on its own, Quontic Bank offers customers access to over 90,000 ATMs in the country. You can also access your accounts online and on mobile, which includes check deposit.
Its High Yield Savings account earns 1.95% APY on all balances, but you’ll need at least $500 to open the account. You may also want to keep a balance of at least $10,000 to avoid the $10 monthly fee. While E-Statements won’t cost you a thing, paper statements cost $5 per month. Uniquely, this savings account comes with a Debit MasterCard.

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on Quontic Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

18. High Rate: Salem Five Direct – 1.91% APY, $100 to open – Be aware of transfer limitations

eOne Savings from Salem Five DirectSalem Five Direct is the online bank division of Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, a community bank based in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem has been around for more than 150 years and all deposits are insured by the FDIC up to the legal limit.

You only need $100 to open this account, and there are no monthly maintenance fees. However, they do have a few limitations to be aware of. First, according to their online banking agreement, Salem Five Direct limits the dollar amount of their External Transfers to $5,000 per transaction, $5,000 in aggregate per day, and $20,000 in aggregate per month. So, if you decide to have more than one account with them, like their money market account, they’ll look at the aggregate amount of External Transfers conducted from both the savings account and money market account. Second, account holders are limited to six withdrawals per statement cycle due to Federal Regulations. If you exceed the six withdrawal limit, they’ll charge you $10 per additional transaction.

Finally, the web and mobile experiences are not great. But, if you give them a call (which we have done), you will get friendly service from a community bank. While this bank does offer one of the best rates for an online savings account, we want you to be aware of their limitations.

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on Salem Five Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

20. For Small Balance Savers – Digital Federal Credit Union – 6.17% APY up to $1k

Primary Savings from Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) currently offers a nice account for people who are just starting to save. You can earn an APY of 6.17% with their Primary Savings Account. You will only earn that rate on deposits up to $1,000. Once you have more than $1k, you should consider other accounts on this list. It is a credit union – and your deposits are insured by the NCUA up to the legal limit. Anyone can join the credit union by donating to one of their participating organizations such as Reach Out for Schools, which has a membership fee of $10. You’ll be able to join one their participating organizations when you go to open your account with DCU. DCU is also part of a nationwide CO-OP network that allows their members to have access to shared branches and surcharge-free ATMs throughout the U.S.

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How to find the right savings account for you

  • Focus on rates, but don’t forget about fees. Snagging the highest interest rate isn’t always your best bet. You also want to ensure the whole account helps you earn consistent returns. For example, a high-rate online savings account might reset to a lower APY after an introductory period. Perhaps the best rate requires a balance that’s too high or too low for your needs. And watch out for monthly fees that could eat into your savings.
  • Compare, compare, compare. Use our savings account comparison tool to calculate how much you could earn with different accounts. You can filter by ZIP code and size, which can help large-balance savers find better options than no-minimum options.
  • Carefully consider CDs. CDs allow savers to earn more on their savings by agreeing to lock up their funds for a set period of time. With CDs, you make your initial deposit at a set APY and wait for the CD term to mature. With most CDs, you can’t touch the original deposit amount before maturity without paying a penalty. Since CDs are less liquid than a standard savings account, they’re good for setting aside money you won’t need to access in the near term. Typically, we recommend using CDs for long-term goals, like accumulating a down payment for a home.

December savings index

We asked 1,552 Americans about their savings habits during the month of December. Here’s what we found:

  • Overall, 42% of Americans increased their savings in December 2019, while 19% of Americans withdrew money from their savings.

  • Men increased savings at a higher rate than women: Fifty-one percent of men added to their savings account in December, compared with just 31% of women. Meanwhile, 24% of women said they don’t have any savings, versus just 13% of men.

  • More than 1 in 2 millennials added money to their savings account in December, more than any other generation.
  • Consumers with a household income surpassing $100,000 are more than 13 times as likely to have a savings fund than those earning less than $25,000. Additionally, only a quarter of those earning under $25,000 per year saved money during December.
  • Top 3 things Americans saved for in December: general savings (34%), emergencies (26%) and vacation (21%).

Survey Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,024 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded Nov. 15-20, 2019. Generations are defined as: Generation Z ages 18-22, millennials ages 23-38, Generation Xers ages 39-53 and baby boomers ages 54-73.

How the Fed impacts online savings rates

The interest rates offered by banks are tied to the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). This includes the deposit account rates that grow your money in savings and other deposit accounts. When the federal funds rate rises, you might see that reflected in the deposit interest rates at most banks.

As the Fed hiked rates over recent years, online banks were far quicker to raise their rates in turn than traditional banks. Just look at the average APY offered by big banks — 0.26% vs. 1.52% on average for online banks as of December 2018.

We’ve enjoyed successive Fed rate hikes for the last few years, but the trend is waning. As we continue into 2019, the odds of a rate hike this year have reached zero. The Fed did nothing at its January meeting, and didn’t raise rates at the March meeting either.

The bleak federal funds rate outlook doesn’t necessarily mean that banks will start slashing their own deposit account rates. Online banks are extremely competitive and need to remain so if they want to maintain their edge.

In the January Goldman Sachs earnings call, Goldman Sachs Executive Vice President and CFO Stephen M. Scherr noted it has no plans to walk back on rates for its online savings account Marcus, aiming to keep its rank among the top savings rates in the country.

We heard much of the same from fellow online bank Ally Bank, whose CFO Jennifer LaClair said during its January earnings call that it’s still important to take the “competitive landscape” into account.

Still, other earnings calls indicated that banks are in as much of a holding pattern as consumers are. When asked about the bank’s deposit rate outlook in the event of a Fed rate slowdown, Bank of America CFO Paul Donofrio noted, “At some point, the broader retail rates will rise. We just don’t know when. So, I think we’re just going to have to wait and see.”

As for what that all means to you, chances are that if you keep your deposits with an online bank, you’ll still get the most competitive rates regardless of a Fed pause or rate decrease. You might see an overall decrease in online savings rates (moreso in the competitive rate-chasing CD space), but they’ll still outperform most brick-and-mortar rates any day.

The bottom line

So what’s a saver to do? At the end of the day, you want the account that makes the most sense for you. Choose the one that lets you save and manage your money in the best ways possible. The most efficient way to consistently grow your money is to open an online savings account. These accounts will offer the best interest rates compared to brick-and-mortar banks, no matter where the federal funds rate goes this year — plus, they’re easily accessible in case of emergency. If you don’t need immediate access to your money and you have some extra cash lying around, open a high-yield CD as a more long-term savings alternative.

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LaTisha Styles
LaTisha Styles |

LaTisha Styles is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email LaTisha at [email protected]

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

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

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Earning Interest

The Best CD Rates – January 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Updated January 22, 2020

If you’re looking for a better yield on your savings and have time to burn, a high-rate CD at an online bank would be a great option. With a CD, you agree to lock up your funds in an account for a specific period of time, and in return the bank offers a higher yield than you’d find on a standard savings account. If you’re not keen on the idea of completely locking your money away for a set amount of time, you may want to consider a no-penalty CD. These accounts give you the benefit of locking down a rate for a set amount of time without requiring you to lock in your money for the length of the term.

CDs are often seen as the next level up after savings for that reason. If you’ve maxed out your savings account with enough funds to see you through the next year or so, it can be wise to start shoveling savings into a CD to maximize your returns.

For the best CD rates in the industry, check out online banks. They tend to offer much better interest rates than traditional banks, thanks to the lack of typical brick-and-mortar costs.

For example, let’s say you find a 12-month CD at a big brick-and-mortar bank that requires a $1,000 minimum deposit and pays 0.05% APY. If you were to open that account with just the minimum, you’d earn 50 cents after a year. Even a bigger deposit of $10,000 would only yield $5 at maturity.

At an online bank, on the other hand, you could earn 2.80% often with a minimum deposit of $1,000. Opening the account with $1,000 would yield $28, while a $10,000 deposit would earn $280 in a year, a much better return on your money no matter how you look at it. (If you would rather get a savings account or money market with no time restriction, look at the best savings accounts or best money market accounts).

The best CD rates from top banks

To find the best CD rates, we look for the banks and credit unions that consistently offer competitive CD rates month over month. This list is updated monthly, and competition continues to intensify. Here are the accounts from banks with consistently competitive CD rates:

6 months – 6 years: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 0.60% APY – 2.20% APY; $500 minimum deposit to open
Goldman Sachs Bank USA

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Our advertiser Marcus by Goldman Sachs is the online consumer bank of Goldman Sachs Bank USA (the large investment bank). Your funds are FDIC insured, and Goldman offers very competitive rates. Even better: there is only a $500 minimum deposit. So, if you don’t have enough money to meet the minimum deposit of the other banks on this list, or you are looking for another bank for your savings, GS is a good option. It also doesn’t hurt that they also offer some of the best CD rates in the market today. Here are their rates:

CD TermAPY
6-months0.60%
9-months0.70%
12-months2.15%
18-months2.05%
2-year2.10%
3-year2.10%
5-year2.15%
6-year2.20%
1 year – 5 years: Citizens Access – 2.10% APY – 2.25% APY; $5000 minimum deposit to open
Citizens Access

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Citizens Access is the online division of Citizens Bank, N.A., aimed at providing more convenient access to better banking products. Both divisions are headquartered in Providence, R.I. Citizens Bank was founded in 1828 and as of September 2019, had $150 billion in assets.

Citizens Access’ online CD accounts require a pretty high opening deposit of $5,000. However, all its terms earn at premium rates, making your savings more worthwhile. Citizens Access also offers an easy opening process to build a CD ladder with them. You’ll need to deposit at least $5,000 in each new CD, though.

When you fund any new Citizens Access CD within 10 days after opening, the bank’s CD Rate Pledge will apply, snagging you the highest interest rate offered by the bank for that CD term within those 10 days. Here are their rates:

TermAPY
6 months1.60%
12 months2.10%
18 months2.10%
2 years2.10%
3 years2.15%
4 years2.20%
5 years2.25%
30 days – 5 years: BrioDirect – 0.05% APY – 2.05% APY; $500 minimum deposit to open
BrioDirect

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BrioDirect is the online division of Sterling National Bank. While its parent bank has been around for quite some time, the online division only recently launched. Right now, BrioDirect is offering a 2.05% APY on its 12-month CD. You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $500 to open the account and start receiving the 2.05% APY. If you choose to withdraw any portion of the principal, you’ll incur an early withdrawal penalty of 90 days interest. This penalty will apply regardless of whether you’ve earned that amount of interest or not. Here are all of their rates:

CD TermAPY
30-days0.05%
3-months1.55%
5-months1.95%
7-months1.35%
9-months2.20%
11-months1.35%
12-months2.05%
18-months1.00%
24-months1.00%
30-months1.00%
36-months1.00%
48-months1.00%
60-months1.00%
1 year – 5 years: Barclays Bank – 2.00% – 2.10% APY, no minimum deposit to open
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Barclays is one of the oldest banks in the world. Although they’re based in London, they do have a U.S. presence and offer competitive rates on their CDs and savings account. Currently, they’re offering some of the highest CD rates in the market, and they have an edge over the rest of the institutions on this list: they don’t require a minimum balance to earn the APY or open an account. Deposit as little or as much as you’d like into a term of your choice and you can start earning interest as long as the account is funded within 14 days of opening the CD. Additionally, your funds are insured through the FDIC.

CD TermAPY
1-year2.00%
2-year2.00%
3-year2.00%
4-year2.00%
5-year2.10%
3 months – 5 years: Ally Bank – 0.75% APY – 2.15% APY; $0 minimum deposit to open (higher APY with higher deposit)
Ally Bank

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Ally is one of the largest internet-only banks in the country. Ally’s former advertising campaign made it very clear: no branches = higher rates. And Ally has consistently paid some of the highest rates in the country across savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs. For savers with fewer funds, Ally is unique. There is no minimum deposit to open a CD. However, if you have more money, you’ll earn more in interest and in some case, earn a higher APY.

And one of our favorite features of Ally: they often (although not always) offer preferential rates on renewal. Far too often banks give the biggest bonuses to new customers, but Ally has done a good job of rewarding its existing customers. A good example of this is a 1% cash back promotion Ally is currently offering to new and existing customers. All deposits at Ally are FDIC insured up to the legal limit.

3-months:
  • 0.75% APY (less than $5k)
  • 0.75% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 0.75% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
18-months:
  • 1.90% APY (less than $5k)
  • 2.00% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 2.05% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
6-months:
  • 1.00% APY (less than $5k)
  • 1.00% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 1.00% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
3-year:
  • 1.95% APY (less than $5k)
  • 2.05% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 2.10% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
9-months:
  • 1.25% APY (less than $5k)
  • 1.25% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 1.25% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
5-year:
  • 2.15% APY (less than $5k)
  • 2.15% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 2.15% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
12-months:
  • 2.00% APY (less than $5k)
  • 2.00% APY ($5k minimum deposit)
  • 2.00% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
1 Year – 3 Years: Rising Bank – 2.15% APY – 2.10% APY; $1,000 minimum deposit to open
Rising Bank

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Rising Bank launched in February 2019 as the online division of Midwest BankCentre. Midwest BankCentre has been around since 1906 in Missouri and has acquired over $1 billion in assets. This bank decided to assert itself as a top competitor in the online banking space by offering competitive rates.

While most online banks have pulled back on rate offerings, Rising Bank continues to offer a top 2.15% APY on its 1-year CD. However, unlike some of the top online banks like Ally Bank and Goldman Sachs, Rising Bank requires a minimum deposit of $1,000 and caps balances at $500,000 on its CDs. If you have less than $1,000 to deposit into a CD, you’re better off choosing another online bank. If you have more than $500,000 to deposit into a CD, you may also want to consider another online bank.

Aside from its rates, Rising Bank also distinguishes its CDs with the early withdrawal penalties. If you need to withdraw from the 1-year CD early, you’ll only incur a penalty that is 90 days’ worth of interest. If you need to withdraw early from the 18 to 36-month CDs, the penalty is 180 days’ worth of interest. One thing to be aware of is that Rising Bank compounds interest every three months. Other online banks compound interest monthly, so this is a bit of a downside. Once this CD matures, you can withdraw the full balance to close the account. If you don’t withdraw the full balance ten days after the maturity date, Rising Bank will automatically renew your CD. Rising Bank has a mobile app for your convenience.

CD TermAPY
1-year2.15%
2-year2.05%
3-year2.10%
3 months – 10 years: Discover Bank – 0.35% APY – 2.20% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit to open
Discover Bank

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Discover is best known for cash back credit cards. However, Discover has also quietly built a leading internet bank that offers checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs. Discover has invested in a mobile banking app and strong on-shore customer service.

Although Discover does not always have the highest rate, it is very close (within basis points) across all durations. If customer service and digital tools (like apps) are important to you, Discover is an excellent consideration. Note: you can even get a CD rate with a duration as short as 3 months. However, you would be better off opening a high yield savings account if you plan on saving the money for less than a year.

Keep in mind that all CD terms come with an early withdrawal penalty if you choose to withdraw money before your maturity date. If your Discover CD is less than one year, the penalty is worth three months of simple interest. If the term is between one to three years, the penalty is worth six months of simple interest. Four-year CDs have a penalty that is worth nine months of simple interest. Five year CDs have a penalty that is worth 18 months of simple interest and seven to 10-year CDs have a penalty that is worth 24 months of simple interest.

CD TermAPY
3-months0.35%
6-months0.65%
9-months0.70%
12-months2.00%
18-months2.00%
2-year2.05%
30-months2.05%
3-year2.05%
4-year2.05%
5-year2.10%
7-year2.15%
10-year2.20%
3 months – 5 years: Synchrony Bank – 0.75% APY – 2.15% APY; $2,000 minimum deposit to open
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Synchrony used to be a part of GE, and now has an online bank that pays competitive rates. The online deposits are used to fund their store credit card portfolio – and the company is publicly traded. If you have $2,000 or more to deposit into a CD, Synchrony will offer you some of the best CD rates. However, if you have less than $2,000, you’re better off going with one of the other online banks above. Your deposit will be insured up to the FDIC limit. In a rising rate environment, this is a great way to get a high interest rate without locking yourself into a long term.

CD TermAPY
3-months0.75%
6-months1.00%
9-months1.25%
12-months2.00%
15-months2.00%
18-months2.00%
24-months2.10%
36-months2.10%
48-months2.10%
60-months2.15%
12 months – 3 years: BBVA – 1.50% APY* – 1.00% APY; $500 minimum deposit to open
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BBVA has been around since 1964. This bank had humble beginnings in Birmingham, Alabama as Central Bank & Trust Company. This small community bank went through several name changes and pioneered several banking initiatives in Alabama (including opening on a Saturday and introducing the first ATM and debit card in the state). In the early 90s, the bank changed its name to Compass Bancshares. In 2007, it had its biggest change to date. The bank was acquired by a Spanish company (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) and renamed BBVA Compass. Recently, BBVA dropped the Compass and is now just called BBVA. Through all these changes, BBVA has grown to acquire over $92 billion in assets.

While this, now, giant bank has not historically offered competitive rates on its deposit accounts, it’s begun competing in the online space by offering online-only CDs with decent rates. Currently, BBVA is offering a competitive 1.50% on its 12 Month Online CD*. The bank does mention that this CD available for a limited time, so you may want to lock in your money in this CD sooner rather than later. You’ll need a minimum of $500 to open the CD. The early withdrawal penalty on this CD is pretty unique. It’s $25 plus 1% of the amount withdrawn. While BBVA does have other CD terms, this CD currently has the best rate.

*Note: This rate is only available to individuals who live in certain states. If you live in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, or Texas, you will not qualify for this rate. Instead, you’ll qualify for a 1.50% APY.

CD TermAPY
12-months1.50%*
15-months1.00%
18-months1.00%
3-years1.00%

The best no-penalty CD rates

No-penalty CDs are unique because these accounts allow customers to withdraw from their CD without incurring an early withdrawal penalty. These CDs are an attractive offer to customers as it provides no risk if they choose to withdraw their money early. Here are some of the best no-penalty CD rates that are available nationwide:

7 months – 13 months: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 1.90% APY – 1.65% APY; $500 minimum deposit to open
Goldman Sachs Bank USA

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Similar to its regular CDs, you only need a minimum of $500 to deposit into Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s no-penalty CDs. This makes these CDs highly attractive to customers with smaller deposits. If you choose to open one of these CDs, you’ll only be locked in for seven days after you fund the account. After the seventh day, you’re free to withdraw your funds, but keep in mind that you’ll need to withdraw the full amount.

These CDs are an excellent option if you want your money to remain liquid or if you want to invest your money into an interest-earning account for a short amount of time. One thing to note is that the 7-month no-penalty CD has a much higher rate than the regular 6-month CD (1.90% APY vs 0.60% APY). The high APY makes Goldman’s 7-month no-penalty CD a fantastic option if you want to earn interest in a short amount of time. Here is Goldman’s full list of no-penalty CD rates:

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
7-month1.90%
$500
11-month2.00%
$500
13-month1.65%
$500
11 months – 14 months: PurePoint Financial – 1.65% APY – 1.90% APY; $10,000 minimum deposit to open
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PurePoint Financial is the online division of Union Bank. Both the parent bank and this online division are backed by financial giant, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). Under the MUFG Union Bank umbrella, this institution has acquired over $130 billion in assets. As its online division, PurePoint Financial has been able to offer its customers highly competitive rates not only in CDs, but in an online savings account.

Currently, PurePoint Financial is offering an extremely competitive rate of 1.90% on its 13-month no-penalty CD. It also offers an 11-month and a 14-month no-penalty CD, but those two accounts have lower rates than its 13-month no-penalty CD. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least $10,000 to deposit into any of these CDs. If you do choose to withdraw money from this CD before the term is up, you’ll need to withdraw the full amount. You’ll also have to wait seven days after you fund the account to withdraw any of the money. Here’s a full list of PurePoint Financial’s no-penalty CDs.

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11-month1.65%$10,000
13-month1.90%$10,000
14-month1.75%$10,000
6 months: Investors eAccess – 1.80% APY; $500 minimum deposit to open
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Investors eAccess is the online division of Investors Bank, a large bank headquartered in New Jersey that was established in 1926. The parent bank currently has over $26 billion in assets. The online division was launched earlier this year and decided to introduce itself by offering a strong rate on its inaugural product, the eAccess Money Market account. It seems this online bank is slowly offering different deposit accounts, but one thing that sticks out is that it’s offering these new products with high rates.

Currently, Investors eAccess is offering two types of CDs: a 6-month No-Penalty CD and a 10-month regular CD. The 6-month No-Penalty CD is comes with a strong 1.80% APY. You need at least $500 to open the account and you’re free to withdraw from the principal amount after the first seven calendar days from opening the account without incurring any penalties. If you choose to withdraw the full amount (including any interest earned) before the maturity date, you won’t incur any penalties, but the full withdrawal will close the account. Regardless of how much you choose to withdraw from the account, the bank will send you the funds via an official Bank Check. The check will be made out to the account owner and mailed First Class to the address on file.

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
6-month1.80%$500
11 months: Ally Bank – 1.65% APY – 1.85% APY; $0 – $25,000 minimum deposit to earn APY
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Unlike the other two banks that offer multiple terms, Ally Bank only offers one term on its no-penalty CD. While Ally doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open, it does reward higher balances with higher APYs. This no-penalty CD is great for low-balance individuals who want to keep their money liquid. However, if you’re okay with locking your money into a CD for 12 months, you’re better off going with Ally’s regular 12-month CD as it has a higher APY (2.00% APY vs 1.65% APY) and doesn’t have a certain balance requirement to earn that high rate.

If you still choose to open Ally’s 11-month no-penalty CD and you need to withdraw money before the terms ends, you’ll need to withdraw your funds in full and won’t be able to do so until seven days after funding the account. Here are the tiered rates for Ally’s no-penalty CD:

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11 months1.65%Up to $5,000
11 months1.70%$5,000
11 months1.85%$25,000

The highest CD rates from banks and credit unions by term

The following banks and credit unions are currently offering the highest CD rates for each term.

Best 1-year CD rates

Best 1-year CD rate from a National Bank: Quontic Bank – 2.20% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
12 Month CD from Quontic Bank

Quontic Bank is a digital bank with over $394 million in assets. Currently, the online bank is offering a 2.20% APY on its 12-month CD. You’ll need at least $1,000 to open the account and earn the APY. The account can be funded via ACH or by mailing in a check.

If you need to withdraw money from the CD early, you may incur an early withdrawal penalty that is equal to one year’s worth of interest. If you allow the CD to reach maturity, you’ll have ten days to decide whether you want to withdraw the funds, open a new CD with a different term, or renew the CD with the existing term. If you choose to withdraw the funds or open a different CD, you’ll need to call the bank to let them know. If you choose to renew the existing term, you won’t have to take any action as the CD will renew ten days after the original maturity date.


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Best 1-year CD rate from a Credit Union: USALLIANCE Financial – 2.15% APY, $500 minimum balance
12 Month CD from USALLIANCE Financial

USALLIANCE Financial is a credit union that anyone can join. The credit union was created in 1966 for employees of IBM. You can check here to see if you are eligible to join the credit union. If you do not meet any of those eligibility requirements, don’t worry. You can join (for $15) the American Consumer Council. This is a one-time fee (and you can join here). Once you are a member, you can then join the credit union.

USALLIANCE is offering a special on a 12-month CD. The credit union is offering this special to those who can deposit new money into the account, which means that you don’t currently have funds deposited in an existing USALLIANCE account. If your funds qualify, you’ll earn a 2.15% APY. This is currently the best rate available for a 1-year CD from any credit union. You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $500 of new money to open the account. If you need to withdraw money from the account before the maturity date, the penalty will equal 180 days of dividends on the amount that is withdrawn. If you need to make an early withdrawal on the principal amount, you’ll have to contact USALLIANCE for approval.

Once your CD matures, you’ll have a seven day grace period to withdraw your funds. In order to withdraw the funds, the credit union tries to provide easy access by transferring the fully matured funds to a Share Management Checking or Savings account, STAR Account, or MyLife Account (checking or savings). Once the funds are transferred to one of those accounts, you can then initiate an ACH transfer to send the funds to an external bank account.


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Best 2-year CD rates

Best 2-year CD rate from a Credit Union: MAC Federal Credit Union – 2.40% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
24 Month CD from MAC Federal Credit Union

MAC Federal Credit Union was established in 1952 to serve active duty personnel and civil service members associated with Fort Wainwright. In 2001, the credit union expanded to serve the Fairbanks community. Now, they serve customers nationwide through online and mobile banking.

You can become a member a number of ways including residence, employment, and relation to an existing member. You can also become a member if you are part of, or choose to be part of, the Polar Bear Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. Once you’re a member, you can open the 24 Month CD with a minimum deposit of $1,000 and start earning the 2.40% APY. This CD has an early withdrawal penalty that is equal to 90 days of interest.


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Best 2-year CD rate from a National Bank: Prime Alliance Bank – 2.20% APY, $500 minimum deposit
24 Month CD from Prime Alliance Bank

Prime Alliance Bank was established in 2004 and currently has over $455 million in assets. If you have at least $500, you’ll be able to open this 24-month CD and begin earning the 2.20% APY. If you choose to withdraw from this CD early, you may incur a penalty of three months’ interest on the withdrawn amount. If you allow the funds to stay in the account until it fully matures, you’ll have ten days to decide what you’d like to do with the funds. If you choose to do nothing, the CD will renew with the same term.


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on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Best 3-year CD rates

Best 3-year CD rate from a Credit Union: Garden Savings Federal Credit Union – 2.53% APY, $500 minimum deposit
3 Year Share Certificate from Garden Savings Federal Credit Union

Founded in 1968, Garden Savings Federal Credit Union was opened to serve employees at AT&T Bell Laboratories, known today as Alcatel-Lucent. Today, Garden Savings membership is open to over 150 Select Employer Groups, as well as members of select New Jersey communities and family members of current members. Garden Savings Federal Credit Union maintains over $350 million in assets and has four branches in New Jersey.

Garden Savings Federal Credit Union offers a great spread of Share Certificates, including its competitive 3-Year Certificate, earning at a 2.53% APY where interest is paid monthly. It requires at least $500 to open and start saving. The early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of dividends earned. Garden Savings Federal Credit Union provides deposit insurance up to $500,000, thanks to federal coverage from the NCUA and private insurance by the Excess Share Insurance Corporation.


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on Garden Savings Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Best 3-year CD rate from a National Bank: Primary Bank – 2.30% APY, no minimum deposit
4 Year CD from Primary Bank

Primary Bank was established in 2015 and is headquartered in New Hampshire. The bank has acquired over $255 million in assets. If you’re interested in opening a 3-year CD with this bank, you won’t need a specific deposit amount. The bank also doesn’t have a balance requirement to earn the 2.30% APY. The bank may impose an early withdrawal penalty if you choose to withdraw from the principal early, but you’ll have to contact the bank to learn about the penalty.


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on Primary Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Best 4-year CD rates

Best 4-year CD rate from a National Bank: Prime Alliance Bank – 2.40% APY, $500 minimum deposit
48 Month CD from Prime Alliance Bank

Prime Alliance Bank has a great rate on its 4 year CD as well as its 2 and 5 year CDs. If you have at least $500, you’ll be able to open this 48-month CD and begin earning the 2.40% APY. If you choose to withdraw from this CD early, you may incur a penalty of three months’ interest on the withdrawn amount. If you allow the funds to stay in the account until it fully matures, you’ll have ten days to decide what you’d like to do with the funds. If you choose to do nothing, the CD will renew with the same term.


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on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Best 4-year CD rate from a Credit Union: Lafayette Federal Credit Union – 2.27% APY, $500 minimum deposit
4 Year Fixed CD from Lafayette Federal Credit Union

Lafayette Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935 and serves communities in the Washington, D.C. area. Membership is also open to employees of select partner groups, members of the Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council, current members’ family members and current or future members of the American Consumer Council. You can access Lafayette FCU accounts and services online, on mobile and over the phone.

Lafayette Federal Credit Union currently offers the best rate on its 4-year term Fixed-Rate Certificate. With just $500, you can start growing your money at its 2.78% APY. Just be careful of making an early withdrawal as it will cost you 480 days worth of dividends.


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on Lafayette Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Best 5-year CD rates

Best 5-year CD rate from a Credit Union: Lafayette Federal Credit Union – 2.52% APY, $500 minimum deposit
5 Year Fixed CD from Lafayette Federal Credit Union

Founded in 1935, Lafayette Federal Credit Union is based in Rockville, Md. It has branches in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., plus CO-OP Shared Branches and ATMs throughout the country. Lafayette FCU is also accessible online, on mobile and over the phone, although you may face long wait times.

You can become a member if you are a resident or employee in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C., an employee of an approved agency or company, an immediate family member of a current member, a member of the Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council or a current or future member of the American Consumer Council.

Lafayette Federal Credit Union’s 5-year Fixed-Rate Certificate offers competitive savings, earning
2.52% APY. It requires only $500 to open. You’ll lose 600 days’ worth of dividends if you make a withdrawal from the 5-year term Fixed Rate Certificate.


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on Lafayette Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Best 5-year CD rate from a National Bank: Prime Alliance Bank – 2.50% APY, $500 minimum deposit
60 Month CD from Prime Alliance Bank

Prime Alliance Bank features one of the highest bank rates on its 5 year CD. For the current month, we’re seeing Prime Alliance as one of the most competitive Bank providers of CDs. Interested savers should take a look at its 2 year and 4 year offerings as well. If you choose to open a 5 year CD with Prime Alliance, keep in mind that you may incur a three month interest penalty on early withdrawals. However, if you keep your money in the CD for the full-term, you’ll earn a rate as high as 2.50% APY with a minimum deposit of $500.


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on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

The cities that are most likely to use CDs for their savings

We recently looked at the 100 largest U.S. metros to find the cities with the highest percentage of households that own certificates of deposit.

Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, San Francisco came out on top, with 25.4% of households owning certificates of deposit. That’s more a little more than twice as many households, on a percentage basis, than Greensboro, N.C., our bottom-ranked city, where only 12.5% of households own CDs.

Typically, households in large cities are more likely to sock money away in CDs. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. — among the 10 largest metros in the U.S. — all make our list of top 10 cities where people own CDs. There are some exceptions: Odgen, Utah ranks No. 4 in the nation for CD saving: 21.9% of Ogden households have CDs.

Variability in local CD rates may explain some of the differences, as the highest rates available by state can vary by as much as one percentage point. In fact, in Jan. 2019, Utah had the highest average local 1-year CD yield in the country.

Questions to ask before you open a CD

1. How are CDs different from savings accounts?

With a CD, the saver and the bank make stronger commitments. The saver promises to keep the funds in the account for a specified period of time. In exchange, the bank guarantees the interest rate during the term of the CD. The longer the term, the higher the rate – and the higher the penalty for closing the CD early. With a savings account, you’re limited to six withdrawals or transfers per month. Otherwise, you can empty the account at any time without paying a penalty. You can’t lock in the interest rate on a savings account, though, since the bank can change the interest rate at any time.

2. Am I better off keeping my cash in savings?

CDs work best if you’re confident you won’t need to access a certain amount of money for a specified period of time. Let’s say you have $10,000 laying around that you can safely say you won’t need to use for two years. In a high-yield savings account earning 2.45%, you would earn $496.00 over two years with annual interest compounding — and potentially even more, if your bank compounds interest more frequently. If you put that money into a 2.90% 2-year CD, you would earn $588.41 (compounding yearly) once the account matures. The extra interest income is easy money, considering the ease of opening an account online. However, if you think you might need to use the money in the next couple of months, especially if your finances are already a little rocky, a savings account is a much better idea for its better flexibility.

It’s important to note that deposit rates are a bit in flux right now, due to the uncertainty surrounding the federal funds rate (more on that below). But we’re currently seeing some high, favorable interest rates on 1-year CDs, rates that outstrip savings account rates.

If you can afford to part with the funds, “choosing a 1-year CD now does make sense rather than keeping the money in a savings account,” says Ken Tumin, founder of LendingTree-owned DepositAccounts.com. “However, it is possible that 1-year rates could go below some savings account rates.”

That’s why it’s important to compare rates before you sign up for a certain account.

Tumin also notes that there is an added tax benefit to opening a 1-year CD now over a savings account. With a 1-year CD, you can choose to have interest paid at maturity, or in 2020 on accounts opened now. Taxes would be owed on that interest for 2020, but not paid until 2021. Savings accounts, on the other hand, pay out interest each month. So a savings account opened today will generate interest income for the 2019 tax year.

3. What CD term length should I select?

The early withdrawal penalties on CDs can be significant. On a 1-year CD, 90 days’ worth of interest is a typical penalty, although it can reach as high as 180 days. On 2- and 3-year CDs, a 6-month penalty is about average. The impact of the penalty on your return can be significant: if you opened a one-year CD with a 2.65% APY and closed it after six months, you would forfeit half of the interest and earn only 1.32%. You would have been better off with a savings account paying 2.25%.

The worst case scenario is with the longest CDs. 5-year CDs usually have a one-year penalty for taking out funds early. If you open a 5-year CD and close it quickly, you could actually end up losing money.

Given the risk of early withdrawal penalties, it’s important that you’re completely confident that you will not need to withdraw the money early. Check that you already have enough savings in a flexible emergency fund to cover you for the next few years in the event of an accident or surprise trip to urgent care. Ask yourself whether your deposit would be put to better use paying off any debts. If you’re not completely convinced you can sock away that much money for such a commitment, go for a shorter CD term or a savings account.

As of right now, if you’re trying to jump on the best rates and have cash to stash away for years, your best bet is to lock in a 5-year CD to get the best rates possible.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll see another Fed rate hike in the first half of the year,” says Ken Tumin. “In the last month or two, we’re seeing some drops in CD rates.”

However, this downward movement looks like more of a correction being made by banks who may have boosted their CD rates too far too fast, instead of signaling the start of an industry-wide drop in rates.

“We won’t see a big drop until we see signs that the Fed will start cutting rates,” Tumin notes.

Tumin suggests finding long-term CDs with small or mild withdrawal penalties, like Ally. That way, in the event you do need to break into your funds (whether for an emergency or to move to a new, higher rate), you won’t lose the majority of your savings. So while there are still 5-year CDs out there with 3% APY and higher, you’re going to want to lock those in for the long term.

4. Should I consider my local bank or credit union?

The interest rates shown in this article are all from credit unions and online banks that offer products nationally. However, our product database includes traditional banks, community banks and credit unions.

If traditional banks offered better rates, they would have been featured in this article. Internet-only banks have dramatically better interest rates. That should not be surprising — because internet-only banks do not have branches, they are able to pass along their cost savings to you in the form of higher interest rates and lower fees.

If you’re worried about early withdrawal penalties, credit union CDs might be your best bet; on average, they tend to have lower penalties than banks. Pair that with high credit union CD rates, and you’ve got a winning savings combo. (Interestingly, while internet banks tend to offer the best CD rates, they also tend to assess bigger early withdrawal penalties than brick-and-mortar banks.)

How to find the best CD for you

If you don’t find an account that meets your needs in this article, you can use the MagnifyMoney CD tool to find the best rate for your individual needs. Input your zip code, deposit amount and term. The tool will then provide you with CD options, from the highest APY to the lowest.

Even though CDs are traditionally pretty structured, you still have hundreds of options available to you. If your savings goal is years in the future, look closer at longer terms like 5- and even 10-year accounts. If you don’t quite have thousands of dollars to stash away, you can find a bank that requires a lower minimum deposit, if at all. You can also find select no-penalty CDs, which tend to be around one year long or less.

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Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

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