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Congressional Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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.

Congressional Bank’s checking account options

Personal Checking

This checking account earns no interest and has a higher-than-average minimum balance requirement along with a monthly maintenance fee.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraft. Every day your account remains in the red, you will be charged an additional $5.

While it is nice that Congressional Bank credits ATM transaction fees back to your account for your first seven transactions per month, that’s about where the positives for this checking account end. You’re required to make an initial deposit that is high for an account of this caliber and, once deposited, none of your money earns interest. Then, you must keep the initial $500 minimum deposit in order to avoid the monthly maintenance fee. Overdraft fees are high and the charge for every day your account remains in the red is a fee you won’t find at all financial institutions.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal Checking Account

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

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Personal NOW Checking

An interest-earning checking account with three times the minimum balance requirement of the basic account.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraw. $5 per every day you continue to have a negative balance.

While Congressional Bank’s Personal NOW Checking account pays interest — something not offered on its standard personal checking option — it’s not worth giving up access to the $1,500 that you will need to keep account in order to avoid the monthly account maintenance fee. In fact, unless you keep that hefty amount of money in your checking account at all times, you’re more likely to incur fees than actually benefit from the interest you could earn. Contact the bank to obtain current rate information for this account.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal NOW Checking

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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How Congressional Bank’s checking accounts compare

Compared with the best accounts on the market, Congressional Bank’s checking account options come with high minimum balance requirements which are likely to force you to pay their monthly maintenance fees on occasion — or more often, depending on how much you regularly keep in checking. Interest is earned on one of the checking accounts, but you’ll have to call the bank to learn the current rates. Also, you will pay a high penalty should you ever overdraw. We’d recommend continuing your search for a checking account elsewhere.

Congressional Bank’s savings account options

Statement Savings

A standard savings account with a minimum balance requirement and the opportunity to earn interest.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those imposed by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraw. $5 per every day you continue to have a negative balance.

The fees on Congressional Bank’s savings accounts are definitely better than on its checking accounts, but that’s quite a low bar. The offered APY is not publicly available on the bank’s website, so you’ll have to call for the current rate. Some accounts elsewhere will let you know what the rate is upfront without mandating a minimum balance requirement. Once again, you will have to meet that minimum balance threshold in order to dodge the monthly account maintenance fee.

Because this is a savings account, it falls under Federal Reserve Regulation D, meaning you are allowed up to six certain debits per month from a savings account. If you do, Congressional will charge you a $5 fee per transaction. If you do this more than three times in a 12-month period, the financial institution will shut your account down, suggesting that you move your money into a checking account.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Statement Savings

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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How Congressional Bank’s savings account compares

Congressional Bank’s savings account is not one of the best around. Other options on the market tell you what its APY is upfront and have low or no minimum balance requirements. You can also find an account without those monthly maintenance fees, regardless of your account’s balance. Shop around for the best savings accounts, as you will not find them at Congressional Bank.

Congressional Bank’s CD rates

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit with a low barrier to entry — you’ll only need $1,000 to get started with these CDs.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Your penalty will be the interest that would have accrued over half your CD’s term length. For example, the early withdrawal penalty on a 12 month CD is 6 months’ worth of interest, on an 18 month CD the penalty would be 9 months’ worth of interest, etc.

Rates on Congressional Bank’s regular CDs are not advertised on its website, so you’ll have to call for current rates. However, if you have more money to stash away, you can look at its High Yield CD option (below) which offers promotional rates. When you look at the highest CD rates, most of them are going to be these promotional offers.

How to get Congressional Bank’s CDs

To open a CD, call or visit your local branch in person.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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High-Yield Certificates of Deposit

These certificates of deposit have a high APY, but you’re going to need a $25,000 minimum to get in on the action.

Term

APY

12 Months

2.55%

24 Months

2.80%

60 Months

3.10%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw money from your 12 month CD, you will be charged a penalty of 6 months’ worth of interest. 24 month CDs will incur a penalty of 12 months’ worth of interest, and 60 month CDs will incur a penalty of 30 months’ worth of interest.

Rates on Congressional Bank’s High-Yield Certificates of Deposit are much more competitive. In fact, they give some of the best CDs on the market a run for their money. However, to open one, you’re going to need at least $25,000, which is a bit steep compared with the competition.

How to get Congressional Bank’s High-Yield CDs

You can open a high-yield CD online from anywhere in the nation. In fact, it’s the only way to open this type of account with Congressional Bank.

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on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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How Congressional Bank’s CD rates compare

Congressional Bank’s standard CDs are likely not worth your time. You’re trading the liquidity of your money to earn interest on what you deposit and the bank doesn’t even advertise these rates. There are other financial institutions out there that are transparent with its rates and have the same or sometimes even lower minimum deposit requirements.

However, the High Yield certificates of deposit have extremely competitive rates and are easily accessible to anyone across the nation thanks to the online application process. The minimum opening deposit is high, though; if you don’t have the mandatory $25,000, know that you can find similar CD rates with less money down.

Congressional Bank’s money market account options

Personal Money Market

A money market account with sky-high minimum opening deposit requirements.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

1.50%

$250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, can be waived.
  • ATM fee: Only those charged by the ATM operator.
  • ATM fee refund: First 7 ATM transactions every month will be credited back to your account.
  • Overdraft fee: $32 for the initial overdraft. Everyday your account continues to have a negative balance, you will be charged an additional $5.

If you have a large chunk of money that you’d like to earn interest on without putting your cash at risk through an investment, Congressional Bank’s Personal Money Market account may be for you. If you call the bank and discover that the interest rate may be worth earning, you may be discouraged by the fact that you need such a large amount to earn this high APY. This is likely going to be a major hurdle for most consumers. While you can open up a money market account with as little as $2,500, you need a minimum balance of $250,000 to earn the APY.

You may know that the federal government only insures deposit accounts up to $250,000 via FDIC insurance. When account balances go beyond this, Congressional Bank gives the account additional insurance. Certificates above $250,000 are insured through the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS), but money market accounts beyond the same threshold are insured through Insured Cash Sweep service (ICS). Both of these services spread your money out over multiple financial institutions so all of it is protected, but you won’t notice any difference as a consumer. Congressional Bank provides this behind-the-scenes service for free, and it’s a service many financial institutions don’t traditionally offer.

Money market accounts are also subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, so you are allowed up to six certain withdrawals or outbound transfers per month from this type of account. If you do, you will be hit with an excess activity fee of $20 from Congressional Bank each and every time you make an extraneous withdrawal.

How to get Congressional Bank’s Personal Money Market account

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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How Congressional Bank’s money market account compares

Congressional Bank’s money market accounts have a high barrier to entry. If you’re a high roller, this may not be a problem, and the additional insurance provided through the ICS process may make this account attractive despite the fact that it has some worthy competition.

However, know that if you aren’t sitting on a mountain of cash, you can still get a high APY money market account by shopping the competition. Some of them pay high rates without any minimum balance requirements.

Congressional Bank’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

An extremely conservative investment option for your portfolio.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Your penalty will be the interest that would have accrued over half your CD’s term length. For example, the early withdrawal penalty on a 12 month CD is 6 months’ worth of interest, on an 18 month CD the penalty would be 9 months’ worth of interest, etc.

When you invest in an IRA, your goal is to make your money grow. To do this, you may invest in riskier options like stocks early on, moving to more conservative options like bonds as you near retirement age. IRA CDs are on the conservative side, but will allow you to earn a fixed interest rate. You’re money is guaranteed to grow, but at a slower pace than riskier investment vehicles.

It’s also important to remember that this is not a liquid investment. If you need your money back in an emergency, not only are you going to have to pay potential penalties and taxes to the IRS, but you’ll also have to pay penalties to Congressional Bank. If you’re looking for something more accessible, some IRA savings accounts pay higher interest rates while offering more liquidity. You’ll still potentially have to pay the IRS, but you’re less likely to incur penalty fees from the financial institution for withdrawals.

How to get Congressional Bank’s IRA CDs

To open an account, call or visit your local branch in person.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Congressional Bank’s secure website

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How Congressional Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

While low rates on CDs are typical in the current economic environment, there are financial institutions out there that will surprise you with high rates on IRA CDs. The minimum deposits are just above or below Congressional Bank’s other deposit account options, making these IRA CD accounts a far better alternative than the offers shown above.

Overall review of Congressional Bank’s banking products

Overall, Congressional Bank is not your best option for personal banking. Many of its products are only available on a local level, but even if you live in the Bethesda, Md. area, you’ll be able to find better offerings by shopping the national market. High minimum balance requirements with accompanying monthly maintenance fees make most of these accounts obsolete for your average consumer.

However, if you have a ton of money in liquid savings, you may be attracted to the Personal Money Market account as it provides insurance above and beyond what you would traditionally get at your standard financial institution. You may also be attracted to Congressional Bank for its promotional CD rates, which are indeed competitive. You’ll once again have to have a large sum on hand to open this type of account, but if you do, these promotional CDs are not a bad place to stash your cash.

Ultimately, it depends on how much money you have and which banking products you’re in the market for. While most of Congressional Bank’s personal deposit accounts won’t be a good match for anyone, there are a couple that could be advantageous depending on your financial situation.

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.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Credit Cards, Reviews

American Express Gold Card: Good Travel Rewards for a Fee

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. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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The American Express® Gold Card is an upgraded American Express charge card without a pre-set spending limit. It’s also a card that rewards cardholders with American Express Membership Rewards® Points for airfare, dining, gas, and grocery spending.

A charge card is one that you need to pay off completely each billing cycle, so there’s no interest. However, since there’s no pre-set spending limit either, you need to keep an eagle eye on spending activity to make sure you can pay off the statement in full at month’s end. Making a late payment can cause you to forfeit Membership Reward points earned during that billing cycle.

In this post, we’ll discuss the American Express® Gold Card terms and how to redeem points. Keep reading for an overview on:

  • American Express® Gold Card basics
  • How to redeem Membership Rewards points earned
  • The fine print details
  • The benefits and protections
  • The pros and cons

The basics of the American Express® Gold Card

3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).

$100 airline fee credit.

You can get up to $100 airline fee credit on your statement each calendar year to cover incidentals charged by an airline of your choosing. Qualifying incidentals are charges separate from your airline ticket like baggage fees and not ticket upgrades.

American Express® Gold Card

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American Express® Gold Card

Annual fee
$250
Rewards Rate
3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

How to redeem Membership Rewards® Points earned

Through Membership Rewards®, cardholders can transfer points to participating travel and lodging loyalty programs or redeem points for travel bookings, gift cards, statement credits, and other rewards. The value of your points varies depending on how you choose to use them.

Flights, hotels, and vacations

You can pay with points for flights, hotels, and vacations on the American Express Travel site. Using points for flights offers excellent value.

Here’s the point value breakdown on travel and accommodations:

  • Flights: $10 per 1,000 points
  • Hotels, cruises, and vacation packages: $7 per 1,000 points

Transferring your Membership Rewards® Points

If you choose to transfer your points to another program, generally, 1,000 Membership Rewards® Points will transfer as 1,000 miles, points, or credits.

However, transfers that have a different value include (as of the publication date of this article):

  • British Airways and Iberia: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 Avios
  • El AL Israel Airlines: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 20 Matmid points
  • Hilton: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,500 HHonors points
  • JetBlue Airways: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 JetBlue TrueBlue points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 333 Starpoints
  • Virgin America: 200 Membership Rewards points = 100 Elevate points

Occasionally, there are transfer specials for participating loyalty programs.

Statement credit and gift cards

Using points to put a dent in your credit card bill won’t be the best use of your points. 1,000 points equals just $6 in a statement credit.

Several of the gift cards through Membership Rewards® will give you more in cash value. For example, 1,000 points can get you a $10 gift card at restaurants, retail stores, and hotels including:

  • Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
  • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy
  • Seasons 52
  • Banana Republic
  • Crate and Barrel

There’s an entire list of the redemption values for gift cards on the Membership Rewards® site.

Other rewards

Using points for shopping, charitable donations, and entertainment are other redemption options. But, again, these options won’t give you as much value for your points as redeeming for flights and gift cards.

The value of 1,000 points ranges from $5 to $7 when shopping at retailers through Membership Rewards® or at Ticketmaster, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, or Newegg.com.

The fine print

The American Express® Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. If you spend a lot of money on the card, the fee can be worthwhile. However, if you don’t spend a lot, you might want to consider a no fee option.

In addition – when you transfer points to a U.S. frequent flyer program, there’s a $0.0006 fee charged per point to compensate for the federal excise tax. Although this fee has a lot of zeros in it, the cost may still be impactful if you’re transferring a lot of points. For instance, 100,000 points transferred will cost you $60.

On the plus side, this card has no foreign transaction fee.

Benefits and protections

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

If you pay for a qualifying car rental with your American Express® Gold Card, the rental car is covered against damage and theft after declining the collision damage waiver. Rentals that won’t qualify for coverage are trucks, off-road vehicles, full-size sport vehicles, and exotic cars.

Purchase Protection

If an item you purchase is lost, stolen, or damaged within 90 days of purchase, you may be reimbursed for it.

Pros and cons

Pro: 3X points on travel. If you fly often for work or play, this card rewards you well each time you use it.

Con: The fee. The biggest con here is the annual fee. But, since there are several ways you can earn points in the 3X and 2X categories, you may be able to easily cover this fee throughout the year.

Pro: Membership Rewards. This card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards® Points program and gives you many options for point redemption. The Membership Rewards® site is also incredibly easy to navigate, and there’s no ambiguity in point value. The rewards portal shows examples of exactly what your points are worth for each redemption option.

Con: The fee to transfer points. The ability to transfer points to another program is a pro, but being charged for U.S. frequent flyer program transfers is a tiny gotcha in the fine print.

Pro: No foreign transaction fees. One area in the fees where you do catch a break is with foreign transaction fees. This aspect of the card is fitting since it’s one that rewards you for planning travel.

Who will benefit most from the American Express® Gold Card?

Your ability to earn enough points to surpass the fee will determine whether this is a good card for you.

And if you’re shopping around for a rewards program that will give you the most value for travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards® is an option you should compare to American Express Membership Rewards®.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*, in particular, is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program and allows you to transfer points to other travel partners as well. Plus, it has an offer that gives 1.25 cents per point for travel. This is slightly more value than what you get for flights with American Express Membership Rewards® since 1,000 points per $10 works out to 1 cent per point.

Before signing up for any rewards card, you should do this type of comparison shopping to figure out which offer will give you the most value for your spending habits.

*The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Earning Interest, Reviews

Discover Bank CD Rates Review

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.

Discover Bank
Most people know Discover as a credit card company, but it also operates an online bank and offers some of the best rates and terms on checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).

Savings account bonus offer: Earn up to $200 on your first Discover savings account

As a bank, Discover offers some of the best products on the market. Currently, they’re offering a major deal on their online savings account, which currently earns 1.80% APY. If you apply for their savings account for the very first time by 12/02/19 and deposit a balance of at least $15,000 by 12/16/19, you can earn a $150 bonus. If you deposit a balance of at least $25,000 by the same date, you can earn a $200 bonus. Applying for the account is easy as you don’t need to go to a branch. Bonuses will be credited to your account by 12/30/19. You can apply online or over the phone. Just be sure to enter or mention the promo code MM1119 when you apply.

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If you’re looking for CDs in particular, Discover is currently considered to have some of the best CDs due to their customer service and digital tools.

Discover Bank CD rates

CD term

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

3 months

0.35%

6 months

0.65%

9 months

0.70%

12 months

2.10%

18 months

2.10%

24 months

2.15%

30 months

2.15%

3 years

2.15%

4 years

2.15%

5 years

2.20%

7 years

2.25%

10 years

2.30%

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How do Discover Bank CD rates compare?

While Discover Bank CD rates aren’t always the highest available, they are consistently among the top offers across all terms. However, you may be able to find a similar or even better rate with a CD that has a lower minimum deposit than Discover’s $2,500 requirement. Currently, several nationwide banks offered a 12-month CD at a rate higher than Discover’s 12-month CD APY, while requiring a lower minimum deposit. For example, at the same time the above rates were available at Discover, there were 12-month CDs with rates as high as 2.10% APY with a lower minimum balance amount to earn the APY.

It’s always great to go for the highest interest rates possible, but keep your CD investing strategy in mind. If you’re investing in CDs using the ladder strategy, it might be easier to keep everything in one bank since you’ll be switching in and out of CDs frequently.

Discover also stands out from its competition in the CD space with its mobile app and 24/7 U.S.-based customer service. If you value such features, keep those particulars in mind when weighing Discover CD rates against others’.

What you need to know about Discover Bank’s CDs

Discover Bank is very transparent in terms of fine print. It’s not difficult to understand what’ll happen with your money after you invest it. We’ll cover the basics here about what you need to know to invest in Discover Bank’s CDs.

How to open a CD

It’s very simple to open up a CD with Discover Bank. Go to their CD webpage and click on the orange “Open an Account” button near the top right of the page. You can then choose which accounts you’d like to open. Select “CD,” choose a CD term and enter how much you’d like to deposit.

You’ll then need to complete the application by providing your name, address, date of birth, phone number, Social Security number, employment status and possibly even your driver’s license. Once your application is complete and accepted, you’ll need to fund the account.

How to fund the CD

You’ll need to fund it within 45 days of submitting your application, which you can do in one of three ways:

  • Transfer funds from another bank account over the phone. (You can only do this when you first fund your account.)
  • Transfer funds from another bank via online transfer.
  • Write a check to yourself and send it to the following address:Discover Bank
    P.O. Box 30417
    Salt Lake City, UT 84130

The minimum deposit amount for each of Discover Bank’s CDs is $2,500. Once you open a CD, you can’t deposit more money later, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the cash you want to invest before you open the account.

Withdrawing funds from the CD

When you want to withdraw money from your CD, the biggest thing to consider is whether that CD has matured yet, or finished its term.

If your CD has not matured, you’ve got options: You can take the interest out penalty-free at any time, or you can withdraw the principal (or the money you deposited) at any time as long as you pay an early-withdrawal penalty. This penalty varies depending on the original term of your CD:

  • less than one year: three months’ worth of simple interest
  • one year to less than four years: six months’ worth of simple interest
  • four years: nine months’ worth of simple interest
  • five years to less than seven years: 18 months’ worth of simple interest
  • seven years or longer: 24 months’ worth of simple interest

If your CD has finished its term, you can withdraw your money penalty-free, allow the CD to renew or roll it into a CD of a different term length. (More on that in a bit).

Earning interest on a Discover CD

Your CD will start earning interest on the same business day that you fund the account. The interest will be added to your account once each month, however.

When it comes to what to do with your interest, you have two options: The default option is to allow it to compound within the CD (meaning you’ll earn interest on that interest), or you can have it automatically deposited each month into another Discover bank account.

What happens once the CD matures?

You’ll get a heads-up notice about a month before your CD matures so you can decide what to do with the money. You have two main options: Either reinvest it into another CD (of the same term length or a different term length), or withdraw the money from the CD and put it into another account (such as a checking or savings account, or perhaps a CD at a different institution).

If you don’t let Discover know what you want to do with the maturing CD, the CD will automatically renew into another one of the same term length. You have a nine-day grace period after your CD automatically rolls over to make any changes or withdrawals penalty-free.

The bottom line

As far as big-name banks go, Discover offers great CD products. Wells Fargo, for example, only offers interest rates as high as 1.55% APY on a $5,000 deposit for a 58-month CD. Chase Bank offers even lower maximum rates — an abysmal 1.05% APY, and only if you can commit a minimum of $100,000 for 10 years.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep your finances in one place, Discover also has great credit cards, as well as competitive online savings and checking accounts. No matter how long you’re considering putting money in a CD, Discover is worth a look. Even if it doesn’t have the best available rate, it’s usually within several basis points of the top offerings and well above the average APY.

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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