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Review: LendKey Private Student Loan

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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Updated August 9, 2018

Most private student loans can’t compete with Federal loans when it comes to interest rates. Private loans are typically more expensive, especially if longer repayment periods are offered. (You’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan.)

However, LendKey provides a different solution. It’s a marketplace that offers you a chance to browse private student loans offered by credit unions and community banks. These institutions usually have better interest rates than big banks. As another bonus, credit unions offer a more personalized banking experience, and tend to be more lenient when it comes to credit history.

If you’ve had a rough time finding a private student loan lender who will work with you, then you should give LendKey a shot.

How Does LendKey Work?

It’s important to understand that LendKey itself is not a lender. It’s a portal you can use to find a lender. Filling out one application (on LendKey’s website) enables you to view all the private loans you’re eligible for from community banks and credit unions that have partnered with LendKey.

Unfortunately, because there are hundreds of banks listed with LendKey, it’s impossible to say what the specifics of each loan are. On its website, LendKey says variable interest rates start as low as 4.68% – 9.79% APR (with autopay).

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a private student loan through LendKey. You must also be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an eligible school. You can check to see if your school is eligible in the first section of the application.

Be prepared to join a credit union or community bank if you choose to move forward with a loan offered. Most institutions require that you become a member during the application process. This is standard for credit unions and community banks that have specific membership requirements.

Application Process

The LendKey application process has three steps:

  1. Check your eligibility: You can fill in preliminary information to see if you’re eligible to apply for a loan.
  2. Apply for a loan: If you want to move forward with any loan option presented, you can do so in this step. This requires you to fill out personal information such as your Social Security number and identification information.
  3. Submit documents: LendKey requires you to submit proof of identity (photo ID, such as a Driver’s License), your school transcript, and other documents as needed.

Overall, the application process should take around 15 minutes or less to complete. LendKey will then review the information you’ve provided and give you a decision.

If your credit history isn’t the best (or isn’t very lengthy), you can apply with a cosigner. This gives you a better chance of getting the best interest rates possible on your private student loan. Some lenders affiliated with LendKey may actually require you to apply with a cosigner. Be aware that a hard credit inquiry will be used when you apply.

[What happens when a borrower defaults on a co-signed loan?]

The Fine Print

LendKey claims that there are no origination fees associated with any of the private loans offered by the credit unions or community banks it has partnered with. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any fees; late fees may still apply.

Additionally, a search for credit unions that use the LendKey application revealed one that does charge an origination fee. On The Great Lakes Credit Union page, a 2.5% fee is listed. It states there is an “upfront fee” which “is charged one time at loan disbursement.” As you can see on the page, “Powered by LendKey” is at the bottom.

We strongly recommend reading through the fine print of the organization you choose should you find a loan through LendKey. Don’t be afraid to ask about fees before signing anything.

The disclaimers are also nearly hidden at the bottom of LendKey’s site as you need to click on “Some Disclaimers” to review them.

Pros and Cons of LendKey

There are many advantages to applying for a loan through LendKey:

Pro: After paying back 10% of your loan principal, you’ll be eligible for a 1% interest rate reduction. This is only applicable to those who have entered full repayment status (after your grace period has ended).

Pro: You’re also eligible for a 0.25% interest rate deduction if you enroll in automatic payments. Most lenders offer this.

Pro: Most of the lenders that partner with LendKey don’t charge origination fees for private loans.

Pro: If you apply with a cosigner, a release is available after a certain amount of consecutive payments have been made. For most lenders, this period is between 24 to 48 months.

Pro: Most loans offered through LendKey seem to come with a 30-day return if you decide you don’t want to take the money. No fees or interest will be charged.

Pro: The application process is simple. Instead of having to shop around for loans individually, you have one company that will do it for you. This is much more convenient for you and takes less time.

Pro: LendKey has extensive customer service hours. You can call 888-549-9050 Monday through Friday from 9AM – 8PM ET.

There are several disadvantages to LendKey as well:

Con: You’re dealing with a number of different lenders, and it may be difficult to choose the best from a large list. You should do your own research on the banks LendKey matches you with.

Con: There are possible origination fees even though LendKey claims its lenders don’t charge upfront fees. You should call and confirm if you go with a loan that says its origination fee is 0%.

Con: Many of the individual lenders have loan pages that state the only options for repayment are interest-only or a minimum of $25 per month while in school. This means your loans are never in deferment, unlike Federal student loans.

Con: One large negative to consider with any private student loan is the lack of inherent benefits that come with them. Federal student loans give you more options when it comes to repayment plans and flexibility during tough financial times. It’s worth calling and asking if repayment assistance is offered before you go through with any of these loans.

Con: Some institutions may not offer fixed rates. Variable rates may be lower, but they’re subject to change, which can make it difficult to budget for your student loan payment in the future. Fixed rates offer stability as they’re locked in for the life of your loan.

LendKey

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Other Private Student Loan Alternatives

Some states may not have as many private student loan choices as others. If you can’t find a loan that fits your needs, you may have to look elsewhere.

Citizen’s Bank: Variable APRs range from 6.14% to 11.19% for a 10-year term and 6.34% to 11.40% for a 15-year term. Fixed APRs range from 6.39% to 11.44% for a 10-year term and 6.59% to 11.65% for a 15-year term. You can choose to repay your loans on terms of 5, 10, or 15 years, and the maximum amount you can borrow is up to $90,000 for undergraduate, up to $150,000 for graduate, and up to $180,000 for business and law.

Citizens Bank (RI)

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SunTrust Custom Choice Loan: Fixed APRs range from 5.25% to 12% and variable APRs range from 4.25% to 11.30%. A 7 and 10 year repayment term is available, and if you borrow over $5,000, you can choose a 15-year term. The minimum amount required to borrow is $1,001 and the maximum amount is $65,000. SunTrust also offers a 1% reduction on your principal loan balance if you graduate with (at minimum) a Bachelor’s degree.

SunTrust Bank

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It’s worth mentioning that you should exhaust your federal loan options before considering private student loans. Fill out the FAFSA and see how much you’re eligible for. Private student loans should only be used to bridge the gap if federal loans aren’t enough to cover your tuition.

Conclusion

LendKey is a great tool to use if you want to see what your local credit unions and community banks can offer you in terms of private student loans. There’s no application fee, but you should double check origination fees on any loan recommended to ensure you’re not left paying extra for a loan.

It’s also a good idea to shop around for private student loans as you want to get the best rates available. As long as you apply to multiple lenders within a 30-day period, the credit bureaus will count those inquiries as one inquiry. There’s no reason not to apply with more than one lender as one could offer you better rates, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

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.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at [email protected]

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Reviews

An In-Depth Review of Discover’s Banking Products

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 Online Savings account

A completely fee-free online savings account, with no minimum balance requirements, and competitive interest rates.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

2.00%

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: None as long you use an ATM within Discover’s network.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

There is no minimum balance to open a Discover Online Savings account, nor do they charge any monthly maintenance fees. While account holders do not have the ability to withdraw money from their savings account via an ATM, they are able to access and manage their savings account via Discover’s online banking and mobile app. The online banking and mobile app lets users deposit and transfer money to both Discover Bank and non-Discover bank accounts. This account doesn’t come with any fees. Even if you exceed the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D limitation of six withdrawals or transfers in one calendar month, Discover will not charge an excessive withdrawal fee. If you exceed six certain transactions more than once, your account may be closed. Discover will only do this if you exceed the limit “more than on an occasional basis”. Be sure to read the Deposit Account Agreement for specifics around this limit.

Currently, you can earn a competitive interest rate of 2.00% APY on a Discover Online Savings account. This is compounded daily and deposited into your savings account every month. As soon as you deposit money in your account, you’ll begin earning interest.

This is a solid savings account for anyone who already has a checking account with Discover, has a substantial amount of savings, or wants to earn a competitive interest rate on their savings account. It stands out for being fee-free and requiring no minimum balance or deposit, but falls short when compared with all the current interest rates out there.

There are no eligibility requirements to open a Discover Online Savings account since they do not require an initial minimum deposit or any minimum balance. There is currently a bonus being offered if you apply for the savings account for the very first time by 09/09/19. If you meet qualifications by 09/23/19, you could receive the $150 or $200 bonus. Click the button below for full details.

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How Discover Bank’s savings account compares

Compared with other online savings accounts, Discover Bank does not have the best offerings. That’s not to say it’s bad. Next to what major banks are currently offering, this account is a major win. However, with a little research, you can find better interest rates out there that also don’t have minimum balance requirements.

To see what other rates and offers are out there that fit your savings goals check out our Best Online Savings Account Guide.

Discover Bank’s CD Rates

A minimum deposit of $2,500 gives you competitive CD rates among online banks, but higher rates can be found.

CD term

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

3 months

0.35%

6 months

0.65%

9 months

0.70%

12 months

2.40%

18 months

2.40%

24 months

2.45%

30 months

2.45%

3 years

2.45%

4 years

2.45%

5 years

2.50%

7 years

2.60%

10 years

2.70%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs that are less than one year, the penalty will be worth 3 months of simple interest.
    • For 1-3 year CDs, the penalty is 6 months of simple interest.
    • For a 4 year CD, the penalty is 9 months of simple interest.
    • For a 5 year CD, the penalty is 18 months of simple interest.
    • For 7-10 year CDs, the penalty is 24 months of simple interest.

Discover Bank offers certificates of deposits with terms ranging from three months to 10 years. Interest is compounded daily and is deposited every month. As with most CD rates, the longer the term of the CD, the higher the rate you will receive. To make sure you lock in the highest possible rate for your CD, make sure you fund your account within ten days of application.

There are early withdrawal penalties for taking your money out before the end of the term. The penalty amount varies depending on how far you are into your CDs term.

While there are penalties for withdrawing your money early, you do have the option to withdraw any interest earned on your CD to a Discover bank account without penalty. This money can also be left in your CD to compound throughout the life of your CD. Account holders receive notice of CD maturity 30 days prior to the end of the term. Once a term has ended, account holders have a 9-day grace period to make a change to their CD before incurring penalties. If no action is taken, Discover CDs will automatically renew at the same rate and term.

You can open a Discover CD online or by phone. The only eligibility requirements come in the form the $2,500 minimum deposit, which can be paid via phone, check or an online transfer from your bank. Discover provides the option of opening your CD in the form of a Trust, Guardian, Estate or Custodial account, but in order to do so, you must call one of their Banking Specialists.

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How Discover Bank’s CD rates compare

Overall, Discover Bank CD rates are competitive. They certainly beat out most of the major banks by far when it comes to APY. However, if you do some digging, there are better rates out there for CDs, both in terms of minimum deposit and interest rate earned.

Discover’s minimum deposit of $2,500 is the biggest downside to this product. While it’s not common for banks to offer no-fee withdrawals on CDs, there are some out there. To find the most competitive CD rates on the market right now, check out our Best CD Rates page.

Discover CashBack Debit account

Discover CashBack Debit offers no monthly fees and pays decent cashback rewards.
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None.
  • ATM fee: None as long as the ATM is within Discover’s network.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

The Discover CashBack Debit account is appealing because it doesn’t carry any fees — that means no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance requirements and no fees for check ordering or debit card replacement.

They offer free online and mobile banking options like bill-pay, wire transfers and account management.

One of the account’s main selling points is the cashback reward, which pays 1.00% on debit card transactions up to $3,000 on purchases each month. In other words, if you spend up to $3,000 in a month you receive $30 cash back. This 1.00% return is not an interest rate, but rather a cashback reward. There are no qualifications to earn the cashback rewards — when you spend with your debit card, you’re earning rewards. These rewards can be redeemed as a credit to your checking account or transferred to a Discover CashBack Bonus card account.

Discover recently partnered with AllPoint and MoneyPass to increase their in-network ATM locations by 60,000+. While Discover does not charge ATM fees for going out-of-network, they do not reimburse ATM fees incurred by third-party ATMs.

Since Discover Bank is considered an online bank, you must open your account online via their website or by phone. There are no minimum deposit requirements, nor do they require account holders to keep a minimum balance. Once you open your account, you’ll receive your debit card within 10 business days. Discover offers free checks for their CashBack Debit account, although you must request them.

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How Discover Bank’s checking account compares

The Discover CashBack Debit account stacks up against other banks when it comes to offering a no-fee checking account. While they do boast a large ATM network, in part to their partnerships, they still do not reimburse out-of-network ATM fees. When it comes to rewards, their cashback reward is decent.

There are better cashback rewards programs out there, as well as, accounts that don’t require you to spend money to make money. If you spend a significant amount money via your debit card every month, this rewards program might make sense. If not, there are other banks that currently offer better rates on checking accounts for less effort on your end.

Discover Bank’s Money Market Account

Good withdrawal options, but with a high minimum balance requirement and interest rates that don’t stack up.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.85%

Less than $100,000

1.90%

Greater than $100,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None, but only if you use an ATM within Discover Bank’s network.
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

Opening a money market account with Discover Bank requires a minimum initial deposit of $2,500. They don’t even beat out Discover’s saving account rates.

There are a few account features worth noting, starting with the withdrawal options. Unlike the Discover Online Savings account, account holders will receive checks and a free debit card. Your debit card can be used to withdraw money via ATMs and at stores.

Discover Bank does not charge ATM fees, however if you use an out-of-network ATM they will not reimburse the fee. It’s important to note, that your money market account is subject to the same Federal Reserve regulations limiting transfer and withdrawals to six per month. If you exceed the six transfers or withdrawals more than on an occasional basis, Discover might just close your account. Luckily, this does not apply to withdrawals from ATMs or via official check that is mailed to you. Discover Money Market accounts also give you the ability to sign up for online bill pay, as well as, overdraft protection.

The only eligibility requirements to open a Discover Money Market account is an initial minimum deposit of $2,500. You can open an account either online or by calling one of their Banking Specialists. To fund your account, you have the option of an online transfer, direct deposit or check, which can be mailed or deposited via Discover Bank’s Mobile Check Deposit app.

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How Discover Bank’s money market account compares

Looking at the overall market offerings, Discover Bank Money Market accounts do not stack up. Their competitive account features like a large ATM network, free checks and a debit card are nice, but their rates do not compete.

You can find other banks offering lower deposit requirements, as well as better rates. To see how this account compares, check out MagnifyMoney’s Best Money Market Rates guide.

Discover IRA CD rates

Competitive rates with a higher-than-average minimum deposit for both traditional and Roth options.

Term

APY

3 Months

0.35%

6 Months

0.65%

9 Months

0.70%

12 Months

2.40%

18 Months

2.40%

24 Months

2.45%

30 Months

2.45%

3 Years

2.45%

4 Years

2.45%

5 Years

2.50%

7 Years

2.60%

10 Years

2.70%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs that are less than one year, the penalty will be worth 3 months of simple interest.
    • For 1-3 year CDs, the penalty is 6 months of simple interest.
    • For a 4 year CD, the penalty is 9 months of simple interest.
    • For a 5 year CD, the penalty is 18 months of simple interest.
    • For 7-10 year CDs, the penalty is 24 months of simple interest.

Similar to other Discover Bank CD products, the minimum deposit to open an IRA CD is $2,500. This is also the minimum balance required to earn your interest rate. They offer both Traditional and Roth IRA CD options, with interest rates that vary depending on the CD term you choose. Terms can be as short as 3 months to up to 10 years. Their early withdrawal penalties remain the same for both IRA and non-IRA CDs.

An IRA CD is a worthwhile investment if you aren’t touching your savings and want to earn a higher APY than what’s being offered for your savings account. IRA CDs make the most sense if you’re looking for a long-term investment. While they don’t pay crazy high returns, if you have extra capital, it’s a good investment vehicle to have in your portfolio.

Opening an IRA CD account with Discover Bank can be done by phone or online, and requires an initial minimum deposit of $2,500. Funding your account can be done by phone, via check or via a bank-to-bank transfer from an existing IRA. Discover also allows account holders to initiate a direct or indirect rollover from an existing IRA.

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How Discover Bank’s IRA CD compares

Compared with other IRA CD’s out there, Discover Bank’s rates fall somewhere in the middle. The minimum deposit is higher than other offerings out there and the rates are competitive, but not high enough to be the best on the market.

Overall review of Discover Bank’s deposit products

Discover has created a suite of banking products that can compete in today’s market. Their online and mobile banking has all the necessary features to access and manage your account, and they boast a large ATM network that limits, but does not completely remove, ATM fees from your life.

Compared with the traditional big banks, Discover Bank has them beat when it comes to rates and offerings. However, if you take the entire market into consideration, adding in online banks, community banks and credit unions, Discover banking products fall somewhere in the middle.

Based on the fact that all of the reviewed products above do not have monthly maintenance fees attached to them and pay some form of interest or cash back, means you aren’t going to be wrong by opening an account. However, if you’re looking for the best of the best, Discover Bank is not quite there yet.

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.

Jackson Wise
Jackson Wise |

Jackson Wise is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jackson 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 2.00% APY. If you apply for their savings account for the very first time by 09/09/19 and deposit a balance of at least $15,000 by 09/23/19, 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 10/07/19. You can apply online or over the phone. Just be sure to enter or mention the promo code MM819 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

2.40%

18 months

2.40%

24 months

2.45%

30 months

2.45%

3 years

2.45%

4 years

2.45%

5 years

2.50%

7 years

2.60%

10 years

2.70%

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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 2.40% 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