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CDs Offer Guaranteed Safety

By Peter McDougall

 

Guaranteed investments are difficult to come by these days. From the topsy-turvy stock market to the crashing of the once-solid housing market, where can you go for a truly safe investment? Among the few remaining options are certificates of deposit (CD).

Category Product: 
CDs
Category Finance: 
Personal Finance
Introduction: 

By Peter McDougall

 

Guaranteed investments are difficult to come by these days. From the topsy-turvy stock market to the crashing of the once-solid housing market, where can you go for a truly safe investment? Among the few remaining options are certificates of deposit (CD).

CDs come in different durations, anywhere from one month to five years. And the length of CD that's right for you depends on your specific investment or savings goals. Here are some tips that will make it easier to choose from among a wide range of CDs.

Three-month CD: Investors tend to buy three-month CDs when they are looking for a short-term place to park their cash but still want their money to earn a little interest. Interest rates on three-month CDs are frequently the lowest of the different CD rates. The national average rate on a three-month CD is 1.41%, whereas the average rate on a 12-month CD is 2.15%. The lower interest rate is a reflection of greater flexibility -- you can have access to your cash sooner than you would with a longer-term CD.

Shopping around is the key to finding the best rates on CDs. In fact, in the New York metropolitan area, you can get a three-month CD that carries an interest rate of 3.53% from Nara Bank or a 1.5% rate from Alliance Bank. When comparing rates, however, bear in mind that banks often require a minimum deposit. Often, the best rates are reserved for deposits of $10,000 or more.

One-year CD: Investors tend to buy one-year, or 12-month, CDs as a very secure component of their long-term investment strategy. Money deposited in CDs at a federally insured institution is guaranteed up to $250,000 per account holder per institution. But 12-month CDs are also useful for investing money that you know you won't need for an extended period.

For instance, if you have $5,000 set aside for a vacation, but don't plan to book it for the next year, you can deposit that money safely in a 12-month CD and earn a higher rate of return than a simple savings account. In North Carolina, for example, there is a wide range of rate offers on manybanking.com. Rates offered include 3.45% from Bank of the Carolinas and 2.0% from Bank of America.

Five-year CD: Investors generally buy five-year, or 60-month, CDs as part of a CD ladder. CD laddering is a strategy that divides money between CDs of various maturities and lets you take advantage of longer-term rates while still having access to your money. (For more on CD laddering, read here. A stand-alone 60-month CD isn't such a good idea, because it locks up your money for such a long period of time and there are stiff penalties for withdrawing funds prematurely. Still, rates can be very attractive to consumers, compared to some shorter-term CDs or other types of deposit accounts such as savings or money market accounts.

In the New York area, rates get as high as 4.9% from Intervest Bank and 4.5% from Banco Popular North America. That's high compared to a national average of 0.77% on money market accounts.

 

For more rate offers in your area, check out and enter your ZIP code to find out the best info for your area.

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