Sunday, 12 May 2024

The Big Reason I Don’t Have a CD Despite 5% APYs

by BD Banks

<div>The Big Reason I Don't Have a CD Despite 5% APYs</div>

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The rates for certificates of deposit (CDs) have risen to the highest point in more than a decade, and it’s great to see. As you’d expect, lots of people are pushing CDs as the place to put your savings. And yes, that includes me; I’ve written about CDs quite a bit over the last year.

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Despite all of this, I don’t personally have any of my money in CDs. It’s for the same reason I point out as a consideration in most of my CD pieces: CDs lock up your money.

I like my money to stay accessible

The type of CD you get dictates its maturity length. For example, a 6-month CD matures after six months. You need to leave your money untouched in that CD until it matures, or you’ll face a big, giant fee.

How much you lose depends on the specific CD, but it can be up to all of your interest earnings. For instance, Citi charges 90 days of interest as an early withdrawal penalty for 3-month to 12-month CDs.

I’ll be honest — after buying a house last year, my non-retirement savings balance is a lot less impressive than it used to be. I do have some funds that could live in a CD and probably not be needed. But potentially losing a significant portion of my interest earnings on a “probably” just doesn’t suit me. It makes an otherwise low-risk investment markedly more risky.

What about no-penalty CDs?

Some banks and credit unions will offer no-penalty CDs that don’t charge early withdrawal penalties. Sounds like the perfect solution, right?

Eh, not so much. The vast majority of no-penalty CDs that I’ve seen have offensively low APYs. Sticking with the Citi CD example, its 12-month no-penalty CD has a rate of just 0.05%. That’s just sad.

If you can find a no-penalty CD with a competitive rate (in the 5% range), then good on you. I have yet to do so.

Where I keep my money instead

Since I don’t want to risk fees if I suddenly need access to my funds, I can’t use a CD to grow my money. Instead, I rely on high-yield savings accounts for my longer-term savings. I also have a money market account to house my emergency fund.

Why the two different types? I like keeping my emergency fund in a money market for accessibility. (See a trend?) If I have an actual emergency, I may need cash in a hurry, and most high-yield savings accounts don’t offer ATM access or checks.

The rest of my savings — the part that isn’t invested in my IRA — lives in the best high-yield savings accounts I can find at the time. I move money around as I qualify for new account bonuses or as interest rates change.

Don’t get me wrong, CDs are a great place to grow your money with minimal risk if you’re sure you won’t need to touch it while the CD matures. They just don’t happen to be the right tools for me.

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