What is a Certificate of Deposit (CD)? | TAPCO Credit Union - Tacoma & Pierce County

What is a Certificate of Deposit (CD)?


What is a CD, and why should I care? 

Explore the essentials of Certificates of Deposit (CD) - a secure savings option offering fixed interest rates for a set term. Learn about CD benefits, terms, early withdrawal penalties, and how to choose the right CD for your financial goals. CDs are ideal for beginner or experienced investors seeking low-risk and predictable returns.

Q: What is a Certificate of Deposit (CD)?

A: A Certificate of Deposit, commonly referred to as a CD, is a type of savings account that holds a fixed amount of money for a fixed period, such as six months, one year, or five years. The issuing credit union pays interest to keep the money in the CD for the agreed period, or “term.” When the CD matures (when you reach the end of the term), you get the money you deposited initially, plus any accrued interest.

Q: How does the interest rate on a CD work?

A: CDs typically offer a fixed interest rate, which means the rate does not change throughout the term of the CD. The rate is usually higher than a regular savings account because the funds are locked up for a set period. The interest rate depends on the term length and the amount deposited. In our current environment, CDs with shorter terms and higher minimum deposits generally offer higher rates.

Q: What happens when a CD matures?

A: Upon maturity, you have a short window of time, known as the grace period, during which you can withdraw the funds without penalty. If you don't withdraw the money, most banks will automatically renew the CD for the same or similar term at the current interest rate. It's important to note the maturity date and decide what to do with the funds beforehand. Your credit union will almost certainly send you a letter and/or email to let you know your CD is maturing.

Q: Are there penalties for withdrawing money from a CD early?

A: Yes, typically, there are early withdrawal penalties for taking money out of a CD before it matures. The penalty amount varies depending on the credit union and the term length of the CD. It often involves forfeiting a portion of the interest you've earned.

Q: Are CDs a safe investment?

A: CDs are considered a low-risk investment. They are insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured credit union, for each account ownership category by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) in the United States. This means that even if a credit union fails, your money up to that limit is safe. Unlike riskier investments, you will always get back at least your initial investment

Q: How do I choose the correct CD?

A: When choosing a CD, consider factors like the interest rate, term length, early withdrawal penalties, minimum deposit requirements, and the credit union's reputation. It's also essential to think about your financial goals and liquidity needs. Shorter-term CDs offer more flexibility with a competitive rate, while longer-term CDs can lock in steady growth for many years at a slightly lower rate.

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