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2018's Best CD Rates

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by Craig Casazza Updated

Finding the Top CD Rates in 2018

One way to save money is to use a certificate of deposit (CD) account. You find them at banks and credit unions. They are generally low-risk but also low-reward places to keep your money. SmartAsset researched the top CD accounts of 2018.

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Capital One Compare Offers Read More 2.35% $0
  • Competitive APY
  • No account or deposit minimums
  • Suite of other banking products available
Synchrony Bank Compare Offers Read More 2.65% $2000
  • Best CD/savings account combination
  • Competitive APY
  • Below average account balance minimum
Popular Direct Compare Offers Read More 2.65% $10000
  • Highest 2-year CD rate available
  • Has mobile app
  • Bank also offers rare term length CDs
TIAA Bank Compare Offers Read More 2.35% $5000
  • Best overall 1-year CD
  • Competitive APY
  • Suite of other banking products available
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Compare Offers Read More 2.45% $500
  • Best 1-year CD for small deposits
  • Competitive APY
  • Good for laddering
Capital One Compare Offers Read More 2.80% $0
  • Best overall 5-year CD
  • Highest available APY for 5-year accounts
  • No deposit or account balance minimum
TIAA Bank Compare Offers Read More 2.70% $5000
  • Highest rate for 3-year CDs
  • Always guaranteed top 5% rate 
  • Good for short-term ladders

How We Determine the Best CD Accounts

SmartAsset analyzed more than 150 CD accounts. We determined the best based on their current rates and minimum deposits, as well as the customer service of the bank from which they are offered. Other factors we considered in our analysis were how many other products the bank offers and whether they allow CD laddering.  

Best 2-Year CD Account: Capital One 360

 

If you want an intermediate length certificate of deposit, the Capital One 360 2-Year CD Account is your best option. The 1.85% APY is 20% higher than the national average and one of the highest available of the accounts we looked at. It is also a good choice because it is the only 24-month account without a minimum balance. The 37 accounts we studied had an average minimum deposit of $4,310. 

 

Capital One has a variety of banking products under one roof. You can open a checking account, a money market or a high-yield savings account. This means all of your funds can be in one convenient place. While most banks only provide management online, Capital One offers management both online and through a mobile-app. 

How Much You Would Earn With Capital One: 

Bank APY $10,000 Deposit
Capital One 360 2-year CD  1.85% $373
TIAA Bank 2-year CD 1.82% $367
Goldman Sachs Bank USA 2-year CD 2.45% $502
Discover Bank 2-year CD 1.65% $333

Top 2-Year CD/Savings Account Combination: Synchrony Bank

We found Synchrony’s CD account to be the 2nd best available. The 2-year CD at Synchrony Bank comes with a 2.65% APY. While not as high as Capital One, account holders will find this CD is great to combine with a Synchrony High Yield Savings account. The two Synchrony accounts make for the top CD/Savings account combination. After your funds mature in the CD account, it will be easy to transfer over to your savings account. The Synchrony High Yield Savings Account currently has a 1.85% APY so your money can continue to grow further. 

The $2,000 account minimum is also well below average for 2-year accounts, making this an attractive option if you do not have a lot of capital to invest. You will likely also have a good customer experience at Synchrony. There is 24/7 chat support and a mobile-app that will allow you to monitor your funds on the go.

 

How Much You Would Earn with a Synchrony CD and Savings Account:

Bank 2-year CD (First 2 Years) Savings Account (Next 3 Years) Total Earnings After 5 Years
Synchrony $537 $565 $1,102
Ally $325 $394 $719
Capital One  $375 $236 $611 

Best 2-Year CD Account Rate: Popular Direct

The 1.90% APY for the Popular Direct 24-month CD is the highest of any available account. Popular Direct may not be as well-known as other companies we analyzed, but it comes with decent customer service and an intuitive mobile app to monitor and fund your accounts. Popular Direct also has CD accounts with terms as short as 3 months up to 5 years, allowing for flexible laddering. 

The downside to this account is that you need a minimum of $10,000.  If you are new to savings, this threshold may be a hard one to break. We wouldn’t recommend waiting to amass $10,000 for the higher rate at Popular Direct either. Instead, you can start with a smaller amount at a bank that does not have a minimum, like Capital One 360. When you look at the numbers, the differences in earnings between the two accounts is negligible for amounts under $10,000. 

How Much You Would Earn With PopularDirect:

Deposit Popular Direct Capital One 360 Difference
$10,000 $385 $373 $12
$100,000 $3,852 $3,728 $124
$1,000,000 $38,522 $37,485 $1,037

Best 1-Year CD Account: TIAA Bank Yield Pledge

TIAA Bank's 1-year Yield Pledge CD is an outstanding 1-year CD based on our analysis of 37 1-year accounts. The APY is 1.72%, about 15% higher than the average, and the account has a $5,000 account minimum. With TIAA Bank you can also open a savings and checking account which can make it a convenient place to do all of your banking. The TIAA Bank checking account in particular is a good place to send your funds after they mature. TIAA Bank checking accounts have competitive interest rates, so the money from your CD can continue to grow, and also be spent without penalty. 

One thing to be wary of is we did find customer service at TIAA Bank to not be as strong compared to larger banks like Capital One and Discover. TIAA Bank only offers phone support, whereas most banks offer both phone and online services. The mobile app also has poor reviews compared to apps of other banks. Recent reviews of the iOS app point to some issues with functionality. 

How Much You Would Earn With TIAA Bank:

Bank APY $10,000 Deposit Deposit
TIAA Bank 1-year CD 1.72% $172
Ally Bank 1-year CD 1.65% $165
Synchrony Bank 1-year CD 2.40% $240

Top 1-Year CD Account for Smaller Deposits: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

The 12-month CD from Marcus by Goldman Sachs is worth taking a look at if you have less than $10,000 to invest. The minimum to open a Marcus CD is only $500. That is 10x less than TIAA Bank. 

Furthermore, Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers CDs for every term period starting from 6 months to 6 years, making laddering easy. You can also open a competitive online savings account, giving you a convenient place to transfer your money after a CD matures. Where Marcus falls flat compared to TIAA Bank is in customer service. Marcus currently does not offer a mobile banking app like TIAA Bank. Support is also only 12-hours a day, compared to 24-hours with TIAA Bank. 

 

Best 5-Year CD Account: Capital One 360

The Capital One 360 5-year certificate of deposit is the top in its class. Like the 2-year CD, this account comes with no minimum deposit. It also has the highest available 5-year APY of 2.45%. It is uncommon to find an account with such a high rate and low barrier to qualify. Therefore, if you have less than $1,000 to invest, Capital One 360 is the top choice on our list for a 5-year CD. Since the 2-year CD is also a stellar account, combining with the 5-year (as well as a 1-, 3- and 4-year) can make for a lucrative ladder. 

In addition to the rate, since it is a Capital One account, you also get a stellar customer experience. The highly-rated mobile app makes tracking and funding your CDs simple. If you do run into any issues though, Capital One has 24/7 online support to give you a hand. 

How Much You Would Earn With Capital One:

Bank APY $10,000 Deposit
Capital One 350 5-year CD 2.45% $1,286
Goldman Sachs Bank USA 5-year CD 2.80% $1,400
Synchrony Bank 5-year CD 2.85% $1,508
Ally Bank 5-year CD 2.25% $1,185

Best 3-Year CD Account: TIAA Bank

The 2.10% APY of TIAA Bank's Yield Pledge 3-year CD Account is the highest available of the 34 we analyzed All TIAA Bank Yield Pledge accounts come with a $5,000 account minimum, which is average for 3-year CD accounts.  By going with a Yield Pledge, however, you are guaranteed to get a rate “within the top 5%” of current CDs rates when you renew your account. If you do not have $5,000, but still want to use TIAA Bank, you can opt for the basic 3-year CD which only requires $1,000 to open an account. The yield for the basic account is a bit lower at 2.00%. 

Going with this account makes sense if you want to create a ladder that only spans a few years. TIAA Bank has great 1- and 3-year CDs and a competitive 2-year CD. TIAA Bank's certificates of deposit become less competitive for the longer terms, however. There are better banks, like Capital One and Barclays, for longer-term CD ladders. 

How Much You Would Earn with TIAA Bank:

Bank APY $10,000 Deposit
TIAA Bank 3-year CD 2.10% $643
Homesavings Bank 3-year CD 2.05% $627
Goldman Sachs Bank USA 3-year CD 2.35% $611
Barclays Bank 3-year CD 1.95% $596

 

Are CD Accounts Worth It? 

Certificates of deposit are worth the investment when the right market conditions present themselves. CDs can be a safe way to grow money, but you do have to be comfortable not having access to the funds for the duration of the account term. CDs are worth it when the following exist:  

• Interests rates are high

• You have extra money sitting in a bank

• You already have a separate emergency fund 

• You are trying to save up for something big (like a house or car)

• You are looking for ways to grow money without being tempted to spend it 

In low interest rate markets, like the past 10-years, CDs are less enticing because returns are miniscule. As interest rates rise however, CDs become a much more attractive method of investing money.  

Another advantage of CDs is that your starting rate is a guarantee. You will not lose money with a CD (unless you withdraw money early), as opposed to investing in equities where you can end up losing your investment if the market takes a downturn. Also as opposed to equity investment, CD investments are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. If your banking institution were to fail, you would still be covered. 

CDs are also worth the investment if you have extra money sitting in your bank account, one that is not your emergency fund. Excess cash that is not accruing interest (or accruing a low interest) could likely be better served in a CD account. The fee associated with withdrawing from a CD before the maturity date also acts as a strong deterrent from spending the money you are saving. It makes CDs ideal for people trying to save up for something in the long-term.  

How Long Should Your CD Term Be? 

It’s important to create a clear set of savings goals to determine the correct CD term for your needs. Opening up a CD and having to withdraw from it early can mean you lose money. The penalty can also be great enough where you could have ended up earning more in a liquid savings account. You need to be honest about your finances and what your goals are before committing to a CD term. 

If your goal with a CD is just to grow money in a safe environment, then building a CD ladder with accounts of multiple lengths may be the best way to go. Laddering $10,000 across five accounts spanning one to five years can yield you about $1,206 after the five years. In comparison, reinvesting $10,000 in a 1-year account for five years (which gives you the same liquidity as a ladder) would yield you $920 in the five years.

If you have a more focused goal in mind, like saving up for a car or home, you need to determine when you would like to make those purchases and pick the appropriate length CD term. It’s a good idea to think your job stability as well. Investing a significant amount of money in a 5-year certificate of deposit could put you in a bind if you end up needing liquidity before the CD matures. 

 

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How Much You Must Save to Send Two Kids to College and Retire on Time

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where you can save the least amount of money each month and be able to send your two kids to college and still retire on time. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about cost of living in retirement there as well as savings rate.

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Rank City Median Household Income Cost of Living in Retirement Cost of Attending College (Two Kids) Savings Rate Monthly Savings

Methodology Many people may feel like they need to choose whether to save for their children's education or their own retirement. But there are some places in the country where you can do both. To find the best places to save for sending two kids to college and still retiring on time, SmartAsset gathered data on three separate regional factors. We looked at median household income, cost of living and the cost of attending college.

We wanted to compare a person in the same situation across many locations in the country. So first, we made several assumptions for the persona of this study. The persona is currently thirty years old, will send their two kids to in-state college at the approximate age of 50 and retire by the time they are 65.

Next, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of retirees over the age of 65 throughout the country. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. We reduced this cost of living by the average annual Social Security benefit received by retired workers, as estimated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The difference is how much money from savings would be needed in each location. Knowing this amount, we were able to calculate the retirement nest egg that a given household will need to cover their cost of living in retirement for thirty years.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average amount people have saved by age 30 for their retirement is approximately $35,000. We assumed the monthly amount each household is saving until retirement as well as the $35,000 would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 5%, reflecting the typical return on a conservative investment portfolio comprised of 50% bonds and 50% stocks. We applied this real return to calculate the total amount they would actually need to accumulate enough savings at age 65 in order to cover their cost of living in retirement.

Then we determined the total cost to send two kids to college using in-state tuition rates. Finally, we calculated a monthly savings total and a savings rate to reach both goals by adding up the monthly amount you would need to save in order to send two kids to college and the amount you would need to build your retirement nest egg by 65. The areas with the lowest amount of savings needed per month are the best places to live in order to send two kids to college and retire on time.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, College Insight, US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, Vanguard, Social Security Administration, Economic Policy Institute