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WHAT IS A CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT (CD)?

A certificate of deposit (CD) is a product that provides an interest rate premium in exchange for the customer agreeing to leave a lump sum deposit untouched for a predetermined period of time. Almost all consumer financial institutions offer them, although it’s up to each bank which CD terms it wants to offer, how much higher the rate will be compared to the bank’s savings and money market products, and what penalties it applies for early withdrawal.

Shopping around is crucial to finding the best CD rates because different financial institutions offer a surprisingly wide range. Your brick-and-mortar bank might pay a pittance on even long-term CDs, for example, while an online bank or local credit union might pay three to five times the national average. Meanwhile, some of the best rates come from special promotions, occasionally with unusual durations such as 13 or 21 months, rather than the more common terms based on 3, 6, or 18 months or full-year increments.

 
 

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