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What is a certificate of deposit and how does it work?

What’s a CD? For some, CD stands for compact disc, which was used to record and play music once upon a time, in an age before smart phones and iPods. But that’s not the type of CD we’re talking about here. In the financial world, "CD" stands for "certificate of deposit." If you’re unfamiliar with certificates of deposit, it’s an investment tool that allows you to turn the tables on the lender. Instead of paying interest on a loan, the bank pays you interest on a deposit.

What is a certificate of deposit?

As the name suggests, a certificate of deposit is a deposit. You deposit a specific dollar amount with a lender, but you agree not to withdraw that deposit for a certain length of time. It could be three months, a year, or even as long as 10 years. For as long as you agree to leave the deposit with the lender, you will earn interest on that deposit. Once your certificate of deposit has reached what’s called its “maturity date,” you can withdraw that money, penalty-free. Like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae, you’ll also get to pocket the interest.

How does a CD work?

The most important parts of a certificate of deposit are the interest rate and the length of the deposit. Generally, the longer you are willing to leave your deposit with a lender, the better the interest rate they’re going to offer you. CDs are an appealing alternative to a traditional savings account because the interest rates are usually higher and the rates are fixed.

It’s considered a safe investment tool because you’re not at the mercy of the market. CDs are also federally insured, so your deposit is protected. You also have the freedom to shop around and find the lender that offers the best CD interest rates.

Is a CD right for you?

Do you have a chunk of cash tucked away that you don’t need right now? Instead of collecting dust, that money can collect interest in a CD. It can grow into a bigger chunk of cash that you can then use toward a home, a car, or even a boat if you’re looking to set sail. The risk is obviously that, in the event that you find yourself in a bind, you can’t withdraw the funds without paying a penalty. So it’s best not to think of this deposit as an emergency fund.

On the flip side, it can remove the temptation to spend that money. You can consider the CD as safekeeping for savings you might be tempted to spend under the right circumstances.

If you’re interested in a Certificate of Deposit, get in touch with us! The sooner you make your deposit, the sooner you can start growing that deposit into something more.