Bring on those CD rates promotions

Pink piggy bank on blue background

I recently wrote of my fondness for customer-only bank deals, which offer better terms than available to the general public.

In truth, I love all deposit account promotions. I always try to keep a stash in online to fund the next CD rates deal that comes down the pike.

I’m not talking about what mega-banks, like Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, bill as "promotional" or "special" certificates. These are just everyday rates masquerading as something out-of-the-ordinary. And they’re paltry to boot.

For me, a true promotional deal offers rates approximately equal to, or above, those currently posted by the top-paying nationwide online banks.

But locating available deals can be difficult. They don’t exactly drop into your lap.

You have to scour banking and interest rate websites, like this one, on a daily basis, hoping a blog posting or online ad will alert you to the promotion.

If you’re like me, with too much time on your hands, you can also regularly visit websites of banks you know offer promotions periodically.

My favorites include banks at opposite ends of the country: Union Bank, Kaiser Federal and Rabobank in California, and Salem Five Savings Bank and Androscoggin Bank in the East.

And there’s always the question of eligibility to participate.

Often, promotions are done by small or regional banks that limit them to local residents, or require visiting a local branch.

As a Californian, there’s nothing I hate more that seeing a great deal being offered to Ohio residents only. (Although no offer has ever been so compelling as to tempt me to move.)

Availability might also be restricted by a high deposit amount and/or a requirement to maintain a fee-packed checking account.

Another issue with promotional CDs is what happens at maturity.

When you put your money in a bank that relies heavily on promotions, you may confront unattractively low posted rates when the certificate comes due.

I’ve faced this repeatedly at Union Bank, where a great promotional CD matures and there’s no current promotion of which I can take advantage.

It’s inconvenient, to say the least, to move money elsewhere, only to move it back when the next promotion surfaces.

But, in spite of all this, I keep on looking for promotions. For a retiree like me, it beats playing checkers -- or simply taking a nap.

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