CD renewal bonus? It never hurts to ask

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I’m always learning something new about CDs.

My latest lesson came courtesy of MetLife Bank.

When I called the bank recently to close a maturing 2-year certificate, the customer service representative startled me by offering a "loyalty bonus" of 0.15% if I’d open a 12-month CD instead.

That would have boosted the CD rate to 1.15% APY versus MetLife’s posted 1.00% APY.

Although I declined the offer, it got me scratching my head.

What if I hadn’t asked to close the account?

What if I’d just let the certificate renew automatically, or requested a change to a 12-month term?

Would I have learned of the potential bonus?

The offer was particularly puzzling because, last month, the bank trashed its yields across the board, lowering its 12-month APY for $25,000 and up to 1.00% and longer-term maturities to a stomach-churning 0.75%.

MetLife seemed bent on shrinking its deposit base.

So why, then, in November did it offer me a bonus to keep my money there?

I have no answers to any of these questions.

At some banks, I know I’ll be given a renewal bonus without asking for it.

I’ve previously waxed enthusiastic, for example, about Ally Bank’s "loyalty reward" of 0.25% to customers keeping their maturing certificate accounts at the bank.

Thus, if your 12-month CD has come due, and Ally’s rate on a new 60-month term is 1.85% APY, you’ll get 2.10% if you stay with the bank.

Ally even permits you to add funds, at this bumped-up rate, during the 10-day grace period after maturity.

All without asking -- or threatening to take your business elsewhere.

(Note that Ally says it may discontinue this bonus after Dec. 31.)

California First National Bank has also provided me a 0.10% bonus to keep my maturing money on deposit.

And AIG Bank has encouraged me to "negotiate" a bonus to stay at the bank. (I once got 0.15% added to the posted 12-month rate.)

In 2010, Union Bank negotiated increases with loyal "priority banking" customers, but that didn’t last long.

MetLife has taught me, however, that I shouldn’t assume I know who will, and who won’t, go that extra mile to hold onto my money.

I should always threaten to close my account at maturity to find out.

You know, sometimes I feel like a real novice where certificates of deposit are concerned.

But at least I’m learning.

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