Pocket up to 1.05% with our leading 1-year CD rates
Six, count 'em six, banks now have the best nationally available return on 1 year CDs.
All are paying 1.05% APY, according to our February survey of top-paying banks.
AloStar Bank of Commerce, which had topped our December and January surveys, reduced its rate from 1.10% APY to 1.00% APY this week.
The only real difference among our new leaders is the minimum deposit you'll need to qualify for their best deal.
GE Capital and AloStar Direct both want a $500 minimum, the lowest requirement of the bunch. GE Capital Retail and CIT have the steepest minimum requirements at $25,000. Dollar Savings Direct and CapitalSource both want a modest $1,000 minimum.
The only way to make more on a 1-year CD now is to look for local deals from community banks and credit unions.
Members of the Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union in Corpus Christi, Texas, can earn 1.50% APY. Any New York City saver can buy a 1-year CD paying 1.20% APY at one of Doral Bank's two Manhattan branches.
But you won't find deals like that everywhere, so here are the best nationally available 12-month certificates of deposit, as of today:
Top 12-month CD Rates
|GE Capital Retail||1.05%||$25,000|
To qualify for this list, a bank must allow savers from all 50 states to buy its certificates of deposit online or through the mail.
Click here to compare these returns with the top CD rates from dozens of banks in your area.
Our CD calculator will help you figure out the interest you'll earn, for any term, amount and interest rate.
How to buy the top 1-year CD rates
|AloStar Bank of Commerce||An online bank based in Birmingham, Ala., formerly known as Nexity Bank.||retail.alostarbank.com|
|AmTrust Direct||An online division of New York Community Bank, which has 240 branches in five states.||www.amtrustdirect.com|
|BAC Florida Bank||A community bank with one location in Coral Gables that sells its products nationally through My e-BAnC||www.bacflorida.com|
|CapitalSource Bank||A Los Angeles-based lender to small and middle-market business which has 21 branches in central and southern California.||www.capitalsourcebank.com|
|CIT Bank||The online consumer bank of CIT Group Inc., which offers financing to small businesses and middle-market companies.||www.bankoncit.com|
|Colorado Federal Savings Bank||An online bank based in Greenwood Village, Colo.||www.coloradofederalbank.com|
|DollarSavingsDirect||An online division of Emigrant Bank, which has two New York-area branches, one in Manhattan and the other in suburban Ossining, N.Y.||www.dollarsavingsdirect.com|
|GE Capital||One of two online banks, each with its own FDIC insurance, that are subsidiaries of GE Capital Corp., the financial services unit of the manufacturing giant.||gecapitalbank.com|
|GE Capital Retail Bank||The other bank that's a subsidiary of GE Capital Corp.||banking.gecrb.com|
|Pacific Mercantile||A community bank with seven branches in southern California.||www.pmbank.com|
|Palladian PrivateBank||An online division of The PrivateBank and Trust Co., which has 34 branches in nine states.||www.palladianprivatebank.com|
|Virtual Bank||The online division of Sabadell United Bank, which has 23 branches in Florida, and is owned by Banco Sabadell, Spain's fourth-largest bank.||www.virtualbank.com|
Over the past several decades, savers could usually count on earning something like 2% or 3% on a 1-year CD.
The government's bank-for-banks controls short-term interest rates by adjusting the federal funds rate. That's what commercial banks must pay to borrow money that other banks have on deposit with the Federal Reserve.
In December 2008, the Fed's rate-setting committee slashed that rate to essentially zero in an attempt to spur lending and boost the economy.
Since then, the average return on 12-month CDs has fallen from 2.30% APY to a low 0.23% APY today.
In late 2012, then Fed Chairman Bernanke said the central bank would start bumping rates up when the unemployment rate hit 6.5%.
With that goal in mind, savers anxiously watched the jobless rate fall to 7.3% in August. Not quite there, but closing in.
Then Bernanke told a news conference after the Fed's rate-setting committee met on Sept. 18 that “the first increases in short-term rates might not occur until the unemployment rate is considerably below 6.5%."
Indeed, the Fed chairman said a return to market-driven rates — and a reasonable return on our savings — could be "several more years" down the road.
New Fed Chairman Janet Yellen seems to think pretty much the same way. She's made speeches explaining why it may be necessary to hold interest rates near zero until at least late 2015.
Contributing editor Darci Swisher contributed to this report.
Mitch Strohm on Google Plus.