Early fall's best 3-year CD rates start at over 2%

Clear piggy bank with coins

If you're looking to get the best rate possible on a 3-year CD, make sure to check out the returns being offered at community banks and credit unions near you.

You'll find more local deals on 3-year CDs than on any other term.

And while those rates are only available to savers who live or work in a limited area or specific industry, they're more generous than the best nationally available deals. (More on that a little later.)

Qualifying customers can earn up to 2.02% APY at Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union in Texas, 1.81% from Lower Valley Credit Union in Washington State or 1.75% APY from credit unions in New York, Texas and Pennsylvania.

In many cases, those accounts must be opened in person, but the rates are well worth the trip.

Here are some examples of the best local deals currently being offered. (If you know of one near you, please share that info by placing a comment on this story.)

TOP 3-YEAR CD RATES: Local Deals

Bank/Credit Union (APY) State Contact
Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union 2.02% Texas http://www.ccgcfcu.com/
Lower Valley Credit Union 1.81% Washington State http://www.lvcu.org/
Bay Ridge Federal Credit Union 1.75% New York https://www.brfcu.org/
Montauk Credit Union 1.75% New York http://montauk-cu.com/
NavyArmy Community Credit Union 1.75% Texas http://www.navyarmyccu.com/
Select Federal Credit Union 1.75% Texas http://selectfcu.org/
Valley Green Bank 1.75% Pennsylvania https://www.valleygreenbank.com
Massena Savings & Loan 1.73% New York http://www.massenasavingsloan.com/
LOMTO Federal Credit Union 1.65% New York http://www.lomto.org/
Transit Employees Federal Credit Union 1.60% Washington, D.C. https://www.tefcu.org/
Department of Commerce Federal Credit Union 1.55% Washington, D.C., plus employees of Department of Commerce and NOAA https://www.docfcu.org
Industrial Credit Union 1.55% Massachusetts http://www.icu.org
Advancial Federal Credit Union 1.59% Alaska, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas https://www.advancial.org/
Texas Workforce Credit Union 1.51% Texas http://www.texasworkforcecu.com

If you don't see anything near you, try searching Bankrate's database of CD rates and checking out the latest local deals on Bankaholic.com.

Still no luck? Then the best nationally available return of 1.66% APY is available from a small New York City credit union with a minimum deposit of $5,000.

Although you have to join Melrose Credit Union (www.melrosecu.org) to take advantage of that rate, anyone can do so, regardless of where they live, by paying a $1 membership fee and putting $25 in a savings account.

Members can purchase CDs through the mail or in person at its office in Queens' Briarwood neighborhood.

If you don't want to go through the extra work of joining Melrose, the best nationally available deal from a bank is 1.50% APY with a $500 minimum deposit.

TOP 3-YEAR CD RATES: Nationally Available Bank Deals

Bank APY Minimum Deposit
EverBank 1.50% $1,500
State Farm Bank 1.50% $500
Sallie Mae 1.45% $2,500
Nationwide Bank 1.45% $500
CIT Bank 1.40% $25,000
Colorado Federal 1.40% $5,000
iGOBanking 1.40% $1,000
VirtualBank 1.36% $10,000
TIAA Direct 1.36% $1,000
Salem Five Direct 1.35% $10,000
Barclays 1.35% No minimum
GE Capital 1.35% $500

To qualify for this list, a bank must be FDIC-insured and allow savers from all 50 states to buy its certificates of deposit online, by phone or through the mail.

Our CD calculator will help you figure out the interest you'll earn, for any term, amount and interest rate.

TOP 3-YEAR CD RATES: About The Banks

Bank Description URL
State Farm Bank The online bank of the well-known insurance company. www.statefarm.com
EverBank Primarily an online bank with 14 branches in Florida. www.everbank.com
Sallie Mae Bank An online bank owned by the student lender. www.salliemae.com
Nationwide An online bank owned by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates. www.nationwide.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 An online bank based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. www.coloradofederalbank.com
iGOBanking The online division of Flushing Bank, which has 17 locations in New York. www.igobanking.com
VirtualBank 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
TIAA Direct An online bank owned by TIAA-CREF, the large retirement services provider. www.tiaadirect.com
Salem Five Direct The online division of Salem Five Bank, which has 29 branches just north of Boston. www.salemfivedirect.com
Barclays The online American operation of the worldwide British bank with more than $2 trillion in assets. www.banking.barclaysus.com
GE Capital Bank 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

As you can see, all of these rates are two to three times the current average for 36-month CDs, which is 0.50% APY, according to our most recent survey of major banks and thrifts.

Historically, savers could expect to earn 3.5% or 4% on these CDs. But the Federal Reserve has spent the past six years driving down short-term interest rates to boost the economy.

Now the Fed's rate-setting committee has indicated it will reverse course and start pushing interest rates higher sometime next year.

Documents released after its meeting today indicate that rates should be 3 points higher by the time a 3-year CD that's bought this fall matures in 2017.

That should finally provide the kind of return savers deserve.

Contributing editor Darci Swisher contributed to this report.
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