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

Clear piggy bank with coins

It was three summers ago that the top national rate on 36-month CDs sank to 1.50% APY, and we still have only incremental progress to report.

In the three years since June 2012, the leading 36-month rate descended even further to 1.40% before experiencing a number of spikes that briefly took the top return as high as 1.70%, 1.75% and even 1.85% APY.

But none of those higher rates stuck, and this past January, the top national return for 3-year CDs not only disappointingly fell back to 1.50% APY but became stubbornly anchored there for five months.

Finally, we’ve seen a flurry of rate increases this month, with three improvements to the top rate within two weeks.

Yet with each increase raising the lead by just one or two hundredths of a percentage point, the current top rate, offered by EverBank, has only marginally improved to 1.54% APY.

TOP 36-MONTH CD RATES: Nationally Available Bank Deals

Bank APY Minimum Deposit
EverBank 1.54% $1,500
Silvergate Bank 1.53% $25,000
First Internet Bank 1.51% $1,000
American Bank 1.50% $500
CIT Bank 1.50% $1,000
Gulf Coast Bank & Trust 1.50% $2,000
Synchrony Bank 1.50% $2,000
BankDirect 1.45% $10,000
Barclays 1.45% No minimum
California First National Bank 1.45% $5,000
Discover Bank 1.45% $2,500
Nordstrom Bank 1.45% $1,000
Sallie Mae 1.45% $2,500
Ally Bank 1.40% No minimum
BAC Florida 1.40% $1,500
Capital One 360 1.40% No minimum
Colorado Federal Savings Bank 1.40% $5,000

Fortunately, many savers can do better by investing through a credit union or community bank, which are paying 2% or more on their certificates of deposit.

Two credit unions actually offer nationally available 3-year CDs that beat the top-paying banks:

But it's the local deals that always offer the absolutely best returns — up to 2.78% right now.

TOP 3-YEAR CD RATES: Credit Union, Community Bank Deals

Bank States Term (in months) APY
Four Corners Federal Credit Union Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah 36 2.78%
University of Iowa Community Credit Union Iowa 37 2.40%
Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union New York 36 2.33%
Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union Texas 36 2.02%
Cedar Falls Community Credit Union Iowa 37 2.00%
Vibrant Credit Union Illinois, Iowa 33 2.00%
Linn Area Credit Union Iowa 33 2.00%
Veridian Credit Union Iowa, Nebraska 39 1.96%
Champion Credit Union North Carolina 36 1.90%
Crescent Bank Louisiana 36 1.81%
First NBC Bank Louisiana 36 1.77%
North Platte Union Pacific Employees Credit Union Nebraska 36 1.76%
Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union New York 36 1.75%
NavyArmy Community Credit Union Texas 36 1.75%
Severn Savings Bank Maryland 36 1.75%
Suncoast Credit Union Florida 36 1.65%
Associated Credit Union of Texas Texas 36 1.60%

You definitely want to take advantage of these deals because they pay at least three times more than the current average return of 0.56% APY, according to our weekly nationwide survey of banks and thrifts.

The average return fell as low as 0.43% two summers ago before beginning a slow but steady rebound that's returned the typical yield to where it was in December 2012.

Unfortunately, we're still a long way from February 2007 — before reckless mortgage lending plunged us into the Great Recession — when the average return on 36-month CDs was 3.8% APY.

The Federal Reserve’s subsequent efforts to rescue the economy by dropping interest rates in December 2008 — and the economy’s sluggishness in responding — have led to savers suffering depressed deposit rates for more than six years now.

Fortunately, the Fed appears to be nearing a rate hike, likely this fall or early winter.

Until that day comes, we’ll continue to keep you informed of the best-paying options here.