Winter's leading 3-year CD rates top out at 1.45%
The top nationally available deal on 36-month CD rates hasn't changed in more than three months, but the leader has some more competition.
Intervest National Bank has been paying 1.45% APY with a $2,500 minimum since late October, according to our February survey of the best nationally available 36-month CD rates.
That's a bit more than savers could earn from the leading 3-year CD this time last year, when the leading rate was 1.40% APY.
Two banks tied for second place are nipping at the leader's heels.
Barclays upped its rate by one-tenth of a percentage point in mid-January to 1.35% APY, and AloStar has been offering 1.35% APY since late October 2013.
Intervest pays nearly a full percentage point more than the national average of this term.
The only way to make more on a 3-year CD is to look for local deals from community banks and credit unions. The best of these offers pay more than 2% APY. For example:
- Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union (www.ccgcfcu.com) pays 2.02% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Membership is open to residents of Nueces, Jim Wells and San Patricio counties in Texas.
- Spokane Teachers Credit Union (www.stcu.org) pays 2.02% APY with a $25,000 minimum deposit on 30-month CDs. Membership is open to residents of Washington state and Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Latah or Shoshone counties in Idaho.
But you won't find deals like that everywhere, so here are the best nationally available 36-month certificates of deposit, as of today:
Top 36-month CD Rates
|GE Capital Retail||1.30%||$15,000|
|State Bank of India-NY||1.30%||$5,000|
|State Bank of India-CHI||1.26%||$2,500|
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 3-year CD rates
|Intervest National Bank||A community bank headquartered in New York City. It has one branch there and six branches in Clearwater and Pinellas counties in Florida.||www.intervestnatbank.com|
|AloStar Bank of Commerce||An online bank based in Birmingham, Ala., formerly known as Nexity Bank.||retail.alostarbank.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|
|GE Capital Retail Bank||The other bank that's a subsidiary of GE Capital Corp.||banking.gecrb.com|
|State Bank of India - New York||The FDIC-insured New York branch of India's largest bank, which operates independently of other U.S. branches.||www.statebank.com|
|CIT Bank||The online consumer bank of CIT Group Inc., which offers financing to small businesses and middle-market companies.||www.bankoncit.com|
|State Bank of India - Chicago||The FDIC-insured Chicago branch of India's largest bank, which operates independently of other U.S. branches.||www.sbichicago.com|
|Discover Bank||An online bank owned by the credit card company.||www.discover.com|
Over the past several decades, savers could usually count on earning something like 3%, or even 4%, on a 36-month CD.
But the Federal Reserve has driven returns to record lows in an attempt to haul the economy out of the worst financial crisis and recession since the 1930s.
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 36-month CDs has fallen from 2.57% APY to a record low of 0.49% APY today.
In late 2012, Fed Chairman Ben 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.
Contributing editor Darci Swisher contributed to this report.
Mitch Strohm on Google Plus.