Spring's top deals pay up to 1.1% on 6-month CDs
Savers got a boost this week when the Federal Reserve hinted that it might relax its six-year stranglehold on interest rates as early as April 2015.
Unfortunately, the updated plans that emerged from the central bank's rate-setting meeting on Wednesday had no immediate impact on the pathetic returns we're earning now.
Our daily rounds of rate-checking found only one of the top-paying banks changed a single rate over the past couple of days — EverBank dropped its return on 5-year CDs from 2.14% APY to 2.12% APY on Friday.
Nothing to cheer about there.
We can only hope the nation's commercial banks and credit unions begin to value our deposits again as the era of endless free money from Washington draws closer to an end.
If you have money to invest right now, however, you'll still be stuck with the same old record-low returns.
Take 6-month CDs, for example.
The best deal in the country is still down in Corpus Christi, where a couple of small credit unions are treating their members very well.
NavyArmy Community Credit Union and Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union are both paying 1.10% APY with a $1,000 or $500 minimum deposit.
But you must live in south Texas to join those credit unions and qualify for those rates.
There are residency and purchase requirements at the four other banks and credit unions paying local savers 1.00% APY in New York, New Jersey and the Washington, D.C., area.
TOP 6-MONTH CD RATES: Local Deals
|Gulf Coast Federal Credit Union||1.10%||Texas||http://www.ccgcfcu.com|
|NavyArmy Community Credit Union||1.10%||Texas||http://www.navyarmyccu.com|
|Doral Bank||1.00%||New York||http://www.doralbank.com|
|Bogota Savings Bank||1.00%||New Jersey||http://www.bogotasavingsbank.com|
|GPO Federal Credit Union||1.00%||Washington, D.C.||http://www.gpofcu.com|
|LOMTO Federal Credit Union||1.00%||New York||http://www.lomto.org|
Can you find a great local deal where you live? Click here to search our extensive database of the best CD rates from dozens of banks in your area.
Nothing? Then the best nationally available deals on 6-month CDs are your best bet.
Los Angeles-based CapitalSource has been paying savers in all 50 states 0.90% APY since late October.
TOP 6-MONTH CD RATES: Nationally Available Deals
|Doral Bank Direct||0.87%||$500|
|Colorado Federal Bank||0.70%||$5,000|
|GE Capital Retail||0.65%||$25,000|
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 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 6-MONTH CD RATES: About The Banks
|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|
|Doral Bank Direct||The online bank of Doral Bank, the leading community bank in Puerto Rico, which also has five branches in northwest Florida and two in New York City.||www.doralbankdirect.com|
|AloStar Bank of Commerce||An online bank based in Birmingham, Ala., formerly known as Nexity Bank.||retail.alostarbank.com|
|Eh National Bank||Which has a single branch in Beverly Hills, Calif.||www.ehnbank.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|
|Colorado Federal Savings Bank||An online bank based in Greenwood Village, Colo.||www.coloradofederalbank.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|
|Discover Bank||An online bank owned by the credit card company.||www.discover.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|
|GE Capital Retail Bank||The other bank that's a subsidiary of GE Capital Corp.||banking.gecrb.com|
Over the past several decades, savers could usually count on earning something like 2% or 3% on a 6-month CD.
But the Federal Reserve has driven short-term interest rates to record lows in an attempt to haul the economy out of the worst financial crisis and recession since the 1930s.
It's done that by drastically reducing what's called the federal funds rate, which is what commercial banks pay to borrow money from each other through the Fed.
That rate has been essentially zero since December 2008, so who needs to pay savers for deposits when banks can get pretty much all of the money they need from the Fed, essentially for free?
As a result, the average return on 6-month CDs has fallen from 1.86% APY in late '08 to a record-low of 0.14% APY today.
Last year, former 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.
Several more years? Economists who had expected the bank to reverse course and start raising the fed funds rate by late 2015 were suddenly wondering if sometime in 2016 might be more realistic.
Now we have a new Fed chairwoman, Janet Yellen, and a new explanation of what to expect.
At her first news conference following a meeting of the Fed's rate-setting committee this week, Yellen laid out a much faster timeline for higher rates.
First, she said, the Fed must wind down its campaign to drive down long-term interest rates by purchasing billions of dollars a month in Treasury debt and mortgage-backed bonds.
That process began in January and, at the current rate of "tapering" as the Fed calls it, should wrap up sometime this fall. Perhaps as early as September.
Once it's wrapped up, Yellen said the Open Markets Committee would turn its attention to the fed funds rate about six months later — or April 2015 if the bond purchases end in September.
She emphasized that once the committee begins raising the fed funds rate, increases will be slow and deliberate.
But after years of rock-bottom returns, any boost should be welcome news for America's savers.
Contributing editors Darci Swisher and Mitch Strohm contributed to this report.