Top national 6-month CD rate holds at 4-year high

White piggy bank on gold background

For almost four months now, MySavingsDirect has been standing tall at the top of our rankings of nationally available 6-month CDs.

The online division of New York’s Emigrant Bank, which offers only a simple savings account and three CDs, pays a solid 1.05% APY.

Not only is that a full two-tenths of a percentage point more than two second-place banks are paying, it's the only national 6-month rate we’ve seen above 1.00% since September 2011.

Indeed, with the exception of a few short-lived spikes to 1.00%, the top national yield had languished between 0.80% and 0.93% APY for nearly three-and-a-half years.

Of course, savers won’t be able to earn 3% or more on 6-month CDs, as we did before the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, until the Federal Reserve reverses its policy of pushing interest rates to unprecedented lows.

But with a rate hike from the Fed looking quite likely this fall or early winter, a 6-month CD can be a savvy place to stash short-term cash while waiting for interest rates to finally start climbing.

TOP 6-MONTH CD RATES: Nationally Available Bank Deals

Bank APY Minimum Deposit
MySavingsDirect 1.05% $1,000
California First National Bank 0.85% $5,000
California Business Bank 0.85% $5,000
ableBanking 0.80% $1,000
AloStar Bank of Commerce 0.80% $1,000
BAC Florida 0.80% $1,500
EH National 0.80% $10,000
Silvergate Bank 0.75% $25,000
Colorado Federal Savings Bank 0.70% $5,000
First Internet Bank 0.70% $1,000
GE Capital Bank 0.70% $500
Triumph Savings Bank 0.70% $1,000
Discover Bank 0.65% $2,500
Giant Bank 0.65% $2,500
Virtual Bank 0.65% $10,000
Umbrella Bank 0.61% $10,000
Ally Bank 0.60% None
State Bank of India - New York 0.60% $5,000
Synchrony Bank 0.60% $25,000
TIAA Direct 0.60% $1,000

If you live in the right place or work for the right employer, you might qualify to do even better with a 6-month CD from a community bank or credit union.

Although they pay up to 1.74% APY, we're aware of only a few such deals and most come with strict eligibility rules.

TOP REGIONAL 6-MONTH CDS: Credit Unions & Community Banks

Bank States APY
Peoples Transport Federal Credit Union New Jersey 1.74%
Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union New York 1.41%
Four Corners Federal Credit Union Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah 1.26%
LOMTO Federal Credit Union New York 1.10%

In addition, one 6-month deal is available to select savers living anywhere the country.

Catholic United Financial Credit Union is offering 1.26% APY on 6-month CDs to its nationwide membership, as well as Catholics living in North Dakota or belonging to select Minnesota parishes. A minimum investment of $200 is required.

As for what the rest of the nation’s 6-month CDs are paying, the national average return had crept upward to 0.17% this spring, but now hovers at 0.16% APY.

According to our weekly survey of banks and thrifts, 6-month CDs sunk to a record-low average of 0.14% APY in September 2013 and remained there as recently as June 2014.

Back in February 2007, before irresponsible mortgage lending led the economy over a cliff, the average return for 6-month CDs was 3.50% APY.

But then the Federal Reserve stepped in to talk the markets off a ledge by embarking on a path of holding interest rates down — for six years now — to allow the economy to rebuild to full capacity.

The Fed’s rate-setting committee next meets in mid-September, at which time it could institute the first interest rate hike in almost a decade.

If they don’t boot rates higher at that meeting, most economists and Wall Street analysts expect them to do so by December.

While we wait for that much-anticipated event, short-term CDs paying one of the country’s top rates can be a smart play for savers who want to be ready for higher rates as soon as they begin arriving.