Best 3-month CD rates — March 2020

Friday, April 03, 2020


Savers have tons of places to park their cash. But choosing between a savings account and a certificate of deposit (CD) can be difficult.

A CD allows you to tuck away your money at a bank and earn fixed interest on that money until the CD matures. But because 3-month CDs are pretty short investments, banks tend to offer lower interest rates on these when compared to a high-yield savings account.

The top savings accounts pay around 1.9 percent annual percentage yield (APY). But the average yield is much lower (0.10 percent APY). If you’re hoping to earn a higher rate of return and you want the money you invest to be accessible, consider buying a 3-month CD.

The best 3-month CD rates available from banks and credit unions pay more than five times the national average of 0.32 percent APY, according to Bankrate’s most recent national survey of banks and thrifts.

The best 3-month CD rates for March 2020

Note: The APYs (Annual Percentage Yield) shown are as of Feb. 29, 2020. The APYs for some products may vary by region.

Today’s top widely available 3-month CD pays 1.55 percent APY. A 3-month CD could be a great place to invest for short-term financial obligations, like establishing a rainy day fund you can eventually transfer to a savings account.

Finding the best 3-month CD rates

Comparison shopping is a must when you’re looking for the best 3-month CD rates. There are multiple types of CDs, including bump-up CDs and liquid CDs. But the top 3-month CD rates are usually found in the form of a traditional CD.

Check out the best 3-month CDs offered by banks and credit unions and weigh the pros and cons of going with a short-term certificate of deposit over an account that’s more liquid. Don’t forget to crunch the numbers and calculate how much interest you could earn by the end of your term.

Best 3-month CD details

BrioDirect: 1.55% APY; $500 minimum deposit

BrioDirect is Sterling National Bank’s online brand. All BrioDirect savings deposit products are provided by Sterling National Bank, which was founded in 1888.

BrioDirect only offers CDs and a high-yield savings account. Both of these savings products offer a competitive yield.

BrioDirect gives customers a variety of CDs to choose from since it offers 13 different terms -- starting with 30 days and going out to five years. Even with this range of terms, the one-year CD is the best deal and has the highest APY for a CD at BrioDirect.

Popular Direct: 1.50% APY; $10,000 minimum deposit to open

Popular Direct offers a savings account and term CDs. Both the Popular Direct savings account and its CDs are for established savers, since the CDs have a $10,000 minimum deposit requirement and the Ultimate Savings accounts requires a $5,000 minimum deposit.

All Popular Direct deposit accounts are opened through Popular Bank.

TIAA Bank: 1.30% APY; $5,000 minimum deposit

TIAA Bank is a division of TIAA, FSB. In August 2016, TIAA announced that it would be acquiring Everbank. TIAA Bank had 10 financial centers, all located in Florida, as of December 2018.

TIAA Bank offers a Yield Pledge Checking account, a Yield Pledge Money Market, Yield Pledge CDs and other products. TIAA Bank’s CDs require to open. TIAA Bank does offer IRA-eligible CDs.

America First Credit Union: 1.25% APY; $500 minimum deposit to earn APY

America First Credit Union was founded in 1939. It has 131 full-service branches and is the ninth largest credit union, based on assets, in the U.S. Its main office is in Riverdale, Utah.

It’s also the sixth largest based on membership. American First Credit Union has 1,071,000 members.

You can join America First Credit Union if you work, regularly conduct business in, live, volunteer, worship or go to school in certain areas of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho or New Mexico. See the America First Credit Union website for full details on who can become a member.

Navy Federal Credit Union: 1.10% APY; $1,000 minimum deposit to earn APY

Navy Federal Credit Union has more than 8.8 million members and is the world’s largest credit union. It has a global network of 340 branches. Navy Federal Credit Union has its headquarters in Vienna, Virginia.

Membership at Navy Federal Credit Union is open to all Department of Defense and Coast Guard Active Duty, civilian, contract personnel, veterans and their families.

In addition to CDs, Navy Federal Credit Union also offers checking and savings accounts, loans and credit cards.

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union: 1.05% APY; $500 minimum deposit to earn APY

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was formed during the Great Depression in 1934. The credit union, created by school employees, has 50 branches.

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union has low minimum balances and CD terms from as short as 30 days to as long as five years. The more money you put in your CD, the higher the APY. CDs at this credit union have four balance tiers: $500, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000. Each tier gives you an extra five basis points added to your APY.

3-month CD rates offered by popular banks

Check out the 3-month CD rates offered by some of the country’s most popular big banks:

Ally Bank: 0.75% APY; no minimum deposit

Ally Bank is an online-only bank that has been around for a little more than 10 years. Its CDs have competitive APYs and some require a minimum deposit to earn the top APY.

The bank offers several different types of CDs. In addition to its standard CDs, it has a raise your rate CD and a no-penalty CD.

Ally Bank also offers a savings account and a checking account.

Synchrony Bank: 0.75% APY; $2,000 minimum deposit

Synchrony Bank has many CD terms to choose from. It offers 12 CD terms with competitive yields.

In addition to CDs, Synchrony Bank also offers a savings account and a money market account.

Barclays Bank: 0.35% APY; no minimum deposit

Barclays Bank doesn’t have minimum balance requirements to open its CDs and savings account. That means it’s an option for savers of all levels. The bank offers nine CD terms. Barclays also offers a savings account, which has a competitive APY.

Discover Bank: 0.35% APY; $2,500 minimum deposit

Discover Bank may be known for its credit cards. But it also offers a wide selection of banking products. It has been offering deposit products online since 2007.

Discover Bank offers CDs ranging in terms as short as three months to 10 years.

It also offers a checking account, money market account and a savings account.

How to use a 3-month CD in a CD ladder

With a CD ladder, you'll open several short- and long-term CDs with staggered maturity dates. The long-term CDs should allow you to take advantage of higher CD interest rates, while the shorter-term CDs let you either access the money sooner or reinvest into a new CD if you can find higher interest rates.

A 3-month CD may fit into your ladder as the shortest rung. Once it matures, you can either use the funds or reinvest into a longer-term CD with a higher interest rate.

Alternatives to 3-month CDs

This type of CD isn't right for everyone. Check out these alternatives to 3-month CDs:

Savings account or money market account

You may be able to score a higher interest rate with a money market account or a high-yield online savings account, while still maintaining access to your money.

“Money market and high-yield savings accounts typically offer higher interest rates than standard savings accounts, but normally require higher balances and may have restrictions or conditions to accessing one’s money,” says Robert Drury, executive director of the Association of Christian Financial Advisors.

Consider a CD with a longer term

CDs give savers a little bit of a yield boost over savings accounts in exchange for a long-term deposit. The longer savers agree to leave their money in the bank, the higher the yield.

Investing in a 1-year CD, for example, would require you to tie up your funds for a full 12 months.

“Money market and high-yield savings accounts typically offer higher interest rates than standard savings accounts, but normally require higher balances and may have restrictions or conditions to accessing one’s money,” Drury says. “CDs normally offer higher interest than these but unconditionally obligate one’s money for a specified term.”

To recap, see the best 3-month CD rates below:

Institution APY Minimum deposit
BrioDirect 1.55% $500
Popular Direct 1.50% $10,000
TIAA Bank 1.30% $5,000
America First Credit Union 1.25% $500
Navy Federal Credit Union 1.10% $1,000
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union 1.05% $500

Learn more about other CD terms:

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