The longer the CD term, the higher the yield.
That’s how CDs generally work. But sometimes a five-year CD, for example, is too long of a term. In such cases, a three-year CD might be a happy medium.
And these days, a three-year CD and a longer-term CD might have similar annual percentage yields (APYs).
Three-year CDs usually offer a higher yield than what savers can get from money market accounts, under the condition that you leave the funds in the CD until it matures. Withdrawing the money before then will usually result in a penalty.
Summary of best 3-year CD rates for September 2021
- Highest Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Bank5 Connect – 0.85% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Pentagon Federal Credit Union – 0.85% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: VyStar Credit Union – 0.80% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Delta Community Credit Union – 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: First Internet Bank of Indiana – 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Comenity Direct – 0.80% APY, $1,500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 0.75% APY, $0.01 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Salem Five Direct – 0.75% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union – 0.75% APY, $20,000 minimum deposit for this APY
- High Rate: Golden 1 Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Suncoast Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Limelight Bank – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Navy Federal Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: TIAA Bank – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Live Oak Bank – 0.70% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit
- High Rate: Sallie Mae Bank – 0.70% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit
Note: The APYs (Annual Percentage Yields) shown are as of Sept. 16, 2021. Bankrate’s editorial team updates this information regularly, typically biweekly. APYs may have changed since they were last updated. The APYs for some products may vary by region.
Today’s top widely available 3-year CD pays 1 percent APY. That’s higher than some of the best 4-year CD rates. A CD that matures in three years could be a great place to invest for midterm financial obligations, like a down payment on a car.
Include online banks, credit unions and other banks in your search to find the best three-year CD APYs.
While many savers tend to stick with the same bank that provides their checking account, that can be a mistake, especially if they are with a large national bank, where deposit rates tend to fall well short of what smaller institutions offer.
Bankrate’s guide to choosing the right CD rate
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Methodology for Bankrate’s Best CD Rates
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is unbiased and not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy.
Bankrate regularly surveys around 70 widely available financial institutions, made up of the biggest banks and credit unions, as well as a number of popular online banks.
To find the best CDs, our editorial team analyzes various factors, such as: APY, the minimum deposit needed to earn that APY (or to open the CD) and whether it is broadly available. All of the accounts on this page are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).
When selecting the best CD for you, consider the purpose of the money and when you’ll need access to these funds to help you avoid early withdrawal penalties.
Compare: Best 3-year CD rates
Highest Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Quontic Bank was established in 2005 and has its headquarters in New York. Quontic Bank calls itself the Adaptive Digital Bank.
You only need $500 to open a Quontic Bank CD. Quontic Bank offers five terms of CDs, ranging from six months to three years.
In addition to its CDs, Quontic Bank also has a money market account, a high-yield savings account and two checking accounts.
High Rate: Bank5 Connect – 0.85% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Bank5 Connect is an online division of BankFive, which has a history dating to 1855. Bank5 Connect was established in 2013.
Bank5 Connect offers CDs, a savings account and a checking account. In addition, it is a member of the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF), which allows savers with deposits in excess of $250,000 to insure all of their money.
High Rate: Pentagon Federal Credit Union – 0.85% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) was established in 1935. It has more than 2 million members and has its main office in McLean, Virginia.
PenFed has nine terms of CDs. They range from a six-month CD to a seven-year CD.
High Rate: VyStar Credit Union – 0.80% APY, $500 minimum deposit
VyStar Credit Union was founded in 1952. It was originally called Jax Navy Federal Credit Union and it was chartered at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.
Membership at VyStar Credit Union is open to anyone who works or lives in the 49 Florida counties or the 10 Georgia counties listed on its website.
VyStar Credit Union offers 10 CDs terms ranging from three months to five years. It also offers a one-year CD for Kid’s, VyTeen, Bravo and Achieve members only.
High Rate: Delta Community Credit Union – 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Delta Community Credit Union began as the Delta Employees Credit Union in 1940. It was started by eight Delta Air Lines employees. Delta Community Credit Union has more than 450,000 members and has 30 branches, including 27 in metro Atlanta and three branches outside of Georgia.
Anyone living or working in metro Atlanta and employees of more than 140 businesses are welcome at Delta Community Credit Union. Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A and UPS are some of the eligible businesses.
High Rate: First Internet Bank of Indiana – 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit for this APY
First Internet Bank of Indiana was the first state-chartered, FDIC-insured financial institution to operate entirely online, according to the bank’s website. First Internet Bank of Indiana opened in 1999 and is available in all 50 states.
First Internet Bank offers eight terms of CDs, a money market savings account with a competitive yield, a savings account and two checking accounts.
High Rate: Comenity Direct – 0.80% APY, $1,500 minimum deposit
Comenity Direct launched in April 2019. It’s an online-only bank that offers high-yield savings products and CDs. Comenity Direct offers five terms of CDs.
Comenity Direct is a brand of Comenity Capital Bank, a brand that’s existed for around 30 years. Comenity is the bank behind many popular branded credit cards.
High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 0.75% APY, $0.01 minimum deposit
Synchrony Bank offers competitive yields across 12 terms. All standard CD terms typically offered by banks and credit unions are available.
If Synchrony Bank receives your CD deposit within the 15-day period — and the CD rate increased, you’ll receive this higher rate.
The bank also offers a savings account and a money market account. The savings account has a competitive APY and has no minimum balance requirement.
High Rate: Salem Five Direct – 0.75% APY, $10,000 minimum opening deposit
Salem Five Direct is an online division of Salem Five. Salem Five was founded in 1855 in Salem, Massachusetts.
Salem Five Direct customers with the eOne Savings account earn a competitive yield on all balances up to $1 million.
Salem Five Direct customers can conduct a transaction at a Salem Five branch, but it will cost you $9.95. Residents of all 50 states can open a Salem Five Direct account.
High Rate: SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union – 0.75% APY, $20,000 minimum deposit for this APY
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was formed during the Great Depression in 1934. Created by school employees, the credit union has 50 branches.
SchoolsFirst serves the education community in California. Certain school employees, certain retired school employees and immediate family members of existing SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union are eligible to join.
The credit union has low minimum balances and CD terms from as short as 30 days to as long as five years. CDs at SchoolsFirst have four balance tiers: $500, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000.
High Rate: Golden 1 Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Golden 1 Credit Union has over 1 million members. Its main office is located in Sacramento, California. Golden 1 has 72 branches and membership is open to all Californians.
Non-Californians can join Golden 1 Credit Union if they are a registered domestic partner or family member of a member. They can also join if they’re a member of one of the select employee groups.
In addition to CDs, Golden 1 Credit Union offers a money market account, checking and savings accounts, credit cards and loans.
High Rate: Suncoast Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Suncoast Credit Union was started in 1934 as Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union. Suncoast Credit Union now has 69 branches and has more than more than 900,000 members.
Suncoast Credit Union is the eighth-largest credit union in the U.S. based on membership. It is also the 10th-largest based on assets. People who attend school, live, work or worship in a county in Florida that Suncoast Credit Union serves are welcome to join.
High Rate: Limelight Bank – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Limelight Bank is a division of Capital Community Bank, with headquarters in Provo, Utah. Limelight Bank calls itself a conscientious bank that actively ties its business to eco-friendly initiatives. Savings deposits at Limelight Bank turn into loans for solar projects, according to its website.
Limelight Bank only offers CDs on its website.
High Rate: Navy Federal Credit Union – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Navy Federal Credit Union has nearly 11 million members and is the world’s largest credit union. It has a global network of more than 340 branches. Navy Federal Credit Union has its headquarters in Vienna, Virginia.
Membership at Navy Federal Credit Union is open to active duty members of all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families, as well as Department of Defense civilian and contract employees.
High Rate: TIAA Bank – 0.70% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
TIAA Bank is a division of TIAA, FSB. TIAA Bank has 10 financial centers, all located in Florida.
TIAA offers CD terms ranging from three months to five years. It also offers a Bump Rate CD, which allows a one-time rate bump if rates go higher. TIAA Bank has a service called CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) for customers with high deposits who need expanded FDIC insurance coverage.
High Rate: Live Oak Bank – 0.70% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit
Live Oak Bank was founded in 2008. It offers seven terms of CDs. The online bank also offers a competitive yield on its savings account. Like most online banks, Live Oak Bank’s savings account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee and has no minimum balance requirement.
Live Oak Bank is based in Wilmington, North Carolina.
High Rate: Sallie Mae Bank – 0.70% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit
Sallie Mae Bank offers 11 terms of CDs, a savings account, money market account, credit cards and private student loans.
Sallie Mae Bank offers a competitive yield on all of these deposit products.
Sallie Mae Bank was established in 2005 and has its headquarters in Salt Lake City. In 2014, Sallie Mae became a stand-alone consumer banking business.
What is a 3-year CD?
A 3-year CD is a deposit account in which you agree to keep the money in the account for three years. Yields can be higher than the national average earned from money market accounts and savings accounts.
Bankrate’s calculator can help you determine how much interest you could earn when your CD matures. Your principal is protected, so you don’t have to worry about stock market ups and downs. Plus, with a CD, your interest rate is locked in, so you also don’t have to worry about your yield decreasing.
Who should open a 3-year CD?
Opening a 3-year CD might make sense for people who don’t need access to their money for at least three years. As a result, these accounts are ideal for midterm goals, like setting aside money for a car down payment. Getting a 3-year CD could also be a good idea if you’re planning to build a CD ladder.
Search for the best 3-year CD rates online and compare your options. Don’t just stick with your current bank or credit union. If you’re looking for a higher yield, consider some of the lesser-known institutions willing to offer good interest rates to attract depositors.
Can you withdraw cash early?
When putting money into CDs, it’s important to read the fine print. After all, CDs come with restrictions dictating when you can withdraw your money.
In most cases, you’re not allowed to get your cash before the CD matures. With a 3-year CD, that means keeping your money in the account for three years. If you do withdraw the money, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a penalty.
The penalty depends on the financial institution, and can vary widely. A penalty might be expressed as a certain number of months’ worth of interest or as a percentage of the principal. In some cases, that percentage of principal might be based on the entire amount in the CD, or it might only apply to the amount you withdraw early.
If you’re unsure that you can keep your money in the account for three years, consider other options. There are no-penalty CDs that won’t charge you for taking the money out early. However, no-penalty CDs often come with lower interest rates than those on conventional CDs.
Additionally, you can choose a 6-month or 1-year CD, instead of getting a 3-year CD. You’ll be able to access your money earlier, but you’ll earn a lower yield.
3-year CD rate vs. other CD terms
When choosing a CD term, it’s important to understand the implications of your decision. In general, the longer you’re willing to tie up your money, the higher your yield. So, a 3-year CD rate often comes with a higher interest rate than CDs with shorter terms.
Also, because there are liquidity restrictions on a CD, you’ll often see a higher yield on a CD than what you’d get with a traditional savings account or money market account. Both of these accounts allow you easier access to your money than a CD — and might not have the same yield.
On the other hand, while a 3-year CD can feature a higher interest rate than shorter-term CDs and liquid savings accounts, it often has a lower yield than what you’d see if you were willing to tie your money up for a longer term.
For example, you might get a higher yield on a 5-year CD than what’s available for a 3-year CD.
Carefully consider your needs before putting your money in a CD. Be realistic about when you might need the money, based on your short- and medium-term financial goals. When you have an idea of your true needs, you’re more likely to make a better decision about the type of account that’s best for your money.
Here are the best 3-year CD rates for September 2021
|Financial Institution||APY||Minimum Deposit|
|Pentagon Federal Credit Union||0.85%||$1,000|
|VyStar Credit Union||0.80%||$500|
|Delta Community Credit Union||0.80%||$1,000|
|First Internet Bank of Indiana||0.80%||$1,000|
|Salem Five Direct||0.75%||$10,000|
|SchoolsFirst Credit Union||0.75%||$20,000 minimum for this APY|
|Golden 1 Credit Union||0.70%||$500|
|Suncoast Credit Union||0.70%||$500|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||0.70%||$1,000|
|Live Oak Bank||0.70%||$2,500|
|Sallie Mae Bank||0.70%||$2,500|