The longer the CD term, the higher the yield.
Generally, that’s how CDs work. But sometimes a five-year CD is too long of a term. In those cases, a three-year CD might be a happy medium between the two terms.
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 for three years. Withdrawing the money before then will usually result in a penalty.
Summary of best 3-year CD rates for December 2020
- Delta Community Credit Union: 1.15% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- Navy Federal Credit Union: 1.05% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- Golden 1 Credit Union: 0.90% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union: 0.90% APY, $20,000 minimum deposit for this APY
- Suncoast Credit Union: 0.85% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- Comenity Direct: 0.85% APY, $1,500 minimum deposit
- First Internet Bank: 0.81% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union: 0.81% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- VyStar Credit Union: 0.80% APY, $500 minimum deposit
- Limelight Bank: 0.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
- Ally Bank: 0.75% APY, $0 minimum deposit
- Synchrony Bank: 0.70% APY, $2,000 minimum deposit
Note: The APYs (Annual Percentage Yield) shown are as of Nov. 30, 2020. 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 1.15 percent APY. That’s just as high as some of the best 4-year CD rates. A mid-term CD that matures in three years could be a great place to invest for mid-term financial obligations, like a down payment on a future auto loan.
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 at 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: annual percentage yield (APY), the minimum needed to earn that APY (or to open the CD) and whether or not it is broadly available. All of the accounts on this page are insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) banks or by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUA) at National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) credit unions.
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: Delta Community Credit Union – 1.15% 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 400,000 members and has 26 branches in metro Atlanta and three branches outside of Georgia.
Anyone living or working in metro Atlanta and employees of more than 150 businesses are welcome at Delta Community Credit Union. Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A and UPS are some of the eligible businesses.
High Rate: Navy Federal Credit Union – 1.05% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
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.
High Rate: Golden 1 Credit Union – 0.90% APY, $500 minimum deposit
Golden 1 Credit Union has over a million members. Its main office is located in Sacramento, California and offers 72 branches to its customers for their banking needs. Membership to Golden 1 Credit Union 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 also offers a money market account, checking and savings accounts. The credit union also has credit cards and loans.
High Rate: SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union – 0.90% APY, $20,000 minimum deposit for this APY
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was formed during the Great Depression in 1934. The credit union, created by school employees, 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: Suncoast Credit Union – 0.85% 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 866,000 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: Comenity Direct – 0.85% 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. Comenity Capital Bank is a brand that’s existed for around 30 years. Comenity is the bank behind many popular branded credit cards.
High Rate: First Internet Bank – 0.81% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit for this APY
First Internet Bank of Indiana was the first 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: Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union – 0.81% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union has more than 55 branches. It has at least one location in Austin, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union was established in 1952 and has its headquarters in Live Oak, Texas.
Besides its CDs, it offers a Really Free Checking account that doesn’t require a minimum balance and it doesn’t have a monthly fee.
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 four 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: Limelight Bank – 0.80% 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: Ally Bank – 0.75% APY, $0 minimum deposit
Ally Bank started in 2004 and is headquartered in Sandy, Utah. In 2009, GMAC Bank was transformed into Ally Bank. Ally Bank exceeded 1 million Ally Bank customer accounts in 2012 and currently has 2.13 million customers.
Its 11-month no-penalty CD offers three tiers of interest. Those tiers are less than $5,000, between $5,000 and $24,999.99 or at least $25,000.
Besides its no-penalty CD, Ally Bank also offers a checking account, a money market account, term CDs, two terms of a Raise Your Rate CD.
High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 0.70% APY, $2,000 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.
Coronavirus and Your Money
The COVID-19 pandemic is deepening financial hardships for millions of Americans.
While CD rates are not likely to rise in this environment, their stability can offer some comfort to those who still have extra cash on hand. The rate on a CD stays the same during the deposit term and the account holder knows exactly when that term will end. With their locked-in interest rates, CDs are also a great choice to avoid the stock market’s ups and downs.
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 mid-term 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 December 2020
|Financial Institution||APY||Minimum Deposit|
|Delta Community Credit Union||1.15%||$1,000|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||1.05%||$1,000|
|Golden 1 Credit Union||0.90%||$500|
|SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union||0.90%||$20,000 minimum for this APY|
|Suncoast Credit Union||0.85%||$500|
|First Internet Bank||0.81%||$1,000|
|Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union||0.81%||$1,000|
|VyStar Credit Union||0.80%||$500|
Learn more about other CD terms:
Learn more about CDs:
- What is a certificate of deposit?
- Which CD account is best for you?
- See how CD safety can boost your portfolio returns
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