When you’re trying to scrape out an extra percentage point of yield here and there, a savings account may not be enough. Thankfully, there are options.

Take 3-year CDs, for instance. They offer a substantially higher risk-free yield than what savers can get from money market accounts, under the condition the depositor leaves the funds with the bank for three years.

Today’s top nationally available 3-year CDs pay 2.81 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 midterm financial obligations, like a down payment on a future auto loan.

Finding the best 3-year CD rates comes down to considering a wide range of options, including online banks and credit unions. 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.

Compare: Best 3-year CD Rates

1. CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union, 2.81% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

Details: CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union: The credit union is based in Alexandria, Virginia and was chartered in 1944 as Army Air Force Annex #1 Credit Union. Back then, there were only 94 members.

Today, there are more than 32,600 members and anyone can join by becoming a lifetime member of the Virginia Consumer Council. In the latest review of its financial health, the credit union earned four out of five stars.

2. American 1 Credit Union, 2.75% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Details: The credit union was originally known as the Jackson Co-Op Federal Credit Union and was founded in 1950. The institution currently serves more than 58,000 members, including customers in specific counties in Michigan.

3. USALLIANCE Financial, 2.60% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Details: USALLIANCE Financial is a credit union based in Rye, New York. Membership is open to anyone who joins an organization or association like the American Consumer Council or the Rye Arts Center.

4. Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, 2.60% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

Details: As its name suggests, the Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, which was founded in 1937, was originally created by and for employees of the Dow Chemical Company. Membership today is open to anyone who qualifies through a family member, or association with a group like the Midland Center for the Arts.

5. Hughes Federal Credit Union, 2.89% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

Details: Hughes Federal Credit Union is based in Tucson, Arizona. It was founded in 1952 and was originally founded to serve the employees of Hughes Aircraft Company and their families. Membership in the credit union is open to anyone who makes a $10 donation to an organization such as Friends of the Oro Valley Library.

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. In return, you typically receive a higher yield. 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.

For people who won’t need access to the money for at least three years, a 3-year CD can make sense. As a result, these accounts are ideal for medium-term goals, like setting aside money for a car down payment, or using the 3-year term as a rung in 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 yield, consider some of the lesser-known institutions willing to offer good interest rates to attract depositors.

Here are the top nationally available 3-year CD rates. Compare these offers, then calculate how much interest you would earn when your CD matures.

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. The same is true of a 6-year, 7-year or 10-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.

Financial Institution 5-year APY 3-year APY 1-year APY Minimum deposit
CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union 3.11% 2.81% 2.07% $1,000
American 1 Credit Union 2.50% 2.75% 2.00% $500
USALLIANCE Financial 2.60% 2.60% 2.30% $500
Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union N/A 2.60% 2.25% $1,000
Hughes Federal Credit Union N/A 2.58% 1.36% $1,000

Learn more about other CD terms

Learn more about CDs