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How to avoid a CD early withdrawal penalty
Avoid paying penalty fees on your CD with these four tips.
1. See if you qualify for a waiver
Most banks waive the CD early withdrawal penalty under extreme circumstances, such as when the owner retires, dies, becomes disabled or is legally incompetent. If you’re facing a situation like this, contact your bank to see if you qualify for a waiver.
2. Call the bank and ask
If your situation isn’t extreme enough to warrant a waiver, it still doesn’t hurt to call and ask the bank if there’s any way to waive the penalty. Sometimes smaller institutions — or bigger institutions that you’ve been with for a while — will waive the penalty if you’re facing an emergency and need cash now. Call them up, explain your situation and see if there’s anything they can do to help. The worst they could say is no.
3. Ladder your CDs
If you haven’t opened a CD yet and want to avoid future penalty fees, consider laddering your CDs. When you ladder CDs, you stagger your money across various terms, so you have access to funds on a rolling basis. For example, let’s say you have $10,000 to stash away in a CD. Instead of putting all $10,000 in one CD, you put $2,000 each in a one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year and five-year CD. Now you can withdraw funds for free once a year. If you wanted to have even more access, you could buy CDs in six-month increments. That way you have access to funds twice a year.
4. Choose a no-penalty CD
Some banks offer no-penalty CDs, which don’t ding you for pulling your money out early. For example, Ally Bank’s No Penalty CD lets you withdraw your money for free at any time after the first six days your account has been open. But as with most no-penalty CDs, the APY is lower than what you’d earn with other CD options.
Use the table to compare CDs with no early withdrawal penalties. Once you’ve chosen your top picks, click the “Compare” box next to each one for a side-by-side comparison view.
Why do banks impose CD penalties?
The fixed nature of a CD has benefits for banks as well as for customers. When you agree to invest a specific amount of money with a bank for a set period, the bank is more than happy to receive those funds because it can lend them out to mortgage and loan borrowers until your term is up.
However, when you decide to break your CD and withdraw funds ahead of schedule, you’re breaking the agreement you have with your bank, and it will impose fees to help cover any funding shortfall.
How much will I have to pay to withdraw my CD early?
Individual banks set their own early withdrawal penalties, and it’s a good idea to check what they are before opening an account. Here are what some popular banks will charge you if you withdraw your CD early:
|Financial institution||6-month CD||1-year CD||3-year CD||5-year CD|
|Chase||180 days’ interest||180 days’ interest||365 days’ interest||365 days’ interest|
|Bank of America||90 days’ interest||180 days’ interest||180 days’ interest||365 days’ interest|
|Wells Fargo||90 days’ interest||90 days’ interest||365 days’ interest||365 days’ interest|
|Citibank||90 days’ interest||90 days’ interest||180 days’ interest||180 days’ interest|
|Capital One||90 days’ interest||90 days’ interest||180 days’ interest||180 days’ interest|
|American Express||90 days’ interest||270 days’ interest||365 days’ interest||540 days’ interest|
|Ally Bank||60 days’ interest||60 days’ interest||90 days’ interest||150 days’ interest|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs||90 days’ interest||270 days’ interest||270 days’ interest||270 days’ interest|
5 things to consider before opening a CD
These tips will help you choose the right CD based on your needs and goals:
- Plan ahead. Consider your future financial needs and whether you’ll likely need to access your money before maturity. It’s a bad idea to put your entire savings into a CD — if possible, set aside an emergency fund in a more accessible account before opening a CD.
- Make use of introductory periods. Some providers will let you withdraw your money during the first week or two without incurring a fee. If you invest in a CD and have immediate buyer’s remorse, check to see if your bank lets you opt out during an introductory period.
- Pay attention to the minimum balance. If you try to withdraw a partial amount and your account balance goes below the minimum limit, your account could be automatically closed and the interest rate reduction could apply to the entire balance.
- Read the fine print. Many banks don’t allow partial withdrawals at all— if you want access to your money, you’ll have to withdraw all of it and close the account.
- Consider other opportunities. While it’s impossible to predict the future and the emergencies that may arise, you may decide that you may be better off opening an online savings account that provides easy access to funds whenever you need them. Even if you do decide to use a CD, it’s a good idea to have a savings account, too.
Before you open a CD, be aware of any penalties that will apply if you need to make an early withdrawal. Consider a penalty-free CD for peace of mind if you think you might need to access your money before the term ends.
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