Compare CD vs. savings account

Should you keep your money accessible or lock it away in exchange for a higher APY?

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CDs and savings accounts were designed with the same purpose in mind — to help you save money. They both offer guaranteed returns and earn you some interest, but one gives you access to your money while the other locks it away until a set date.

What’s the difference between CDs and savings accounts?

Nearly every bank and credit union nationwide offers CDs and savings accounts. They both help you reach your savings goals, but keep these differences in mind:

CDsSavings accounts
Interest ratesHigherLower
ATM accessNoYes
FDIC or NCUA insuranceYesYes
Minimum depositsHigherLower
Ability to access fundsNoYes
Withdrawal penaltyYes. You’ll typically pay a penalty fee if you access your funds before maturity.Yes. You’ll typically pay a penalty fee if you make more than six monthly withdrawals.

Pros and cons of CDs

When you open a CD, you agree to lock your money away until it reaches maturity. This type of account carries the following benefits and disadvantages:

CD pros

  • High APYs. CDs typically have higher APYs than savings accounts, and the longer the CD term, the higher the interest rate.
  • No fees. Unlike savings accounts, CDs have no monthly fees or service charges because you can’t touch the funds until the term is up.
  • Flexible terms. Terms usually range from 12 months to 10 years, but some institutions may offer CDs with shorter or longer terms.
  • Locked-in rate. Your rate never changes with a CD, so you don’t have to worry about losing money if interest rates drop.

CD cons

  • Can’t access funds. Your money is locked away in a CD, and you’ll pay an early withdrawal penalty if you need to access it before maturity.
  • Higher minimum deposits. Minimum deposits vary, but most CDs have higher requirements than savings accounts.
  • No additional deposits. Once you open a CD, you can’t make any changes to the account, including adding more money.

Pros and cons of savings accounts

A savings account gives you limited monthly access to your money and carries the following benefits and disadvantages:

Savings account pros

  • More features. Unlike CDs, savings accounts offer ATM cards, mobile banking, direct deposit and more.
  • Lower minimum balances. Savings accounts have lower minimum balances than CDs.
  • Easy access. You can deposit or withdraw money into a savings account at any time.

Savings account cons

  • Lower APYs. You have monthly access to your money, but this benefit comes at the cost of lower APYs.
  • Monthly fees. Some banks may charge fees to maintain your account every month.
  • Excess withdrawal penalty. You can make as many deposits as you wish, but you’ll pay a fee if you make more than six monthly withdrawals.
  • Interest rates fluctuate. Unlike CDs, your interest rate isn’t locked in, so you could earn more or less money if rates change.

Compare top-rated CDs and savings accounts

Name Product Interest rate (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open
Barclays Online Savings
1.70%
$0
$0
Earn 20x the national savings account average with no fees or minimums.
American Express® Personal Savings High Yield Savings
1.70%
$0
$0
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account. Accounts offered by American Express National Bank, Member FDIC.
CIT Bank Savings Builder High Yield Savings Account
1.75%
$0
$100
A super-high interest rate if you're in the habit of saving at least $100 per month or have $25K in the bank.
BBVA Money Market
1.50%
$15 per month
(can be waived)
$25
Earn one of the highest annual percentage yields (APYs) if you live in one of 42 eligible states, and access your money by ATM, check or bill pay.
UFB Direct High Yield Savings
1.90%
$0
$100
Earn a competitive rate with a balance higher than $10,000.
Radius Bank High-Yield Savings
1.65%
$0
$100
A free high-interest savings account with a $100 minimum deposit to open

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product 1-year APY 18-month APY 2-year APY 3-year APY 5-year APY
CIT Bank Term CDs
1.8%
1.85%
1.4%
1.3%
1.7%
Radius Bank CDs
1.55%
1.6%
1.7%
1.85%
2.2%
BBVA CD
1.5%
1%
1%
Discover CDs
2%
2%
2.05%
2.05%
2.1%
Barclays Online CDs
2%
2%
2%
2%
2.1%
Ally High Yield CDs
2%
2.05% on CDs of $25,000+

2% on CDs of $5,000 to $24,999

1.9% on CDs of $0 to $4,999
2.1% on CDs of $25,000+

2.05% on CDs of $5,000 to $24,999

1.95% on CDs of $0 to $4,999
2.15%

Compare up to 4 providers

How to compare CDs vs. savings accounts

As you shop around for CDs and savings accounts, keep these factors in mind:

Bottom line

Choose a savings account if you need monthly access to your money or are looking for a place to stash your emergency fund. You’re limited to six monthly transactions, but you can make as many deposits as you’d like and some accounts come with an ATM card.

If you’re certain you won’t need the money for a while and want to earn more, choose a CD. The APY is typically higher than savings accounts, but you’ll pay a hefty fee if you need the money before the term is up.

Once you decide which account you want to go with, either shop around for high-yield savings accounts or compare top-rated CDs.

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