Southeast Financial Federal Credit Union has some competitive certificate rates. These include a 3.25% APY for terms of 12 months, 18 months, 24 months and 30 months. The longer term CD rates include a 3.45% APY for 3 years, 3.60% APY for 4 years and 3.85% APY for 5 years. Minimum deposit is $500. Rates also apply to IRA certificates. These rates are listed at the credit union's rate table as of 1/30/2009.
Since the rate table has an October date, I called and verified these rates were valid. I asked if they commonly update their rates at the start of each month. According to the CSR they have no set days when they update their rates so hopefully these will last into next week. The credit union does have a history of competitive CD rates. In February 2008 the credit union had been offering a 4.50% 12-month CD.
One nice feature of these certificates is a below-average early withdrawal penalty. This is listed under the rate table. For terms of more than 6 months, the penalty is no more than 60 days of interest on the amount withdrawn. For other institutions, the average early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest for long term CDs.
According to the credit union's Who-Can-Join page, you can call member services at 800-521-9653 and make a $5 donation to the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee to automatically qualify for Southeast Financial membership. You can also be eligible based on Select Employer Groups and where you live. Please check the Who-Can-Join page for more details. Before my February 2008 post I called to see if there would be any complications. According to the CSR, you should be able to do the $5 donation even if you live out of state. The application must be mailed along with the a check for the $5 donation and a minimum $5 for the savings account. Also, they need a copy of your driver's license.
The check for a CD can also be included with the membership application. According the CSR, the rate won't lock until they receive the application. However, she said you could include a note specifying the rate at the time that you mailed the application, and they may honor that rate. At the very least, they can send you back the check if the rates fall.
Branches are located in the Tennessee cities of Athens, Nashville, Brentwood and Chattanooga, and in the Kentucky city of Bowling Green.
The credit union has some strong ratings for soundness: 4 stars (excellent) at BauerFinancial and 4 stars (sound) at Bankrate.com. Both ratings are based on 9/30/08 financial data. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA (Charter # 24734).