Update: I'm afraid the special CD rates dropped after my post this morning.
US Bank, N.A. is offering competitive rates on its 3 special CDs. The most competitive one is the 27-month CD which has a 2.25% APY. The other ones include a 1.75% APY 19-month CD and a 3.15% APY 59-month CD. Minimum deposit is $1,000. These rates are listed at the bank's CD specials page as of 5/21/2010.
There's an online application link on the bank's CD specials page, and according to the CSR, people in any state can apply. In fact, to take advantage of these CD specials, I was told you would have to apply either online or by phone, and not in a US Bank branch. After you submit the application, the CSR said that they'll send you a signature card that must be mailed back with a check for the deposit. You have 30 days to fund the CD. However, according to the CSR, the CD rate won't lock until they receive the funds. I was told you can also fund the CD with a free wire transfer. After you submit the application, you should have the account number which can be used for the wire transfer. You can also fund the CD at a branch, but you'll still need the account number and signature card.
One downside with US Bank CDs is a harsh early withdrawal penalty. I had posted on it last year. I wasn't able to find a new disclosure document, but based on what the CSR mentioned, it appears to be the same as what I posted last year:
If your account has an original maturity greater than one year, the penalty will be the greater of either A or B, plus a $25 early withdrawal fee.
A. One-half of the interest that would have been earned on the funds withdrawn if held for the entire term.
B. 3% of the amount withdrawn.
Early withdrawal penalties for long term CDs are typically only 6 months of interest, so this is much worse. This is one reason to choose the shorter terms rather than the 59-month CD.
US Bank START Savings Program
US Bank also a pretty good deal on a savings account program called S.T.A.R.T. Like the savings programs at Bank of America (Keep the Change) and Wachovia (Way2Save), it's not going to make you a lot of money, but you can easily earn $100 in one year without much work or money (my US Bank START review).
US Bank has branches in many states. It has most of its branches in the states of California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin.
US Bank's ratings for safety and soundness are about average: 3½ stars (good) at BauerFinancial, 3 stars (performing) at Bankrate.com and an overall health score of 3 out of 5 at DepositAccounts (see our US Bank rates and reviews page). The bank has been a FDIC member since 1934 (FDIC Certificate # 6548). It's a very large bank with $278 billion in assets and $194 billion in deposits.
Comparing with Other Certificates of Deposit
As a comparison, Bankrate's best 2-year nationwide CD rate is currently 2.03% APY, and the best 30-month CD is 2.10% APY. The best 2-year CD rate currently at DepositAccounts.com is 2.53% APY at Broadway Federal Bank. However, after Broadway, there are not many institutions offering 2-year rates above 2.00%.