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Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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Best CD Rates at Credit Unions & an Update to the All-Access List

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If you have CDs maturing, you might be trying to decide what to do with that money. You will probably be very disappointed with today's awful CD rates. Unfortunately, there aren't any good options for money that you want to keep 100% safe. You can keep the money liquid in savings or reward checking accounts. There are good deals with these accounts, but as we have seen over the last year, these rates can fall substantially. Only CDs can provide some certainty that the rates won't fall (at least until the CD matures).

If you decide to stick with CDs, you should consider credit unions. Many of the best CD rates continue to be from credit unions. This is especially the case for long-term CDs. If you're looking for a 5-year CD, you will be very lucky to find a 2.00% APY at banks. For bank CDs available nationwide, the best rate is only 1.81% APY at The National Republic Bank of Chicago. However, the best rate at an all-access credit union is 2.25% APY at Astera Credit Union. That's an extra 44 basis points. If you invest $100,000 for 5 years, that's an extra $2,200 (rates as of 5/18/2012).

If you're not familiar with credit unions, it's important to understand that the vast majority of credit unions have federal deposit insurance from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) that's equivalent to the FDIC.

Another important aspect of credit unions is their limited membership. However. joining a credit union is probably easier than you think. All credit unions have a field of membership (FOM) in their charters that defines who can join. This can be based on the community where you live, where you work or what associations you belong to. Fortunately for us savers, FOMs have expanded in recent years making it easy to join many credit unions based on where you live or the associations you belong to.

You can use our rate tables to find credit unions in your state with the best rates. This post on finding the best credit unions can help you find local credit unions using our rate tables. The post focuses on checking accounts, but it also applies to CDs.

If you don't mind banking online and by mail, you should also consider the all-access credit unions. It's likely that you will find these have better rates than your local credit unions. For most of these all-access credit unions, you can join an association and that will qualify you for membership into the credit union. To learn more about these all-access credit unions and to see a list of them, please refer to my post The Big List of Credit Unions Open to Anyone.

I just added the following 4 credit unions to this big list:

If you have come across other all-access credit unions that are not on the list, please leave a comment. As I described in the big list post, there have been cases when credit unions have added membership restrictions. So some credit unions may need to be removed from the list. The more credit unions that make it easy to join, the more competition will exist and the more it helps savers. As we all know, savers need all the help they can get in this awful interest rate environment.

  Tags: CD rates

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Comments
10 comments.


Comment #2 by me1004 posted on
me1004
Just to correct, no president has power to set the interest rates. Only the Fed does that -- independent of the president or Congress. Sure, the politicians can express their preferences, but they can't do much of anything when the Fed chooses to do something else instead. The president merely gets to appoint members to the Fed for a -- what is it, four-year term or five-year term -- and they are not all up for appointment at the same time when he takes office, are spread out over his entire term. Hey, Bush is the one who made Bernanke head of the Fed.

So, as far as the Fed rate is concerned, there will be no quick change in the Fed's policy after the coming election no matter who wins.

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Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
It is bernanke and geithner  and the fomc who are responsible for  the low interest rates.  They have conflicts of interest and want to keep rates low to benefit their banker and wall street cronies. It has been the same under both republican and democratic administrations with the same or similar cast of characters in the financial or fomc positions.  Rather than a republican or democratic administration, we need an honest and uncorrupted administration

8
Comment #5 by Chelsea Sisson (anonymous) posted on
Chelsea Sisson
I work for NAFCU Services, and we manage CULookup.com. I just wanted to leave a comment to make everyone aware of a free resource that CULookup.com offers to consumers--the ability to compare credit union rates to other credit unions/banks. The link to that is here: http://culookup.com/CompareCURates

Best,

Chelsea

7
Comment #6 by Bancxman (anonymous) posted on
Bancxman
Ken, Thanks for the updates. In the past, I've joined a number of credit unions with fairly open fields of membership. My greatest bit of luck was to join USAFed (which had a de facto open FOM) in anticipation of its acquisition by Navy Federal (which doesn't have an open FOM). What concerns me, however, is that banks are going to redouble their efforts to sanction CUs that don't adhere to the NCUA's FOM requirements. For example, I joined USAFed through a charitable organization that turned out to run by USAFed. Alliant actually paid my membership fee to join another charitable outfit that serves as its fOM loophole. Pentagon Federal has a couple of those on its membership eligibility list as well. I'm all for joining CUs over banks because of the better deals. However, those deals are partially attributable to the fact that CUs generally do not pay income taxes. This has prompted the ABA et al. to present some cogent arguments for taxing CUs that operate like banks. That's important because CUs nowadays offer consumers services that are identical to those offered by banks. Granted CUs still won't have stockholder dividends to pay, but there are plenty of big CUs that make millions annually and pay few if any income taxes. So, considering that state and local governments are always looking for new sources of tax revenue, I believe it might be a good idea for the NCUA and CUs themselves to seriously consider reestablishing tighter fOM standards.

2
Comment #7 by Racecar is a Palindrome (anonymous) posted on
Racecar is a Palindrome
I'm a member of 3 different CUs, all in the general area of where I live (all 3 are closed FOMs, but I'm able to through work and relatives). I have a 3% CD that will mature in about 3 years. That's excellent for now, but I'm wondering: would it be worth it for me to join some of the traditionally high-rate CUs now to be an established member later on when I'm going to have to do some CD shopping? Or should I just wait for 3 years and see who's offereing the best rate then. I'm wondering if some CUs offer higher rates for established customers. I have a decent amount of savings, and it basically all matures at the same time (rather than ladder). So should I join something like PennFed now, anticipating perhaps using them in a few years? If it's only $5 and a few minutes filling out a form, is there a down side? What about an up side? Just wondering what people think about this...

I am a strong believer in CUs. Besides using them for savings (ie, IRA, etc) all of my everday banking is done at a CU (checking, savings, credit card, etc) rather than a bank...

 

1
Comment #8 by lou posted on
lou
Chelsea, your credit union lookup doesn't compare or identify specific credit unions and their CD rates. All it tells you is which state has the highest rates.  Right now the tool isn't very helpful. Is there any way you can name the credit unions from each state with the best rates for each category?

Bancxman, your proposal to close the FOM for credit unions is not very helpful. I know the banks would like to eliminate the competition, but I don't think they are going to get a whole lot of sympathy from our politicians, considering the extraordinary bailout they received from the taxpayers. I don't recall credit unions receiving any TARP money. In addition, credit unions don't pay dividends to its shareholders or buy back their stock. They also don't have access to the capital markets like banks. There are plenty of differences. I would like to see more credit unions open up their FOM. Seeing your moniker,  you must be a shill for the banks. The banks can go you nowhere.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
 

Lou, I resent being referred to as a shill for banks. My comments clearly indicate that I hold various credit union memberships. Moreover, I'm confident that industry groups such as the ABA represent banks with much more authority than one lone commenter such as me. So, shame on you for stooping to name calling.


Various proposals to tax the income earned by credit unions have been circulating for years. Although the credit union charter was originally intended to expedite the delivery of a fairly limited number of banking services, CUs today are, for consumer purposes, virtually indistinguishable from banks.  Banks have considerable political clout, so I wouldn't casually dismiss the possibility that a bill related to the taxation of CU income, especially income of large CUs such as Navy Federal, might eventually come to a vote. Furthermore, there's nothing stopping the NCUA from using its authority at any time to tighten CU membership requirements. 



1
Comment #10 by lou posted on
lou
Maybe I was fooled by your name. I thought you may somehow be affiliated with the banking industry in someway. I certainly hope the ABA isn't successful in using their clout to disadvantage the credit unions. The only thing barely working for savers these days is having a healthy and vibrant credit union industry willing to offer higher deposit rates because of their corporate structure and less overhead. The banking industry would like nothing better to **** savers. It's great for them to borrow at zero percent and buy govt securities to make a risk-free return. Sure they will fight like hell to preserve that model.

I disagree with you. I hope more credit unions open up their FOM's. I am willing to take the risk that the ABA will not succeed in their obvious attempt to eliminate their competition. Remember, our Senators and Congressmen have their own credit unions, which most of them use.

2