- 1.97% APY 13-month variable-rate CD (rate guaranteed never to drop below 1.95%)
- 2.25% APY 24-month CD
- 2.75% APY 38-month CD with add-on and penalty-free withdrawal features
- 3.35% APY 60-month CD with add-on and penalty-free withdrawal features
Minimum deposit is $2,500, and the maximum is $250,000. The above rates are listed at the promo rates pages of Carolina First and Mercantile Bank as of 3/22/2010. Note, you have to enter your NC, SC or FL zip code to see the specials. I tried a few, and all rates were the same as shown above.
I was first disappointed when I noticed the variable-rate feature of the 13-month CD. However, when I read that it has a rate floor of 1.95%, I realized this is a good deal. Interest rate is 60% of the current Prime Rate. Another nice feature is that it allows additional deposits. According to the terms: One deposit (minimum of $500) allowed per month. There's also a 30-month variable-rate CD with a 2.31% APY that has the same features except the rate is 70% of the current Prime Rate.
The 38-month and 60-month fixed-rate CDs have this same add-on deposit feature (one deposit, minimum $500, allowed per month). In addition, there's a no-penalty early withdrawal feature. However, it has quite a few restrictions:
One withdrawal can be made without penalty during the CD term if the withdrawal does not exceed 50% of the initial CD balance and the withdrawal is made at least twelve months after the issue date.
It appears you have to live near a branch to open an account. Carolina First branches are located in several North and South Carolina cities some of which include Asheville, Hendersonville, Wilmington, Anderson, Hilton Head Island, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Columbia. Mercantile Bank has branches in several Florida cities some of which include Gainesville, Fort Lauderdale, Lake City, Jacksonville, Tampa, Ocala, Miami, Orlando, Kissimmee, Boca Raton and St. Petersburg.
Carolina First Bank's ratings for safety and soundness are a little weak: 2 stars (problematic) at BauerFinancial (based on 12/31/09 data) and 1 star (lowest) at Bankrate.com (based on 9/30/09 data). The bank has been a FDIC member since 1986 (FDIC Certificate # 26849).