Certificate of Deposit (CD) Calculator

By Stock Research Pro • May 16th, 2009

A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a special type of deposit offered by banks, credit unions, and thrift institutions in which the holder invests a fixed amount of money (usually at least $100) for a specified timeframe. The interest rates offered by CDs are typically higher than regular savings accounts and payments are made to the holder of the CD at regular time intervals. CDs tend to be a good choice for conservative investors because their safety is guaranteed by the federal government. On the downside, most CDs carry financial penalties for early withdrawal.

Bank v. Brokerage CDs

Most individual investors purchase certificates of deposit directly from banks, but many brokerage firms also offer CDs, often at a higher rate of interest. These “brokerage CDs” can open up investment choices to a wide variety of banks and may give the holder the opportunity to buy and sell these instruments on a secondary market, just like many other fixed-income securities. While brokerage CDs can provide this additional liquidity and a potentially higher return, they usually require a higher minimum deposit.

Calculator assumes daily compounding

Choosing the Right CD for You

Before purchase any CD, you need to understand all of the terms associated with it. The best choice for you may not be the CD that offers the highest return.

Maturity: The first decision to make is how soon you will need the money. Most CDs penalize the holder for early withdrawal.

Risk: The primary risk concern for CD holders is inflation; the possibility that the returns from the CD will be eroded by rising inflation. Some brokerage CDs are “inflation-linked” in that their returns are adjusted based on changing rates of inflation. The financial institution you purchase the CD from will provide you with a disclosure that documents whether your CD offers a fixed or a variable rate of return.

Penalties: For the most part, CD holders need to be willing to live without the principal investment for the entire term of the CD as there are usually penalties for early withdrawal. You need to find out exactly what the cash penalty will be if you decide to cash in early.

Find Current CD Rates


The above information is educational and should not be interpreted as financial advice. For advice that is specific to your circumstances, you should consult a financial or tax advisor.


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