3 Strategies: How to Invest With CDs

3 Strategies: How to Invest With CDs


A certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings account that retains a set amount of money for a set period, such as six months, a year, or five years, in exchange for interest paid by the issuing bank. When you cash in or redeem your CD, you receive the original investment amount plus any interest earned.

A certificate of deposit (CD), like a standard savings account or money market fund, is a secure, short-term cash investment. This federally insured savings account is a low-risk item in your portfolio.


A certificate of deposit, or CD, allows you to invest money with minimal risk. Consider it a middle ground between depositing money in a savings account and putting it in the stock market.

When you buy CDs, you invest your money for a set period, such as six months, a year, or several years. You earn a greater interest rate than you would with a conventional savings account in exchange for locking up your money for a set time, and your returns are guaranteed. Depending on your objectives, you can invest in CDs using one of numerous ways.

The Key Takeaways

A CD is a sort of federally insured savings account in which you invest money for a certain period and earn interest.

Even when it is permitted, withdrawing funds from a CD before the maturity date sometimes results in an early withdrawal penalty.

Creating a CD ladder is one technique to address early withdrawal penalties in a portfolio.


A CD ladder includes putting money into many CDs, each with a different maturity date.

Different varieties of CDs, such as step-up CDs, bump-up CDs, and jumbo CDs, may suit the needs of investors.


Advantages of CDs in Investing

CDs are often obtained from financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. When you purchase a CD, you are effectively lending money to the financial institution, which will eventually repay you in fixed, monthly amounts.

In exchange for a monthly interest payment, you keep your money in the CD for a set amount of time. On the maturity date of the CD, the original investment is normally refunded in a lump sum. A CD offers various investment advantages.

  • Predictable income
  • Higher interest rates
  • Insured deposits
  • Low minimum opening

1. Predictable Income

CDs are commonly seen as a “set it and forget” investment, requiring no regular maintenance. CDs provide investors with a secure place to receive a consistent income stream, especially when used in conjunction with the CD ladder approach, which is discussed further below.

If you require access to your money, CDs often provide higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. Longer maturities tend to pay higher interest rates than shorter maturities, so investors with lengthy time horizons have even more reason to choose a CD over a savings account.

2. Lower Risk

In the event of a bank failure, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a government entity, provides up to $250,000 in insurance per depositor.

Credit union CDs are insured at the same level by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Because of the federal insurance, CDs are a low-risk investment that can diversify a portfolio of riskier assets such as stocks.

3. Low Minimum Opening

Many certificates of deposit have no or low minimum investment requirements. So you don’t need to save or invest a lot of money to start generating profits on your CD.

Disadvantages of CDs in Investing

The most basic method of investing in CDs is to purchase one and hold it until it matures. This method has various dangers and limits. Let’s take a closer look at the risks of CD investing.

  • Interest rate risk
  • Inflation risk
  • Funds access risk
  • Penalty risk

1. Interest Rate Risk

If interest rates rise, if your CD has not yet matured, you may miss out on a higher rate. Instead, your CD will remain at the lower rate you were given until it matures. If interest rates rise quickly, you may miss out on the rate escalator. If your investment portfolio is too heavy on CDs, you may miss out on returns from other higher-risk, higher-reward investments.

2. Inflation Risk

When inflation rises, the interest you earn on a CD may not keep pace with the rest of the economy, reducing your purchasing power. If interest rates are 3% and inflation is 5%, the value of your CD will be less after a year—even before you pay taxes on interest earned.

3. Funds Access Risk

Another danger is that the money invested in a CD is usually not available for spending until the CD matures. Taking the money out too soon usually results in a financial penalty. Furthermore, after maturity, investors often have a limited time (commonly 7 days) to withdraw funds from the CD. If you missed the window, the money is immediately reinvested in a new CD with the same maturity duration as the CD that just matured.

4. Penalty Risk

Early withdrawal penalties can vary greatly, with most providers charging a month’s or several months’ worth of interest earned as a penalty. Brick-and-mortar banks offer smaller penalties than Internet banks, but investors should shop carefully and pay attention to the specifics regardless of institution.

Portfolio Construction

Early withdrawal fines might pose both short- and long-term difficulties. Unexpected spending demands and financial circumstances may necessitate changes to your portfolio. Fortunately, several solutions can assist in addressing these issues.

1. CD Ladders

A CD ladder is one possibility. To build a laddered portfolio, invest equal sums in multiple CDs, each with a different maturity date. A $100,000 investment, for example, may be divided out over ten years as follows:

Amount CD Maturity
$10,000 1 year
$10,000 2 years
$10,000 3 years
$10,000 4 years
$10,000 5 years
$10,000 6 years
$10,000 7 years
$10,000 8 years
$10,000 9 years
$10,000 10 years

Each maturity date represents one rung on the ladder. This method specifies CD maturity dates as well as the quantity of money an investor should have available on each date.

The funds can be utilized to meet immediate spending requirements. Alternatively, if not required, it can be reinvested in a new 10-year CD to extend the ladder.

This technique also provides flexibility in dealing with fluctuating interest rates. If interest rates rise, extending the ladder gives you access to the higher rates. If interest rates fall, maturing assets can be shifted out of CDs and into higher-paying investments. Meanwhile, assets that have yet to mature profit from being invested at a higher interest rate.

2. The Barbell Strategy

A barbell method can be used if cash is needed for short-term spending demands, such as in a year or two, and then again at a predetermined longer-term period. This entails investing a certain amount of money in a shorter-term CD and another amount in a longer-term CD. Consider it a ladder without the middle rungs.

Year 1 Buy 1-year CD and 3-year CD
Year 2 1-year CD matures—withdraw or reinvest
Year 3 1-year CD matures again if reinvested
Year 4 3-year CD matures—withdraw or reinvest
1-year CD matures again if reinvested

3. The Bullet Strategy

Both of the preceding tactics entail investing a large sum of money all at once in CDs with varied maturities. The bullet technique is analogous to purchasing one rung of a ladder each year. However, rather than extending the ladder with each successive rung, all rungs mature in the same year.

Assume you need money for a major expense in 10 years. The incoming cash flows can then be used to buy a new CD every year for the next ten years. In this instance

  • CD 1 matures in 10 years
  • CD 2, bought a year later, matures in 9 years
  • CD 3 in 8 years, and so on.
When the CDs mature at the same time in year 10, the money can be used for the specified purpose.

4. CD Variations

To avoid early withdrawal penalties, traditional CDs are purchased and held until maturity. Because this approach does not meet the needs of every investor, there are numerous new alternatives ranging from simple to sophisticated. Among the more significant variations are:

5. Add-On CDs

Add-on CDs allow you to add money to a CD during the term, and you may be able to open the CD with less money than you would with a standard CD. These can be a fantastic alternative if you’re still developing your nest egg and want to consistently expand your savings over time. However, interest rates may be lower than those found in a standard CD.

6. Bump-Up CDs

Bump-up CDs allow investors to capitalize on rising interest rates by boosting the rate of interest paid by the CD. Short-term CDs normally offer only one rise, whereas long-term CDs may offer many increases. However, the interest rate may be lower than that of a regular CD.

7. Jumbo CDs

Jumbo CDs typically demand a $100,000 minimum investment, with a greater interest rate associated with a higher initial investment. Maturity dates differ. Investors with more than $250,000 to invest in CDs should make multiple deposits to guarantee that the FDIC covers all of their assets.

8. No-Penalty CDs

No-penalty CDs, as the name implies, do not levy a penalty for early withdrawal before the term’s maturity date. However, fewer term options may be offered, such as 13 months. In addition, the interest rate may be lower than that of a standard CD.

Why Invest In CDs

While CDs aren’t always the ideal location to put your money, their security, and reasonably high interest rates sometimes make them a good investment. A CD, for example, maybe an excellent investment if:

1. You have a big purchase coming up within a shorter time frame.

If you don’t want to chance losing money in the stock market, you might invest in a CD, knowing that the principle and interest will be there when it matures.

2. You have cash you don’t need anytime soon sitting in a savings account.

If you don’t access it before it matures, you may certainly earn higher interest by placing that money into a CD.

3. You have savings you want to get out of sight and out of mind.

CDs are an excellent way to “lock up” your money while receiving a reasonable interest rate. If you have money set aside for a specific long-term objective and believe you will be tempted to spend it, a CD can help you resist the temptation.

4. Rates are high.

When you purchase a fixed-rate CD, you may lock in an interest rate for a set period. When interest rates are high but projected to fall shortly, locking in a high yield through a CD can be a wise choice.

How To Buy CDs

When you’ve decided to invest in a CD, the process is simple. The general steps are as follows:

1. Decide how a CD fits into your investing strategy.

What are you going to do with the money? When will you need it again, and how much money can you afford to invest?

2. Shop around for a CD with the terms you want.

Take into account the maturity date, CD type, and interest rate. Remember that your current bank may not have the best CD rates, but you can always open one elsewhere.

3. Apply for a CD.

The application process differs according to the institution, however, you may usually apply online. You’ll need to enter some basic personal information and choose whether you want to receive interest payments in a lump sum when your CD matures or every month during the term.

4. Fund your CD.

Most CDs can only be funded once. A minimum opening deposit may be required to fund a CD, depending on the financial institution.

How Does A CD Work?

You agree to a period and a fixed interest rate when you open a CD with a bank or credit union. This means you’ll know when your deposit will mature and how much interest you’ll receive over the term. If you remove your money before the end of your term, you will almost certainly be charged early withdrawal costs. If, on the other hand, you leave your money in the CD until it matures, you will receive the full principal plus interest upon withdrawal.

When your CD matures, you have a grace period—usually 10 days or less—to withdraw or reinvest your money. If you do not withdraw your money within the grace period, the bank or credit union will usually reinvest it for you.

When you open a CD at a federally insured bank or credit union, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) ensures your principal and interest up to $250,000, respectively. CDs are low-risk investments because of this insurance.

There are various sorts of CDs, each with its own set of words and characteristics. Some types provide additional freedom, such as the option to withdraw money without penalty or add money at any time, whereas others generate better interest rates in exchange for a larger beginning deposit.

Can I Make Money From My CD Before It Mature?

Some banks allow you to withdraw your monthly interest gains without penalty before the CD matures. However, you would miss out on compound interest and interest on interest if you do so. Other CDs are designed to allow you to withdraw your money without penalty.

Should I Put All of My Money Into a Single CD?

Your financial goals will influence whether you should invest all of your money into a single CD. Diversifying your investments is generally suggested because it reduces your risk from any one investment. While a CD does not carry the same market risk as a stock or index fund, it does have inflationary and interest rate risks. It might be a smart idea to divide your cash among many CDs maturing at different times or to consult with a financial counselor about your situation.

Are CDs a Safe Investment?

The FDIC insures CDs for up to $250,000 per depositor, per account.

Be warned that there will be fines if you need to withdraw the money early. Your interest rate may also fall behind the rate of inflation or other, higher-returning investment options. Furthermore, if you do not take your funds on time after a CD expires, your money may be immediately reinvested in a new CD.

Where Can I Buy CDs?

CDs are available from traditional banks, online banks, credit unions, and brokerages. Some financial organizations with fewer options may not provide CDs.

CDs work the same way whether you buy them from a bank or a credit union—though a CD from a credit union may be referred to as a share certificate, and you may need to become a member of the credit union to start a CD. Brokered CDs, on the other hand, are unique in that they can be sold before maturity.

In conclusion

CDs can be a low-effort, low-risk supplement to your investment strategy, balancing out riskier investments. However, investing in CDs means you may miss out on superior returns elsewhere, as rates vary greatly between brick-and-mortar and online institutions. Before making any investment, carefully consider your CD alternatives.



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