After a year of surging prices, members are still grappling with the effects of rising inflation. Add in the rocky performance of Wall Street, and people are looking for a silver lining. One such opportunity is beginning to shine as savings rates also start to climb – it’s called a certificate.
Certificates, also known as certificates of deposit (CD) among many banks, are investment accounts that yield higher returns than traditional savings accounts. They offer a spectrum of financial perks with very little downside. Keep reading to find out if adding a certificate to your savings plan is right for you.
What is a certificate?
Most credit unions and banks offer three primary savings and investment accounts:
Among the three, certificates generally offer the greatest yields. However, there is a tradeoff in exchange for earning higher dividends. With a certificate, your money is locked in, meaning you cannot access or withdraw your funds (without incurring a penalty). While this account characteristic might seem like a drawback, it’s often a blessing in disguise because it forces you to save money.
Characteristics of certificates:
- While terms vary by the financial institution, they typically range from six months to five years.
- Generally, the longer the term, the higher the rate of return you will earn.
- Your funds are locked in during your term. You can access your funds, but you will be required to pay a penalty (usually a portion or all the interest earned to date).
- Most certificates require a minimum deposit, such as $500 or $1,000.
- Some financial institutions offer Jumbo certificates, which offer higher rates in exchange for much larger deposits – often $50,000 or more.
Advantages of certificates:
- There is essentially no risk when investing in certificates. Your account is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) up to $250,000.
- With guaranteed returns, they are an excellent alternative to the rollercoaster ride in the stock market.
- Dividend rates are generally fixed, meaning you’ll know exactly how much your investment will return over the life of its term.
- In an emergency, you can withdraw funds from your account quickly and easily. However, depending on the financial institution, you’ll likely incur either an early withdrawal fee or forfeit a portion of the earnings on your account.
- Certificates force you to save money by locking in your funds until the end of your chosen term. You cannot dip into this account for frivolous spending like you could with a traditional savings or money market account.
Wise ways to use certificates:
Certificates are versatile investment accounts that can earn a good return with no risk. While the higher dividends are nice, it’s the fact that your money is locked in that helps so many members. By being forced to save, you’re more likely to achieve your financial goals.
Here are several strategies for using certificates of deposit to your advantage:
- Diversify investments: A well-diversified investment portfolio is a winning strategy for any investor. Adding certificates to your portfolio during a rising rate environment will yield strong dividends without the market risk.
- Conservative investments: If you’re nearing retirement, it might be time to tone down your risk tolerance and move toward a more conservative investing approach. Certificates will yield favorable dividends without unnecessary market risk.
- First-time investments: Certificates are a great first step if you’re ready to start investing but don’t have the stomach for potential market losses just yet. They teach you not to touch your money for extended periods and let it grow through compound interest.
- Mid-range financial goals (1 to 5 Years): Because your funds are locked in, certificates are the perfect way to save for future financial goals, such as:
- A down payment or closing costs on a new home
- A college fund for your child
- A dream vacation for your family
We’re here to help!
While no one enjoys periods of high inflation, there are opportunities in everything. Right now, yields are climbing higher, and certificates are making a strong comeback. These popular accounts might be the perfect tool to help boost your investment returns without added risk.
If you want to learn more about certificates or are ready to open an account, we’re here to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations, call 1-877-TRUMARK, or click here to open an account.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.