The answer is that it depends. “Technically, consumers have nothing to worry about as long as they stay under FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) limits, which are $250,000 through 2013,” says Robert Laura, a financial adviser and president of Financial IQ in Farmington, Michigan. According to the FDIC website, a CD that matures after Dec. 31, 2013, would have its insured limit reverted back to $100,000, except for certain types of retirement accounts.
The FDIC website states that if you have more than the current limits to invest, it may be better to break up your CD purchases by buying CDs from different institutions to stay under deposit insurance amounts. That being said, should you invest in a CD and the institution fails, the FDIC is required to make good on your investment as soon as possible. This can involve transferring your CD to the institution that acquired the failed bank or sending you a check for the balance due on your CD.
The FDIC website also has information on what happens if your CD is worth more than deposit insurance limits, and your bank fails. If this happens, you may receive some or none of that balance at a later date, depending on whether the FDIC is able to sell the failed bank’s assets and at what price. The FDIC provides frequently asked questions on federal deposit insurance.
Bryan Hopkins, CPA, CFP and president of Hopkins Wealth Management in Anaheim Hills, California states, while the FDIC generally makes good on insured deposits quickly, it’s wise to have other liquid funds in an insured checking or savings account elsewhere. “It could take as long as 90 days to get your money, so it’s a good idea to have funds elsewhere to cover day-to-day expenses,” he says.
Though deposits are currently insured up to $250,000, it does make sense to pay attention to safety and soundness criteria, such as Bankrate’s Safe & Sound ratings. These ratings evaluate a bank based on an individual institution’s capital adequacy, asset quality, profitability and liquidity.
“Psychologically, a bank’s ratings are important and consumers should use them,” says Bryan Hopkins. “Most consumers, especially older ones, remember the Great Depression. While bank failures are handled very differently now than they were then, nobody wants it to be the case where things don’t go smoothly, and have their money be in limbo for months.”
CD rates for banks with lower Bankrate Safe & Sound Ratings may be higher than those with higher ratings because those banks may be trying to build up their deposit base by offering higher yields through brokers to consumers. In early December, one-year CD rates varied from 0.5 percent from a bank with a four-star Safe & Sound Rating, to 2.08 percent from a bank with a one-star Safe & Sound Rating. However, there were several banks with one, two, three, and four star safety and soundness ratings offering CD rates from 1.7 percent to 1.99 percent.
Lower-rated banks don’t always offer higher rates than banks with higher ratings, so it is always a good idea to “shop around”. Some higher-yielding CDs may come with higher minimum deposit requirements, and some banks may be seeking deposits with a particular maturity. These banks may offer better terms on some CDs than others.
In many cases, the difference between higher yielding CD rates and lower yielding rates isn’t much. For example, if you buy a $10,000, one-year CD with a 1.9 percent interest rate, compounded daily, you’ll earn $191.81 in interest. If you buy the same CD at a lower rate, 1.6 percent, you’ll earn $161.28—a $30.63 difference.
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