How Does a Certificate of Deposit Work - DOC

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					                                      Certificate of Deposit
A certificate of deposit or CD is a time deposit, a financial product commonly offered to consumers
by banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions.
CDs are similar to savings accounts in that they are insured and thus virtually risk-free; they are
"money in the bank" (CDs are insured by the FDIC for banks or by the NCUA for credit unions). They
are different from savings accounts in that the CD has a specific, fixed term (often three months, six
months, or one to five years), and, usually, a fixed interest rate. It is intended that the CD be held until
maturity, at which time the money may be withdrawn together with the accrued interest.
In exchange for keeping the money on deposit for the agreed-on term, institutions usually grant higher
interest rates than they do on accounts from which money may be withdrawn on demand, although this
may not be the case in an inverted yield curve situation. Fixed rates are common, but some institutions
offer CDs with various forms of variable rates. For example, in mid-2004, with interest rates expected
to rise, many banks and credit unions began to offer CDs with a "bump-up" feature. These allow for a
single readjustment of the interest rate, at a time of the consumer's choosing, during the term of the CD.
Sometimes, CDs that are indexed to the stock market, the bond market, or other indices are introduced.
A few general guidelines for interest rates are:
       A larger principal should receive a higher interest rate, but may not.
       A longer term may or may not receive a higher interest rate, depending on the current yield
       Smaller institutions tend to offer higher interest rates than larger ones.
       Personal CD accounts generally receive higher interest rates than business CD accounts.
       Banks and credit unions that are not insured by the FDIC or NCUA generally offer higher
        interest rates

How CDs work
Buying a CD
CDs typically require a minimum deposit, and may offer higher rates for larger deposits. In the US, the
best rates are generally offered on "Jumbo CDs" with minimum deposits of $100,000 (though some,
recognizing that some investors don't want more in the account than is covered by FDIC insurance,
have lowered the minimum deposit to $95,000). However there are also institutions that do the opposite
and offer lower rates for their "Jumbo CDs".
The consumer who opens a CD may receive a passbook or paper certificate, but it now is common for a
CD to consist simply of a book entry and an item shown in the consumer's periodic bank statements;
that is, there is usually no "certificate" as such.

Interest Payout
At most institutions, the CD purchaser can arrange to have the interest periodically mailed as a check or
transferred into a checking or savings account. This reduces total yield because there is no
compounding. Some institutions allow the customer to select this option only at the time the CD is

Closing a CD
Withdrawals before maturity are usually subject to a substantial penalty. For a five-year CD, this is
often the loss of six months' interest. These penalties ensure that it is generally not in a holder's best
interest to withdraw the money before maturity—unless the holder has another investment with
significantly higher return or has a serious need for the money.
Commonly, institutions mail a notice to the CD holder shortly before the CD matures requesting
directions. The notice usually offers the choice of withdrawing the principal and accumulated interest
or "rolling it over" (depositing it into a new CD). Generally, a "window" is allowed after maturity
where the CD holder can cash in the CD without penalty. In the absence of such directions, it is
common for the institution to roll over the CD automatically, once again tying up the money for a
period of time (though the CD holder may be able to specify at the time the CD is opened not to roll
over the CD).

CD refinance
In the U.S. insured CDs are required by the Truth in Savings Regulation DD to state at the time of
account opening the penalty for early withdrawal. These penalties cannot be revised by the depository
prior to maturity. The penalty for early withdrawal is the deterrent to allowing depositors to take
advantage of subsequent enhanced investment opportunities during the term of the CD. In rising
interest rate environments the penalty may be insufficient to discourage depositors from redeeming
their deposit and reinvesting the proceeds after paying the applicable early withdrawal penalty. The
added interest from the new higher yielding CD may more than offset the cost of the early withdrawal

While longer investment terms yield higher interest rates, longer terms also may result in a loss of
opportunity to lock in higher interest rates in a rising-rate economy. A common mitigation strategy for
this opportunity cost is the "CD ladder" strategy. In the ladder strategies, the investor distributes the
deposits over a period of several years with the goal of having all one's money deposited at the longest
term (and therefore the higher rate), but in a way that part of it matures annually. In this way, the
depositor reaps the benefits of the longest-term rates while retaining the option to re-invest or withdraw
the money in shorter-term intervals.
For example, an investor beginning a three-year ladder strategy would start by depositing equal
amounts of money each into a 3-year CD, 2-year CD, and 1-year CD. From this point on, a CD will
reach maturity every year, at which time the investor would re-invest at a 3-year term. After two years
of this cycle, the investor would have all money deposited at a three-year rate, yet have one-third of the
deposits mature every year (which can then be reinvested, augmented, or withdrawn).
The responsibility for maintaining the ladder falls on the depositor, not the financial institution.
Because the ladder does not depend on the financial institution, depositors are free to distribute a ladder
strategy across more than one bank, which can be advantageous as smaller banks may not offer the
longer terms found at some larger banks. Although laddering is most common with CDs, this strategy
may be employed on any time deposit account with similar terms.
Deposit insurance
In the US, the amount of insurance coverage varies depending on how accounts for an individual or
family are structured at the institution. The level of insurance is governed by complex FDIC and
NCUA rules, available in FDIC and NCUA booklets or online. Basic Coverage is $250,000 for a single
account and $500,000 for a joint account. As of April 1, 2006, Individual Retirement Accounts are
insured up to $250,000.
Some institutions use a private insurance company instead of, or in addition to, the Federally backed
FDIC or NCUA deposit insurance. Institutions often stop using private supplemental insurance when
they find that few customers have a high enough balance level to justify the additional cost.
The Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service program allows investors to keep up to $50
million invested in CDs managed through one bank with full FDIC insurance [1]. However rates will
likely not be the highest available.

Terms and conditions
There are many variations in the terms and conditions for CDs.
In the US, the federally required "Truth in Savings" booklet, or other disclosure document that gives
the terms of the CD, must be made available before the purchase. Employees of the institution are
generally not familiar with this information; only the written document carries legal weight. If the
original issuing institution has merged with another institution, or if the CD is closed early by the
purchaser, or there is some other issue, the purchaser will need to refer to the terms and conditions
document to ensure that the withdrawal is processed following the original terms of the contract.
       The CD may be callable. The terms may state that the bank or credit union can close the CD
        before the term ends.
       Payment of interest. Interest may be paid out as it is accrued or it may accumulate in the CD.
       Interest calculation. The CD may start earning interest from the date of deposit or from the
        start of the next month or quarter.
       Right to delay withdrawals. Institutions generally have the right to delay withdrawals for a
        specified period to stop a bank run.
       Withdrawal of principal. May be at the discretion of the financial institution. Withdrawal of
        principal below a certain minimum—or any withdrawal of principal at all—may require closure
        of the entire CD. A US Individual Retirement Account CD may allow withdrawal of IRA
        Required Minimum Distributions without a withdrawal penalty.
       Withdrawal of interest. May be limited to the most recent interest payment or allow for
        withdrawal of accumulated total interest since the CD was opened. Interest may be calculated to
        date of withdrawal or through the end of the last month or last quarter.
       Penalty for early withdrawal. May be measured in months of interest, may be calculated to be
        equal to the institution's current cost of replacing the money, or may use another formula. May
        or may not reduce the principal—for example, if principal is withdrawn three months after
        opening a CD with a six-month penalty.
       Fees. A fee may be specified for withdrawal or closure or for providing a certified check.
       Automatic renewal. The institution may or may not commit to sending a notice before
        automatic rollover at CD maturity. The institution may specify a grace period before
        automatically rolling over the CD to a new CD at maturity.
Other similar products
This article has described the familiar FDIC-insured or NCUA-insured CDs which are usually
purchased by consumers directly from banks or credit unions. There are also "certificates of deposit"
issued by various entities that do not carry insurance.

Callable CDs
A callable CD is similar to a traditional CD, except that the bank reserves the right to "call" the
investment. After the initial non-callable period, the bank can buy (call) back the CD. Callable CDs pay
a premium interest rate. Banks manage their interest rate risk by selling callable CDs. On the call date,
the banks determine if it is cheaper to replace the investment or leave it outstanding. This is similar to
refinancing a mortgage.

Brokered CDs
Many brokerage firms – known as "deposit brokers" – offer CDs. These brokerage firms can
sometimes negotiate a higher rate of interest for a CD by promising to bring a certain amount of
deposits to the institution.
Unlike traditional bank CDs, brokered CDs are sometimes held by a group of unrelated investors.
Instead of owning the entire CD, each investor owns a piece. If several investors own the CD, the
deposit broker may not list each person's name in the title but the account records should reflect that the
broker is merely acting as an agent (e.g., "XYZ Brokerage as Custodian for Customers"). This ensures
that each portion of the CD qualifies for up to $100,000 of FDIC coverage.
In some cases, the deposit broker may advertise that the CD does not have a prepayment penalty for
early withdrawal. In those cases, the deposit broker will instead try to resell the CD if the investor
wants to redeem it before maturity. If interest rates have fallen since the CD was purchased, and
demand is high, he/she may be able to sell the CD for a profit. But if interest rates have risen, there may
be less demand for such lower-yielding CD, which means that he/she may have to sell the CD at a
discount and lose some of the investor’s original deposit.
Deposit brokers do not have to go through any licensing or certification procedures, and no state or
federal agency licenses, examines, or approves them.

CD interest rates closely track inflation.[2] For example, in one situation interest rates may be 15% and
inflation may be 15%, and in another situation interest rates may be 2% and inflation may be 2%. Of
course, these factors cancel out, so the real interest rate is the same in both cases.
This is fine as long as someone understands it. However, people may misinterpret the interest as an
increase in value, and spend the interest. However, to keep the same value the rate of withdrawal must
be the same as the real rate of return, in this case, zero. People may also think that the higher-rate
situation is "better," when the real rate of return is actually the same.
Also, the above does not include taxes.[3] When taxes are considered, the higher-rate situation above is
worse, with a lower (more negative) real return, although the before-tax real rates of return are
identical. The after-inflation, after-tax return is what's important.
Ric Edelman writes, "You don't make any money in bank accounts (in real economic terms), simply
because you're not supposed to."[4]; on the other hand, bank accounts and CDs are fine for holding
cash for a short amount of time.
However Mr. Edelman's opinions may apply only to "average" CD interest rates. In reality, some banks
pay much lower than average rates while others pay much higher rates (differences of 100% are not
unusual, eg, 2.50% vs 5.00%)[5]. Depositors can take advantage of the best FDIC-insured rates without
increasing their risk whatsoever[6]. Furthermore, a long-term CD might have a high nominal interest
rate with a relatively low real interest rate due to high inflation at the time of purchase (as indicated
above); however inflation rates often change rapidly and the final real interest rate could be
significantly higher than riskier investments[7].
Finally, Mr Edelman's statement that "CD interest rates closely track inflation" is not necessarily true.
For example, during a credit crunch banks are in dire need of funds and CD interest rate increases may
not track inflation[8].

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