A lot of people have savings that they would like to invest, but have no idea where to start. Because of recent scandals and major losses in the markets, many have lost faith in stocks, bonds & real estate and are desperate for a truly secure investment option. One of the most frequent investments chosen by people searching for a risk-free way to grow their savings are certificate of deposit accounts.
What is a CD Account?
Certificate of deposit accounts are special accounts offered by banks & brokers, they’re basically the reverse of a regular loan: the investor loans their money to the bank for a specific period of time during which the bank pays you interest for the use of the funds.Traditionally interest is generally paid periodically based on a percentage, or other predetermined factor (such as the stock market), for the life of the CD.
Many institutions offer fixed interest rates but variable interest rates are also available. This type of account differs from bank savings accounts in that depositors can not withdraw the money at any time; they have to wait for the them to mature or pay a severe penalty.
Why Are CD Accounts Considered Safe?
Certificate of Deposits are perceived as safe because they are insured via the FDIC. The FDIC is federal insurance coverage provided by the government, instituted during the Great Depression, it was meant to provide consumers reassurance & protect against bank runs.However, there is a cap on the volume of funds insured by the FDIC per account.
Since the FDIC is backed by the United States Treasury, many people look at CDs as the ultimate “risk-free” investment. As such, rates of return tend to be very low, but are still a bit above savings account rates to compensate people today for their income being tied up with the bank. Normally certificates provided by smaller banks, who have great monetary needs, will offer a greater interest rate than large banks flush with cash. Because of this consumers can typically find much far better return rates for their investment at smaller banks.
Are CD Accounts really risk free?
The reality is that there is no such thing as an investment that carries no risk. There are dangers associated with CD accounts that many shoppers do not take into account.
The first danger is the inflation threat. Lets imagine you tie up your savings in a 5 year CD with a 2% rate of interest, but, during those five years, inflation spikes to 5%. Because of the high penalty for accessing your money before the term ends, your money is inaccessible and is essentially dwindling away and losing value. On the other hand, for those who had access to their money via a standard savings account, you could simply withdraw the cash and invest in something tangible, like assets or land, prior to it becoming worthless.
One more commonly overlooked threat, which can be closely related to inflation, would be the rate of interest threat. If an investor deposits funds a 5 year CD with a 2% rate of return,and the base rate of interest spikes to 4% in the following days or weeks, then there is an opportunity cost to holding the money. An individual with a common savings account around the other hand, will see their rate of interest adjusted as the rates spike. Of course in a savings account the rate of interest is usually lower to begin with.
Inflation and fluctuating interest rates are risks that increase with the term of your investment. The longer the time before to maturity, the much more considerable the chance of interest and inflation changes.Short term CDs, on the other hand have incredibly low threat simply because there might be less opportunity costs more than the shorter time. Because of this, many investors choose options with shorter terms, or options that allow them some control in case of inflation of interest spikes.
CDs are an investment primarily tailored to people searching for a high interest rate than a savings account, but who don’t need the money for any time frame. Because of the FDIC insurance, investors feel safer investing in them than in Stocks & Bonds or other more dangerous investments.
Certificate of deposit accounts are a great way to grow a college fund, savings for your children or for your own retirement. The longer the term of the investment the higher the interest rate will be, so, as long as the funds aren’t needed for emergencies or other time sensitive matters, they are a relatively safe way to grow your savings.