The Best 3-Year CD Rates: Yields Are Rising, But There Are Still Better Savings Options

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While a long-term CD can help you weather periods of low interest, it may not be the best place to park your extra cash in a rising rate environment like today. 

Right now, the best rates you’ll find for three-year certificates of deposit are near 3% APY. That’s not much higher than rates on much more liquid options like high-yield savings and money market accounts. And experts expect rates to only go higher, as the Federal Reserve continues federal interest rate hikes (and banks follow suit).

“In most cases, if we’re in an increasing interest rate environment, those longer-term CDs just don’t make as much sense because you are locking in that rate and decreasing your flexibility,” says Hannah Szarszewski, founder of Blue Mountain Financial Planning, a virtual firm based in Melissa, Texas. The temptation is understandable, she says, but can be short-sighted.

Here’s more about the best three-year CD rates now, and how experts say you can best utilize CDs in a rising rate environment — or when to decide to go with a different account: 

Best CD Rates for September 2022

Bank3 year apyMinium Deposit
Bread Savings (formerly Comenity Direct)4.00%$1,500
Synchrony Bank3.50%$0
Capital One3.40%$0
CFG3.35%$500
Sallie Mae3.30%$2500
TIAA Bank3.25%$1000
Barclays Bank3.20%$0
Marcus by Goldman Sachs3.15%$500
Discover Bank3.15%$2500
Ally Bank3.10%$0
Live Oak Bank2.00%$2500
American Express National Bank1.15%$0

Note: The APYs (Annual Percentage Yield) shown are as of September 30, 2022. The APYs for some products may vary by region.

What is the Average 3-Year CD Rate Right Now?

The national average interest rate on three-year CDs is currently just 0.47% APY, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

At 0.60%, the average 3-year CD rate according to the weekly national deposit index survey conducted by Bankrate is slightly higher. Like NextAdvisor, Bankrate is owned by Red Ventures.

But many online banks are offering much higher APYs for 3-year CDs. Based on our analysis of best CD rates, the average for three-year CD terms is 2.14%. 

READ MORE: Weekly average CD rates for the week of August 8, 2022.

Should I Choose a 3-Year CD?

If you lock your money into a 3-year CD right now, you could miss out on a bigger return in coming weeks or months as interest rates climb, experts say. Plus locking away your money could risk losing your spending power, since rates are still behind inflation.

Three- and five-year CDs may seem appealing because you can guarantee a higher interest rate that what variable options like high-yield savings accounts offer right now, but the downside doesn’t make it worthwhile as rates rise, says Szarszewski 

If you know you won’t need the cash for a few years, consider whether investing in a brokerage account (which comes with more risk, but potentially higher returns) depending your investment strategy and financial goals. 

Pro Tip

Consider a CD ladder strategy instead of opening a single long-term CD while rates rise. For example, you could open multiple 1-year CDs over several months that all mature annually. If rates rise during that time, you’ll be able to take advantage as you build your ladder. Depending on where rates are at the end of each term, you’ll have the opportunity to choose the best option for rolling over your earnings as the CDs mature.

3-Year CDs Compared to 1-Year and 5-Year CDs 

Unlike 1-year CDs, most three-year CDs offer better rates than high-yield savings accounts and money market accounts today, without the time commitment of a 5-year CD. Right now, many of the best 3-year CD rates are around 3% APY or higher. If you’re considering a CD, here’s how 1-year and 5-year options compare: 

1-Year CDs

The best 1-year CD rates are around 2% APY, and require only a short time commitment. Even though 1-year CDs don’t have as high of a return right now compared to longer terms, they offer more flexibility compared to locking in a 3-year or 5-year CD APY as rates continue to rise.  

For many experts we’ve spoken to, that means these shorter terms are better options right now.

“The Fed has indicated that there will likely be further interest rate hikes this year,” says Szarszewski. “It likely means that purchasing shorter-term CDs right now is a reasonable strategy because we expect the interest rates to continue to rise.” 

5-Year CDs

If 3-year CDs are too long to have your money locked away at a fixed rate, a 5-year CD is even tougher to justify in today’s rising rate environment. Even though rates on five-year CDs are slightly higher (many are above 3% APY), they require you to lock your money into a lower rate than you’ll probably be able to get in just a few months. 

And since it will take five years for the CD to mature, you won’t have the option to take advantage of those higher rates. For long-term financial goals, consider investments with potentially higher returns, such as a diversified investment portfolio, or even inflation-based Series I Savings Bonds.

How to Open a 3-Year CD 

You can open a CD online or in-person at the bank  you choose. Many of the highest interest rates right now are offered by online banks or online divisions of larger financial institutions.

Keep in mind that many CDs come with requirements for opening. Some may only need any deposit within a certain time period, while others require minimum deposits of $500, $1,000, or more.  

When you’re ready to open an account, you’ll need your bank account and routing information from another bank to transfer money to your CD account. You’ll also need to provide personal information, such as name, email address, and Social Security number. 

Before you open any new account, compare rates and requirements to see which CD is best for you, and weigh other savings account options that best align with your financial goals. 

FAQs

Will 3-year CD rates go up?

As the Federal Reserve increases the federal funds rate to level inflation through the rest of this year, rate increases for all CDs and other savings and investment options will likely continue, experts say.

What if rates go up while I have money deposited?

If rates go up while you have a CD open, you’ll be locked into that rate you already have until your CD matures. 

What if I want to withdraw my money before 36 months?

If you want to withdraw your money before your three-year CD matures, you’ll pay a penalty on your balance. Remember to never store your emergency fund in a CD; instead, put the money in a place that’s easily accessible, like a high-yield savings account.