What Is a CD Loan?

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It’s easy to see the appeal of a CD-secured loan: easy approval, fast cash, and lower interest rate than other personal loans. 

But these loans aren’t quite as simple as they might seem, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you sign the dotted line. 

If you have a CD and are considering taking out a CD-secured loan, here’s what you need to know.

Is a CD Secured Loan Right For You?

The main reason you should consider a CD loan is to improve your credit. Banks are more likely to approve the loan because they already hold your collateral – your CD. So they’re not as worried about you defaulting or stopping payments, according to Justin Pritchard, a certified financial planner at Approach Financial in Montrose, Colorado. 

Taking out a CD-secured loan and making on-time payments can build your credit and improve your credit score. Good credit can help you do things like apply for a credit card, finance a car, get cell phone service, and buy or rent a home.

But if you don’t need to build credit, a CD-secured loan is “a better deal for the bank because they’re going to be charging you a higher rate than they’re paying you on the CDs,” says Pritchard. 

By paying more in interest on the loan than you’ll earn back on the CD, you’re essentially paying the bank to improve your credit. When this is your goal, it’s best to keep your loan as small as possible.

Pro Tip

Building credit is important when you expect to borrow relatively soon. If a CD-secured loan could help you get a better mortgage rate, for example, it could be worth it.

For example, if you earn 1% on a one-year CD and you’re charged 4% on a loan, that 3% difference is what you’ll pay to the bank in interest. If you took out a $500 loan, your cost is that 3%, or $15 over the course of a year. And that’s instead of earning $5 on the CD with that same amount. If that cost is worth it for you to improve your credit score, then a CD loan might be worth it for you.

“A $500 loan shouldn’t cause major damage to your finances,” says Pritchard. “The goal here isn’t to get a substantial amount of money, it’s to improve your credit score while avoiding high-cost debt or predatory loans.”

Credit builder loans, like CD-secured loans, can be helpful for people looking to build a credit history, according to Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com. 

“Credit scoring systems like to see that you’ve successfully managed different types of credit,” says Rossman. Credit builder loans can diversify your credit and add more positive payment history to your credit record.

How much your credit can gain from taking out a CD-secured loan is difficult to say and will depend on your credit history, but timely payments are reported to the credit bureaus, so “you’re improving your credit with each successful payment,” says Pritchard.

Where to Get a CD Loan

Not all banks that have CDs will offer CD-secured loans, and many major banks do not offer CD-secured loans at all. If you hold a CD at a financial institution, a quick search of the company’s website should tell you whether or not you can take out a loan secured by that CD. 

Banks that do offer CD-secured loans will likely offer better rates than on other unsecured personal loans which vary widely based on factors like credit score, amount borrowed, and repayment term. Wells Fargo, for example, offers an unsecured personal loan rate of 5.74% to 20.24%, compared to a CD- or savings-secured loan with a rate of 5.25% to 13.54%. 

Other Things To Know About CD-Secured Loans

They’re Secured

With a CD-secured loan, your CD is used as collateral, meaning the lender can seize the money in your CD if you default on the loan. Loan amounts can vary from $1,000 to as much as $250,000. 

They Have Quick Processing

CD-secured loans tend to be processed pretty quickly, says Dabney Baum, a financial advisor with Baum Wealth Advisors at Janney Montgomery Scott in Boston. Approval for CD loans is often quicker than other types of loans, since the bank already holds your collateral – the CD. 

They Can Be Easier To Get Than Other Loans

Getting approved for these loans tends to be a bit easier than other personal loan types, again because the bank holds your collateral already. 

If you’re having a hard time getting other types of loans, you can “improve your chances dramatically” by getting a CD-secured loan, says Pritchard. 

Bottom Line

If you’re considering a CD-secured loan, it’s important to consider whether taking out the money makes sense for you, and to have a plan in place to pay it back. 

“This strategy probably isn’t optimal from a financial standpoint unless you’re trying to build credit,” says Pitchard.