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High-Yield CDs: Factors, Benefits & Alternatives

Kelly Kennedy Updated: November 16, 2023 • 6 min read
Businessman is calculating income and return on investment

Key Points:

  • A high-yield CD is a type of certificate of deposit (CD) that offers investors a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than traditional CDs.

  • Banks and credit unions offer secure CDs to keep your money safe.

  • This is a good option for those who want to protect their hard-earned money.

Does finding the right investment option feel like searching for buried treasure? You want something safe, reliable, and, of course, lucrative. But the options you’re searching through can feel overwhelming. This is where high-yield Certificates of Deposit (CDs) come into play. This article will explain how high-yield CDs work and what to consider before investing.

What is a High-Yield CD?

A high-yield CD is a type of certificate of deposit (CD) that offers investors a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than traditional CDs. This means that investors can earn more money over a fixed term. The range of APYs for high-yield CDs is between 4.64% and 5.75%. This is significantly higher than the national average APY for a one-year CD, which is currently 1.74%.

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How Does a High-Yield CD Work?

High-yield CDs offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts and are a secure investment option provided by banks and credit unions. A notable feature of these CDs is compound interest, where you earn interest on both your initial investment and the earned interest over time. This compounding effect can significantly boost your earnings, especially over longer periods.

Fixed-term deposit

When you open a high-yield CD, you agree to the initial deposit an amount of money for a fixed period, called the maturity date. This could be anywhere from a few months to several years.

Maturity date

Once the CD matures, you can withdraw your initial investment and the accrued interest. If you withdraw before this date, you may incur penalties.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

The Annual Percentage Yield, or APY, represents the interest rate you'll earn on your investment. High-yield CDs offer competitive APYs, making them an attractive option for growing their savings.

Read about the differences between APY and interest rates next.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing a High-Yield CD

Keep these factors in mind before landing on this investment option.

Fixed-term Deposit

Opening a high-yield CD requires depositing a certain amount of money for a predetermined period, known as the maturity date or fixed term. CDs have a term that varies significantly, ranging from a few months to several years. You must consider the term carefully since it determines how long your money will be inaccessible without penalties.

Maturity Date

The maturity date of a CD is the day when the term ends, when your funds can be accessed, including the initial investment and the accrued interest. This date is set when you open the CD and stays fixed throughout the term. If you reach maturity, you usually have a grace period to withdraw your funds or renew the CD. When you withdraw funds before the maturity date, you may be subject to penalties, which can negate the interest you earned.


When choosing a CD, the Annual Percentage Yield, or APY, plays a crucial role. High-yield CDs are well known for offering competitive APYs, significantly higher than those of regular savings accounts or standard CDs. This makes them an appealing choice for investors looking to grow their savings. Compare the Annual Percentage Yields offered by different banks and credit unions. A higher APY means more interest earned on your investment and could ultimately be the highest-yield CD.

Early Withdrawal Penalties

Understand the penalties you may face if you need to access your money before the maturity date. Some high-yield CDs have strict penalties, so knowing these terms is crucial. It is important to read the contract carefully and understand the penalties associated with early withdrawal. Some high-yield CDs may have hefty fees, significantly reducing your investment return.

Difference between High-Yield CD vs. Regular CD

Now that we've covered the basics of high-yield CDs let's explore how they differ from regular CDs. 

  • High-yield CDs offer a significantly higher APY than regular CDs, which often have lower interest rates. This means you'll typically earn more from your high-yield CD investment.

  • High-yield CDs have longer lock-in periods and higher minimum deposits; regular CDs are more flexible.

  • Regular CDs are available at different financial institutions, while online banks and credit unions offer high-yield CDs.

  • High-yield CDs may carry slightly more risk. If the institution is FDIC or NCUA-insured, this risk is generally mitigated.

In summary, although high-yield CDs provide more notable returns, they have more limits and a slightly higher risk profile.

Benefits of Choosing a High-Yield CD

  • Higher earnings: The most obvious advantage is the potential for higher profits due to a higher APY.

  • Safety: High-yield CDs tend to be a low-risk investment, offering FDIC or NCUA insurance protection up to a specific limit.

  • Financial goals: An excellent option if you have clear financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house or funding a vacation.

While high-yield Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are an attractive investment option for those seeking higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts, they come with certain drawbacks that investors should consider.

Drawbacks of High-Yield CDs

Liquidity Issues

One of the primary drawbacks of high-yield CDs is their lack of liquidity. When you invest in a CD, your money is locked in for the term of the CD, which can range from a few months to several years. Accessing your funds before the maturity date usually results in substantial penalties, which can negate any interest earnings and potentially eat into the principal amount.

Interest Rate Risk

High-yield CDs also carry interest rate risk. If interest rates rise after you've locked in your CD, you miss out on the opportunity to earn higher rates offered by new CDs. This is particularly relevant in a fluctuating economic environment where interest rates can change significantly over a short period.

Inflation Risk

Another risk associated with high-yield CDs is inflation risk. If the inflation rate surpasses the CD's interest rate, the investment's purchasing power can decrease over time. This means that the money you get back at the end of the term might have less buying power than when you initially invested it.

Limited Potential for Growth

High-yield CDs typically offer limited growth potential compared to other investment vehicles like stocks or mutual funds. While they provide a stable and predictable return, they may not yield as high returns as riskier investments, especially over the long term.

How to Choose the Best High-Yield CD

Selecting the best high-yield CD requires careful consideration of several factors to ensure that your investment aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

  1. Assess Your Financial Goals and Liquidity Needs: Consider financial goals when choosing high-yield CDs. For flexibility, look for shorter terms or lenient withdrawal penalties. Use plain language, organize info logically, and keep it short. Adapt writing to your audience.

  2. Compare Interest Rates: Interest rates vary significantly among financial institutions. Shop around and compare rates from different banks and credit unions. Due to lower overhead costs, online banks often offer higher rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

  3. Understand the Terms and Conditions: Read the terms and conditions of the CD, including the maturity date, early withdrawal penalties, and the method of interest calculation. Some CDs offer a fixed interest rate, while others might have a variable rate tied to market changes.

  4. Consider the Impact of Inflation: Evaluate the potential impact of inflation on your investment. In a high-inflation environment, consider shorter-term CDs so you can reinvest at higher rates if inflation rises.

  5. Look for Insurance Coverage: Ensure that the financial institution where you open your CD is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

  6. Diversify Your Portfolio: Consider how the CD fits into your investment portfolio. Diversifying your investments can help manage risk. If all your money is in CDs, you might miss out on higher returns from other types of investments.

Alternatives to High-Yield CDs

While high-yield CDs have their merits, they may not fit everyone perfectly. Consider exploring other investment options like stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. Expanding your portfolio can help you achieve your financial goals more effectively.

Bottom Line

High-yield CDs can benefit your investment strategy, offering safe and competitive returns. Carefully consider your financial goals, the terms of the CD, and alternatives before making a decision. 

And, of course, turn to the Lendstart blog for all the resources and information you need on important financial topics to empower you in your decision-making. 



Are high-yield CDs risk-free?

While high-yield CDs are considered low-risk due to FDIC or NCUA insurance, they are not entirely risk-free. You may face penalties for early withdrawal, and the interest rate is fixed, so it may not keep up with inflation.

Can I add more money to my high-yield CD after opening it?

Typically, high-yield CDs do not allow additional deposits once the CD account is opened. You'll need to open a new CD to invest more funds.

Are high-yield CDs a good choice for long-term investments?

High-yield CDs are generally better suited for short to medium-term investments due to their fixed interest rates and potential early withdrawal penalties. For long-term goals, you might consider other investment options with more flexibility.

Are they a safe investment?

One of the critical benefits of high-yield CDs is their safety. Your investment is typically insured up to a specific limit by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), protecting your money.

Written by Kelly Kennedy linkedin-icon

Kelly is an accountant, college accounting and finance instructor, entrepreneur, and freelance finance and business writer. He has a Bachelor of Management, an MBA, and a CPA. In his free time, he enjoys endurance cycling, and his only claim to fame is that he once rode his bicycle across Canada – 7,000+ km over 64 days.