CDs are a great way to earn interest on your savings. And CD investing usually comes with an iron rule: The longer you are willing to lock up your money, the bigger interest rate you will get.
Right now, that iron rule is not in effect—and it could have big implications not only for how you invest, but for the economy in general.
CD rates have been rising rapidly over the past year, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight inflation. Today’s top CD rates—which Buy Side researches and reports on regularly—are 4% to 5%, give or take.
What’s unusual: Nearly all these rates are for CDs with terms shorter than two years. Meanwhile, the best rate you are likely to find on a two-year or longer-term CD is less than 4%
Why it could make sense to buy a long-term CD today
Of course, just because longer term CDs offer lower interest rates, doesn’t mean they are necessarily a bad deal. If you have a big expense coming in three to five years—say you have a child entering college, or plan to purchase a home—locking in prevailing rates now could pay off.
“Because the market’s expecting rates to go down, you get a little less on a five-year CD than a one-year CD,” says Rick Kahler, founder of Kahler Financial Group. But what if the market turns out to be right?
If worries about slowing growth start to trump worries about inflation, the Fed could start cutting rates again. In that case, holding a CD paying 3% to 4% might look like a very smart move.