Six-month certificates of deposit (CDs) are a good option if you don’t want to set your money aside for a year or more, but you’d like to earn a bit more than you would from a savings account. Because 6-month CDs often don’t come with the higher rates that longer term-length CDs offer, it’s especially important to shop around for the best rates.
We look at over 150 banks and credit unions to find the best 6-month CD rates. For this list, we also include CDs ranging from 5-months to 9-months (noted in the insights below, where applicable). All accounts are available nationwide and are insured by either the FDIC or NCUA. We re-evaluate the products on this list every week, but update CD rates daily if they change. Here are the best rates as of March 30, 2020.
APYs are changing rapidly amid widespread uncertainty about the economy and financial markets. The Balance is monitoring rates and updating them accordingly.
Best 6-Month CD Rates
All accounts are available nationwide and are insured by either the FDIC or NCUA.
|Bank or Credit Union||APY||Minimum Deposit||Early Withdrawal Penalty|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs (7-month)||1.70%||$500||3 months of interest|
|Chevron Federal Credit Union (6-month and 9-month)||1.55%||$500||3 months of interest|
|Spectrum Federal Credit Union (6-month and 9-month)||1.55%||$500||3 months of interest|
|Lafayette Federal Credit Union (7-month)||1.51%||$500||3 months of interest|
|Banesco USA||1.50%||$1,500||3 months of interest|
|Communitywide Federal Credit Union||1.45%||$1,000||Complex formula; exercise caution|
|Limelight Bank||1.45%||$1,000||3 months of interest|
|Air Force Federal Credit Union||1.45%||$25,000||50% of interest foregone until maturity|
|Pen Air Federal Credit Union||1.40%||$500||3 months of interest|
Yep, you read that right—this bank is a direct subsidiary of the famed Goldman Sachs Bank, itself a massive $228-billion institution. This version of the big bank launched in 2016, offering digital savings accounts and loans to the average Joe. Surprisingly, for a bank with such a hoity-toity reputation, it actually does offer very good rates on its financial products, which is why it lands on our top CDs list.
If the logo for Chevron Federal Credit Union looks a little familiar, there’s a good reason why. This credit union was founded in 1935 and has over 100,000 members. It primarily serves members employed by the Chevron Corporation (as in the gas stations you’re probably familiar with). If that’s not you, you can also join by making a $15 donation to join the Contra Costa County Historical Society, which makes you eligible for membership. You’ll also need to keep $25 in a savings account, which is a tad bit higher than most credit unions.
In addition to Chevron FCU branches in California, members have access to over 5,000 CO-OP shared branches and 85,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. Chevron FCU also offers checking and savings accounts, loans, and other services.
Spectrum Federal Credit Union merged with Chevron Federal in 2012. Spectrum does, however, operate independently in areas not served by Chevron so is listed here separately.
Spectrum was originally founded as Bechtel Employees Federal Credit Union. If you do not qualify for membership through your employer or other means, you can join one of the nonprofit associations linked to the credit union for as little as $15. And you’ll have to maintain a savings account with a minimum deposit of $25.
Spectrum’s CDs range from 3-month to 5-year terms. Members can also get a full slate of bank accounts, as well as loans, credit cards, and insurance.
Lafayette Federal Credit Union is based out of Rockville, Maryland, and it operates just eight branches scattered around the Washington D.C. area. It’s a full-service credit union, and you can even choose from variable-rate and fixed-rate certificates depending on what tickles your fancy.
If you don’t qualify for membership through other means (such as living in the area or working for certain employers), you can also become a member by first joining the American Consumer Council for $8, or by joining the Homeownership Financial Literacy Council for $10.
Banesco USA, founded in 2006, is part of Banesco International, which operates in 15 countries. Banesco also has a unique customer service option: You can request a phone call from customer service at a particular time if you’d like to speak with somebody.
CommunityWide Federal Credit Union was founded in 1967 and is based in northern Indiana. If you don’t live in the area or meet its residency-based membership criteria, you can easily join by becoming a member of the Marine Corps League of St. Joseph Valley which starts at $15 per year. You must deposit $5 in savings. It’s also part of the CO-OP shared branching network.
As the online division of Capital Community Bank, an FDIC-insured financial institution founded in 1993, Limelight Bank focuses on being eco-friendly and community-focused. Part of its mission is to use CD deposits to fuel loans for national solar product providers to create more solar energy projects throughout the country. Though based in Utah, any U.S. citizen or resident who is 18 years of age or older can open an account.
Limelight Bank offers CDs in terms of six months, one year, and 18 months.
San Antonio, Texas-based Air Force Federal Credit Union certainly caters primarily to military members and their families, and boasts a field of over 48,000 members. It offers a full range of bank accounts and financial services, which may be more useful if you live in Texas since that’s where its branch locations and ATMs are located.
If you don’t qualify through a military affiliation or other qualification, you can still apply for an account by joining the Airman Heritage Foundation for $25, which you can do when you apply for an account. Like most credit unions, you’ll also need to keep at least $5 in a savings account to establish your membership.
It’s potentially easier to join Pen Air Federal than some other credit unions, since all you need is to join the Friends of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society if you don’t have any of the other affiliations listed on the website (and the credit union will make a $1 donation to the organization on your behalf). You’ll also need to keep at least $25 in a savings account to remain eligible for membership.
Founded in 1936, Pen Air Federal Credit Union is the largest and oldest local credit union in Pensacola, Florida. While there are only 15 locations in Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama, there are more than 108,000 members nationwide.
What Is a 6-Month CD?
A 6-month CD is a special type of term savings account where you make an agreement with the bank or credit union not to deposit or withdraw any money during the 6-month period. You can usually still withdraw the money if you absolutely need it, but you’ll pay a stiff penalty—known as an early withdrawal penalty—for doing so.
After the 6 months is over, your CD will generally roll over into a new 6-month CD. However, you’ll get a short window—known as a grace period—during which you can withdraw the money or deposit more money into the CD if you wish. The grace period usually lasts about seven days, and at the end, the CD will be locked in again for another six months.
Who Is a 6-Month CD Best For?
In general, CDs are good for people who are sure that they won’t need the money while it’s locked away.
A 6-month CD is a relatively short term length, so it’s best for people who can’t lock away money for a long time. You may want to use it to save up for a goal that is coming up soon. For example, you could use a 6-month CD to save for a summer vacation. On the other hand, if you’re saving up for a down payment to buy a house five years from now, look for a longer-term CD that provides a higher rate.
CDs can also be a good way to save money if you’ve had past problems with tapping into your savings account too early while you’re saving up for other things. A 6-month CD is a good choice for this because you’ll still get access to your money once every six months, but the early withdrawal penalties might be just the buffer you need to let your money sit without being tempted to tap into it too early.
What Are the Alternatives to a 6-Month CD?
Six-month CDs are only one of several options for term length. If you’d feel more comfortable with more frequent access to your money, you can choose a shorter-term CD. Three-month CDs are also available at many banks, and some even offer CDs in term lengths as short as a week.
Keep in mind, though, that typically the shorter the term length, the lower the interest rate on the CD. That’s why many people choose longer-term CDs. But do your research. Once you get into CDs with terms of three years and longer, a longer term doesn’t always get you a higher rate.
If you’re not sure about this whole locking-your-money-away thing, you can also always choose a high-yield savings account. Many banks and credit unions offer high-yield savings accounts with higher rates than short-term CD lengths anyway.
If you prefer instant account access, we teamed up with QuinStreet to bring you the following high-yield savings and money market account offers.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Certificate of Deposit (CD)?" Accessed March 30, 2020.
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "My Time Certificate of Deposit (CD) Matured, But I Didn't Redeem It. What Happened to my Funds?" Accessed March 30, 2020.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "The Interest Rate Offered for CDs (Certificates of Deposit) is Low. Is There Anything I Can Do About That?" Accessed March 30, 2020.