In this episode on Certificates of Deposit (CDs) as investments, we talk about the nuanced decision-making involved in purchasing CDs and whether or not CDs are good investments, particularly in a rising interest rate environment, and we explain why interest rates are the only factor you need to consider.

Wealth creation isn’t solely dependent on CD rates, and we need to consider the impact of inflation and interest rates to gain a comprehensive financial perspective. The episode also explores how government strategies to combat inflation by adjusting interest rates impact not only investors, but also shape the attractiveness of CDs as an investment option.

  • In a rising interest rate environment, buying CDs may seem like a good idea but it depends on your needs and goals.
  • Wealth isn’t created by buying a CD based on a rate. It’s created by understanding why the rate may not be all that important.
  • Banks look at what is known as the federal funds rate, also known as a benchmark rate. This is the rate banks charge one another to borrow money overnight that’s needed to maintain reserve requirements.
  • Upstream in the decision making process is the Federal Open Market Committee or FOMC, who meet throughout the year to discuss and set monetary policy. Within these policies, rates are set and typically linked to inflation.
  • When those rates are set, banks may adjust rates on loans, deposits and certificates of deposit. But just like any business, banks will adjust rates to compete in their market as they seek to cover their costs and maintain a profit.
  • CDs specifically are an attractive tool for banks, because unlike a deposit account, CDs actually lock up customers with a maturity date, which gives banks better control of their cash flow. The higher rates draw in customers seeking to maximize their returns.
  • Rates on CDs matter, but not as much when you factor in inflation and interest rates. If inflation is at 7% and interest rates are at 5%, the net is 2%. The same is true if inflation is at 0% and interest rates are at 2%. You have to look at both numbers to get a full picture.
  • When you consider the gridlock within the housing market and the amount of debt our government holds, it’s hard to believe rates can remain elevated over the long term. The government is desperately trying to combat inflation by raising rates.
  • These higher rates not only impact consumers, but they also impact the government. According to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, in June of 2023, they projected that annual net interest costs on the federal debt would total $663 billion in 2023 and almost double over the next decade. Interest payments would total around $71 trillion over the next 30 years, taking up to 35% of all federal revenue by 2053.
  • These numbers are impacted by interest rates and with lower rates come lower interest payments, so the government has reasons to see rates lower than they currently are.
  • The question is: Does it make sense to lock in CD rates while rates are high? It depends. If you have money sitting in a bank account that you don’t need and the CD rate is offering a higher rate than your savings, then it might be a good option.
  • A good idea is to compare CD rates to other options like fixed annuities and money markets since they share some similarities but also have a few key differences that could make one choice better for your situation.
  • Certificates of Deposit are offered by banks as a savings account that offers a fixed interest rate over a specified period of time, ranging from one month up to five years. They carry penalties if funds are removed before maturity, and they’re FDIC insured up to $250,000.
  • Fixed Rate annuities are issued by insurance companies and are financial products that offer a fixed interest rate over a specified period of time. Early withdrawals can incur a penalty, and interest earnings are tax deferred until you start taking distributions. The guarantees are backed by the claims paying ability of the insurance company and are insured by what is known as the State Guarantee Association.
  • Money markets are funds issued by financial institutions that are backed by highly liquid short maturity investments. Maturities usually range from overnight to just under a year, and assets can be quickly converted to cash with minimal loss of value. They are generally considered more risky than a bank, CD or insurance company annuity, and the underlying investments include such things as treasury bills, commercial paper and CDs.
  • While CDs offer the safety of fixed returns, they are not devoid of risks and limitations. It’s essential to understand both the micro and macro economic factors that affect CD rates before diving in. 



Mentioned in this episode:

Common Sense Financial Podcast on YouTube 

Common Sense Financial Podcast on Spotify – Free Resources To Help You Protect Your Financial Future

Common Sense: YOUR Guide to Making Smart Choices with YOUR Money by Brian Skrobonja

“What to Know About How Banks Work”

The State Guaranty Association


References for this episode:


Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. This is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.