Best Credit Union CD Rates

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
August 29, 2022

Quick Look at Best Credit Union CD Rates:

Best Overall Credit Union CD Rates: PenFed Credit Union
Best for Higher APY Rates: Connexus Credit Union
Best for No Maximum Deposit: Alliant Credit Union
Best for Low Minimum Deposit: Navy Federal Credit Union
Best for Military Members: Service Credit Union

Certificates of deposits (CDs) can strengthen your investing goals. CDs are called certificates or certificate shares when provided by a credit union. The certificates are often considered a type of savings account that provides higher-than-usual annual percentage yield (APY) rates. The certificate accounts typically require that deposited funds are tucked away for a set amount of time.

Banks sell CDs, and credit unions offer share certificates. A bank’s CD pays interest, and credit union’s share certificate pays dividends. As a member-owned financial institution, a credit union can typically offer better rates than banks. When comparing certificate accounts, research APY rates, the strength of the company that provides the offering and benefits specific to the offering. Credit union certificates, similar to bank-issued CDs, are an excellent option for individuals who are interested in safeguarding their initial deposit while helping people to achieve the larger goal of future financial freedom. 

Best Overall Credit Union CD Rates: PenFed Credit Union

  • $1,000 minimum deposit 
  • 1.50% APY for one-year term
  • 2% APY for two-year term
  • 2.75% APY for five-year term


  • Credit union insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
  • Multiple maturity options such as checks and the ability to roll over to a new certificate 
  • Dividends/interest posted monthly for accounts with terms longer than 12 months
  • Rates locked for the duration of the certificate 


  • Early withdrawal penalty

PenFed Credit Union, also called the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, was created in the 1930s. The company now assists over 2.5 million members, and it is open to anyone who wishes to become a member. The company has a long-standing history that dates back over 70 years, adding stability to its financial offerings. 

APY rates vary depending on additional factors such as term lengths. For example, the APY is 2% for a two-year CD, and APY rates go as high as 3% for longer terms. APY rates are locked in place for the duration of the CD term and ensure a sense of predictability for the account holder. Interest/dividends are paid monthly for accounts that have term lengths above a minimum of one year. The credit union has multiple payment options such as deposting interest into the account or sending it to the customer as a check. The company has a $1,000 minimum deposit for the majority of term lengths.

The deposits are protected by the NCUA. However, the company has withdrawal penalty fees. The specific early redemption fees are not provided on the website.

Best for Higher APY Rates: Connexus Credit Union

  • $5,000 minimum deposit 
  • Three-day application process
  • One-year term at 2.26% APY
  • Two-year term at 2.86% APY
  • Five-year term at 3.21% APY


  • Able to become a member in minutes
  • All people welcome to join
  • Insured by the NCUA


  • Only available for credit union members
  • Early withdrawal penalty

Connexus Credit Union has over 420,000 members and about $4.2 billion in assets. The company requires a $5,000 minimum to open an account. The APY rates differ depending on the term lengths. For example, a certificate account with terms of 2 years will include a 2.86% APY rate. For CDs with longer term lengths, the credit union offers higher-than-normal APY rates up to 3.21%. The elevated APY rates are a strong incentive for individuals to place their deposits into accounts for longer periods of time. 

In terms of potential drawbacks, individuals must be members of the credit union to open an account. Luckily, applying can take minutes and people generally receive responses within three business days. The credit union has fees for early withdrawals. If you don’t meet the requirements of membership through your work, you can join the Connexus Association for $5 and then become a Connexus credit union member.

Best for No Maximum Deposit: Alliant Credit Union

  • $1,000 minimum deposit 
  • No maximum deposit 
  • One-year CD term for 1.50% APY
  • Two-year CD term for 2.1% APY
  • Five-year CD term for 2.8% APY 


  • Maturity rates are flexible 
  • Insured by the NCUA
  • Interest compounded monthly 


  • Must first be a member of the credit union
  • Early withdrawal penalty 

Alliant Credit Union began in the 1930s and was originally designed to assist individuals associated with United Airlines. Today, the company offers a wide range of financial options like banking, borrowing and investing. The CD/certificate accounts have APY rates that are tied to the term lengths. Longer-term rates have increased APY rates. For example, a CD account with a two-year term has an APY rate of 2.10% and an interest/dividend rate of 2.08%. The credit union has APY rates up to 2.80%. The minimum deposit to open an account is $1,000, and the company has no maximum deposit. Individuals can place as much or as little into a CD account as they want as long as it meets the baseline requirement. Interest is compounded monthly.

The company charges early withdrawal fees. The fee is typically calculated as the number of days an individual will lose interest. For example, an account closed after 100 days would face a fee equal to the amount of interest earned. 

If you don’t meet the membership requirements, you can join the nonprofit Foster Care to Success (FC2S), and Alliant will pay the one-time $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member’s behalf. After that, you can become a member of the credit union.

Best for Low Minimum Deposit: Navy Federal Credit Union 

  • $50 minimum deposit
  • Maximum $3,000 deposit for Special EasyStart Certificate 
  • APY begins at 0.70% for one-year term
  • APY begins at 0.80% for two-year term
  • APY begins at 1% for five-year term


  • Additional deposits allowed 
  • Interest/dividends compounded daily
  • Interest/dividends credited monthly
  • Provides various types of certificates such as long-term, short-term, SaveFirst and EasyStart
  • Deposits insured by the NCUA


  • Penalty for early withdrawal 

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) was founded in the 1930s and now has over 11 million members. The company offers multiple types of certificates such as long-term, short-term and SaveFirst, with durations between three months and seven years. It requires a minimum deposit of only $50, which is extremely low considering most certificates have a $1,000 minimum deposit. The rates depend on extra factors such as the type of loan and term lengths. For example, a short-term one-year certificate has a minimum APY rate of 0.70%. For longer-term CDs, the APY rates increase with larger deposits. An individual can earn increased APY rates by using a larger deposit. The company allows people to make multiple deposits, which are typically not accepted with other types of certificates in the market. 

One potential drawback is that the credit union states the possibility of fees for early withdrawals. Also NFCU requires that its member be part of certain groups such as being Active Duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard or Space Force; part of the Delayed Entry Program; a DoD Officer Candidate/ROTC

DoD reservists; or a veteran, retiree or annuitant.

Best for Military Members: Service Credit Union

  • Minimum $500 deposit
  • 1-year term for 1% APY rate with 0.995% interest/dividend rate 
  • 2-year term for 1.5% APY rate with 1.49% interest/dividend rate 
  • 5-year term for 1.90% APY rate with 1.884% interest/dividend rate


  • Interest credited monthly
  • Fixed-rate accounts
  • Deposits insured by the NCUA 


  • An early withdrawal penalty fee

Service Credit Union was initially created to assist military personnel and their family members working at Pease Air National Guard Base. The company now handles over $4 billion in assets. The CDs/certificates range from six-month terms to five-year terms and require a minimum initial deposit of $500. Interest/dividends are credited monthly to a certificate account. In general, accounts with long-term rates obtain increased APY rates. For example, a two-year term account with a minimum $500 deposit earns a 1.5% APY rate. The website includes a helpful calculator to assist interested individuals in better understanding their potential earnings. 

This credit union is primarily for active duty military, veterans and their families; Department of Defense members and their families; and members of certain employer groups. However, anyone can become a Service Credit Union member if they join the American Consumer Council (ACC) for free.

A potential drawback is that certificate accounts have an early withdrawal penalty fee. 

Features to Look for in Certificates

When examining the best certificate, contemplate multiple features such as customer service, withdrawal fees and APY rates. Compare options before deciding to open an account.

Strong APY rates

Credit unions typically discuss rates in terms of dividends paid and APY. The APY rates and dividend rates are not considered standard across all companies. Financial institutions frequently have elevated APR rates for CDs or certificates with longer terms. However, it’s advised to compare similar certificates between various financial providers to have a more comprehensive understanding of the market. Keep in mind that it’s best to compare certificates that have the same term lengths when analyzing rates.

Low fees

Examine the certificate fee structures to discover if a company has hidden or additional charges that have the potential to add up in the long run.

It’s common for companies to have fees such as early withdrawal penalties. These penalties are typically charged in two different ways. For example, some companies charge a penalty fee of several months' worth of simple interest while other financial institutions charge a percentage of what you would have earned if the account had reached maturity. 

Helpful customer service

The strength of the company’s customer service should be taken into consideration when examining the account offering. Financial institutions usually have multiple ways that customers and interested individuals are able to reach out to the company with questions. For example, it’s common for such companies to have email addresses, phone numbers and social media accounts where people can reach out with questions or concerns. Look to see how thoroughly a company has also answered frequently asked questions. 

When in doubt, examine third-party websites where customers are able to post reviews and rate customer performance. Read the most recent reviews as well as the lower- and higher-ranking reviews to have a fuller understanding of the company. Customer reviews have the potential to reveal how you will likely be treated if you decide to become a customer. 

Reputation of financial institution

The strength of the financial institution providing the certificate is important to take into consideration when deciding whether it’s a good choice to open an account. Research if the credit union that you are interested in using is backed by the NCUA. In addition to knowing if a company is insured by the NCUA, explore how the company is rated and perceived on external platforms such as Moody’s. Companies similar to Moody’s provide useful information that helps identify credit risk. 

How to get a Certificate 

When learning how to get a certificate, examine important factors such as personal timelines, financial needs and required minimum deposits. Selecting a certificate can prove beneficial for individuals interested in growing finances safely and dependably. When researching the different certificate possibilities, think about speaking with a financial professional to better understand the options available. 

Compare certificate types

Companies often offer different types of certificates such as high-yield certificates and bump-up certificates. The type of certificate indicates important key features that can help assist an interested individual in growing their funds. For example, a high-yield certificate provides increased interest that boosts the total amount of funds available to an individual. When researching certificates, think about which types of accounts would likely benefit your personal needs. 

Analyze certificate terms

Before opening a certificate account, think about how long the deposits will remain in an account. Certificate accounts usually require deposits to remain in an account for the entire length of the term. Refrain from placing funds into the account that you will likely need at a later date. If you are currently focusing on short-term goals, then contemplate opening a certificate account with a three- or six-month term to slowly get introduced to the certificate process. Certificate accounts with longer terms receive increased APY and dividend rates but tie up your money longer.

Research potential fees

Companies often charge early withdrawal fees. The fees are frequently charged as interest that the certificate pays. The withdrawal fees can be steep to deter individuals from withdrawing funds before maturity. Funds reach maturity once a fixed term ends. Different financial institutions may charge other fees such as monthly account maintenance fees that have the potential to add up over time. 

Ask questions

When opening an account, be sure to get answers if you have any questions. Financial institutions frequently have customer service representatives who are able to assist you in understanding specific questions or even suggesting different certificate account options. Understanding the application as well as the term structures provides an elevated level of financial clarity for interested individuals. 

How You Can Improve Your Finances

Improving your finances requires a clear understanding of the larger picture and a measured amount of patience. When on the road to boosting finances, examine spending habits and goals. Financial freedom takes time, but small steps often add up to big change. 

Know your spending habits

When examining spending habits, take note of how much is spent versus how much is earned. One excellent way to understand these numbers is to focus on your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio indicates how much is spent compared to how much is earned every month. In general, lower ratios are better because they mean you have less debt. It’s a good rule of thumb to spend less than you make when looking to improve your financial situation. 

Analyze how much you spend every month according to categories such as food, utilities and recreation. Breaking down spending habits into smaller groups helps you see where the majority of your monthly funds are going. 

Reduce debt

Debt can often feel difficult to manage, but a good way to overcome that hurdle is by fully understanding it. Examine debt from areas such as personal loans and credit cards. Credit cards with high interest rates can make it difficult to pay off the full amount of debt if it is left on the card over multiple billing periods. For example, some credit cards charge interest rates of 20% or more.

To avoid paying heavy interest, think about using automatic payments to pay off credit card debt in full. Setting automatic payments can help people avoid paying late fees. An added benefit of automatic payments is that consistent timely payments on debt can improve an individual’s credit score.

Focus on saving

Once debt and spending habits are evaluated, look at how much you are saving. Certain saving methods such as high-yield savings accounts can provide benefits when funds are left in the accounts for an extended period. 

Before investing, set aside money for an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a type of savings account that covers a minimum of three months worth of expenses. Update an emergency fund as spending and living habits change to keep the amounts relevant to daily life. Emergency funds should remain liquid so that they are easily accessible during unforeseen incidents.

Create investment goals

Analyze where you would like to be in the future and set goals accordingly. Contemplate having multiple plans at once such as five- and 10-year investment goals. Align investment goals to more easily accommodate future needs and interests.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is the difference between a bank and a credit union?


Credit unions and banks offer similar savings products, but these financial institutions also have key differences in terms of structure and offerings. Banks use CDs as a way for individuals to obtain fixed rates over a set time. CDs offered by banks have APY rates that are frequently higher than other saving options. Credit unions often call their version of CDs certificates or share certificates. These certificates offer benefits such as higher interest and dividends. Overall, banks and credit unions offer comparable CDs and certificates. Individuals should research the two before opening an account to more effectively decide which option works best for them. 


What are the benefits of a certificate?


A certificate account provides multiple benefits such as increased APY rates and elevated protection for initial deposits. Certificates are an excellent option for individuals that are starting to save. Certificate accounts are considered one of the safest savings options for a risk-averse individual.


What is the purpose of the NCUA?


The NCUA was initially created in the 1970s and operates as an independent federal agency that assists in regulating credit unions while also protecting depositors. The NCUA helps to bolster confidence by insuring deposits made at federally backed credit unions. 


What factors impact certificate rates?


External factors such as the type of certificate and certificate terms have the potential to impact credit rates. In general, longer certificate terms have higher rates as a way to further incentivize people to leave their funds locked within a financial institution for an extended period.  


What does reaching maturity mean?


When a certificate reaches maturity, it means that the certificate term is over. Some financial institutions will automatically renew a certificate at similar terms and rates if a person does not indicate differently. Although some companies do offer grace periods, it’s recommended to understand the specified details surrounding a certificate’s maturity before opening an account. 

Hire a Pro: Compare Financial Advisors In Your Area

Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is legally bound to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.