Best 6-Month CD Rates

These banks and credit unions offer the highest payout on 6-month certificates

If you don't need immediate access to your cash, certificates of deposit, or CDs, can be a good way to safely build interest. And if your saving horizon is short, a six-month CD might provide the perfect deposit vehicle.

Drawing on the most current rate data from about 200 banks and credit unions that offer certificate products nationwide, we've ranked the highest-paying CDs with approximately 6-month terms (includes terms from 5-9 months). Those requiring a minimum deposit of up to $25,000 are eligible for our list.

APYs are changing rapidly amid widespread uncertainty about the economy and financial markets. Investopedia is monitoring rates and will update them accordingly.

In cases where more than one institution pays the same top rate, we've prioritized CDs by the shortest term, then the CD requiring a smaller minimum deposit, and if still a tie, by which CD has a milder penalty for early withdrawal.

Investopedia is committed to providing our readers with unbiased product recommendations. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this doesn't affect how we rate, review, and rank them.

Best 6-Month CD Rates:

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs - 1.70% APY
  • Chevron Federal Credit Union - 1.55% APY
  • Spectrum Federal Credit Union - 1.55% APY
  • Lafayette Federal Credit Union - 1.51% APY
  • Banesco USA - 1.50% APY
  • CommunityWide Federal Credit Union - 1.50% APY
  • Limelight Bank - 1.45% APY
  • Air Force Federal Credit Union - 1.45% APY
  • Live Oak Bank - 1.40% APY
  • Merrick Bank - 1.40% APY

Detailed information on these top-paying nationally available 6-month CDs is provided below, including specifics about minimum deposits and early withdrawal penalties. For credit union CDs, information is also provided on how to easily join the credit union.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs - 1.70% APY

  • Term (months): 7
  • Minimum deposit: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • About: Marcus by Goldman Sachs is an online-only bank established in 2016 by the investment bank giant.

Chevron Federal Credit Union - 1.55% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • Membership: Anyone can join Chevron Federal by making a $15 donation to the Contra Costa County Historical Society and keeping $25 or more in a member savings account.

Spectrum Federal Credit Union - 1.55% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • Membership: Anyone can become a member of Spectrum Federal by donating $15 to the Contra Costa County Historical Society and keeping at least $25 or more in a member savings account.

Lafayette Federal Credit Union - 1.51% APY

  • Term (months): 7
  • Minimum deposit: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • Membership: Anyone can join Lafayette Federal with a $10 membership in the Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council and $50 or more held in a savings account.

Banesco USA - 1.50% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • About: Established in 2006, Banesco USA is a brick-and-mortar bank operating in Florida and Puerto Rico, with some of its products available online.

CommunityWide Federal Credit Union - 1.50% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Complex formula; refer to disclosures and exercise caution.
  • Membership: Anyone can join CommunityWide by donating $5 to the credit union's local chapter of Goodwill, the Marine Corps League, or Habitat for Humanity, as well as keeping $5 or more in a savings account.

Limelight Bank - 1.45% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • About: Limelight is an internet-only division of Capital Community Bank, which was established in 1993 and operates five branches in Utah.

Air Force Federal Credit Union - 1.45% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Half of the interest that would have been earned until maturity
  • Membership: Anyone can become a member of Air Force Federal by donating $25 to the Airman Heritage Foundation and keeping $5 or more in a savings account.

Live Oak Bank - 1.40% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Three months of interest
  • About: Live Oak Bank is an Internet-only bank established in Wilmington, N.C., in 2008.

Merrick Bank - 1.40% APY

  • Term (months): 6
  • Minimum deposit: $25,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 1% of the account balance
  • About: Primarily a credit card issuer and consumer finance provider, Merrick Bank offers online-only certificates of deposit.

What is a 6-month CD?

Certificates of deposit, or CDs, are financial products that provide a fixed rate of interest on your deposit as long as you leave your money with the bank or credit union for a specified length of time.

CDs come in maturities as short as three months and as long as ten years. In general, the longer the duration of the CD, the higher the rate of interest that the financial institution is willing to offer. So while 6-month CDs—and even 9-month ones—don't tie up your money for very long, they also don't offer the kind of yields you would find with a longer maturity.

Virtually all CDs are offered by federally insured banks or credit unions. Almost all bank certificates are protected by FDIC insurance, while those offered by credit unions are typically guaranteed by the NCUA. That means deposits up to $250,000 are secure, even if the institution itself falls into financial trouble. It's always a good idea to check that the bank or credit union offers this protection -- just look for the FDIC or NCUA logo.

Depository institutions set their own interest rates for CDs, and those rates can differ dramatically from one bank or credit union to another. According to the data we compiled on dozens of institutions across the country, the top-paying CD providers offer yields that are up to five times higher than the industry average for products of the same duration. Therefore, it's a good idea to shop around and find one that pays on the higher end of the spectrum.

How does a 6-month CD work?

Every CD has a specific maturity, the date when you're allowed to withdraw your funds without paying a penalty. Banks and credit unions typically offer a range of certificates that appeal to customers with either a short-term savings horizon (as is the case with a 6-month CD) or a long-term horizon.

For each CD duration, the institution will publish the annual percentage yield, or APY, which reflects the percentage of interest paid on the account, given the nominal interest rate and the frequency with which that interest is compounded.

Most CDs use compound interest, which slightly increases the yield. In the case of a certificate that compounds daily, the annual interest rate is divided by 365 and multiplied by the balance to determine the interest payout. That daily interest accrual is then added to the balance when calculating the next day's interest. Interest is usually credited to the account monthly or quarterly.

What happens if you take your money out early?

Most financial institutions will deduct some of the interest that's accrued in your account if you withdraw funds from a CD before the maturity date. In the case of a 6-month CD, losing three, or even six, months' worth of interest is fairly typical. So there's a strong incentive to leave your money untouched until the certificate reaches maturity.

Some places offer "penalty-free" CDs, but there's a rub: they tend to offer lower yields than standard CDs. What's more, they often require you to pull out the entire balance and close the account if you make an early withdrawal.

Indeed, all banks and credit unions charge a penalty for early CD withdrawals. Investigating whether an institution's penalty policy is mild, reasonable, or onerous is important before you commit to a CD, and can help you choose between two otherwise comparable certificates.

Who are 6-month CDs good for?

Even in a low-interest rate environment, CDs tend to offer significantly higher yields than traditional savings and money market accounts.

For that reason, 6-month CDs may be a good option if you know that you won't need access to your funds for at least six to nine month. That's a cohort that includes people saving for a down payment on a home or setting aside funds for a big trip.

Like savings accounts, almost all CDs are FDIC- or NCUA-insured. So as long as your deposit doesn't exceed $250,000, you cannot lose your principal at one of these institutions. By contrast, investing in stocks, and even corporate bonds, can be risky in that short of a time window; should they lose value over a six-month stretch, you'll have to incur a loss.

One alternative to CDs that you might consider for short-term needs are high-yield savings accounts like those offered by Ally, Marcus and other online banks. Generally, their yields are only slightly lower than those of CDs, but there's no limitation on when you can pull your money out. Just make sure you check their minimum balance requirements and fee schedule to make sure you don't take a hit once you make a large withdrawal.

How Do Banks and Credit Unions Differ?

Banks and credit unions offer similar financial products, including CDs. But unlike banks, credit unions are nonprofits that are owned by their customers. In general, that means they forego big profits and instead offer lower rates on credit products and higher yields on interest-bearing accounts.

Another distinction between the two is that credit unions require membership. At some, you have to live or work in a certain geographic area or be the employee of a particular company.

But some credit unions, including those on this list, offer ways for virtually any adult to join. For example, the it may allow you to gain membership by making a donation to a specific charitable foundation, or by joining affiliated organizations like the American Consumer Council.