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How Long Does It Take to Open a CD?


Because CD rates have been pretty generous these past few months, a lot of people have decided to open certificates of deposit. And I was part of that trend.

Over the past six months, I’ve opened a few different CDs. And for the most part, the process was smooth.

But in some cases, opening a CD can require a bit of a time commitment on your part. So it’s important to know what to expect.

It’s the research that takes the most time

Opening a CD isn’t something you should dive into. Different banks have different rates on offer. It’s a good idea to research your options, which could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.

When I was looking at new CDs, it helped me to go in with a term in mind. For example, recently, I decided to lock in a 60-month CD, so I knew I only had to compare rates for that specific term across different banks.

And if you’re curious, the reason I opted for a 5-year CD is that I think the Federal Reserve is going to start cutting interest rates this year. And the reason I think that is because the Fed has basically said it.

Once that happens, CDs are likely to start paying less. So I wanted to lock in a good deal for a relatively long period of time while I could.

Opening a CD at your current bank could take minutes

One of the recent CDs I opened took under five minutes. The reason, though, is that I already held other accounts, like a savings and checking account, at that institution.

But while setting up my actual CD took almost no time, once that account was opened, I had to take some additional steps to designate beneficiaries. That took longer.

The CD I opened was a joint one with my husband. We wanted to make sure our three children were noted as beneficiaries on the account. To do that, I had to dig up each one’s Social Security number, since I don’t know them by heart, and enter additional information. So that process took about 15 minutes. That’s not terrible — but it’s a step you may want to budget some time for.

Opening a CD at a new bank could take longer

In researching long-term CDs, the best rate I found was at a bank I didn’t already have an account with. The process there, however, took a lot longer — almost 30 minutes. Not only did I have to enter more financial information (since the bank didn’t already have it, whereas my existing bank did), but I also then had to wait for different verification codes to arrive in my email so I could complete the process securely.

To be fair, this experience may have been unique to the specific bank I went with. You may find that opening a CD at a new bank is a faster process. But for me, it was a notable time difference compared to opening a CD at an institution I already banked with.

All told, you may have to put in a little time to research CD rates. The process of actually opening one may be quicker for you. But these days, there are plenty of CDs that are paying a higher interest rate than savings accounts. So if you have money you can afford to lock up for a period, then it pays to make the effort.

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