How much do I need to open a CD?

By Sabrina Karl

If you’ve never opened a certificate of deposit before, you might think CDs are a complex option for investing a large sum of money. While they certainly can be good investments for those with ample cash, you might be surprised how accessible they are to savers with any modest amount to sock away.

The minimum requirement to open a CD varies by individual bank or credit union – there is no set standard. And in addition to each institution choosing its own minimum, many offer multiple rate tiers for different investment amounts. Generally, the more you can deposit, the higher the rate you’ll earn.

But putting away more isn’t always necessary to earn the highest rate. Some banks have one across-the-board minimum, and saving more with them won’t change your rate. It might be $5,000 or $2,500, or even just $500 or $1,000.

That’s right. Even if you’re shopping around for a top rate (which you should always do), you can find plenty of CDs requiring just $500 to open. In fact, there are even a good handful of banks – including some large nationals – that require no minimum at all.

But small minimums can help robust savers as well. Have $10,000 available to deposit? You may be able to earn the same return on two CDs of $5,000 or four of $2,500 as you can by lumping it into a single $10,000 certificate. This gives you flexibility to cash out a portion of your CD savings should you unexpectedly need some, but not all, of the funds for an emergency.

One search of the nation’s top rates on any given day will quickly reveal there’s no rule of thumb for CD minimums. The only thing you can count on is that good options exist for savers at every level.