CD Early Withdrawal Penalty, Explained

By Rebecca Lake · January 21, 2024 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

CD Early Withdrawal Penalty, Explained

Certificate of deposit accounts lock in your money for a certain period and guarantee an interest rate. But sometimes, life happens in the middle of the CD’s term. You have a dental emergency, your car needs new tires, or (yes, please!) a friend offers you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a trip to Barcelona but you just don’t have cash on hand to afford it. In these and other situations, you may be tempted to crack into a CD.

Should you do so, however, you will likely have to pay an early withdrawal penalty since you aren’t sticking with the agreed-to maturity term (the amount of time the CD was set for). You might forfeit some or all of the interest earned as a result. Read on to learn more about early withdrawal penalties for CDs and how to avoid them.

What Is a CD Early Withdrawal Penalty?

First, what is a CD? In simple terms, it’s an FDIC-insured time deposit. When you open a certificate of deposit account, you’re depositing money for a specific time frame. Depending on the CD, this may be as little as 30 days or as long as 10 years.

As the CD matures, your balance can earn interest. Generally, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate and APY. However, if you take money out before the maturity date, the bank can charge a CD withdrawal penalty.

Federal law sets the minimum penalty for early CD withdrawal at seven days’ interest if you withdraw money within the first six days after deposit. Banks can set the maximum CD withdrawal penalty higher.

The amount you might pay for withdrawing money from a CD early can depend on several factors, including:

•   Maturity term of the CD

•   How long the CD was open before you made the withdrawal

•   The amount of the initial deposit and the amount that’s withdrawn.

Your bank may or may not allow you to make a partial early CD withdrawal. If you’re not able to withdraw a partial amount, you might have to cash out the whole CD which could result in a larger penalty.

💡 Quick Tip: Make money easy. Open a bank account online so you can manage bills, deposits, transfers — all from one convenient app.

How to Calculate an Early Withdrawal Penalty for a CD

You’re probably wondering just how steep a penalty you’d have to pay for early CD withdrawal. Are we talking $5 or 5% of the money invested? More?

Banks are required to provide you with certain disclosures regarding your accounts, including CD accounts. So the first step in calculating what you might pay for a CD early withdrawal penalty is to review your bank’s policy.

Again, this can vary depending on the bank. So, for example, here’s what a few banks charge if you make an early withdrawal from CD accounts. All penalties are deducted from the CD’s principal.

CD Term

CD Early Withdrawal Penalty

1 year

•   180 days’ interest

•   3 months’ interest

•   Half of interest the money would have earned over entire term or 1% of the amount withdrawn, whichever is greater, plus $25

3 years

•   180 days’ interest

•   6 months’ interest

•   Half of interest the money would have earned over entire term or 3% of the amount withdrawn, whichever is greater, plus $25

You should be able to find this information readily available on your bank’s website. But if not, you can contact your bank or visit a branch to get more details on the penalties for early withdrawal from a CD. In addition to telling you what the penalty is, the bank should also be able to tell you how the penalty is calculated.

Banks may calculate the penalty for early CD withdrawal based on:

•   The amount withdrawn

•   The entire balance

•   Daily interest or monthly interest.

Calculating a CD Early WIthdrawal Penalty

Want to get a little more granular? Let’s dive into a little basic math to show you how the numbers look. Using Chase as an example, we see that the bank uses the amount withdrawn as the basis for calculating CD early withdrawal penalties. The calculation uses daily rather than monthly interest.

So the formula for calculating the penalty you might pay for an early CD withdrawal would look like this:

Penalty = Amount withdrawn x (Interest rate/365) x number of days’ interest.

So, say you have a 12-month CD that’s earning a 5% APY. You withdraw your initial $5,000 deposit six months prior to the CD’s maturity date. The math would look like this:

$5,000 x (0.05/365) x 180 = $123.29

You could also use an online CD early-withdrawal penalty calculator to figure out how much interest you might forfeit if you decide to withdraw money from a CD ahead of schedule.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties for a CD

There are some options for avoiding prepayment penalties associated with early CD withdrawals. The strategies you could try include:

•   Withdrawing only the interest earned. Your bank may allow you to withdraw the interest earned on a CD without assessing a penalty. This assumes that you don’t touch the principal amount at all. This could be an attractive option if you need some quick cash but don’t necessarily need or want to withdraw your initial deposit.

•   Requesting a waiver of the penalty due to a crisis. If you are really in a bind, your bank may honor this.

•   Tapping your rainy-day money instead, but this should really only be done if you have the right reason to using your emergency fund.

•   Opening a no-penalty CD account. Banks can offer CDs that don’t charge a penalty for early CD withdrawal. The trade-off is that no-penalty CDs may offer a lower interest rate and APY, so you’d have to consider whether the convenience afforded by no-penalty CDs outweighs earning a higher rate.

•   Building a CD ladder. A CD ladder is a collection of CD accounts, each with varying maturity terms. So you might have five CDs with maturity dates spaced six months apart. The idea is that you can avoid early withdrawal penalties because your next maturity date is always on the horizon.

•   Consider a CD-secured loan. You may find some lenders who offer a CD-secured loan, but review the terms carefully and be sure you can make the payments at a time when money is tight.

Recommended: What Does Private Banking Offer?

When to Withdraw CDs Early

Withdrawing money from a CD early, even if it means triggering an early CD withdrawal penalty, could make sense in some situations. Some examples:

•   If you have an emergency situation with no other cash reserves to rely on and you want to avoid using credit, it may be the best (or only move). For example, say your car breaks down and you need $5,000 to fix it, but you only have $1,200 in your emergency fund. Then paying a CD withdrawal penalty could be worth it. This move would allow you to avoid having to charge the expense on a high-interest credit card or take out a loan.

•   Paying a penalty for early CD withdrawal could be worthwhile if your interest rate is low. You could access the funds and, with what you don’t use up, roll the money into a new CD with a higher APY. You’d have to calculate the amount of the penalty for withdrawing money early and compare that to the interest you could earn with a new CD to decide if it’s worth it or not.

Recommended: 10 Personal Finance Basics

The Takeaway

Investing in CDs can make sense if you want a safe way to earn interest on money you don’t necessarily need for the near-term. But sometimes, you’ll feel you must withdraw money early from a CD, despite the fact that you locked in for a specific term and interest rate. When doing so, you’ll face penalties, which may or may not make this transaction worth it to you. You can also follow a couple of smart money strategies to make sure you avoid triggering early CD withdrawal penalties in the future, because who wants to pay fees unless you absolutely have to?

If you hate penalties and fees, it can be wise to consider all your possibilities in terms of where to keep your money.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What happens if I take money out of a CD early?

If you withdraw money from a CD early, you will likely be assessed a penalty, which is often all or some of the interest earned, and possibly a fee.

Can I write off a CD early withdrawal penalty?

If you wind up paying an early withdrawal penalty, you can deduct the amount from your taxes, even if it’s greater than the interest earned.


Photo credit: iStock/tolgart

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

SOBK0124011

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender