New! Eligible SoFi members can invest in upcoming IPOs before they’re traded on the public market—only in the SoFi app.* Learn more

How to Find the Right Fixed Index Annuity Rate for Your Needs

February 23, 2021 · 5 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

How to Find the Right Fixed Index Annuity Rate for Your Needs

Annuities are a type of insurance contract that investors can use to fund their retirement or meet other financial goals. When someone purchases an annuity, they pay premiums to the annuity issuer. The annuity company then makes payments back to the annuitant as agreed in the annuity contract.

Those payments can start almost immediately or be deferred to a future date. Payments can be made monthly, annually, or in a single lump-sum. Earnings from the annuity are typically tax-deferred and withdrawals are taxable as ordinary income.

Generally, annuities are indexed, fixed, or variable. With a fixed annuity, you’re guaranteed to earn a minimum rate of return, making them relatively safe investments. Variable annuity returns hinge on how underlying annuity investments, such as mutual funds, perform which can make them riskier. Indexed annuities strike a middle ground in terms of their risk/reward profile.

Annuities can provide a steady stream of income in retirement, something that might feature in many people’s investment goals. What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that rates of return generated can vary from one annuity to the next. It’s helpful to understand how to compare index annuity rates side by side to find the best one for your needs.

What Is an Indexed Annuity?

An indexed annuity, or fixed index annuity, is a specific type of annuity product that can yield a minimum guaranteed rate of return along with a rate of return that’s linked to a stock market index. For example, the annuity’s performance may be based on the performance of the S&P 500 Composite Price Index. This is a market capitalization-weighted index that represents 500 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies.

This type of annuity may be suitable to investors who seek upside potential with built-in downside protection, while enjoying the benefits of tax-deferred growth. Indexed annuities may also be favorable among investors who lean toward a passive versus active investing strategy.

What Are Fixed Index Annuity Rates?

Fixed index annuity rates are the guaranteed minimum rate of return on an annuity. Rather than tracking with interest rates, the fixed index annuity rate is benchmarked against a particular index.

How Fixed Indexed Annuities Work

Fixed index annuities have two phases: the accumulation phase and the income phase.

Once you purchase a fixed indexed annuity, the accumulation phase begins. This is the period during which your annuity earns interest on a tax-deferred basis. The amount of money you have in the annuity, also referred to as the contract value, can fluctuate over time based on how the underlying index that the annuity tracks is performing.

Annuity returns are typically recalculated every 12 months, though the annuity contract should spell out how and when return calculations occur. It’s important to keep in mind that the contract may specify a cap rate, which represents the maximum positive rate of return an indexed annuity can earn.

The income or annuity phase is when payments are made back to you from the contract. These payments can be made periodically or be delivered in a single lump sum. Additionally, they can last for a specified time frame or for the duration of your natural life. If you’re married, indexed annuity payments can also continue to be paid to your spouse after you pass away. The annuity contract will detail the payment schedule.

For example, in the accumulation phase, an annuity might pay out a minimum of 3% with a 7% rate cap (even if the index is tracking at 11%). In the income phase, the fixed index annuity might be paid monthly starting at a predetermined date, and pay out across the lifetime of you and/or your spouse.

How Are Fixed Index Annuity Rates Set?

Broadly speaking, index annuity rates are tied to the index they track. So again, this could be an index like the S&P 500 Composite Price Index or the Nasdaq 100.

With a fixed index annuity, the annuity company guarantees a minimum interest rate alongside the interest rate generated by the underlying index.

When setting fixed index annuity rates, annuity contract providers typically use several factors to determine how much of a return is credited to the contract owner. The actual rate of return realized from an indexed annuity can depend on:

•  Cap rate
•  Participation rate
•  Margin/spread fees
•  Riders

Here’s more on how each one affects fixed index annuity rates.

Cap Rate

Cap rate represents the upper limit on returns that an annuity can earn over time. So for instance, an indexed annuity that has a 3.5% cap rate would limit the returns credited to the annuity owner to that amount—even when the underlying index produces a higher rate of return. Generally, cap rates fall somewhere between 3 and 7% per year.

Participation Rate

If the index an annuity tracks goes up, the participation rate determines how much of that gain is credited to an annuity owner. For instance, if the index increases by 10% and the participation rate is 80%, an 8% return would be credited.

Margin/Spread Fees

Also referred to as an administrative fee, this fee can deduct a set percentage from index gains. An indexed annuity that realizes a 10% gain and has a 3% spread fee, for example, would yield a net credited return of 7%.

Riders

Riders can be used to enhance fixed indexed annuity benefits. For instance, you might choose to add a rider that would guarantee lifetime income payments to your spouse if you’re married. Expanding the annuity’s coverage can result in added premium costs, which may reduce credited returns.

What Is a Good Fixed Index Annuity Rate?

A “good” fixed index annuity rate is one that results in a rate of return that aligns with your objectives and needs. Index annuity rates can also vary based on the length of the contract term. Cost is also an important consideration, as indexed annuities can charge a variety of fees, including administrative fees and surrender charges, which may apply if you decide to cancel an annuity contract.

The top index annuities are the ones that offer the best combination of high rates and low fees. It’s also important to consider an annuity company’s ratings before purchasing an indexed annuity. Annuity Advantage can offer insight into how financially healthy an annuity provider is and how likely they are to be able to make annuity payments back to you when the time comes.

Is an Indexed Annuity Right for You?

Fixed index annuities can offer the potential to earn higher rates of return compared to traditional fixed annuities. At the same time, they may be less risky than a variable annuity product since they track an index rather than investing in the market directly.

Investment risk management is an important part of any strategy for growing wealth, even when you’re starting from scratch with building an investment portfolio. Indexed annuities aim to help with balancing that risk while creating an ongoing stream of income to rely on in retirement.

That said, it’s also important to consider how fixed index annuity rates compare to the rate of return one could earn by investing in the market directly. For example, you may see better returns by investing in individual stocks. That does involve taking more risk but individuals with a longer timeline until retirement generally have a broader window to recover from market downturns.

The Takeaway

A fixed index annuity offers investors a minimum guaranteed rate of return along with a rate of return that’s linked to a stock market index. While fixed indexed annuities do offer some advantages, they may not suit every investor and it’s important to research index annuity rates to find the right one.

If you’re in the early stages of building a portfolio, SoFi Invest is a great place to start. Whether you want to begin investing in ETFs, stocks, or trade cryptocurrency, or you prefer hands-on investing or an automated approach, SoFi Invest can help.

Find out how to invest with SoFi.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments.
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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.

SOIN21035

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