So you’ve managed to save up a lump sum of money, and you want to watch it grow with a competitive interest rate. Perhaps you’re worried that you’ll be tempted to dip into your savings for non-essentials?

A term deposit could be a great option to help you grow your savings and stop you from spending them.

Here are a few ways to compare term deposit products in Australia and make sure you find the best term deposit for you.

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Learn more about term deposits

What is a term deposit?

A term deposit is a financial product that fixes your interest rate for a set amount of time, usually between six months and five years. You will be paid a fixed interest rate on your account balance during this fixed term, and will not have access to your money during this fixed period, unless you break the term deposit and pay a penalty fee. As the term length and interest rate are set in advanced, it's relatively simple to work out how much interest you can earn in interest by using a term deposit calculator. 

When comparing term deposits in Australia, remember that interest can be paid monthly, annually or at the end of the term. Some term deposits may even pay interest quarterly. The higher your interest payment frequency, the more you could potentially earn through compounding ‘interest on the interest’ already in your term deposit account. However, sometimes the interest payments from your term deposit can be paid into a separate nominated bank account.

Can I break a term deposit?

Yes and no. If you wish to withdraw money from your term deposit before the end of the term, you can usually do so by paying a break fee. You will need to read the fine print on your term deposit agreement to find out how much it may cost to make an early withdrawal. Make sure to take this into account before signing up to a term deposit, so that you know what sort of penalty you’ll be looking at if you need access to your money quickly.

However, many Australian banks have also now introduced ‘unbreakable’ term deposits – although these term deposits are not actually unbreakable. But they do require 31 days’ notice before any funds can be withdrawn. This is something you might want to investigate while comparing term deposits.

Also, make sure to check the conditions of your term deposit before signing up. The banks may not always advertise a term deposit’s break fees or advance notice period, so try to avoid being caught off-guard and left unable to access your money when you need it.

Should I use a term deposit or savings account?

Savings accounts and term deposits are similar, in that they both let you earn interest on your savings over time. They're also both covered by an Australian government guarantee in the form of the Financial Claims Scheme. This deposit guarantee covers up to $250,000 per account holder per Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI, including banks, credit unions and other non-bank financial institutions). 

In general terms, term deposits have historically had better interest rates available than savings accounts. However, make sure to compare a few savings accounts and term deposits if you are tossing up between the two. Interest rates are always changing, and you may find the rates available for savings accounts are comparable, or even better, than term deposit rates.

Savings accounts do also allow you access to your money at any time, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your circumstances. If you are concerned that you could be tempted to spend some of your savings, a term deposit could be a relatively low-risk option to lock away your money for a predetermined period of time. This can be beneficial if you have recently reached a savings goal, and want to make sure your money stays where it is while also earning interest.

Keep in mind that you may need to fulfil certain terms and conditions to qualify for high interest rates on some savings accounts. For example, savers may need to make minimum deposits, or make no withdrawals from a saving account to receive the higher bonus interest rate rather than the lower base interest rate.

How to compare term deposits online

When making a term deposit comparison, start by deciding in no uncertain terms what you can and cannot commit to. Make sure you know how much you can afford for your minimum investment, and for how long. This may mean creating a separate emergency fund, and leaving a portion of your savings in it so that you never need to break the term.

Knowing the minimum deposit you’ll be investing and for how long will reduce the number of term deposits you need to compare, as many have minimum and maximum term lengths and deposit amounts. Most term deposit products have a range of terms available, offering different interest rates.

The next, and probably most important item to consider are different interest rates. Like with savings accounts, when making a term deposit interest rate comparison, the general rule of thumb is the higher the better. Short term deposits are more likely to have lower interest rates than long term deposits, and the higher the minimum investment, the higher the rate of return may be. 

Make sure to also check if there are standard and special interest rates. Some term deposits will offer higher interest rates for the first three months or so, as an incentive to sign up new customers. You may want to check that your choice of term deposit can deliver the value you’re looking for over its entire term, and not just for part of it.

As well as looking at a term deposit's rate of return, you may also want to compare how different term deposits handle rollovers. Once the term comes to an end, the bank may automatically rollover or reinvest your savings into a new term deposit, often with a similar term length and interest rate. You may want to make a fresh term deposit comparison in the lead up to your rollover, in case you find another option that could better suit your needs, possibly with another financial institution. 

If you already bank with a financial institution, you may be able to set up an online term deposit with relatively little fuss. Of course, there may also be other term deposit options available elsewhere that could better suit your financial situation.

Is a term deposit right for me?

A term deposit could be a great option for you if you have a savings lump sum, and wish to invest it relatively safely for a set period of time. Term deposits are also helpful for those of us who struggle not to dip into our savings, as they effectively remove the option altogether.

On the other hand, if you prefer or need to have instant access to your money, or want to continue to grow your savings, a term deposit may be too restrictive, or may not deliver enough value.

Before you start comparing term deposits, make sure to weigh up your financial situation, personal objectives and preferences so you know what you can and can’t commit to. Check the terms and conditions and any relevant product disclosure statements that may be available for any particular products, and consider contacting a financial counsellor for financial advice.

Frequently asked questions

Can you take a term deposit out early?

If you are considering a term deposit, you may be wondering if you can take out your money early. It is possible to break a term deposit, but it will cost you both time and money.

Many banks require 31 days’ notice if you wish to break a term deposit. This means that if you need money urgently for an unexpected expense, it may not be worth breaking your term deposit. Make sure to read the fine print to see if this wait period applies to the term deposit you are considering.

You will also most likely need to pay a breakage fee in order to access your funds, and you may also incur a reduced amount of interest. All of this information – including the fee amounts – should be available in the term deposit product disclosure statement (PDS), so ensure that you read the fine print before committing.

How do you calculate term deposit interest?

If you’re ready to open a term deposit, there’s a lot you’ve already figured out. You’ve decided on the length of your term and found the best interest rate, but there’s something you still might be wondering. How do you calculate term deposit interest?

One of the easiest ways to calculate term deposit interest is by using a term deposits calculator. However, you can also estimate your total earnings on your own.

A fixed interest rate signifies what percentage of your original balance your term deposit will earn annually. For example, a deposit of $1,000 at an interest rate of 3 per cent will earn three per cent of $1,000 annually – meaning you’ll earn $30 of interest each year.

You can estimate your interest using three variables. Multiply together your deposit amount, interest rate, and term length and you’ll approximate the interest a deposit will earn. For example, if you invest in a term deposit for $5,000 at an interest rate of 3 per cent for two years, your interest would total $300.

How often do term deposit rates change?

One of the advantages of a term deposit is that this type of investment enjoys a fixed interest rate. This means that the interest rate that you have signed up for will not change during the period of your term deposit, regardless of rising or falling market interest rates.

However, it is important to be aware of the end of your term deposit. Once your term ends, whether this is in three months or three years, many banks will default to rolling over your deposit into a new term, sometimes with a lower interest rate. Once your term deposit rolls over, you will then be locked into this new fixed interest rate for another term.

Make sure to use the grace period at the end of your term to your advantage. Shop around for a competitive interest rate and reinvest your money accordingly.

Can I negotiate a fixed term deposit rate with the bank?

“Can I negotiate a fixed term deposit rate with the bank?” you may be wondering.

Many banks welcome negotiation when it comes to term deposit rates, especially with deposits of over $100,000. Even if your deposit is lower than $100,000, it may be worth a discussion with your bank.

Negotiating with your bank could secure you a higher fixed rate, which will earn you extra interest over your term. You may also discover bonuses or special offers you can acquire through your bank.

Securing the highest interest rate possible is the key to making the most of your term deposit. You may have compared deposits online or discussed your options with a financial adviser, but you also might be wondering about negotiation in order to get a better rate.

What is a term deposit account in a bank?

A term deposit account in a bank is a type of investment where you lock away a portion of your savings for a fixed period in return for earning a set amount of interest.

Opening a term deposit account in a bank is a safe way to earn a stable return on your investment of cash.

Term deposit accounts can be a good way to give your savings an extra boost without the need to actively watch or manage your funds during the term of the deposit.

Term deposit accounts in a bank are a popular type of investment because they’re safe and there’s very little risk that you could lose your money.

If you make a term deposit of up to $250,000 with an authorised deposit-taking institution, it’s guaranteed by the Australian government, which means there’s virtually no risk of losing your money and you’re guaranteed return.

Interest rates vary depending on the length of the term, the amount you deposit and the bank you choose.

What is the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit?

The best interest rate for a fixed term deposit changes all the time, as interest rates move up and down and banks compete with each other to win market share.

To find the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit, it’s helpful to understand how interest rates are applied to term deposits.

There are three factors that determine the fixed interest of term deposits:

  1. The size of your deposit
  2. The duration of the term
  3. The frequency of interest paid

Term deposits vary in duration from one month to five years or more. Interest rates generally work on a sliding scale; shorter terms get a lower rate, longer terms get a higher rate.

Here are a couple of examples of how interest is applied to term deposits.

  • A $10,000 term deposit taken out over 12 months, with interest paid at maturity, might receive a fixed interest rate of 2.20 per cent.
  • A $10,000 fixed term deposit taken out over 12 months, with interest paid quarterly, might receive a fixed interest rate of 2.00 per cent.

Using the size of your deposit, the duration of the term and how often you want to be paid interest, you can shop around for the best interest rate for a fixed term deposit.

Can students make term deposits?

If you are a student who has managed to save some money and are looking for a safe investment option, you may be considering a term deposit. Most term deposits (and other bank accounts) are open to anyone who is at least 18 years old.

There are also some term deposits open to younger students, some even without an age limit. These term deposits are usually opened on the student’s behalf, by their parent or guardian.

A term deposit is generally a safe investment option, especially if you want to make sure you can’t touch your savings for a set period of time. If you are 18 or older, shop around for a competitive interest rate before committing. If you are under 18, speak to your parent or guardian to get started.

How long is a term deposit?

A term deposit refers to when you lock your money in an account for a certain period of time and at a specified interest rate. You will not be able to access your money for the length of the agreed term without incurring a penalty fee.

A long term deposit generally refers to a term deposit that lasts for more than 12 months – which in some cases may be as long as 10 years.

Usually, the longer you store your money, the better the interest rate you’ll get, so a long term deposit will tend to pay higher interest than a short term deposit.

At the end of the term, you can roll over the money (plus the interest you’ve made during the term), or you can withdraw it all.

Which bank has the best term deposit rates?

If you’ve been shopping around for a term deposit, you might be wondering which bank has the best term deposit rates.

Term deposit rates will generally be affected by the amount you choose to deposit and whether you opt for a short or long term deposit.

Longer term deposits tend to have higher interest rates than shorter terms. The trade-off for earning a higher interest rate on your term deposit is that you can’t access your funds for the duration of the term deposit.

When comparing which bank has the best term deposit rates, it pays to do your research and compare how your funds will fare over the short and long term.

Unlike home loans or savings accounts which give you the option of fixed or variable rates, term deposits are always fixed, which means you get a guaranteed amount of interest over the term of the deposit.

Can you add money to a term deposit?

When you open a term deposit, you agree to lock your money away for a set period and earn a fixed amount of interest during that period.

Where everyday transaction accounts give you the flexibility to deposit and withdraw funds as frequently as you like, term deposits trade flexibility for higher interest rates.

Once your funds are deposited in a term deposit, they’re fixed for the length of the term, meaning you can’t add additional funds midway through the term.

When the term deposit matures, you may have the option to add additional funds and roll the funds over for another term, or you may choose to withdraw the money at that point.

If you have extra funds to invest, you could consider opening an additional short term deposit account or a high-interest savings account.

It’s worth noting that you can withdraw the funds midway through the term, but a penalty is likely to apply.

How safe is a term deposit?

You may have heard that a term deposit is a type of investment, different to a traditional savings account. All investment comes with inherent risk, so it’s important to know how safe a term deposit is before committing.

Term deposits offer a fixed interest rate which is guaranteed, so you do not have to worry about rising or falling interest rates when investing. You can add up how much interest you will earn over your fixed term, and this will be paid into your account per the conditions of your term deposit.

Term deposits with authorised deposit-taking institutions are also guaranteed for up to $250,000 by the Financial Claims Scheme, so you don’t have to worry about the bank collapsing either.

The only inherent risk of a term deposit is if you may need to break it early. If this happens, you will need to pay a breakage fee and possibly sacrifice some of your interest as a penalty. But if you know you can invest a certain amount of money for a fixed period of time, you can rest assured that a term deposit is a safe investment option.

Will term deposit rates increase?

While there’s no definite way to predict when term deposit rates will increase, it may help to understand some of the factors that influence term deposit interest rates.

The official cash rate is set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). When the RBA either increases or cuts interest rates, it influences the interest rates set by banks.

The other factor that determines when term deposit rates will rise is competition between banks. Banks may increase their term deposit rates or offer higher rates as an incentive to win new customers over or increase their market share.

Term deposit interest rates will also change, depending on how much you invest and how long you invest.

How do term deposits work?

Term deposits are flexible, low-risk, and earn you interest over time. But before you apply to open a term deposit, you might be wondering: how do term deposits work?

A term deposit is an agreement you make with a financial institution. This agreement will specify a certain amount of money that you will give the bank for a certain amount of time. In return, you’ll earn a fixed amount of interest on your deposit throughout your term.

Term deposits work as an exchange between a financial institution and an individual. You can think of your term deposit as a loan to the bank. Because you’ve loaned the bank your money, they’re willing to pay you interest on your deposit.

How do you break a term deposit?

If you have found yourself in sudden need of funds, you may be wondering how to break your term deposit and access your savings.

If you need to break your term deposit, your first step should be to check the terms and conditions with your bank or provider. Many banks now require 31 days’ notice before you can access the funds in your term deposit, so in many cases you should first notify your bank that you will be breaking the term.

Once you have notified the bank and know when you will have access to your funds, you will then be liable to pay a breakage fee. Check with your provider to see how much this fee will be. You may also need to sacrifice a percentage of your interest as a penalty for breaking the term early.

Once you know when you will have access to your funds, and how much you will need to pay to do so, you are in a good position to decide whether you want to break your term deposit.

What is a term deposit?

A term deposit is an investment savings account. A term deposit usually pays a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account, with the interest rate fixed for the term (or duration) of the deposit.

You can open a term deposit account for one month or up to five years depending on your investment goal, and invest as little as $500 to start earning a profit.

With a term deposit, you get to decide how much you want to invest (the principal or deposit), for how long (the term or duration) and the frequency of interest payments.

A term deposit represents a secure form of investment, unlike trading in shares or purchasing real estate. And a term deposit up to $250,000 is protected by the government guarantee.

Can children have term deposit accounts?

It’s many parents’ wish to invest money for their child early, so you might be asking the question, “Can children have term deposit accounts?”

The short answer is yes. You can open a term deposit with funds that will be used to support your child. There are two options when it comes to opening a term deposit for your child. The first is that you open the term deposit in your name rather than theirs. Opening the deposit in your name means that you have full control over the deposit and can withdraw money by signing a request.

You can also open a deposit in your child’s name, but you should consider waiting until your child can sign his or her name, as well as understand their term deposit account. If your child isn’t old enough to sign a request for withdrawal, you won’t have access to withdraw the funds if you need to.

Are term deposits covered by the Australian government guarantee?

Yes, term deposits are covered by the Australian government guarantee.

Under the Financial Claims Scheme, the Australian government guarantees term deposits up to $250,000, capped at one person, per financial institution.

This means that your term deposit (if it’s $250,000 or less) is protected in the unlikely event the bank, building society or credit union collapses.

If you have more than $250,000 in a term deposit with one the one bank, for example, then only up to $250,000 of your principal is covered.

If you’ve got more than $250,000 and you wish to invest in a term deposit, you could consider dividing your money between term deposits and banks (limiting each deposit to $250,000 per bank).

That way all of your deposits are protected by the Australian government guarantee and you will not suffer any financial losses.

Are term deposits compounded?

Term deposits can be compounded, depending on what you choose to do with the interest.

There are two ways to receive interest from a term deposit: either a lump sum at maturity; or paid on a regular basis, usually monthly. If you get your interest paid regularly, you can get it paid into a transaction account, or back into the term deposit account. By using this second option, you’re getting interest paid on your interest. In other words, it’s compounding.

Having the money paid into a transaction account means you can access it for your day-to-day spending, while compounding the interest means you get a better overall return on your investment. Both have advantages, depending on your needs, but be aware that some term deposit accounts that pay interest regularly may offer a lower interest rate to offset the effect of compounding.

Are term deposits worth it?

Ultimately, whether term deposits will work for you will depend on your particular financial needs.

Term deposits can be a great way to get your money working for you. By locking it away and forgetting about it for a period of time, it can earn interest for you. If you have the interest paid on a regular basis, rather than at maturity, you can either have some extra spending money or you can reinvest it into the term deposit to compound.

Of course, locking your money in a term deposit means you cannot access it for the length of the term, without paying a penalty for early withdrawal. This can remove the temptation to spend the money, while it also earns interest.

Can an international student have a term deposit?

If you’re looking for a steady way to grow your funds as an international student, you might be considering the possibility of a term deposit. Banking for overseas students can be complicated, so you might be wondering, “Can an international student have a term deposit?”

So, can an international student open a term deposit? The answer is yes.

Several banks around Australia offer term deposits to international students. Some banks even have specific accounts and offers designed for those who study overseas.

In general, large banks will offer several options for international students. If you have already opened an account with a bank, it might be best to start by discussing your options with your chosen bank.