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.
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.
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:
- The size of your deposit
- The duration of the term
- 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.
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.
If you’re ready to add a term deposit to your financial strategy, there’s likely one question on your mind: what is the best term deposit rate in Australia?
Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer to this question.
That’s because if you want to find the best term deposit rate in Australia, you first need to understand the nature of interest rates themselves. The financial market is always moving, with interest rates moving up and down and special offers being introduced and withdrawn.
As a result, whatever the best term deposit rate in Australia is today might not be tomorrow.
So to find the best term deposit rate in Australia, it’s best to ignore the past and to instead focus on today’s market. Compare term deposits to find out the current rates and find the right term deposit for you.
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.
The latest in term deposit news
Today's top term deposit products
Find popular term deposit lenders from a wide range of Australian. View All >