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Learn more about term deposits

A term deposit is an account into which you deposit your money, and it is then locked up for a certain period of time and at a specified interest rate.

During this time your funds are locked, so you cannot access it. If you do, you will usually incur a penalty fee.

When the term ends, you can choose to reinvest (or ‘roll over’) some or all of the funds, or you can withdraw it all.

The right term deposit, with the highest interest, can help you reach your savings goal faster.

What should I look for in a term deposit?

The first thing to look for is the highest interest rate on your money, by shopping around different banks and financial institutions for the best rate. Interest will usually vary with the length of term you deposit your money for and will often be tiered, according to how much money you want to lock in.

Another thing to consider with interest rates is the interest payment frequency. That is, how often interest is paid to you. This may happen monthly, quarterly, annually or when the term expires.

Although most institutions will charge you a penalty fee for withdrawing some or all of your money before the end of the term, some will allow you to withdraw a portion of your money beforehand without being charged (usually called ‘advanced notice’ term deposits). If you think there’s a possibility that you may need to withdraw some of your money early, think about choosing a term deposit with partial withdrawal allowance.

However, be aware that some banks now have a 31-day rule (meaning you need to give 31 days’ notice before you can withdraw) and this information may not be spelled out to you. Check the PDS, or else you could be in for an unpleasant shock if you need access to your money on short notice. The withdrawal penalty could even be greater than the interest you’re earning. That means that, in the worst case scenario, you could get back less than your original deposit.

Is it possible to increase my earnings in a term deposit?

Although it is true that you don’t have much control of your money once you’ve locked it into a term deposit, one way to get the highest interest rates in Australia is to choose a term deposit that offers compound interest rather than simple interest.

Simple interest means that the interest is simply paid on your initial deposit at the end of the term (for example, if you deposit $10,000 at 5 per cent for a year, then at the end you’d get back $10,500). Compound interest means that interest will be paid into your account regularly during the term and will be added to the principal sum. This means that you earn interest on your interest, which therefore makes you more money.

What interest rate should I look for?

All things being equal, you want your term deposit to have the highest interest rates in Australia.

There are a few variables that go into finding the highest interest rate. As mentioned above, they will vary according to the amount you lock in and the length of the term.

On the one hand, if you invest for a short period (such as one year or less), interest rates may increase, meaning that your money is free to reinvest at a better rate (if there is one – remember, rates can fall too).

On the other hand, if you lock in your money for a longer period to secure a good current rate, and interest rates go up, then you cannot take advantage because your money is tied up. You may be able to withdraw early by paying a penalty fee, but that fee could negate any advantage of the early withdrawal and reinvestment.

One way to address these issues is ‘laddering’ your investments. This means not putting all your money into one term deposit but instead having a number of different term deposits, each with different maturity dates. That way, you’re not locking all your money away if rates rise, leaving some money free for you to take advantage of the highest interest rates in Australia.

Final thoughts on interest rates

When the Reserve Bank of Australia sets the official cash rate at a low level, term deposit interest rates can sometimes be lower than the interest you’d earn with a savings account.

That said, by locking in your rate, you also lock in certainty for the term, so you know exactly what your money is doing for you.

As with any investment, it’s a matter of finding the best solution for your personal needs.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What is a term deposit rate?

The term deposit rate is the agreed interest rate for your term deposit. It remains fixed for the term of the deposit.

For example, if you deposit $5,000 for 12 months at a 2.5 per cent term deposit rate, that 2.5 per cent term deposit rate will be fixed for the entire 12 months and won’t change until the term matures.

The term deposit rate is one of the most important factors to consider when comparing your term deposit options. The general rule of thumb is that the longer the term, the higher the term deposit rate.

Term deposits are a popular type of investment because they’re safe and provide reliable returns.

The return you get on your term deposit will be determined by the amount you initially invest, the amount of time you choose to invest it for, and the term deposit rate.

What is the best term deposit rate in Australia?

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.

Is term deposit interest taxable?

The interest that you earn from your term deposit is considered taxable income. Because your term deposit interest is taxable, it should be disclosed on your annual tax return.

It’s important to note that circumstances may differ depending on whether you provided the account holder with your tax file number (TFN). If you did not supply your bank or other financial institution with your TFN, they are typically required to withhold tax from your interest earnings.

If you’ve invested in a deposit that lasts longer than 12 months, you’ll need to claim your earned interest in the year that you received it. For example, if you receive interest monthly, you’ll need to claim your earnings at the end of the financial year. However, if you only receive interest at maturity, you should claim your earnings in the year that you received the lump sum of interest.

Can I break a term deposit?

One of the main components of a term deposit is your agreement that you won’t access your money until your term has expired. However, life can hand us unexpected expenses, and you might be asking yourself, “Can I break a term deposit?”

In most cases, you are able to withdraw money early from your term deposit, but it will usually come with a penalty. The penalty amount will vary from bank to bank, which is why it’s important to understand your deposit’s early withdrawal policy.

You should also be aware that some financial institutions enforce a waiting period for early withdrawals. This waiting period is typically up to 31 days and commences after you submit a request to withdraw your funds.

What is a fixed term deposit?

A fixed term deposit is a safe and stable way to earn a fixed return on your cash investment.

Fixed term deposits are essentially bank accounts where you lock your money away for a fixed period and earn a fixed interest rate on those funds.

Fixed term deposits can be both short term, which is usually anything under 12 months, or long term, which can be up to 10 years.

Once the fixed term has ended, the bank or financial institution will give you back your initial deposit plus any interest you earn during the fixed term period.

Depending on the type of fixed term deposit account you open, when the term matures, you may have the option of rolling the funds over for a new term or withdrawing the funds.

Unlike other savings or transaction accounts which offer variable interest rates and flexible features, fixed term deposits offer fixed interest rates, which means the amount of interest you earn will remain the same during the term of the deposit.

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.

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.

How do I pay tax on term deposits?

Just like your regular income, the interest you earn on term deposits is taxable. You might be wondering, “How do I pay tax on term deposits?” The tax you pay on your interest will depend on the length of your term and when your interest is paid.

You should pay tax on any interest that you have received within the current financial year. For example, if you receive monthly interest payments, these payments should be claimed on your tax return. However, if your term deposit is longer than one year and you will only receive interest at maturity, then you will pay tax on your interest in the year that you receive it.

Paying tax on your interest is much like paying tax on your income. The money you have made in interest should be claimed on your tax return along with any other income in that year.