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Learn more about term deposits
What is a long term deposit?
A long term deposit is usually a term deposit that is longer than 12 months. Your lender will invest your money for a longer fixed term at a fixed interest rate.
Generally, the longer the term deposit, the better term deposit interest rate you’ll receive from the lender. Long term deposits are a low-risk investment option, as you can deposit your sum of money and forget about it while you build up interest.
How does a long term deposit work?
A term deposit is an amount of money set aside with a lender for a fixed amount of time. The lender returns your money, plus an agreed amount of interest, on the completion of the term deposit.
Sarah makes a long term deposit of $10,000 with a lender. It’s for a term of 24 months with an agreed term deposit interest rate of 3 per cent.
At the end of that 24-month term, the lender returns Sarah’s $10,000 deposit plus the $600 earned in term deposit interest.
How do I apply for a long term deposit?
- Use comparison tools
Tools, such as RateCity.com.au’s comparison tables and calculators, allow investors to search and compare the most competitive term deposit account for their financial needs.
- Choose your term deposit
Financial institutions will traditionally allow you to apply for a term deposit online, in person at a branch or via phone. If you think you’ve found the most competitive long term deposit account, you can speak to the lender directly for more information before you apply online.
- Verify your identity
Like with most financial products, the long term deposit provider will need to verify you are the person you say you are through proof of identity checks (submitting your driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate etc.).
- Make a deposit
Once everything has been approved, you’ll now need to deposit the lump sum you want to lock away and accrue interest over a fixed long term period.
What is the difference between long and short term deposits?
Type of term deposit
Why choose this type of term deposit?
Short term deposit
A deposit that’s locked in for less than 12 months. Usually the minimum is one month.
1. You benefit by being able to reach your money sooner.
2. Gives you the opportunity to shop around for a better rate once the term is up, instead of being stuck with one rate for several years.
Long term deposit
A deposit that’s locked in for more than 12 months.
1. Bigger interest reward for letting lenders mind your money for a longer period of time.
2. A low risk investment option, as you can pass on your sum of money and forget about it while you build up interest.
What do I do when my long term deposit matures?
It’s crucial that you call your provider immediately when your long term deposit matures, otherwise the long term deposit account may automatically roll over into a new one, and you could be hit with a fee to try and get out it.
According to ASIC’s MoneySmart
You must remember that term deposits are not 'set and forget' investments.
“When your investment is maturing, your bank or credit union will write and tell you how much interest you've earned and explain what your options are. If you do nothing, your term deposit may automatically roll over into a new one. This may have a lower interest rate than the original or other similar products”.
What is the best term deposit in Australia?
While there is no one ‘best’ term deposit, the simplest way to choose a long term deposit that best suits you is to match it to your financial goals.
- If you want to make money in the short term (perhaps for an overseas trip or to pay for house renovations), then a short term deposit will probably work better for you. Short term deposits can also be a good choice if you’re a first-time investor and feel nervous committing to anything long-term.
- If you have longer-term financial goals, have more cash or assets at your disposal, and are comfortable locking away a sum of money for a longer time, then a long term deposit is probably better suited to you.
What are the pros and cons of long term deposits?
Pros of a long term deposit:
- Term deposits can rival the interest earned on savings accounts
- Lock in one fixed term deposit interest rate for the length of the term
- Lock your funds away for up to 10 years
- Less volatile and therefore lower risk
- The longer the term, the higher the interest rate you’re likely to receive
- Unlike high-interest savings accounts, there’s no minimum deposit requirement
Cons of a long term deposit:
- If your financial circumstances change, and you need to access your funds before the end of the agreed term, you’ll likely be penalised
- Long term deposits require forward thinking to ensure the term deposit suits your long-term financial needs
- ‘Setting and forgetting’ your loan could see it roll into a new one, and you may be fined trying to close the new term deposit
- Term deposit interest rivals savings accounts interest
- Lock funds away
- Lower risk investment
- Longer the term = higher the interst rate
- No minimum deposit
- Early exit fees
- Must suit your future needs, which no one can predict
- Can't 'set and forget' term deposit or you could face fees
Personal Finance Writer
Alex is a personal finance writer and PR professional at RateCity, and has been writing about finance for over three years. She is passionate about closing the gender pay and superannuation gap, and aims to help young Aussies to overcome their financial apathy and better manage their finances. Alex has been published in numerous print and online outlets, including Money Magazine, Lifehacker Australia, and Business Insider.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Is a term deposit an asset?
The short answer is yes – a term deposit is, indeed, an asset.
Regardless that the funds are locked away for a fixed period, when it comes to the balance sheet, it’s considered an asset.
Aside from being an asset, term deposits are also cash investments which are held at financial institutions like banks or credit unions.
Term deposits work by investing a set amount of cash in a bank account for a fixed period at a fixed interest rate.
When you deposit your money in a term deposit, you’re agreeing to lock it away for a predetermined period, ranging from short-term periods of one month all the way to long-term periods of up to 10 years.
Term deposits are a popular way to boost your bottom line by investing your money and increasing the value of your asset.
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.
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.
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 secured term deposit loan?
A secured term deposit loan is a personal loan that’s secured by a term deposit. To take out a personal loan that’s secured by a term deposit you would need to go through the same bank.
Generally, secured term deposit loans offer a lower rate of interest than standard personal loans. This is because the interest generated by your term deposit offsets the interest applied to the loan.
A secured term deposit or term deposit secured loan enables you to leave your money invested in a term deposit while still being able to make significant cash purchases.
This type of personal loan usually offers many of the same features of a standard loan, including: redraw facility, variable and fixed interest rate options, and the ability to make extra repayments.
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:
- 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.
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.
What should I know about ING’s business term deposit rates?
ING Direct offers several term deposit options for businesses looking to save over some time.
The business term deposit rates ING offers are compounded annually, meaning that the interest earned after the first year is added to the amount you originally deposited.
During the second year, the interest is calculated on the new amount. If you close the term deposit once it matures, you can ask for the money to be transferred to your business account either with ING or another bank. You can also renew the term deposit and choose to reinvest the total amount earned through the earlier term deposit. Alternatively, you can opt to renew with just the sum you originally deposited, and withdraw the interest earned.
You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $10,000 for at least 90 days if you open a term deposit with ING. In the current low-interest environment*, the annualised interest rate for a 90-day deposit is 0.05 per cent. This means you’d earn $1.25 over a three-month term if you deposit $10,000.
If you opted for a longer time frame, such as two years, you’d get an annualised interest rate of 0.30 per cent on your deposit. If you deposited $10,000, in two years the interest accrued would amount to approximately $60. Again, this is an estimate only based on current rates.
* Rates correct as of January 2021
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.
What is a short term deposit?
Sometimes you only want to tie up your money for a short period, maybe because you want to make a quick return on a large sum, or just to have more flexibility and access to your money. That’s where a short term deposit can come in.
Short term deposits are usually less than 12 months (e.g. 30 days, 90 days, six months or 12 months), though you will still not be able to access your money for the length of the term without incurring a penalty fee.
At the end of the term, you can roll your deposit over, or you can withdraw it. An advantage of short term deposits is that you can take advantage of higher interest rates with a different financial institution, if they are available.