Are term deposits safe as houses?

Are term deposits safe as houses?

If you’re saving for a home loan deposit and plan to enter the market within the next three years, a term deposit could be a smart place to park your spare cash.

In these days of very low interest rates, term deposits aren’t paying that much. However, they do offer (almost) guaranteed returns. Conversely, if you invest your savings in the stock market, you could earn much higher returns – but might lose the lot as well.

The other potential advantage of placing your savings in a term deposit is that you can’t touch the money, which means you won’t be tempted to use it for holidays, clothing or something other than your property deposit.

Smaller institutions may have higher rates than the big banks

Jason and Nikki* were saving for a home and thought they were two or three years away from being able to buy. They’d already saved $50,000, which was sitting in a regular bank account. After discussing their finances and plans, they decided to split that money in two:

  • Place $10,000 in an on-call savings account, to cover emergencies
  • Invest $40,000 in a two-year term deposit

Jason suggested they take out a term deposit with the same where they were already doing their banking - one of Australia's big four banks. However, Nikki thought a customer-owned institution might offer higher term deposit interest rates. After going online to compare term deposits, Jason and Nikki decided to invest the $40,000 in a two-year term deposit with Hunter United.

Lender

Interest rate

Investment

Final total

Hunter United

1.40%

$40,000

$41,120

Westpac

1.20%

$40,000

$40,960

ANZ

1.15%

$40,000

$40,920

CBA

1.15%

$40,000

$40,920

NAB

1.15%

$40,000

$40,920

Data accurate as of 6 November 2019

The pros and cons of term deposits

Term deposits, like all financial products, come with both positives and negatives: 

  • Your money is locked away – good if you like being forced to save, but bad if you want your money to be on call
  • Your interest rate is set – good if market interest rates are falling, but bad if they’re rising
  • Your first $250,000 is protected by the government guaranteegood if you invest less than $250,000, but bad if you invest more

What’s the government guarantee?

The federal government guarantee, officially known as the Financial Claims Scheme, protects the first $250,000 of any deposit you make with an authorised deposit-taking institution. That means:

  • If you take out a term deposit with a bank, credit union or building society…
  • And it that deposit is less than $250,000…
  • And if that institution collapses…
  • And if that institution doesn’t return your money…
  • And if the government activates the Financial Claims Scheme…
  • APRA (Australia’s banking regulator) will generally reimburse you within seven days

Given the government guarantee, and given that Australia’s banks, credit unions and building societies are unlikely to collapse in the first place, a term deposit may be one of the safest investments you could make.

* Jason and Nikki are not real people. This is a hypothetical case study.

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Learn more about term deposits

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.