Worried About Market Volatility? Consider Opening a CD

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What we’ll cover:

  • Fixed-rate CDs are less vulnerable to the ups and downs of the stock market.
  • CDs are generally considered low-risk because you get the return of your principal along with any interest accrued at the end of your term.
  • CDs are an important component of a well-diversified financial strategy.

It can be unsettling whenever the stock markets experience volatility. Sudden dips in your portfolio can scramble your confidence as an investor. 

During times of volatility, some may wonder if there are “safer” alternatives to investing their money in the stock market. Of course, no investment or savings vehicle is ever 100% safe.

But there are certain savings accounts that are better shielded from the ups and downs of the market. Interest-bearing accounts offered by banks such as a certificate of deposit (CD) is one example that readily comes to mind.

Let’s take a closer look at how CDs might offer some stability in times of market uncertainty and how they are an important component of a well-diversified financial strategy. But first, if you’re not familiar with how CDs work or just need a refresher, check out our Guide to CDs, which breaks down the basics.


When the stock market goes through a downturn, it can be a wake-up call for some people to revisit their savings and investments.


CDs are less vulnerable to the ups and downs of the stock market

A CD is a common type of deposit account offered by banks – a savings vehicle that can typically help you earn, depending on the terms, a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. 

In comparison with stocks, CDs are generally considered low-risk because you get the return of your principal (read: original deposit) along with any interest accrued at the end of the term. On top of this, your money is insured if you open an account at a FDIC member bank (up to $250,000, per depositor, per category of account). 

Earnings from a fixed-rate CD are also more predictable: You know exactly how much interest you will receive at the end of your term – no matter what’s going on in the market. The same, however, cannot be said for investments in securities like stocks, where there is no guaranteed rate of return. And with the stock market, while there’s an opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than a CD, bear in mind that you also face the potential risk of losing the money you originally invested.

In this way, fixed-rate CDs are better shielded from market downturns than stocks. Even if the market takes a stomach-dropping tumble, your rates are locked in for a set amount of time. This is why CDs are often a vital component of any savings strategy.

CDs can help diversify assets, providing shelter when the stock market takes a hit

Given that they are relatively low-risk, some might be inclined to think that CDs could be an “alternative” or replacement to stocks when the markets are struggling. But it’s important to understand that a well-thought-out financial strategy isn’t about whether you should put your savings towards CDs or stocks. In other words, it shouldn’t be an either-or strategy. 

The goal is to strike a balanced approach with diversification in mind. Stocks and CDs both have their respective roles to play as you work towards your short-term and long-term financial goals. 

For example, if you have an aggressive retirement savings strategy where stocks make up a good portion of your portfolio, then CDs are a good way for you to diversify your assets, helping to provide some stability whenever the stock market goes through swings in the near term. 

Bear in mind that CDs are generally intended to help you reach short- or medium-term savings goals, while investing in stocks or other securities can help you reach your long-term financial goals (think: retirement). And that’s because, historically, stocks tend to provide higher returns than CDs over the long run.

Learn more: Saving vs. Investing: What's the Difference?

The importance of planning ahead

When the stock market goes through a downturn, it can be a wake-up call for some people to revisit their savings and investments. But generally, it’s good practice to review your assets and financial strategy on a regular basis — not just during times of volatility. 

Why? Because you may not want to be shifting your money around when the market is shaky. For instance, selling stocks while the market is spiraling can lock in your losses and hurt your portfolio in the long run. 

Similarly, thinking about CDs only when the market is in turmoil can hurt your ability to lock in a favorable interest rate. Keep in mind that rates tend to fall when there’s an economic downturn, so if you wait to open a CD when market conditions are grim, you might receive a lower interest rate offer from banks (that is, when compared to rates that were available during better market conditions).

Bottom line: Consider opening a CD when interest rates are up.

Getting Started

Ready to open a CD? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Think about the length of term you’re comfortable committing to.
  • Find the right type of CD for your savings goals and timeline.
  • Determine how much money you can deposit and shop around for the best rates.
  • Make sure your CD account is held at a FDIC member bank.

Remember, CDs can lock up your cash for a certain period of time depending on your terms. And breaking a CD (withdrawing your money early) can often result in penalties (unless you have a no-penalty CD). So make sure to think carefully about how much of your savings you can really afford to commit before opening an account.   

The good news is that there are CD strategies that you can use to give yourself a little wiggle room. CD ladders and CD barbells are two common strategies that can give you some flexibility to access a portion of your savings in the near term.

If you have questions about how to put together a CD strategy that's appropriate for your needs and goals, consider speaking with a financial advisor.

Ready to lock in a fixed rate for a guaranteed return? Save with confidence when you open a Marcus high-yield CD.

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