Early Withdrawal Penalties at Major Banks
bank One-year CD penalty Five-year CD penalty
Ally 60 days of interest 150 days of interest
Bank of America 90 days of interest 365 days of interest
Capital one Three months of interest Six months of interest
Chase 180 days of interest 365 days of interest
Discover six months of interest 18 months of interest
Synchrony 90 days of interest 365 days of interest
TD Bank six months of interest 24 months of interest
Wells Fargo six months of interest 12 months of interest

Walking Away With Less Money

When you incur penalties on a CD withdrawal, you can lose money and walk away with less than you deposited, in addition to missing out on interest that you would have earned.

For example, suppose you have a 12-month maturity CD that you cash out in the 11th month. You’ll probably walk away with more than you initially put into the CD—although not as much as it could have been had you held off for one more month.

Continuing with this same example, suppose you were to cash out after two months. You haven’t yet earned the six months’ interest as required by the penalty schedule. However, the bank will still take that amount by deducting it from your initial investment deposit. This action is called “invading the principal.”

How To Avoid CD Early Withdrawal Penalties

If you absolutely must cash out early, look for a way to avoid penalties. First, it never hurts to ask. The staff might waive the penalty for you, particularly if it’s an emergency and if you’re at a friendly institution or a smaller credit union. Otherwise, all they can do is say no.

You can usually qualify for a waiver for death, disability, court-determined incompetence, and other major life events. In those types of cases, speaking directly with a representative is particularly important. Banks are permitted to offer these waivers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. They’re not required to do so by law.


You’ll want to make a request for a waiver in person or over the phone. An automated system isn’t programmed to do you any favors.

‘Liquid’ No-Penalty CDs

Liquid CDs are similar to standard CDs, but they work more like traditional savings accounts in that they allow you to pull money out early. Sometimes, liquid CDs have limits as to how early and how much you can withdraw, and you might have to make at least a minimum deposit, but they’re worth investigating.

Your “locked in” period is relatively short with these CDs—less than a week in many cases. Still, no one would invest in traditional CDs if this option were that easy. Since you have more flexibility, you’ll receive a lower interest rate in exchange for this freedom.


While it is less than a traditional CD, the liquid CD still tends to return more in interest income than the average savings account.

Alternative CD Strategies

You can try to use other flexible options to avoid penalties when you’re tucking your money away in the future. CDs aren’t bad options, but there might be better alternatives if you find that you keep having to pay penalties.

CD Ladders

Laddering CDs is a strategy where you’ll periodically have one of several mature CDs, often on a six-month or annual basis, giving you the opportunity to take the money penalty-free at that time.

Step-Up CDs

Step-up CDs offer more flexible interest rates. Your rate will increase to keep pace when interest rates rise. This alternative can be attractive if your concern is being stuck with a paltry rate for the whole CD term. Again, these CDs pay less on average than traditional CDs.

Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts pay more than savings accounts, but generally not as much as CDs. The advantage is that you can do limited spending from a money market account using a debit card or a checkbook.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are an expensive way to borrow, but if you need money quickly and your CD will mature soon, it might cost less to put emergency expenses on a card and pay it off as soon as the CD matures. However, a much better idea is to keep a solid emergency fund.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you calculate the CD early withdrawal penalty?

The exact penalty your bank will charge you will depend on its policies. But generally, you can multiply the balance by the daily interest rate and then by the number of days of interest. So say you have a one-year $10,000 CD earning 2%, and you withdraw the entire balance early. The daily interest rate would be 0.02 divided by 365 (0.000055). If the penalty is 90 days of interest, you’d calculate it like this: $10,000 x 0.000055 x 90. The result would be $49.32.

However, that’s just an illustration. Your bank may charge you interest on your withdrawal amount only or on the total balance of your account. The penalty may be calculated daily or monthly, and the interest may be simple or compound. The penalty usually depends on the length of the CD term. Contact your bank or consult your account disclosures to obtain the details for your particular account.

When would it make sense to accept a CD early withdrawal penalty?

It’s not ideal to withdraw your CD funds early. But sometimes, it may be your best option. It could make sense to accept a CD early withdrawal penalty if it’s the lowest-cost way to get cash in an emergency. For example, you might find it’s cheaper to pay the penalty than it would be to put an emergency expense on a credit card that charges a high interest rate. Run the numbers to make sure.

A less-common reason you might think it’s worth it to accept an early withdrawal penalty is if interest rates go up significantly after you open your account. If you’ve found much higher interest rates elsewhere, you’d need to be sure that the interest you’ll earn will be high enough to compensate for the penalty of withdrawing from your current account.

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