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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Credit union certificates are like bank CDs: You get higher interest rates for your savings if you leave the money alone for a set amount of time.
  • When the certificate term ends, you can take the money out or put it into a new certificate to continue saving.
  • “Laddering” is a way to set up multiple certificates at different maturity dates, so you have consistent access to funds and can take advantage of higher rates.

Time to Read

3 minutes

Navy Federal certificates are great options for your savings goals. They can earn higher dividends than basic savings accounts, so they can help you reach your personal finance goals faster. A credit union certificate is like a bank certificate of deposit (CD), where you choose how much money to put in and the length of time (or term) you want to let your account grow. There’s always a minimum deposit, and you can choose a term length that best fits your plans. You can choose from a few months to a few years. Here are 2 things to keep in mind:

  1. In most cases, the farther away your maturity date, the higher your annual percentage yield (APY).
  2. There may be an early withdrawal penalty if you cash in the certificate before the end of the term.

Once you pick a term, you should keep your certificate in your bank account until it matures.

What Happens as Your Maturity Date Nears

When the term ends, you can access your deposit plus the money it has earned. You’ll get a notice from your financial institution that gives you a grace period during which you must tell them what you want to do with the money. Navy Federal certificates can be renewed up to 21 days after the maturity date. Your financial institution will also tell you what will happen to the funds if you don’t tell them what to do within that timeframe. The money may roll over to a new certificate with a term like your mature one but at current interest rates.

Your Options at Maturity

When a certificate matures, you have a few choices: 

  • Cash out. If you want to use all the funds from your mature certificate for a goal like a down payment or to pay off credit cards, you can have all the funds sent to your checking account. If you want to keep saving but have ready access to your funds, you can put the money in your savings account or look for a higher interest rate such as a money market account. For long-term financial goals like retirement, you could move the funds to an IRA.
  • Renew to a new certificate account. If you want a higher rate and don’t need ready access to your funds, you could renew to a longer-term high-yield certificate. You could also renew only part of the money and put the rest in a new certificate or other savings product.

What If I Withdraw Money Before the Maturity Date? 

The table below outlines the penalties for early withdrawals on Navy Federal certificates and SaveFirst accounts.

Term is...Penalty
1 year or lessYou'll forfeit (lose) up to the first 90 days of dividends earned on the amount of your withdrawal OR all dividends earned since the date you opened or renewed—whichever is less.
More than 1 year and less than 5 yearsYou'll forfeit (lose) up to the first 180 days of dividends earned on the amount of your withdrawal OR all dividends earned since the date you opened or renewed—whichever is less.
5 years or moreYou'll forfeit (lose) up to the first 365 days of dividends earned on the amount of your withdrawal OR all dividends earned since the date you opened or renewed—whichever is less.

If, because of your withdrawal, the remaining balance becomes lower than the required minimum balance, the certificate will be closed and you'll pay the penalty on the entire principal amount.

Certificate Ladders to Step Up Your Savings

Certificate rates change based on interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. Certificate laddering is a way for you to earn more when rates rise and not be as affected when rates fall. Laddering can help you benefit from the higher rates that come with longer terms while still having penalty-free access to your money. 

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Navy Federal’s Certificate Calculator can show you exactly how much you’ll earn with different deposit and interest scenarios.
  2. Navy Federal also offers a Certificate Ladder Calculator to show how managing multiple certificates will pay off.
  3. See the rates offered by Navy Federal for its menu of certificate options.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.