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Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit


A Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a type of CD where the interest rate can change periodically based on an index, often the Treasury Bill rate. Unlike fixed-rate CDs, this allows the interest earned to potentially increase over time. However, it also presents more risk as the rate could decrease as well.


The phonetics for “Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit” would be:”Vair-ee-uh-buhl-Rayt Suhrt-uh-fi-kit uv Dee-pah-zit”

Key Takeaways

  1. The Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit has an interest rate that can change, unlike regular CDs which have a fixed interest rate. The rate is often based on a benchmark or index, like the prime rate or the Consumer Price Index.
  2. This Certificate of Deposit generally offers more flexibility compared to traditional CDs. It allows the depositor to capitalize on improvements in market rates but poses a risk if rates go down.
  3. Even with its advantages, a Variable-Rate CD often requires a larger initial deposit and higher balance requirements to earn the variable rate. This means it may not be suitable for all investors, particularly those with limited initial investment amounts.


A Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a key financial instrument in business and finance because it allows investors to take advantage of rising interest rates. Unlike a traditional fixed-rate CD where the interest rate remains constant throughout the investment period, the interest rate of a Variable-Rate CD adjusts during the term based on changes in the market interest rate. This offers the benefit of increased returns if market rates go up, making it an attractive investment option for those who anticipate higher rates in the future. However, it also involves a risk, as returns could decline if the rates fall. Thus, the importance of the Variable-Rate CD lies in its potential for higher returns and its role as a valuable tool for investors in a volatile interest rate environment.


A Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit (CD), also referred to as an adjustable-rate CD, is a savings tool primarily employed by individuals and businesses looking to maximize their return on investment and retain flexibility. The main purpose of Variable-Rate CDs is to allow investors to benefit from market fluctuations in interest rates. The nature of the instrument allows the interest rate to adjust over the CD’s term, hence the term “variable”. This makes it an attractive investment option, particularly in an environment where interest rates are projected to rise.

Variable-Rate CDs essentially provide individuals and institutions with an opportunity to capitalize on potential upward movements of interest rates, rather than being locked into a fixed rate for the entire term. By doing so, they help maximize the returns for the investors without them having to switch their investment vehicle. Additionally, some Variable-Rate CDs may offer features like increased liquidity options, such as the ability to withdraw funds earlier than the maturity date without penalty. This provides investors with versatility in managing their funds and potential economic shifts.


1. Wells Fargo Variable Rate CDs: Wells Fargo, a prominent financial institution in the US, offers variable-rate CDs with an interest rate that adjusts at specified intervals. These are a suitable option for investors who expect interest rates to rise in the future and want to leverage this anticipation.

2. Ally Bank Raise Your Rate CD: This is another example of a variable rate certificate of deposit. Ally bank offers a 2-year term CD where you have the option to increase your rate once over the term if the Ally’s rate goes up. This gives you flexibility to take advantage of rising interest rates.

3. Barclays Callable Step-Up CD: This is a unique type of variable rate CD offered by Barclays. In this case, the interest rate increases at predetermined intervals throughout the term of the CD. However, Barclays retains the right to “call” or close the CD after a certain date. In each of these examples, the essence of a Variable-Rate CD manifests, that being a certificate of deposit with a fluctuating return rate based on some pre-determined index or market rate change.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit?

A Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit, often abbreviated to VRCD, is a type of Certificate of Deposit (CD) where the interest rate can change during the term of the CD, usually in response to changes in the overall market interest rates.

How does the Variable-Rate CD differ from a regular CD?

In a typical CD, the account holder agrees to deposit a specified amount of money for a set time period at a fixed interest rate. However, with a Variable-Rate CD, the interest rate can change over the lifespan of the CD based on a predetermined formula or contingent on market fluctuations.

Is the Variable-Rate CD risky?

Just like any investment, there is some level of risk involved. The risk lies in interest rates falling, in which case, the return on your Variable-Rate CD would decrease. However, these CDs also carry the opportunity for higher returns if the interest rates rise.

When does the interest rate of a Variable-Rate CD change?

The timeline on when the interest rate changes for a Variable-Rate CD depends on the terms agreed upon when the CD is opened. Some may adjust annually, semi-annually, or at some other specified interval.

Can I withdraw money from a Variable-Rate CD anytime?

No, similar to traditional CDs, you are required to keep your deposit in the Variable-Rate CD for a specified duration. Early withdrawal could result in penalties.

Who should consider investing in a Variable-Rate CD?

If you believe interest rates are likely to rise in the future, a Variable-Rate CD could be a good investment. It’s a way to hedge against future rate increases, with the flexibility to earn more if rates do indeed rise. However, if rates fall, your return could be less than with a fixed-rate CD.

How can I purchase a Variable-Rate CD?

Variable-Rate CDs can be purchased at most banks, credit unions, or brokerage firms. Be sure to shop around for the best rates, and fully understand the terms and conditions of the CD before making a commitment.

Related Finance Terms

  • Interest Rate Risk: This refers to the risk of rate fluctuations which directly affect the value of a Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit.
  • Prime Rate: It’s a reference interest rate used by banks. The Variable-Rate for Certificates of Deposit could be tied to this rate.
  • Time Deposit: This is a term for any deposit account that requires a fixed term or period of time before you can withdraw funds, like Variable-Rate Certificates of Deposit.
  • Liquidity: Pertains to how quickly an asset like a Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit can be converted into cash without affecting the market price.
  • Yield: This term refers to the earnings generated and realized on an investment over a particular period of time, and is expressed as a percentage based on the invested amount or on the current market value or face value of the security. Variable-Rate Certificate of Deposit generates a yield based on varying rate of interest.

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