If you're debating whether the best place for your money is a certificate of deposit (CD) or deferred fixed annuity, the answer depends upon your individual financial situation and investment objectives.
Both CDs and deferred fixed annuities are savings vehicles used to accumulate wealth. However, these two products are quite different; each has its own unique strengths and uses. For the sake of comparison, let's look at two similar versions of these products — an individually owned, Non–Qualified bank CD and an individually owned, Non–Qualified single premium deferred fixed annuity earning an annually renewable fixed rate of return.
Review the list of objectives and identify those which are most important to you. This will help determine which of these two products is best suited for your needs at this time.
Safety of Principal
Both CDs and deferred fixed annuities are considered low–risk investments. CDs are generally issued by banks and, in most cases, are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for up to $100,000 per depositor. Should the bank fail, the FDIC guarantees CDs up to this amount.
Deferred fixed annuities are issued by insurance companies and are not insured by the U.S. government. They are backed by the financial strength of the issuing insurance company, regardless of the amount. Therefore, before purchasing an annuity, you should make sure the issuing insurance company is financially sound. You can determine financial strength by requesting the findings of independent rating companies such as Moody's, A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's and Fitch. These companies evaluate the financial strength of insurance companies and publish ratings that give their assessments of each company.
When deciding between a CD and a deferred fixed annuity, your investment horizon should be a key factor. Your investment horizon is the amount of time you need to save for a specific goal. For short–term goals, such as a down payment on a home or a new car, a CD may prove to be a better choice. CD maturity periods can be as short as one month or as long as several years.
A deferred fixed annuity is generally the product of choice for the long haul. Deferred fixed annuities are designed to help accumulate money for retirement or to protect funds already saved once you've reached retirement. In later years, a deferred fixed annuity is usually more flexible for accessing your money. They can even be used to provide a legacy for your heirs.
CDs offer a guaranteed rate of return for a specified period of time. Interest rates will vary depending on current market conditions and the length of time to maturity. Generally, the shorter the period of time to maturity, the lower the rate. There is no guaranteed minimum for renewal rates.
With a deferred fixed annuity, a guaranteed interest rate is locked in for an initial period. After that, interest rates may be adjusted periodically, generally each year.
Deferred fixed annuities also offer a guaranteed minimum interest rate, regardless of market conditions.
If taxes are a concern, a deferred fixed annuity may be a better option for several reasons.
Earnings on CDs are taxable in the year the interest is earned, even if you don't take the money out. With deferred fixed annuities, earnings accumulate tax–deferred and are not treated as taxable income until they are withdrawn, which gives you a measure of control over when you pay taxes.
As you can see from the chart below, it makes good investment sense, when saving for the long term, to have the power of tax deferral on your side.
Deferred fixed annuities may also help reduce or eliminate the taxes on your Social Security benefits. By leaving your money in a deferred fixed annuity, you can reduce your taxable income, keeping it below the level where you would begin to owe taxes on your Social Security benefits. With CDs, your interest earnings count in the calculation of how your Social Security benefits will be taxed — even if you don't withdraw the earnings. As much as 85% of your Social Security benefits could end up subject to taxation.
At death, the annuity's account value will be paid directly to your named beneficiary(ies), avoiding the costs and delays associated with probate. This is not the case with a CD, which may be subject to probate. (Please note, however, that both fixed annuities and CDs are subject to estate tax, and the earnings inside a fixed annuity are subject to income tax when paid out. The earnings in a CD have already been taxed when earned.)
If you need access to the funds in a CD prior to the maturity date, you may pay an interest penalty ranging from 30 days' to six months' interest. Of course, you can limit your exposure to surrender penalties by investing in several CDs with staggered maturity dates.
A deferred fixed annuity also provides you with access to your money should the need arise. With a deferred fixed annuity, withdrawals during the first several years are generally subject to surrender charges. Most companies will give you the flexibility, however, to withdraw a portion of your deferred annuity's account value, usually 10% each year, without a company–imposed surrender charge. Once the surrender charge period has expired, you can generally access your money at any time without surrender penalties. Withdrawals may be taxable and, if they are made prior to age 59½, may be subject to a 10% penalty tax.
Distribution Options at Maturity
When a CD reaches its maturity, you can take the CD's lump sum value in cash, renew the CD for the same or different maturity period or examine other investment alternatives (such as a deferred fixed annuity).
In a deferred fixed annuity, you may elect to withdraw your money in a lump sum or you may want to select a lifetime income option, which provides you with a flow of income that you cannot outlive. You could also elect to let your funds continue to accumulate until a need arises.
These are just a few of the factors to consider when making your selection between a CD and a deferred fixed annuity. For more information about annuities, contact your Representative today.
Are Not FDIC/NCUA Insured
Are Not a Deposit
May Lose Value
Have No Bank Guarantee
Are Not Insured by Any Government Agency
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This material is being provided for informational purposes only. Neither New York Life nor its agents provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Please contact your own advisers for legal, tax and accounting advice.
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