CD Auctions - Fun and (Maybe) a Better Rate

May 6, 2009
Special Feature

Thousands of investors are skipping the financial pages and internet sites when searching for the best CD interest rates, and going directly to CD auction sites where they can find fun and perhaps some profit.

Are you in the market for a nice, safe certificate of deposit? You want to get the best interest rate available, but finding that best rate can mean some significant time spent poring over the financial pages or surfing the Internet. Thousands of investors are skipping the research and going to CD auction sites where they can find fun and perhaps some profit.

At MoneyAisle.com, you plug in the amount you want to invest in your CD and the length of the CD term. More than 100 banks then bid for your deposit, resulting in an interest rate that is very often higher than the going average rate. At Zions Direct, the process is a little more complicated, but basically investors bid on CDs offered by several banks by naming the rate they want on CDs, which are offered in different terms from one month up to a year. There are minimums. Zions Direct bidders must be ready to deposit at least $1,000, while banks in the MoneyAisle network generally won’t bid on any amount less than $2,500. All deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

The current carnage in the stock market has caused an explosion in the number of visitors to these sites. In February, MoneyAisle had about 75,000 visitors, more than five times as many as it had last July, when it opened for business. Zions Direct logged 18,500 visits in March of this year, triple the number it had in the same month last year. Some market analysts chalk up at least part of this upsurge to the entertainment factor, noting that auctions also give investors a feeling of control.