Certificate of deposit sales have perked up a bit with the hikes in short-term rates, though volume is far below the gold-rush times of a few years ago. Smaller banks, especially, see CDs as a key funding source--but they've had to throw in some bells and whistles to draw looks from consumers distracted by the mutual fund avalanche.
One of the loudest whistles was heard in Chicago, where little Peterson Bank offered a one-year CD whose rate was set to double from 4.4% if the U.S. soccer team won the World Cup. Before the competition kicked off, the American squad's odds were listed at 80-1. They made it to the second round before losing to the fabled Brazilians on July 4, so Peterson's bet is safe.
Peterson, with $165 million in assets, offered its $2,000-minimum-balance CD through June 17, on the eve of the Cup's first matches. Kevin Tynan, a Chicago marketing consultant who developed the program, called it "an opportunity (consumers) can't get from the bank down the street." Tynan says the CD garnered about $500,000 in 10 days, well below what the bank had hoped, but brought it publicity in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today--and attention it had never had before.
A more conventional, if complex, CD is being offered by Bank Leumi Trust Co. of New York, a unit of the Israeli-owned bank. Dubbed the "Triple Choice Time Deposit," the two-year product gives depositors a trio of options.
Once during the two years, for instance, a customer can lock in at higher rate should rates rise. And he or she can double an initial investment by making a series of deposits, up to 100% of the original balance, during the first year. The third option is a corker: Customers can withdraw up to 50% of the current balance without penalty, with the remaining balance continuing to earn interest at the current rate.
Then there's a Banc One Corp. offering, which actually sounds like a throwback to the toaster and television giveaway days of yore. In lieu of one year's interest on a CD, Banc One will give its customers a free airline ticket on American Airlines. Given the low rates that most banks still pay on their CDs, that ticket might not get you very far.