ASK KIM


Ensure Your Accounts Are Safe

Kimberly Lankford

If you have a CD, savings account or other deposit account at a bank with shaky financial footing, you need to be careful of the FDIC limits.



I have a $20,000 certificate of deposit account with Countrywide Financial. Because of the recent bankruptcy fear in the Countrywide mortgage business, I was wondering if my CD is still safe, even though it is marked "FDIC insured" on Countrywide's Web site. Could you please give me your thoughts?

You don't need to worry. Countrywide is insured by the FDIC, and your deposits would be fully insured up to the FDIC limits if the bank were to fail.

Plus, you may be getting a good rate. Some banks with large mortgage businesses are offering particularly high interest rates on CDs and savings accounts right now. See our Yields & Rates links for the top rates.

If you do have a CD, savings account or other deposit account at a bank with shaky financials, though, you need to be careful of the FDIC limits. You're definitely safe as long as you have less than $100,000 on deposit at that bank.

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If you have more money in the bank, your coverage limits depend on the types of accounts you have. You have $100,000 in FDIC coverage for all of your single accounts at that bank (including principal plus interest), another $100,000 for your share of joint accounts, and up to $250,000 in FDIC coverage for all of your money invested in certain types of retirement accounts at that bank. For details, see the frequently asked questions list at the FDIC Web site and the Are My Deposits Insured? page.

If you do have more than $100,000 on deposit at that bank, it's a good idea to use the FDIC's Electric Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE) to calculate how much FDIC coverage you have on each account. Or you can call FDIC at 877-275-3342 (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. eastern time) with questions about your maximums, how FDIC works, or to find out whether a bank is insured.

If you do have more money at the bank than the FDIC limits, then you may want to spread your deposits over several different banks. You'll have $100,000 in FDIC coverage for each type of account (and $250,000 for certain retirement accounts) at each bank.

And it's always important to double check whether the bank is really insured by the FDIC, rather than taking the company's word for it. You can look up the bank's status at the FDIC's Bank Find database.

FDIC only covers deposit accounts at banks, such as certificates of deposit, money-market deposit accounts, savings accounts and checking accounts. It does not cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds or money-market funds.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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