5 Year Index Annuity Rates March 2021
Index Annuity Buyers Guide
In this guide, we’ll explain what a fixed index annuity is, how they work, fixed index annuity taxation, current annuity rates, the pros and cons, and how to purchase a fixed index annuity.
Current Fixed Index Annuity Rates
As of March 21, 2021, our best 5 year fixed index annuity S&P 500 annual cap is 4.30% from AIG.
|Annuity Company||Fixed Index Annuity||Rating||Cap||Liquidity
Yr 1 | Yr 2+
|American General Life (AIG)||Power 5 Protector||A||4.30||0% / 10%|
|Atlantic Coast Life||Safe Anchor *FEE FOR WAIVERS*||B++||4.10||0% / 0%|
|Great American (GALIC)||American Landmark 5||A+||4.30||10% / 10%|
|Great American (GALIC)||American Landmark 5||A+||4.05||10% / 10%|
|Great American (GALIC)||American Landmark 5 Non-MVA||A+||3.95||10% / 10%|
|Great American (GALIC)||American Landmark 5 Non-MVA||A+||3.75||10% / 10%|
|Guaranty Income Life||WealthChoice 5||B++||4.50||10% / 10%|
|National Western Life||NWL® Choice Optimizer 5||A||4.00||0% / 5%|
|Oceanview Life and Annuity||Harbourview FIA 5||A-||3.50||0% / 10%|
|Oxford Life||Select 5||A-||4.00||0% / 10%|
|Sentinel Security Life||Personal Choice Plus+ (86-90) *FEE*||B++||4.10||0% / 0%|
|Sentinel Security Life||Personal Choice Plus+ *FEE FOR WAIVERS*||B++||4.10||0% / 0%|
|Symetra||Symetra Edge Plus 5||A||4.25||10% / 10%|
Stay Informed: Rates change frequently - Sign up for monthly rate updates.
What is a Fixed Index Annuity?
A fixed index annuity is a type of deferred annuity that offers upside potential when the market performs and downside protection from a potential market downturn. Rather than guarantee an annual interest rate like a fixed annuity (“CD-Type Annuity”), an indexed annuity credits interest based on the performance of an external market index (such as the S&P 500 ).
NOTE: You may also hear fixed index annuities referred to as:
- Equity Indexed Annuity
- Hybrid Annuity
- Indexed Annuity
Fixed Index Annuities have less risk than a variable annuity because you can’t lose value due to poor market performance. However, they have more risk than a fixed annuity because they come with a guaranteed interest rate; indexed annuities only guarantee the worst you can do in any given year is earn zero percent.
The below chart illustrates where a fixed index annuity falls between a fixed annuity and variable annuity as well as other investment vehicles on the investment continuum. Indexed annuities have increased in popularity largely because they offer the most growth potential of any investment that provides principal protection.
At each annual contract anniversary, the performance of the market index you’ve selected is measured. If the index performs (increases in value) you get a percentage of the growth. The amount of the index performance your FIA is credited to is determined by the crediting method you’ve selected. There are a couple of different index annuity crediting methods but Annual Point to Point is by far the most common so for time’s sake that’s the one we’ll focus on here.
How do Index Annuities Credit Interest?
Annual Point-to-Point Index Annuity Crediting Method
Calculating index performance using the annual point-to-point method:
- The index value from the beginning of the crediting period is subtracted from the value of the index at the end of the crediting period.
- The percentage of change is calculated.
- If the value at the end of the year is higher than the beginning of the year crediting component is applied to determine your interest.
Fixed Index Annuity Example:
- 107,000(ending value) minus 100,000(beginning value) = 7,000 positive change in index value.
7,000 (index value change) divided by 100,000(beginning index value) = 7% index performance.
- A crediting component, or limiting factor, is then applied to the index performance to determine your credited interest rate for the year.
Index Annuity Crediting Methods
Spread – The index performance minus the spread.
Cap – 100% of the index performance up to the cap.
Participation Rate – The index performance multiplied by the participation rate.
Assuming a 5.00% cap, 2.00% spread and a 75% participation rate let us calculate the amount of annual interest a fixed index annuity would be credited using the 7% index performance in our example above.
Cap = 5% Interest credited (100% of index performance up to the cap)
Spread = 5% Interest credited (index performance minus the spread)
Participation Rate = 5.25% Interest Credited (index performance
Available Indexes in an Indexed Annuity
How Do Fixed Indexed Annuities Work?
With a fixed annuity, the insurance company guarantees both the rate of return (the interest rate) and the payout to the investor. The specified interest rate is set up front and so is the length of the contract. For instance, a 5 year fixed annuity with a 3.10% interest rate will pay 3.10% for 5 years guaranteed.
Although the word “fixed” might suggest otherwise, the interest rate on a fixed annuity can change over time. The rate of return can not change during the original guarantee period but it can change after the initial guarantee period has ended (5 years in our example above).
At the end of your initial guarantee period you will be offered a new interest rate which is called a renewal rate. You will typically have a 30 day window to decide whether or not you want to accept the renewal rate or transfer your money somewhere else. You are able to transfer to a new annuity without any tax consequences using a 1035 exchange.
Source: “Learn to Invest, Investment Types, Annuities, Fixed Annuities.” Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Visit FINRA’s Fixed Annuities Webpage
Can I Exchange My Annuity for a New Index Annuity?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to exchange an annuity policy that you own for a new annuity policy without paying tax on the investment gains earned on the original contract. This can be a substantial benefit.
This rule is governed by Section 1035 of the Internal Revenue Code which is why these are called “1035 Exchanges.” Below is a direct link to the complete text of the code.
1035 Exchange Rules
There are a couple of important rules that must be followed in order to receive the benefits of a 1035 Exchange.
- The tax code says that the old annuity policy must be exchanged for a new policy – you cannot receive a check and apply the proceeds to the purchase of a new insurance policy.
- You can 1035 exchange from a life insurance policy to an annuity
- You can 1035 exchange from an annuity to a long-term care policy.
- You can not 1035 exchange from an annuity to a life insurance policy
Here is an example of an actual 1035 Exchange form you would need to complete to move from one annuity to another via a 1035 Exchange.
Advantages of a 1035 Exchange
The primary advantage of using a 1035 exchange to change your life insurance policy or annuity choices is to avoid triggering taxes on those transactions. There are different scenarios where exchanging policies or annuity contracts might make sense. For example, advantages of a 1035 exchange include:
- You need more life insurance coverage than you currently have
- You want to change the type of life insurance policy you have
- You’re looking for an annuity contract with lower fees
- You want to restructure your annuity payments
- You currently own a variable annuity and your risk tolerance has changed
As long as you’re exchanging contracts within the guidelines set by the IRS you all of the above events will be tax-free to you.
Things to Consider When Buying an Indexed Annuity
Available Indexes: The stock market indexes available in the index annuity. We have a list of available stock market indexes available at each insurance carrier for simplicity.
Duration: Typically the longer contract you purchase the higher your guaranteed interest rate will be. But that is not the case, especially given the current inverted yield curve.
Liquidity: Most all fixed annuities have some type of annual free withdrawals, but the amount available varies by product. You’ll see most of the fixed annuities at our marketplace provide interest-only withdrawals annually. Others allow for 10% Free Withdrawals (10% of previous years account value) annually.
Insurance Company’s Financial Rating: It is very important to consider an insurance company’s financial rating because it is an indicator of an their ability to fulfill financial commitments to it’s policyholders. Usually, a lesser rated insurance company will offer higher fixed annuity rates, but that is not always the case.
How is a Fixed Index Annuity Taxed?
The deciding factor on how your fixed index annuity will ultimately be taxed depends ultimately on the money you used to buy it. Whenever a client asks us how are annuities taxed, our first response is where did you get the money to buy it?
Since we are talking about taxes there is no way to say with certainty exactly how your annuity will be taxed. Tax laws and tax rates can and do change all the time.
However, we can make very educated guesses about certain scenarios based upon how annuities have been and are taxed currently. First, we will look at the types of funds you can use to purchase an annuity and explain the differences in how they are taxed.
Roth IRA Annuity Taxation
If you purchase a fixed annuity with funds from a Roth individual retirement account (IRA) or Roth 401(k) it is very likely you won’t have to pay federal income tax at all on the money when you withdraw it from your annuity. That includes the principal and interest.
Firstly, an annuity purchased with qualified funds is considered a qualified annuity. Qualified funds are monies that you have never paid taxes on such as a traditional IRA or a traditional 401(k). It would be nice if the IRS would allow going from tax-deferred to tax-free but that is not the case.
When you begin to make withdraws from a qualified annuity you will pay normal federal income taxes. Meaning, 100% of your annuity is treated as ordinary income and 100% of the funds will be taxed when they are taken.
Qualified Annuity Taxation
A non-qualified fixed annuity is an annuity purchased with after tax-dollars such as money from a taxable personal savings or checking account or a personal brokerage account.
If you own a non-qualified annuity, you will only pay income tax on the gain in your contract but not the money you used to purchase the annuity. The money used to purchase a non-qualified annuity is considered the “basis”. Insurance companies keep track of your “cost-basis” which is the original amount used to purchase an investment.
This “cost-basis” is the amount of money on which you will not pay taxes because you’ve already taxes on it once. The interest earned will be taxed as ordinary income, with a few exceptions that we will discuss momentarily.
Lifetime Income Annuity Taxation
A 5 year fixed annuity can be converted to an income annuity at the end of the initial 5 year annuity contract period via annuitization.
There are really two types of income annuity payout options: lifetime or period certain. A lifetime annuity is an annuity that guarantees payments for as long as you are alive whereas a period certain annuity guarantees payments for a specified period of time.
Remember, if you own a non-qualified annuity you only pay taxes on the interest earned not the original cost basis. So to determine what portion of your monthly payments are taxable there is a calculation that needs to be done to establish what percent of each annuity is principal (or cost-basis) and what percent is interest earned.
These calculations establish your exclusion ratio, or in plain terms, the percent of each annuity payment that is exempt from income taxes. The method of determining the exclusion ratio varies depending on whether you have a period certain annuity or a lifetime annuity. Let’s look at an example for each.
Indexed Annuity Pros and Cons
Like any investment it is important to weight the advantages and disadvantages when considering an indexed annuity. The below fixed index annuity pros and cons lists many of the major points regarding an index annuity.
#1 Gain Compounded Earnings While Deferring Income Taxes
Earnings within an annuity contract are tax-deferred. This means you do not pay income taxes on the earnings until you withdraw gains from your account. Therefore, there are no annual 1099 forms to file or earned-interest entries to make on your 1040. Tax deferral also means that annuity earnings do not offset Social Security benefits as with earnings from bonds, CDs, and other investments.
#2. Earn Higher Interest Rates
Fixed index annuities may credit higher interest rates than bank CDs or fixed interest rate deferred annuities.
#3. Make Contributions to Your Tax-Deferred Account
Investors who have maximized contributions to their qualified retirement plans (i.e. 401k, IRAs, and pensions) are permitted to contribute without limit to a tax-deferred annuity.
#4. Protect Your Principal from Downturns in the Credit Markets
When interest rates trend upward, annuity accounts are insulated from loss of principal; increasing interest rates often negatively impact government bonds and bond mutual funds. Unlike bonds that lose principal value during periods of rising interest rates, the account value of a fixed index annuity is guaranteed.
#5. Retire Early Without Penalty
Annuities can offer valuable tax-savings for employees under the age of 59½ who receive large, lump-sum distributions from their 401(k) profit-sharing plans as part of an early retirement or severance package. Such amounts can be “rolled over” into an annuity policy without having to recognize taxable income.
#6. Satisfy Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)
Retirees over the age of 70½ are required to begin taking withdrawals from their IRA or Pension plans, known as Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). The IRS penalty for not doing so is a substantial 50% of any amount that falls short of the Required Minimum Distribution.
#7. Retire with Lifetime Income
By “annuitizing” your IRA or fixed index annuity, you can exchange its value for an “immediate annuity” income stream in any of several forms (see earlier discussion on “Immediate Annuities”).
#8. Lifetime Income More Flexible Than Annuitization
Pre 591/2 10% IRS penalty.
Fixed annuities are really meant to be used for retirement savings. The IRS issues a 10% penalty on gains withdrawn from a fixed annuity for account holders under age 59½.
FIAs are highly customizable with a lot of moving parts which can sometimes scare people away or make it hard to select the index annuity that best meets your objectives.
Frequently Asked Fixed Index Annuity Questions
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Annuities are distributed by My Annuity Store, Inc. Guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the insurer. My Annuity Store, Inc. does not advise clients on the purchase of non-fixed annuity products. The information presented here is not of tax or legal nature and is not intended to be a recommendation to purchase a fixed annuity, fixed index annuity, variable annuity contract, registered index linked annuity (RILA), immediate annuity (SPIA), longevity annuity, or Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC).
The contract features described may not be current and may not apply in the state in which you reside. Annuities are issued by Insurance companies and contracts are ‘state-specific’. Insurance companies also change their products and information often and without notice. Annuities are subject to the terms and conditions of the specific contract issued by the insurer, are not FDIC or NCUA insured, are not bank guaranteed, may lose value, and are not a deposit. Please call (855) 583-1104 if you have any questions or concerns.
The information presented here is not a representation regarding the suitability of any concept or product(s) for an individual and it does not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. It is important to read the prospectus carefully and consider your objectives, risks, fees and charges associated with the contract. You should always consult your own financial planning, tax, and legal counsel to determine if a fixed annuity, immediate annuity, longevity annuity, or Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract are suitable in your financial situation.