The Help Desk

Your tough questions. MONEY's smart answers.
Presented by

Where can I compare rates for immediate annuities?

August 2, 2012: 6:30 AM ET

Is there a website that provides the best rates for immediate annuities? — Dale D.

First off, a quick definition: Unlike other types of annuities, immediate annuities start paying out right after you buy them with a lump sum payment. Immediate annuities can vary based on the duration of their payments. For instance, they can be "period certain," which pays out over an allotted period of time (typically 5–20 years), or they can pay out over your lifetime and/or that of your spouse. Immediate annuities can also vary based on the calculation of the payments themselves — some are fixed for the duration of the annuity while others may vary based on inflation rates. A number of websites give immediate quotes, but you still have to be careful of hidden fees and surrender charges that won't show up on these sites.

Dr. Steven Weisbart of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry group, offers one option for comparing rates: Plug in your home state, age, and the amount you wish to invest — or the monthly annuity income you want to receive — and the site crunches the data and offers several rate quotes from different companies.

Regardless of the website you use, Weisbart suggests you do some additional research before diving headlong into an annuity. "Don't ride off into the sunset with one Internet site," he says. "At the very least, call the company and make sure that rate is correct."

— Austin Kilham

Got a question for the Help Desk? Send it to

Join the Conversation
Help Desk

Got a question about your money? We want to hear it! Each week we're answering your questions on CNN, Headline News and

Your email or phone number won't be published; we'll use it to get in touch if we need more information about your question.
Help Desk Video
  • NEXT
    Not enough money in America's 401(k)s
    Despite the surging stock market bringing balances to record highs, the average Fidelity 401(k) account has less than $100,000 in it. That's just not enough. Play
  • NEXT
    Explaining Obama's myRA
    President Obama unveiled a new savings plan for retirement accounts, aimed at encouraging people to start building their nest egg. But how exactly does it work? Play
  • NEXT
    Tricks on how to save in your 20s
    Saving for your retirement in your 20s doesn't have to be a financial burden. Prioritizing your expenses is usually the first step in building a nest egg. Play
  • BACK
    Don't get fooled by Black Friday sales
    Here are some of the tricks that retailers use to make you think you're getting a deal. Keep an eye out for them while shopping this Black Friday. Play
Best Tips
Some of the nation's leading business owners, investors, and thinkers share their thoughts on rebuilding your wealth. More
These strategies can help you manage the challenges -- both emotional and financial -- of helping an aging parent from afar. More
You don't need to be fanatical to get to 780. Those in the know say these moves matter most. More
Featured Newsletters

Tips for saving and spending smarter.

Search This Column
View all entries from this: Week, Month
Help Desk
More help for your career, your investments and your budget.
Powered by VIP.