The World’s Highest Interest Rates at Offshore Banks in 2020

Dateline: Yerevan, Armenia

Armenia just may be one of the hidden gems for tourists in the world.

My new favorite hotel here, The Alexander, is quite possibly the best five-star hotel I’ve stayed at in the last year. Service here is excellent, from the surprisingly authentic Mexican restaurant to the surprisingly present shops selling Ferragamo scarves.

What Yerevan also has is a diaspora that demands high-quality products and services. Armenians live in Los Angeles, Paris, and all around the world, then return home to impose what they’re learned overseas.

One thing those other countries don’t have, though: among the world’s highest bank interest rates.

I’ve spent a lot of time in this part of the world over the years, buying multiple properties in Georgia and opening bank accounts across the region. Now, I’m turning my sights to a newly reform-minded Armenia, which is also one of the best places to hire remote workers.

But let’s talk about banks. While interest rates on US dollar accounts have risen slightly thanks to Fed interest rate hikes, the idea of earning 1.8% in a US bank isn’t exactly exciting, even if that interest is now tax-free to me as a former US citizen.

That’s where foreign banks come in.

HOW TO EARN THE HIGHEST INTEREST RATES

While depositing money in US dollars, euros, or British pounds in developed world banks can seem safe and should likely comprise a good chunk of your cash portfolio, there are other options.

While I wouldn’t rush to open a Turkish lira term deposit given recent events, there are other currencies that I expect to appreciate or at least remain flat against my benchmark US dollar. That means that holding other currencies that return far higher interest rates can be beneficial to me.

There are also emerging world banks that desperately need US dollars or euros, and will pay handsomely for it. Again, there is risk in that the institution itself may not be as sound, but in many cases you can find banks that are supported or owned by larger banks or wealthy family offices.

Basically, you can get paid for taking one of two risks: institutional risk or currency risk. Those are both substantial risks, but I would argue that with careful planning, you can eliminate all but the illusion of both risks. I love investing in places that have relatively low risk, but which are perceived as high-risk by the average guy sitting in an armchair in Adelaide or Cardiff or Lawrence, Kansas.

After all, most people in the world outside of the western world are having their money returned to them, too. Invest in stable currencies in well-managed banks and, as long as you get your money back with interest, you haven’t lost anything but you did get paid more for the risk. You may even get more banking privacy.

With that said, let’s examine several of the countries paying the highest interest rates on your term deposits.

But first, a disclaimer…
Information here is based on my personal experiences and opinions, and may change rapidly, so you should always confirm interest rates and other material facts for yourself. This article may not be continuously updated. Banking and investing in foreign countries and foreign currencies carries risk, and no blog article can take your risk tolerance or personal situation into account. Use this information as a guide but don’t rely on it with your own money, and don’t blame me if a foreign currency loses value or an offshore bank causes you issues.

Now, on to the list of banking jurisdictions.

COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST INTEREST RATES

Georgia Term Deposit Interest Rates

Georgia is an excellent country to plant flags, and their banks remain highly modern and foreigner-friendly

GEORGIA

Let’s start just north of here in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi. I’ve said before that Georgia is quite possibly the easiest place in the world to open a bank account. While many banks are confused by FATCA or make the process unnecessarily slow, you can still open an account in Georgia with ease if you know where to go. What’s more, Georgia offers among the highest interest rates for deposits in its local currency.

Georgian banks have recently lowered deposit rates on US dollars, which seems odd seeing that US banks have raised theirs. If your goal is to hold dollars, you can do better elsewhere. However, if are open to holding Georgian lari, you can enjoy rates near 10% on short-term deposits. While the lari lost some of its value against the dollar several years ago, it has held relatively steady ever since. I personally don’t see

The largest banks in Georgia – TBC Bank and Bank of Georgia – are both traded on the London stock exchange and currently offer rates of 9.4% on one-year term deposits; rates may be slightly lower for non-residents. UAE-owned Terabank currently offers 10.5% and offers a convenient branch in the Biltmore Hotel, although their process is slower.

Smaller banks may offer more or less, but I’ve generally found these to be the best. Liberty Bank, the government’s designated bank for handling pension payments, is often mentioned as an alternative with its higher interest rates, but you’ll pay for the privilege with their terrible service. Furthermore, many smaller banks used to dealing with locals won’t understand why a foreigner wants to open a term deposit in Georgia, and you may well be rejected (as I once was at Liberty Bank).

Applying for Armenian citizenship by descent

To apply for Armenian citizenship by descent, you’ll need to travel to Yerevan – Armenia’s capital city.

ARMENIA

Like Georgia, Armenia offers high interest rates on its local currency, the Armenian dram. A forex trader of mine likes the recent fundamentals of the dram against the dollar, which has has very low volatility as of late. Armenia’s new, more reform-minded government may help buoy the currency further.

Opening a bank account in Armenia is relatively simple. In fact, if you’ve opened an account anywhere in the former Soviet Union, you’ll likely see a lot of similarities in how things are done. There are several decent banks, although some of them have a less modern feel owing to Armenia’s greater orientation toward Russia. Two exceptions are Ameriabank and Evoca Bank.

Evoca Bank is almost too cool for school, with hip advertising painted across Yerevan, and a website that is a bit too sexy for a bank. As a smaller but growing bank, they’re also a bit more particular about new accounts crossing all of the “T”s before being opened. However, they do pay 9.5% on a one-year term deposit denominated in dram.

While Armenian banks don’t offer compelling rates on US dollar deposits, they do offer a rather unique opportunity for internationalization: holding Russian rubles. While any bank worth its salt offers dollars and euros, a relatively small number offer the ability to hold Russian currency. Interest rates on the ruble are also a bit underwhelming given past volatility, but if you need or want access to the ruble as an alternative currency, Armenia is a great place to do it.

Azerbaijan Term Deposit Interest Rates

Azerbajian is one of the easier places in the world to open a bank account, which fits its stereotype as a “hot money” haven.

AZERBAIJAN

We might as well list all of the Caucasus countries, and Azerbaijan rounds out the list. Honestly, Baku was my least favorite place to open a bank account in the region; the process felt a bit labored, required two visits in the same day, and involved less English fluency than in Georgia or Armenia. However, Azerbaijan is wide-open to foreigners opening accounts and the country now offers an easy e-visa program. If one banks’ FATCA form was any indication, they’re not exactly on the ball over there, which honestly may seem like a good thing but probably isn’t.

Azerbaijan has a LOT of banks, although at least one of them has been taken over by the central bank as of late. The International Bank of Azerbaijan and AccessBank are among the biggest and easiest to work with, although there are foreign banks operating there, too.

AccessBank currently offers 10% on a 12-month deposit in Azeri manat if you take the interest at the end of the term. (Many foreign banks allow you to take interest upfront or intermittently in exchange for a lower rate.) While the manat suffered declines against the US dollar several years ago just as the Georgian lari did, it has historically been the least volatile. If manat isn’t your preference, you can also earn 3% in dollars or 1% in euros.

Cambodia Term Deposit Interest Rates

Cambodia is an often-overlooked yet dollarized frontier market for banking

CAMBODIA

I’ve been an advocate for investing in Cambodia since 2007, long before I ever wrote about it here. Cambodia has a small domestic market but is seeing huge investments from China now; the beach town of Sihanoukville from which I reported here years ago saw housing prices double in just one year thanks to Chinese investment.

What many people don’t know, however, is that Cambodia has also seen an influx in banks. Everyone from Malaysia’s RHB and CIMB to Public Bank, as well as Bank of China and Bank of India, have joined longstanding foreign banks like ANZ in serving Cambodia. There are also several good local banks, and many of these offer excellent interest rates.

Banking in Cambodia offers a unique proposition: not only are US dollars in high demand, but the local Cambodian riel is essentially as good as the US dollar. The riel has hovered just above 4,000 to the dollar ever since I first visited Cambodia, and I don’t see that changing much. The biggest challenge you’ll have in Cambodia is bureaucracy; many banks want you to have at least a business visa and at worst a local referrer to open an account. My friend Reid at InvestAsian has been working on a streamlined process for opening bank accounts.

Canadian-owned ABA Bank is currently paying a rather generous 4.75% on one-year US dollar deposits. Switch that deposit to Cambodian riel and you’ll earn 6.25%. That’s not a huge premium but might be worth it given the low volatility. Microfinance institutions will often pay even more; Korean-owned Woori Bank was paying 8% on US dollars last I checked. If you can find a good microfinance institution with good ownership, you can create excellent risk arbitrage, although you’ll need to be on the lookout for teaser rates like these.

Turkey Term Deposit Interest Rates

Turkish banks offer access to a large number of currencies, including their own declining lira

TURKEY – The World’s Highest Interest Rates

Banking in Turkey used to be a lot easier; back in the early 2010s, you could simply walk into a bank branch and open an account. Today, the process is made complicated by the requirement for a Turkish tax ID number, a requirement that my Turkish contacts tell me every bank follows diligently. Add that to the recent free fall of the Turkish lira and geopolitical risk, and you may be turned off by the idea of banking in Turkey.

However, this article is about high interest rates and Turkey certainly offers those, even as President Erdogan implores Turks to have faith over the currency collapse.

As of my writing this, the best way to earn high interest in the Turkish lira is with a (oddly-numbered) 92-day term deposit. Turkey has plenty of banks, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Garanti, which is offering anywhere from 15.5% to 17.5% depending on how much you deposit. If you think the lira has hit rock bottom, you can enjoy double-digit rates while waiting for it to appreciate, although analysts I talk to don’t see that happening in the near term.

Separate from high returns, one thing that is interesting about some Turkish banks is the ability to hold gold and a variety of hard-to-get currencies. Garanti, for example, offers time deposits in dollars, euros, British pounds, Swiss francs, and Japanese yen. Rates won’t be good, but you can access these currencies with nominal deposits that are often available only to priority banking customers in other countries.

Mongolia Term Deposit Interest Rates

Mongolia was once acclaimed for its sky-high interest rates, but the tugrik has lost value

MONGOLIA

I last visited Mongolia about a year ago and opened a bank account of my own. I made a video about the process, which I found somewhat painful and frustrating. For one thing, I couldn’t find almost anyone who spoke much English in Mongolia outside of the Shangri-la Hotel. I also couldn’t find many bankers who understood why the heck someone born in the United States would visit Mongolia to open a bank account.

For years, offshore websites have been exalting the virtues of banking in Mongolia. The two best banks I found – Golomt Bank and Khan Bank – do open accounts for foreigners. Khan Bank is currently offering a robust 5.4% on US dollar deposits, meaning if you hold dollars now, your only real risk is with the bank itself. Golomt Bank pays an impressive 3.3% on euros, and also offers similarly priced deposits in Chinese renmibi; both of which are hard to find with such great rates.

If you deposit in Mongolian tugriks, however, you’ll earn 14% with Khan Bank and 13.3% with Golomt Bank. And there’s the rub. For years, people talked of taking an “easy” 14% and paying for any currency depreciation with the high interest. Then the tugrik fell 50%, and a lot of “easy” interest was wiped out.

For me, Mongolia is an interesting but rather ballyhooed place. It’s not particularly easy to cheap to get to, nor is it very exciting. Few people speak English, and I get an odd feeling about the banks from experts there I spoke to. Mongolia is interesting to me as an exotic option, but I find it’s been overhyped due to its natural resources.

Uzbekistan Term Deposit Interest Rates

Uzbekistan’s currency has suffered against the dollar, but offers a large double-digit yield

UZBEKISTAN

The Uzbeki som – the national currency of Uzbekistan that even I hadn’t heard of until recently – had been steadily losing value against the US dollar until 2017, when it suffered a one-day loss of half of its value. Likely not the place you want to open a term deposit.

Despite its flawed currency, Uzbekistan’s banks do offer one bit of reassurance in that no bank has been liquidated with unsettled liabilities since the country gained independence in 1991.

Few of Uzbekistan’s twenty-six banks have entered the digital world with working websites that display interest rates, let alone offer competent online banking services. Then again, Central Asia is among the world’s final frontiers, and barely one-third of its citizens even use the internet.

If exotic post-Soviet currencies are a risk you’re willing to take, Asaka Bank – one of the better digital banks – will pay you 17% for a one-year deposit in the Uzbeki som. Other banks pay similar rates; Trustbank at 16%, Asia Alliance at 15%, and Ravnaq Bank at a paltry 11.8%. US dollar accounts are available at 4% APY, a rate you can outperform in other countries.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: May 30, 2020 at 3:39PM

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32 Comments

  1. Max

    Thanx for the article Andrew. Great as always. But check once more for gaps and text mistakes.

    Reply
  2. Pol

    Very interesting post 🙂

    Do you have to go in person to Georgia to open a bank account in there?
    If so – is it enough with just 1 visit, let’s say for a couple or three days, in Georgia to open a bank account and then a term deposit?

    And finally – do you have to go to Georgia to close the bank account if necessary?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Jordan

      You do need to go in person, but in my experience opening an account and term deposit can be done in 20 minutes. 2-3 days is more than enough. Closing a bank account can be done remotely.

      Reply
  3. Robert Paul Spencer

    Interesting article. Especially liked the part when you talk about the two types of risk present. Most people don’t even discuss such things, but those are very important to keep in mind. I would think there would be a certain amount of regime (political) risk in certain places as well?

    Reply
  4. Vince Cox

    Nepal interest rates are “ruthless” and any poor locals in Kathmandu attempting to improve their lot will fork out around 12% annually for th3 privilege … eg borrowing to start a resaurant or guest house …

    Reply
  5. Chris Rogers

    Hey Andrew,

    thanks for the amazing article and work what you do.
    Do you have any info about FACTA/CSR reporting from these countries to another (USA/EU)?
    Thanks

    Reply
  6. Capt Md Faizur Rahman

    Dear Andrew, Whenever I look for some info on various issues your site, from Google search, gives me the best answers I needed. Thanks for keeping posted. Regards

    Reply
    • Andrew Henderson

      Happy to be of help.

      Reply
    • Andrew Henderson

      Thanks, Captain.

      Reply
  7. RPL

    Thanks for great article. I think Iran is one if the countries that offers high interest rate. However it’s not safe to invest money in Rial as it’s dramatically dropped against Dollar.

    Reply
  8. Aries

    Thanks for the article bro. Looking for places overseas to park some cash.

    Reply
  9. Ilker

    Hi.I am a Turkish citizen and as you said turkish money is very volatile.Right now tl interest rate is raised to %25 and usd/tl parity dropped to 5.11 from 8.00 in 3 months.So if you invested in tl in the past 3 months , then you won a fortune.However I choose to invest on dollar and dollar interests rates in Turkey is higher than almost all of the countries in the world.Lots of banks offer %6-%4 interest rates and all banking accounts are insured automatically by Turkish federal reserve bank.Thus I would recommend Turkey than Georgia,Armenia,Colombia.. Because you can get a %6 USDollar interest rate and free government insurence. A keynote: I heard that some banks give up to %8 US interest rate if your money is more than a millon dollar

    Reply
    • Ahmed

      Can you name a bank to deal with, please?
      as a foreigner i will have residency upon opening the account there or not
      Thanks in advance

      Reply
  10. Sdirco

    Is it easy to exchange the GEL to USD?

    Reply
  11. Dan

    What about Vietnamese banks ?

    Reply
  12. john

    so whats the one year term or so long ? you have so long to put money in or you only get interest for a year ? don’t understand how savings account works ? i do it , i want to put it in and let it grow .

    Reply
  13. P. Iqbal

    Dear Sir, Thanks for the nice article. I wish to know the USD term deposit interest rate offered by Argentina Banks and the risk for depositing money with Argentina Banks. Thanks and best Regards.

    Reply
  14. Hy Chanpheara

    I am living here, Cambodia. To me , saving in Cambodia is very stable and earned interest from 7% to 8.15% annually. The important is that you can withdraw monthly interest from your savings account. When you come to open Fixed or Time deposit with Micro Finance Institution, they will give the option to you: your interest will pay annually or monthly. You need to open two account; one is savings account and another one is Fixed or Time deposit account. Your interest you earned from Fixed or Time deposit account will credit to your savings account, so if you have huge amount of money you can deposit and get monthly interest for your daily expense and travel freely here.

    Reply
  15. DEBARCHAN BISWAS

    For a non resident is it difficult to open an bank account in uzbekistan? What all docs are needed?

    Reply
  16. Boshra B Ghattas

    What about Egypt , I heared they offer high rates, but what are the risks?

    Reply
  17. DAVID ALTMINC

    do you have to pay any taxes in cambodia for interest earned at bank deposit cd?

    Reply
  18. indie1

    you forgot to mention india
    state owned safest banks and usd deposit will get you 3.3% interest

    Reply
  19. Debarchan Biswas

    I have asked this question earlier but nobody replied.For a non resident is it difficult to open an bank account in uzbekistan? What all docs are needed?

    Reply
  20. Daniel Luster

    I think your list of countries with banks with high-interest rates is very splendid. 🙂

    Reply
  21. Bharat

    Thank you for this interesting piece.
    That said it is surprising that one of the most stable and economically fast developing democracies of the world was left out – India.
    No one has lost money by putting it into an Indian bank so far.
    Nationalised and private banks offer upto 8% on deposits in INR and about 4% on foreign currency.

    Reply
  22. Cindy

    What is the safest Bank with High Interest rates on CDs in the World?

    Reply
  23. Wolfgang

    I’d say Bank of Georgia. 4.95% on USD 5 year coupon CD. Interest is paid monthly.

    Reply
  24. Octavia

    Hello and thank you for your work and your book is a must read. As a Canadian do l still need to fill out FATCA forms if l represent a non- US corporation and deal in non-US funds ?

    Reply
  25. Charitha

    I couldn’t, understand how to deposit money online. Tell me
    How I deposit and get interest
    Monthly. When of time how
    I withdraw whole money

    Reply
  26. Robbie Kingsley

    Andrew, I assume you have not been to Belarus. I went there in March 2020 and opened a bank account at VTB Bank. I get very good interest rates and also got a VISA debit card into which the interest are paid. The customer service after you left is not very good, so make sure you ask all of your questions before you leave. They are very “Online – minded” – thus not old fashioned. They try to make everything “online friendly”.
    Another bank there to check out is Belgazprombank. I should have also check them out – I regret I did not – but I had limited time. I had a visa for only 4 days. It’s a long way to go back there from South Africa !
    Both above 2 banks are actually Russian Banks. The state-owned Belarusbank I would say is the 3rd option. There are many banks, but these 3 is my top picks after weeks long research.
    The government guarantees all deposits. I would say I sleep well. Also, you can check out the relative stability of their currency BYN to the Euro on XE.COM

    Reply
  27. Titau Bwebwenibeia

    This is interesting and wonder What is the limit amount to open an account in Georgia?

    Reply

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