Keep reading to find out which countries have the highest interest rates on savings, see how inflation affects those interest rates, and learn about real interest rates.
Interest Rates Today: The Highest Interest Rates in the World
Checking, savings, money market account and CD interest rates in the United States are low. Consider that the national average interest rate for savings accounts is a mere 0.10%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
You might be wondering if rates are better in other countries. The answer is yes — many do offer better savings rates. But there are risks, including unstable governments and economies. Additionally, the FDIC only insures domestic deposits, and some countries have protection that is much less developed. With that in mind, here is a list of countries offering the highest savings interest rates worldwide:
|Top 10 Countries With the Highest Savings Interest Rates|
|Ranking||Country||Savings Interest Rate|
|9||Kingdom of Eswatini||3.08%|
|Source: International Monetary Fund|
How Inflation Factors Into High Interest Rates
When the price of goods and services rises over time, it’s called inflation. A certain amount is healthy, but high inflation rates are a sign of trouble. The problem occurs when consumers buy instead of save, which contributes to higher inflation and weakens the purchasing power of the dollar. To keep inflation in check and encourage saving, the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates on occasion. To understand the effects of a rate increase, assume, for a moment, that inflation is 3%, but you can get 5% interest by placing your money in a savings or money market account. Under these conditions, you might choose to save instead of spend.
Your “real interest rate” is the interest rate minus the inflation rate. In this case, you would make 2% on your deposited money. Although you earn a 5% annual interest rate, the price of goods and services increases by 3% due to inflation, leaving you with 2%. When looking at savings interest rates, you also need to factor in inflation to understand how much money your deposit will really earn.
How Inflation Affects the Top 10 Highest Interest Rates by Country
The true yield on an interest-bearing account must factor in the country’s inflation and currency. Here are the countries with the world’s highest bank interest rates on savings, with the effects of inflation on those interest rates:
|Top 10 Highest Interest Rates After Inflation by Country|
|Ranking||Country||Savings Interest Rate||Inflation Rate||Difference|
|9||Kingdom of Eswatini||3.08%||5.60%||-2.52%|
|Source: International Monetary Fund|
Top 10 Highest Real Interest Rates in the World
The real interest rate is the lending interest rate adjusted for inflation, as measured by an index called the gross domestic product deflator. The GDP deflator measures changes in prices. Here are the 10 countries with the highest real interest rates, according to the latest data from the World Bank, released in 2018:
|Top 10 Highest Real Interest Rates by Country|
|Ranking||Country||Real Interest Rate (2018)|
|10||Sao Tome and Principe||14.5%|
|Source: The World Bank|
In the United States, the real interest rate was just 2.0% in 2017 — approximately 22 times less than Madagascar, the country with the highest real interest rate.
How the US Banking System Compares
Most countries have central banks responsible for controlling the currency, much like the United States does. They also have both well-established banks and banks that are smaller and newer, similar to U.S. credit unions and small, local banks.
At the higher end of the spectrum, many U.S. banks offer high-yield savings accounts with an APY of more than 2.00%. Low interest rates in the United States are an indicator of stability — the highest current interest rates in the world come from highly unstable countries.
In the United States, everything from your mortgage and car loan interest rates to your credit card interest rate is affected by the most basic of interest rates: the federal funds rate. If the federal funds rate rises, all other public and private rates will generally rise, too. This could mean the difference between your money earning interest against inflation in a savings account and your account losing money.
Proceed at Your Own Risk
Before you roll the dice overseas with dreams of double-digit interest gains, know that the international insurance protection on your deposits is likely not as comprehensive as FDIC deposit insurance. Although foreign central bank interest rates might be higher, American banks protect your money either through FDIC insurance up to a certain amount or, in the case of credit unions, National Credit Union Administration insurance. If you make a savings deposit at an FDIC-insured bank, your deposit is insured up to $250,000. If you bank at a credit union that is insured by NCUA, your funds are insured up to at least $250,000.
As with all investments and bank accounts, especially in developing countries, it’s important to weigh the amount of risk you’re willing to take on versus the return that you can expect. Although it would be great to earn nearly 10.00% APY on a savings account, it’s comforting to know that money you keep in American banks is fully protected in the event that your financial institution crumbles.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of deposit accounts that are available.
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Savings interest rates were sourced from International Monetary Fund data and are accurate as of July 16, 2019. Rates are based on U.S. currency.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been endorsed by American Express.