Countries With the Highest Interest Rates TodayHow inflation factors in and how the US compares

interest rates

Even the very best interest rates in the U.S. don’t come close to the highest interest rates in the world. Federal fund rates have been consistently low (between 0 and 0.50 percent) since December 2008, and interest rates for savings accounts and checking accounts have been low as well, with current national rates at 0.06% APY for savings and 0.04% APY for interest checking.

Despite these all-time-low interest rates, there is still some money to be made out there; you just won’t find it anywhere near the U.S. Here are the countries with the highest interest rates in the world, and information on how inflation plays a role in these rates.

Related: What is the Average Savings Account Interest Rate?

Interest Rates Today: The Highest Interest Rates in the World

While a savings or money market account isn’t considered “safe money” in some of these countries — since money is only as safe as the entity backing their promise — it is intriguing to see what your money could earn in other parts of the world.

Here are some countries that currently offer the highest interest rates in the world on one-year time deposit accounts, or what we refer to as CDs. Inflation rates and the U.S. are included for comparison.

Top 10 Countries With the Highest Interest Rates
Ranking Country Interest Rate (% APY) Inflation Rate (%)
1 Argentina 29.50 22.00
2 Belarus 24.00 19.00
3 Ukraine 23.00 9.00
4 Iran 20.00 22.50
5 Uzbekistan 20.00  —
6 Mongolia 15.10 9.50
7 Georgia 14.00 -0.50
8 Uganda 13.00 13.70
9 Azerbaijan 12.20-11.50 2.40
10 Armenia 11.00 6.20
61 United States 1.30 1.50
Source: Deposits.org

Like our CDs, money must remain in these various accounts for a predetermined amount of time before the depositor is eligible to withdraw the principal deposit and earned returns. Common terms were three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months.

How Inflation Factors Into High Interest Rates

“The safer things are, the lower interest rates are likely to be, and vice versa,” chartered financial analyst Chris Georgandellis of Exchange Capital Management said. In unstable environments, the value of the currency might be unpredictable and might not be worth tomorrow what it’s worth today. Because of that, people tend to spend money as soon as they get it, which is one of the contributing factors to inflation.

To combat people’s desire to immediately spend money, the government or money authority might raise interest rates. Raising interest rates sends the message that it’s better to hold on to the money, as you could get it back with a lot of interest in the future.

Georgandellis gave the following example: “Imagine a situation where inflation is running at 20 percent on an annualized basis. An individual can reasonably assume that a unit of cash today will essentially buy 20 percent less in a year. In such a case, it makes sense to spend all of their cash today. However, if the government steps in and says, ‘If you put your money in the bank, we’ll pay you 25 percent in a year,’ the calculus changes.

“All else being equal, a rational investor will recognize that if they deposit their cash today, they’ll come out with 5 percent more cash in a year, even after inflation. The act of saving money has a further knock-on effect: It takes cash out of circulation. Less cash in the system chasing the same amount of goods essentially helps to cut down on the original problem of inflation.”

Read: 10 Things That Will Be Cheaper for You Because of Falling Oil Prices

Top 10 Highest Interest Rates After Inflation by Country

In the next table, we take a look at the ten countries we listed earlier and their ranking by interest rates — after factoring in inflation rates. As you can see, the rankings are quite different with the inflation rates accounted for.

Top 10 Highest Interest Rates After Inflation by Country
Ranking Country Interest Rate (% APY) Inflation Rate (%) Difference
1 Uzbekistan 20.00 0.00 20
2 Georgia 14.00 -0.50 14.50
3 Ukraine 23.00 9.00 14.00
4 Azerbaijan 12.20 to 11.50 2.40 9.8 to 9.4
5 Argentina 29.50 22.00 7.50
6 Mongolia 15.10 9.50 5.60
7 Belarus 24.00 19.00 5.00
8 Armenia 11.00 6.20 4.80
9 Uganda 13.00 13.70 -0.70
10 Iran 20.00 22.50 -2.50
Source: Deposits.org

To understand why these interest rates are so high, the following table offers some information, including how inflation plays a role.

Country Reason for High Interest Rate and How Inflation Factors In
Uzbekistan Inflation in Uganda is driven in part by devaluation of local currency; interest rates are high to combat this currency devaluation.
Georgia Inflation expectations were rising as a result of currency depreciation; interest rates were raised to prevent any further depreciation.
Ukraine Rates have remained high as a defensive measure against the increase of short-term inflation risks.
Azerbaijan Interest rates are set high in an effort to curb inflation and to restore confidence in the national currency after the collapse in crude oil prices.
Argentina Depreciation of Argentine currency is fueling inflation. Rates are set high to draw investors to peso assets, curb a slide in international reserves and to combat both the inflation and further currency depreciation.
Mongolia Reason for high interest rate and how inflation factors in: Rates are set high to encourage foreign investment, keep inflation low and stable, and because local currency has been devalued.
Belarus To fend off further devaluing of currency, rates have been raised with the goal of slowing down inflation and boosting economic stability.
Armenia Inflationary pressures are perceived to be high so tightened monetary measures, including high interest rates, continue to persist.
Uganda Interest rates have been set high in an effort to reinstate confidence in the financial markets and calm both anxiety among investors and devaluation of local currency, which has caused inflation to rise.
Iran Rates have been set high in an effort to boost the economy, so that interest on savings are higher than inflation and loans are less expensive for industry.

Top 10 Highest Real Interest Rates in the World

Real interest rate is the lending interest rate adjusted for inflation as measured by the GDP deflator. This table shows the 10 countries with the highest real interest rates, with the U.S. included for comparison.

Top 10 Highest Real Interest Rates by Country
Ranking Country Real Interest Rate (%)
1 Madagascar 51.40
2 Libya 28.20
3 Brazil 23.50
4 Sierra Leone 19.60
5 Malawi 19.30
6 Uganda 18.80
7 Tajikistan 18.10
8 Azerbaijan 17.60
9 Congo, Dem. Rep. 17.20
10 Paraguay 15.30
234 United States 1.80
Source: WorldBank.org

For reference, the U.S. ranks 234 on this list, with a real interest rate of 1.80% APY. It’s important to note that the terms and conditions attached to lending rates differ by country, so it’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Here’s some information as to why these countries’ interest rates are so high. You can also see how the high and/or unstable inflation rates in these countries plays a role; in general, high or rising inflation rates spur high interest rates.

Country Reason for High Interest Rate and How Inflation Factors In
Madagascar Inflation has been on the rise because of cuts on fuel subsidies, so interest rates have been set high to combat the rising inflation.
Libya Scarcity and low accessibility of supplies are causing inflation, so interest rates are set high to lower it.
Brazil High inflation rates are associated with rising unemployment levels in Brazil; rates are set high to reign in those inflation rates.
Sierra Leone Inflation is high because of food shortages and because of the depreciation of local currency; interest rates have been set high to lower inflation.
Malawi Inflation in the country is mainly driven by the availability of food. Current scarcity of food and consistently high inflation contributed to higher interest rates being put in place in an effort to curb an increase in prices and counter weakness in the local currency.
Uganda Inflation has risen largely in part to the devaluation of local currency; in turn, interest rates have been set high as part of tightening monetary policy to combat the inflation rise.
Tajikistan Inflation continues its slow rise, partly because of the exchange rate which is linked with the likely depreciation of the Russian rouble; to counter this inflation rate, interest rates are set high.
Azerbaijan Interest rates are set high in order to curb inflation and restore confidence in the national currency after the collapse in crude oil prices.
Democratic Republic of Congo Congo has been able to drastically lower their inflation rate as a result of their now-cautious macroeconomic policy and increased export revenue. Interest rates remain high as a measure to control inflation.
Paraguay The central bank is focused on taking actions toward a less expansive monetary policy to ensure that inflation lowers; this effort includes setting interest rates high.

How the U.S. Banking System Compares

These countries have central banks that are responsible for controlling the currency much like the U.S. does. They also have both well-established banks and banks that are smaller and newer, much like our credit unions and small, local banks.

The only real difference between the U.S. banking systems and those in other countries is some of the terms we use. While the terms “savings account” and “money market account” are found throughout these banking systems, our common understanding of a certificate of deposit (CD) wasn’t found in all of these countries with the best interest rates.

In places like Argentina, Ukraine and Uganda, what we understand as a “CD” was similar to their Term Deposit, Personal Saving Certificate and Fixed-Term Deposit accounts. Like our CDs, money must remain in these various accounts for a predetermined amount of time before the depositor is eligible to withdraw the principal deposit and earned returns. Common terms were three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months.

The low interest rates in the U.S. are an indicator of the stability here; the highest current interest rates in the world come from highly unstable countries. As shown in the first table in this article, the U.S. ranks 61 for countries with the highest interest rates — our interest rates are a low 1.3% APY with inflation rates at 1.5 percent, indicating high stability, especially when compared to other countries in the table.

In the U.S., current mortgage rates, savings account rates, CD rates, auto loan rates, credit card interest rates and home equity line of credit rates are anchored by the most basic of interest rates, the federal funds rate. All interest rates in the U.S. — prime interest rate, mortgage interest rates, savings account interest rates, etc. — take their cue from the current federal funds rate; if the federal funds rate rises, all other public and private rates will generally rise, too.

Supply and demand do still play a part, though. Because interest rates are just another way of describing the cost of money, if there’s a lot of demand for money, the price rises accordingly. Conversely, if demand for money is low, the price will fall.

“When it finds it necessary, the government will get involved to help move things along,” Georgandellis said. “For example, if the government wants people to buy houses, it will lower the cost of borrowing money to buy a house. If the Federal Reserve wants to stop people from speculating on homes, it will make the cost of money more expensive by raising interest rates — which is what happened in the years immediately preceding the 2008 financial crisis.”

Keep Reading: 50 Cheapest Countries to Live or Retire

Proceed at Your Own Risk and With Extreme Caution

Before you jet off to one of these countries and try to take advantage of their high interest rates, know that the insurance on deposits is, unfortunately, not what we have here in the U.S.

Deposits in the United States are protected by either the FDIC or the NCUA. While it’s easy to take this tremendous government benefit for granted, it’s not something that’s common in other countries.

“These countries generally share something in common,” Georgandellis said. “That is, all of them are unstable, unpredictable, potentially unsafe countries which variously present to individuals some of the most inhospitable investing environments on the planet. ”

As with all investments and bank accounts, especially in developing countries, it’s always important to weigh the amount of risk you take on versus the return that you’re going to get. While it would be great to earn 11% APY on a CD, it’s comforting to know that your money in the U.S. is fully protected in the event that your financial institution crumbles.

Jason Larkins contributed to the reporting for this article.

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  • HERPLE&DERP INC

    actually, your money in the US is not protected

    as soon as banking institutions “crumble” so will the governments ability to finance the FDIC and the FDIC will be unable to insure deposits

    fun fact: insured deposits are a form of moral-hazard that lead depositers to increase risktaking and speculation – a cause of asset bubbles

  • Gundu banker

    Banks in Europe and us crumbled and lot of poor customers lost their money. India has stringent rules mady by RBIan these banks cannot indulge in futures trading above a particular level.westerners are in a false belief that their investments are safe.History have shown us where is it safe.

    • Sam

      India is a pile of shit dude.. Seriously, how many bank related scams have been in India? History has shown how pathetic and a piece of shit country India is in terms of logistics around banking. Only thing they have down pat is the ability to take your money really fast and effectively. Withdrawing funds is an issue.

      • Rahul

        Your mistaken, if anyone deposits money in banks in India it’s the safest as it is governed by strict rules formulated by the reserve bank of India, you must be a dumb student who doesn’t even know the meaning of history so before commenting on India look at your recession hit country you moron.

        • simplybeingtrakr

          Hi a tad late but i have replied to that worm called Sam . hope i wiped the smirk of his face . To run down India , he must be living in such a small house that if he orders a large pizza he must be eating it outside .

        • LemarcusAldridge

          he’s right India is shit.. smells like shit.. Indian people shit in their hands and eat the shit. disgusting

      • simplybeingtrakr

        Sam knows shit about India . Has he forgotten the Mortgage crisis / the biggest debtor still in the world is US of A .JP MORGAN is settling for a $13BN . Citigroup . GoldMan Sachs . You moron before you rundown India’s Banking .revisit USA ‘s current status . India has some of the finest financial brains which USA ‘s banks effectively poach to wipe the shit you guys created .

        • Aidyonline

          forgotten? does Sam strike you as being learned and intelligent? what are the odds Sam has never left the USA – pretty high i’d guess. yet like many americans he seems to think he knows loads about other countries. probably heard about if on Fox “news”

          you can’t forget what you never knew!

      • Nate Rubin

        I think you need to get your understanding of Banks in other Nations corrected Sam……Banks in INDIA are mighty remarkable and I am dash happy to have placed my India earnings in Fixed Deposits here for a decade now earning between 8%-10% at any given time as compared to crap I get of 1.2% or around Stateside and YES…..Banks are very responsible this side!~…….Don’t fall for the shit Uncle Sam feeds you – He is a little Legend in his own Mind to say the least….. India’s Provident Fund that in US we call 401K isn’t played up in stocks!…….Good luck with your retiring in a lousy Year that sees stock slide…. Guess if stats are right, around 40% of the Americans actually have less than $1,000 Cash in the Bank in true terms while being eye-balls in debt for the same percentage!…….That would get even a poor man’s eyes popping out in INDIA!…..

      • rahul

        Yes its completely shit n india

      • kamal

        Sam I want to buy you I shall.pay you in dollars . what is value of your whole property tell seriously. We Indians buy 72% of total world gold. We can even buy whole America if we aim
        Be cautious …. I am an Indian ….. Prajapati

  • Navi

    You guys are nuts. If you have any kind of a fundamental American education (or can read for that matter) you’ll notice certain investments in the United States are insured; such as basic savings, checking, and CD’s. Anyone that says anything otherwise obviously has no knowledge of the American financial system and should refrain from any type of money-management in this system altogether.

    • yahmon

      And how is everybody going to get their cash if they all ran to the bank tomorrow?
      What they tell you is one thing, they can only cover it by printing, hence more devaluation of currency. Unless you have gold or assets you only have “I owe you paper”

    • …and only up to $100k per individual (per bank?) and $250k-ish for certain retirement accounts. There are limits.

  • Zvaonekwa

    An aspect that needs to be taken into account is the stability of the local currencies of the countries that have high interest rates. For example, if the exchange rate falls by 12% during the investment period the net return will actually turn out to be negative. May you please shed some light on the historical performance of those currencies against the US dollar over a reasonable period.

    • Myindependence Freedom

      Currencies fluctuate. IF the exchange rate increase by 12%, what is the benefit. The countries where the FD is high %, the value or cost of goods is much lower. So what if exchange rate drops, you still get to buy stuff at cheap prices compared to the US.

  • Abid

    Pakistani Banks are more secure than US or EU banks, simply because they are regulated by State Bank. Since the inception of Pakistan (i.e. 14th Aug 1947) not a single bank suffered financial crises or defaulted.

    • Tango

      agreed, I invested around $400 k in Pak with HSBC which paid me upto 15% for a term of 2 years and those were the best years for me till today, considering 5% inflation/devaluation of rupee annually I still got 10% flat with every penny secured by the state bank of Pakistan. Even the HSBC headed by their middle east operations work under strict State Bank of Pakistan’s rules/laws completely monitored

  • bahaba10

    if the bank (e.g. HSBC) in third world countries give 12.2% deposit interest, why in not in USA. either banks in USA are cheating us, or banks in USA are not doing business. which is not true, either banks will go out of business. is not shame for USA?

    • david

      The federal reserve is holding the interest rates down. So are the central banks of all the developed nations to insure that the “hard’ currencies do not collapse. The banks are not cheating you, it is the federal reserve and your government…obama

  • Chris Pasquariello

    “Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.”

  • Patrick Edem Agama

    You should take some risk sometimes. I don’t really care about the risk of not insuring your deposit. Ghana doesn’t have reputation of banking institution crumbles,

  • Patrick Edem Agama

    Great Post though

  • George Femiak

    I have a fixed deposit of more $12000 in 2 Indian National Banks. They are pretty awesome in terms of Interest Rate and money protection. History also matters when we think of investing our savings. History of Indian Banks are reputed and outstanding. At least I am making $1200 a year , God Bless the world.

  • Stefan

    Investments in India are pretty safe due to government and RBI norms. Especially in public sector banks

  • Lucky Man

    in Egypt it’s 13% now

  • Alex

    Insurance??? Please… The FDIC only has 2% of what would be needed to cover all bank suckers should the SHTF. So in theory, you’re insured for $5,000. In reality, you have no insurance at all. The government and the banks that control it can seize whatever it wants, and what are you going to do about it? Sue them?

    Safety??? Ever heard of fractional banking? In the US, banks are allowed to use 90% of your money for whatever investment, including lending it to someone else at an interest rate that is usually around 100% the interest you get, impose penalties to those people when they cannot pay back and eventually kick them out of their home! But that’s not your problem. You’ve got to ask yourself “how is my money safe in this bank if it’s not even there?”

    Etc…

  • Masum Zaman

    In Bangladesh have upto 13% interest/year and its safe.

  • theviking

    What does it mean “fully protected”? The FDIC has like 30 years to pay it off. They are just about broke. The dollar has been declared as fiat money by 178 third world nations forcing the US into asset backed TRNs which has been availabe OUTSIDE USA for some time and they are forcing it inside. Curtesy of the crooks in Washington.

  • Jsandxxxx

    Can any American open a saving account in any other country ? in this case India, and get the same rates?

    • Tango

      I know for sure that anyone can open a legit account in Pakistan as far as pays off a flat 10% of income tax on profits earned from your deposits and rates of returns vary between 8-11% minus the 10% of income tax which banks deduct themselves and deposit with the state bank on your behalf at the time they deposit your account with your profits, which is normally monthly, quarterly , six monthly or annually depending upon how you negotiate. I would say go for a larger bank size instead of banks showing more profits on their financials

  • Mildred Milly Lawrence-Newson

    Can you open an account online? If so, do you have any sites and suggestions
    Thanks

  • Myindependence Freedom

    Bigger the risk, bigger the returns. Deposit in HSBC India and earn an interest of 8% compared to HSBC US which is 1.5%!!!

  • EM

    I agree that exchange risk is a concern for local currency bank accounts abroad, in fact I believe such shouldn’t be part of anyone’s fixed income portfolio in the first place. That said, many countries offer savings accounts in major currencies such as USD, EUR, GBP etc. Lack of FDIC insurance for some countries raises the credit risk, although there are countries, which do offer depository insurance. A good example is several years ago one could earn >5% yield in EUR deposits in Bulgaria at a EUR 100,000 depository insurance (leading banks in Bulgaria boast investment grade credit rating).

    The following resource summarizes some of the best major currency bank accounts globally: http://www.globalbankpilot.com . It also includes depository insurance information by country.

    Here are some of the countries mentioned in this article:

    http://www.globalbankpilot.com/India/
    http://www.globalbankpilot.com/Ukraine/
    http://www.globalbankpilot.com/Mongolia/
    http://www.globalbankpilot.com/Armenia/

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