10 Countries Where Banks Pay Crazy Interest Rates

By Tim Lemke on 15 October 2015 4 comments

Everyone in America has been waiting to find out when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, which have been down at historic lows for some time.

Think interest rates in the U.S. are shockingly low? Well, there are other nations with rates that are even more off the wall. Some have rates below zero. Some have rates above 25%. (Imagine that — 25% returns just for parking your cash in the bank!)

Here's a look at the countries with the wackiest interest rates — and if you can figure out a way to get a 25% interest rate on your bank deposits, please let me know!

The High End

Savers in these countries ought to be happy — or should they?

1. Belarus

Interest rates in this former Soviet republic have always been some of the highest in Europe, but rates really shot up last year when the government jacked them up to fend off a devaluing of the nation's ruble. The benchmark rate in Belarus is a whopping 25%.

2. Ghana

In an effort to fend off inflation, this West African nation rose its benchmark interest rate to just under 25%, one of the highest rates on the continent. Ghana's currency, the cedi, has been plunging in value as the nation has struggled with debt, according to Bloomberg News.

3. Malawi

On the other side of Africa, Malawi also reports a benchmark interest rate of about 25%. In fact, that's been the average rate since 2001, when rates hit as high as 75%. The mortgage finance rate from the National Bank of Malawi is 32%.

4. Argentina

This country has the highest rates in South America, with a benchmark of just under 24%. Rates have been creeping up for years as the country has faced major economic problems, but they are still much lower than in 2002, when rates topped 90%.

5. Ukraine

Interest rates in Ukraine are so wacky that they now stand at 22% even after two rate cuts. Ukraine has battled a devaluing of its currency, the hyrvnia, that once forced interest rates to above 30%, then the highest in the world.

The Low End

In some cases, savers pay banks to hang onto their money.

6. Switzerland

Rates in Switzerland are so low that it may actually cost you money to "save" there. With a rate of -0.75%, the Swiss must pay to lend. This unusual move was made to cause some inflation (in an overly low inflation environment) and prevent the Swiss franc from becoming too overvalued.

7. Denmark

The Danish central bank started off 2015 by slashing interest rates several times, to the point where they are now also at -0.75%. Many Danish citizens now have to pay interest on any bank deposits. This move to crazy-low rates comes as a response to a sagging European economy.

8. Sweden

While not quite as low as Switzerland and Denmark, Sweden is another European nation with a benchmark rate below zero. The Swedes made the move to lower rates to -0.35% in July, citing deflation concerns and the impact of problems with the Greek economy. With borrowing so cheap, now the Swedes have to battle fears of a possible housing bubble.

9. Japan

Japan's central bank has been trying all kinds of things to get the country's economy moving and fend off deflation, and interest rates now stand at... nothing. That's right, interest rates are zero in Japan, and have been near or below 1% for about 20 years.

10. Bulgaria

It's better than zero, but not by much. The benchmark rate from the Bulgarian National Bank is a mere 0.01%. The head of the bank resigned in June following the bankruptcy of one of the nation's largest commercial banks.

What's worse, high interest rates or rates at zero or below?

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10 Countries Where Banks Pay Crazy Interest Rates

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Guest's picture
Guest

This post is irresponsible without mentioning WHY these banks offer "crazy" interest rates. Interest rates have to do with inflation, as you kind of implied in your Swiss write-up. If anything is crazy, it's inflation in these countries. Due to inflation, banks need to pay higher interest rates in order for saving to be worth it to individuals - otherwise they are better off buying goods/assets that are going to rise in price due to inflation.

Guest's picture
Sirrage

It's pretty clear, the stable and mature first-world economies--with the possible exception of Bulgaria--have a strong banking system and can afford to give low interest rates. The high interest, high risk countries are weak, unstable, second/third world nut cases and MUST offer high interest rates to incentivize citizens who do not trust their banking, political, and economic systems. I'd be more worried if placed like Switzerland, Denmark, or Sweden offered double digit interest rates.

Guest's picture
Guest

So how can you open a bank account with these banks, to obtain the high interest rates, if your in Great Britain, UK.

How can you do it, whats the strategy? Please Explain advise. Thank you..

Guest's picture
Guest

You can find banks in Yemen that give 10% for local currency and i think 3% for dollars. What's attractive is that inflation has been steady for last few years before 2011. but now it's risky to put money there, as anything could happen during war and economic instability.

Guest's picture
Guest

In general, developing countries will always offer better interest rates than developed which are struggling to grow. I live in one of these OECD countries with an annual interest rate of just 1% = pointless therefore I ship my earnings out to X developing country (most people in the OECD would frown upon and run away from that idea) where I get an annual 15% - and everyone who talks without grounds of safety and security and stability in these countries is really the loser at the end of the day. ROFL