Foreign Currency Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
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Foreign Currency Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

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Financial products like foreign currency Certificates of Deposit can diversify your portfolio with foreign currency, but bear certain risks.

Financial products like foreign currency Certificates of Deposit can diversify your portfolio with foreign currency, but bear certain risks. EverBank, an established online bank, has taken the lead in developing these foreign currency products and they now offer FDIC Insured certificates of deposit that can be purchased in US dollars and track foreign currencies ranging from the Euro, to the Brazilian Real and the Indian Rupee. EverBank has also offered baskets of foreign currency CDs, where you can structure your CD to be divided among a handful of currencies, and a Dollar Bull CD, that might increase in value faster as the dollar rises against select foreign currencies. FDIC insurance for these products protects investors from a bank failure; it does not protect against currency fluctuations and the resulting loss of value in dollar terms.

How foreign currency CDs work:

1. You deposit your money.

2. They convert your funds into the currency of your choice.

3. They deposit your funds into an FDIC insured Certificate of Deposit.

4. At maturity the funds (the principal, interest, and currency changes) are converted back into dollars and can be withdrawn.

5. Or, the funds can be rolled over into another term CD.

How You Can Benefit from Foreign Currency CDs
  • Interest. Like any Certificate of Deposit, depositors benefit from the interest paid on the invested amount. Depending on the currency, these rates can be quite high and can be higher than the equivalent rate of return in US dollars.
  • Currency Movements. As the currencies you invest in rise and fall against the dollar, you can make or lose money. For example, if you invest in the Euro, and it strengthens 5% against the dollar during the term of the CD, you will have made an extra 5% on your investment. If it loses 5% against the dollar, you will have lost 5%.

If your goal is to track the performance of a certain currency and believe that currency will appreciate, but may be concerned about the risks to the banking system in that country, these products may make sense as they can extend US FDIC insurance where it may not otherwise be available.

If your goal is to outperform the US rate of return through getting a rate of return above that which may be available through a standard US-based CD, you may do better to look at a structured product issued by a US investment bank.  Some US investment banks, for example, now offer collared products which will yield 10% if the Brazilian real appreciates against the dollar, but only 1% if it depreciates.

A Word of Caution
Use only US-based FDIC-insured banks. Foreign currency CDs offered by non-US FDIC insured banks and marketed through the internet at US citizens are SCAMS, even if they appear in Google, Yahoo! or Bing search results.  The CD that is offering an incredible rate of return by investing in some currency or in US dollars in some bank that isn't FDIC insured in some country that you have never heard of sounds too good to be true because it is.  Don't send your money there.

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Today's Highest Online CD Rates

Bank Product Term Interest Rate (APY)
CFG Bank 1-Year 0.67% APY with $500 minimum
Live Oak Banking Company 1-Year 0.65% APY with $2,500 minimum
Comenity Direct 1-Year 0.63% APY with $1,500 minimum
Comenity Direct 3-Year 0.85% APY with $1,500 minimum
First Internet Bank of Indiana 3-Year 0.81% APY with $1,000 minimum
Connexus 3-Year 0.75% APY with $5,000 minimum
Primary Bank 5-Year 1.15% APY with $1,000 minimum
Connexus 5-Year 1.00% APY with $5,000 minimum
First Internet Bank of Indiana 5-Year 0.96% APY with $1,000 minimum

See More Online CD Rates →

Comments

  • William Milligan

    March 25, 2013

    I'm looking at moving to Ecuador...buying an apartment and possibly investing in certificates of deposit, interest ranging from 6-10%, via credit unions. Can you be of benefit for me?

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