You Can Now Open A Chinese Bank Account, Invest Directly In Yuan

This week, for the first time ever, the Bank of China in the US is letting American customers open up accounts and invest directly in Chinese currency. Last year the “closed” currency yuan gained 3.3% against the dollar while the highest American “high interest” accounts were delivering around 1.7%. WSJ gives 5 reasons for getting in on the hot renminbi action:

It’s very unlikely to go down.

It’s very likely to go up.

You won’t miss out on a lot of interest elsewhere, as nowhere else is paying a lot of interest.

It will diversify your portfolio.

And, finally, it may offer you and your family something of a hedge against the decline of the U.S. economy.

As you’ve probably heard, China artificially constricts its currency and prevents it from rising in order to keep exports cheap. They’re under increasing pressure from the US and other to open up their currency. (That this move to open accounts to Americans happened the same week Obama is meeting with the President of China is probably not a coincidence.) So it’s pretty likely that China will let the renminbi rise a bit, which could mean a good return for you.

The biggest reason not to get some Yuan? Your money might do better elsewhere. Or, if you are politically opposed to the idea. You’ll also want to watch out for what can be relatively high service fees on yuan accounts.

Another drawback is that you’ll have to open the account in person, with a $500 minimum deposit and two forms of ID at either at one of the two Bank of China branches in New York or the one in LA. And only the ones in New York come with FDIC insurance.

To reduce speculation, personal customers are limited to $4,000 in deposits per day and $20,000 per year. Business accounts, as long as the company trades internationally, are unlimited.

Do You Need a Chinese Bank Account? [WSJ]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Well, I suppose I could detour to NYC on my next trip to upstate NY…

  2. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The opening in person thing is a pretty big obstacle. Still, tempting.

  3. rpm773 says:

    Another drawback is that you’ll have to open the account in person…at one of the two Bank of China branches in New York…

    Hell, coming from out of state, the toll for the tunnel and the parking fee will blow my whole profit margin.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Now Barney Stinson really could claim to be an “international businessman.”

  5. Polish Engineer says:

    Whoa there… what bank is giving 1.7% interest?

    • sunnypies says:

      Alliant Credit Union

      • Max5695 says:

        I second Alliant Credit Union. They have had great rates for a long time and they have treated me well. They have no monthly fees unlike the major brick and mortar banks like Chase or Citibank. I love the fact that you get free checking and savings accounts and a huge network of over 80,000 free ATMs. I also love that you can deposit checks online via a scanner. It’s a total replacement for a bank.

    • Engine-B says:

      From the WSJ article:

      “According to, the highest-yielding six-month certificate of deposit pays just 1.3%, before taxes. The dividend yield on the stock market is 1.7%. You can earn better yields from government bonds—the 10-year Treasury is paying 3.3%—but that’s also subject to federal taxes, and you can put yourself at risk from inflation.”

  6. danmac says:

    Business accounts, as long as the company trades internationally, are unlimited.

    Cut to U.S. Banks making large, zero-interest withdrawals from the fed and showing up at the Chinese bank with dufflebags full of U.S. currency. “We’d like to…uh…open an account.”

  7. PBallRaven says:

    Don’t feed the dragon, idiots!

    • Egat says:

      Why not? Previous generations of leaders have already allowed China to consume our economy, might as well ride the dragon to greater personal prosperity!

      • PBallRaven says:

        Because that dragon is going to turn around and eat you next, that’s why.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Many others have “ridden the dragon” without incident (heck, more than a few Japanese and Korean businesses are positively clinging to it). What makes you think the average American is going to come out worse.

  8. mbgrabbe says:

    One alternative to this would be invest your dollars in the “WisdomTree Dreyfus Chinese Yuan” ETF, Ticker CYB. This fund tracks the value of the Chinese Yuan relative to the dollar, so its essentially like owning Yuans yourself but with a bit less complication. The expense ratio is fairly small too, at 0.45% per year. An investment of $1000 would cost $4.50 annually to maintain.

  9. paoyu says:

    Exchange now! It’ll be the only currency in 10-years, when our Chinese overlords rule the world.

  10. Brontide says:

    Um, yes, let me invest my money into another highly manipulated currency.

  11. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    I’ve actually came home from China with a bag full of Chinese money before. Trying to leave China with American dollars got a few smugglers executed while I was there. I can buy as much currency as I want, (black market gives much better exchange rates) just as long as I don’t try leaving with it in a usable form.

    • MrEvil says:

      If you have a US Passport I think you’re safe from being executed.

      • jamar0303 says:

        They don’t hesitate to execute foreigners. There was, I think, a big deal made of a British kid who was executed for something or other a year or two ago.

    • jake.valentine says:

      I travel regularly to China and contrary to what one would believe, I feel safer there than in many big cities here. I am treated BETTER there when I cross over to the mainland from Hong Kong then when I enter the US and have to deal with customs personnel here. Nobody bothers me when on the mainland which is more amazing because I often travel to the Dong Guan and Guang Zhou areas which is where many of their military bases are located. Their military and police just leave me alone.

  12. kingofmars says:

    Related +15% intrest rate by investing in Icelands currency. Of course this was in 2008 before Iceland’s finical system imploded.

  13. osiris73 says:

    Now, when the US just says, screw it, we’re not paying the Chinese back squat and dining and dashing on their bill, the Chinese can just gather up our bank accounts and go home. ;)

    • jessjj347 says:

      They’ll do that with our U.S. bank accounts. Not sure about these, however… Can anyone comment?

  14. yaos says:

    Quick, everybody jump on the bandwagon!

  15. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    We truly are at the end of days….my grandfather (WWII Vet) is rolling in his grave….

  16. sirwired says:

    You know, it might be worth mentioning that Yuan-denominated deposits in a foreign bank are almost certainly not insured. So, there is the minor risk the bank could go under and you’ll lose your shirt. (And I have a funny feeling that small foreign depositors aren’t exactly high on the list of people to pay during the liquidation.)

    • Doncosmic says:

      “And only the ones in New York come with FDIC insurance.”
      Not even in the article, in the summary.

    • jamar0303 says:

      Let’s put it this way- BOC isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Its collapse would cause widespread panic.

  17. evilpete says:

    I’d drop 5 or 10K in there is their was a Branch in SF.

  18. TasteyCat says:

    Pro: American empire is failing, and China will surpass it sooner rather than later.

    Con: The odds of your money being safe in some communist bank aren’t worth the risk.

    • jamar0303 says:

      The Chinese government is trying to internationalize the yuan. The last thing you’d be worrying about is your money being safe; BOC doesn’t want any loss of credibility overseas.

  19. q`Tzal says:


  20. Max5695 says:

    The Bank of China is owned by the Chinese government. Do people really want to support a government that is corrupt, has a poor human rights record, and has an expanding military and potentially dangerous military. I would rather invest my money in the U.S. so that the U.S. economy improves. At least by banking at a U.S. financial institution, we can keep some jobs and most of the money here in the U.S. to help our own economy.

    • jamar0303 says:

      As a current BOC customer, the biggie for me is that they’re significantly better to work with than most big-name or even regional banks. Credit Union? None that I qualify for have reasonable service charges ($50 for int’l wire? Not happening).

      I’d pick BOC over BOfA anyday.

    • David in Brasil says:

      Sorry to pop your bubble, but US politicians have no corruption? Guantanamo and the persecution of Wikileaks lead to a good human rights record? The US Military is not expanding (its budget is bigger than everybody else’s in the world, combined. Look it up)? Most of the people of the world don’t consider the US military to be dangerous?

      I know that the US is not China. But your criteria above could use some scrutinizing.

      • Max5695 says:

        The question is which is the lesser of two evils. Do you want to support a bank that is owned by a government or do you want to support a bank in the U.S. In the U.S. there are many banks and credit unions that are not owned by the government. You have the option of supporting American businesses that are not owned by the government. There are many ethically run banks and credit unions in the U.S. With the Bank of China, there is no choice as to the ownership of the bank.

        On a whole, there is a lot less freedom in China due to their government cracking down on religious groups, people with opposing political views, etc. People can’t even express their political views without being arrested. Some political prisoners have been executed by the Chinese government. The U.S. is not a perfect country, but at least you have the freedom to criticize the government and to express your views without the fear of being arrested and imprisoned. I personally would not like to live under oppression in China. I would rather be here in the U.S. where there is more freedom.

        • jamar0303 says:

          As someone who’s lived in both I’d disagree, to put it lightly. Many American expats who live in China would also disagree. To put it lightly, things get *done* here. Like rail infrastructure, for instance. And that’s part of why I trust my money with BOC.

  21. gman863 says:

    If people think terms and conditions statements issued with accounts from Chase or CapOne are confusing, I can only imagine what the Bank Of China provides:

    Many thanksgivings for inserting coinage into our glorious vault hole. Your texture fabric money with picture of Ben Frankin be wisely invest into unbelievable ways to make it expand. If you question our authority kindly ring phone to lively customer servicing person any phase of sun or moon.