Bank of China Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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Updated on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Bank of China’s checking account options

Regular Personal Checking

This account bears no interest and comes with a pesky monthly maintenance fee if you don’t meet minimum balance requirements.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, if your balance falls below $1,000
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: First 2 ATM fees charged by outside ATM owners per month will be refunded as long as you maintain a $1,000 balance.
  • Overdraft fee: None. You will not be able to overdraw your account. If you do not have enough money for a transaction, that transaction will be declined.

Regular Personal Checking is the only Bank of China deposit account that does not pay interest. That would be fairly standard if the account were fee-free, but it’s not. If you do not maintain the required minimum balance, which is quite high for a checking account that doesn’t bear interest, you will have to pay a monthly fee.

This account is nearly identical to the Personal Checking NOW account, which does bear interest. If you’re going to meet the minimum balance requirements anyway, you may as well skip Regular Personal Checking and jump to the account that actually offers an APY.

How to get Bank of China’s Regular Personal Checking Account

To open this account, you will need to bring in two forms of personal ID to one of the bank’s two branches in New York City. You will fill out some paperwork, which will be reviewed over the course of one to two weeks. At that point, if you are approved to open an account, you will provide the initial deposit.

Personal Checking NOW

This checking account bears interest, although it is a small amount.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%
$500
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 if your balance falls below $1,000
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: First 2 ATM fees charged by outside ATM owners per month will be refunded as long as you maintain a $1,000 balance.
  • Overdraft fee: None. You will not be able to overdraw your account. If you do not have enough money for a transaction, that transaction will be declined.

Similar to the Regular Personal Checking account, Personal Checking NOW also comes with a monthly maintenance fee with a fairly high minimum balance requirement for a checking account. The minimum opening deposit is also the same, along with the ATM fee refund policy for your first two transactions per month at outside ATMs.

However, this account pays interest. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the APY is extremely low. Interestingly, the minimum required balance to earn that APY is far lower than the minimum required balance to avoid the monthly maintenance fee and gain the ATM fee refund benefit. That means you could potentially continue earning interest even while paying penalty fees. The rate is so low, though, that the APY won’t make up for the fees you’ll incur. It’s better to make sure you maintain the higher of the two minimum balance requirements.

How to get Bank of China’s Personal Checking NOW Account

As with all of Bank of China’s American accounts, you will not be able to open this account online. Instead, you’ll have to take in two forms of ID to one of its New York City branches and be willing to wait one to two weeks for account approval.

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How Bank of China’s checking accounts compare

Because the biggest difference between Regular Personal Checking and Personal Checking NOW is the fact that the latter offers interest, we will look only at that account in this comparison. There’s not much incentive to open Regular Personal Checking.

Personal Checking NOW offers a very low APY, which isn’t all that uncommon for brick-and-mortar financial institutions. At online-only institutions like the ones on our list of best checking accounts, you can find far higher rates with smaller fees and lower minimum balance requirements.

Bank of China’s savings account options

Statement Savings

This low-interest savings account pays an identical APY to Personal Checking NOW.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%
$100
  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 if your balance falls below $500
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: First 2 ATM fees charged by outside ATM owners per month will be refunded as long as you maintain a $500 balance.
  • Overdraft fee: None. You will not be able to overdraw your account. If you do not have enough money for a transaction, that transaction will be declined.

Usually, savings accounts pay a higher APY than checking accounts, whether your bank is brick-and-mortar or online. It’s a little odd that Bank of China’s Statement Savings pays a rate identical to that of Personal Checking NOW. Minimum balance requirements are far lower, though, which is a bit ironic as ideally, you’d be storing more money in your savings account than your day-to-day checking.

Savings accounts in the U.S. are subject to federal Regulation D. This rule allows you to make up to six certain transfers or withdrawals per month from your savings account before Bank of China charges an excessive withdrawal fee of $10 per withdrawal or transfer, thereafter.

How to get Bank of China’s Statement Savings

To open this account, you will need to bring two forms of ID in to one of the New York City branches. You will then need to wait one to two weeks for account approval as the paperwork is filed.

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How Bank of China’s savings accounts compare

If Bank of China is lagging behind in interest rates for checking accounts, they’re getting lapped by the competition for rates on savings accounts. You can find significantly higher rates on our list of the best savings accounts, and most of these alternatives will allow you to apply for your account online, eliminating the waiting period and giving you access to your new account right away.

Bank of China’s CD rates

Certificates of Deposit

Extremely low interest rates ruin an otherwise reasonable product.
TermAPY
 1 Month0.10%
2 Months0.10%
3 Months0.10%
6 Months0.21%
9 Months0.21%
12 Months0.38%
24 Months0.63%
30 Months0.63%
48 Months0.91%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Penalty on terms less than 24 months is 30 days’ worth of interest; terms of 24 months of more incur a penalty equivalent to 90 days’ worth of interest.

At first glance, Bank of China’s CDs are fairly standard. The minimum opening deposit requirement isn’t outlandish, and penalties are fair given similar fees charged by its competitors.

But when you start looking at APY offerings, these CDs fall apart. Rates are extremely low, making this difficult-to-open account not worth the hassle. You can find higher rates elsewhere, and you can find them at financial institutions that will not require you to visit a branch in order to open your account.

How to get Bank of China’s CDs

To open a CD, you’ll need to visit one of Bank of China’s two locations in New York City. Bring along two forms of ID and be prepared to wait one to two weeks for the paperwork to be filed.

Super Time Deposit CDs

These special offers are nothing to write home about.
TermAPY
 6 Months0.24%
9 Months0.24%
12 Months0.41%
24 Months0.69%
30 Months0.69%
48 Months1.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5,000 for terms through 24 months; $10,000 for terms of 30 months and higher.
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $5,000 for terms through 24 months; $10,000 for terms of 30 months and higher.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Penalty on terms less than 24 months is 30 days’ worth of interest; terms of 24 months of more incur a penalty equivalent to 90 days’ worth of interest.

Special Time Deposit CDs are meant to be Bank of China’s “specials.” For depositing a larger amount of money, you’ll be rewarded with a higher APY.

The problem is that the APY isn’t that much higher, yet the minimum required balance and deposit amounts are dramatically so. For upping your initial investment by $4,000 at the 6-month tier, you are rewarded with only a 0.03% rate bump over Bank of China’s regular CD. The greatest rate bump you’d see is only 0.09% over the regular CD if you invest an additional $9,000 off the bat on a 48-month term.

Grace periods on all of Bank of China’s CDs are 10 days. That means after your CD reaches maturity at the end of your term, you will have ten days to withdraw your money. If you do not, the money will be automatically renewed into a new CD of the same term length.

How to get Bank of China’s Special Time Deposit CDs

You will have to visit one of the two New York City branch locations with two forms of ID in order to open this account.

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How Bank of China’s CD rates compare

When you’re locking away your money for a set period of time, you want to make sure you’re getting the highest return possible. Bank of China does not allow you to do that. Instead, you’ll want to turn to our list of the best CD rates, which repeatedly beats Bank of China’s rates by entire percentage points, helping you grow your money at a faster clip.

Bank of China’s money market account options

Money Market Account

A money market account should not have the same APY offering as a checking account, yet this one does.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.05%
$1,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 if your balance falls below $1,000
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: First 2 ATM fees charged by outside ATM owners per month will be refunded as long as you maintain a $1,000 balance.
  • Overdraft fee: None. You will not be able to overdraw your account. If you do not have enough money for a transaction, that transaction will be declined.

In the past, you could expect a higher APY from a money market account than a basic savings account. The difference has shrunk in recent years as online-only banks have made their savings accounts extremely competitive, even putting some money market accounts to shame.

But there is very little excuse for a money market account paying the same amount of interest as a checking account. This is exactly what you’re getting when you open a Money Market Account from Bank of China.

Whenever you open a money market account, it’s important to remember that it’s subject to Regulation D, just like savings accounts. At Bank of China, that means that if you make more than six withdrawals/transfers per month, you will be charged by the bank an excessive withdrawal fee of $10 with each occurrence.

How to get Bank of China’s Money Market Account

Those who choose to open a Money Market Account at Bank of China will have to visit one of its two physical branches in New York City, prepared with two valid forms of ID.

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How Bank of China’s money market accounts compare

Bank of China’s Money Market Account does shine in some respects: its minimum balance and deposit requirement. There are only a handful of competitive accounts which have such low requirements.

However, among those handful of accounts on our list of best money market accounts, you will find significantly higher APY offerings. With an interest rate identical to its bank’s checking account, this money market account simply doesn’t hold up to the competition.

Bank of China’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

Extremely low APY offerings on an already conservative investment.
TermAPY
 1 Month0.10%
2 Months0.10%
3 Months0.10%
6 Months0.21%
9 Months0.21%
12 Months0.38%
24 Months0.63%
30 Months0.63%
48 Months0.91%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Penalty on terms less than 24 months is 30 days’ worth of interest; terms of 24 months of more incur a penalty equivalent to 90 days’ worth of interest.

Bank of China’s CD rates are the same whether they’re inside an IRA or not. While this isn’t incredibly uncommon, there are financial institutions out there which offer a rate bump when you open this account inside an IRA. An IRA CD is already a conservative investment, so you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

The IRA CD problems are further compounded by the fact that CD rates weren’t great to begin with. Even for certificates outside of an IRA, Bank of China’s APY offerings are not competitive.

On all IRA CDs, you want to remember that on top of any penalties charged by the financial institution, you are also likely to incur penalties and fees from the IRS if you withdraw your money before the age of 59 1/2.

How to get Bank of China’s IRA CDs

Bank of China’s cumbersome account application process actually isn’t out of the norm here. Most financial institutions are going to either require that you visit a branch in person or mail in your application. So while you will have to present in person at one of the two New York City branches, this process won’t look so different from your available application options at most financial institutions.

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How Bank of China’s IRA CD rates compare

Bank of China’s APY offerings on IRA CDs don’t come close to the best offers on the market. In fact, its highest rate, which is offered on a 48 month term, is almost an entire percentage point lower than the competitions’ best offering on an IRA CD with a 3 month term. Shop around on our list of the best IRA CD rates. You’re sure to find better rates elsewhere.

Overall review of Bank of China’s banking products

Currently, Bank of China’s deposit account offerings in the United States are not competitive. The rates offered are simply too low. These rates have not been updated since 2016, so it will be interesting to see if this financial institution gets more competitive in the U.S. when it finally does reevaluate its interest rate offerings.

Another problematic issue with the current setup is that travel to New York City must be convenient for you in order to open an account. Because all applications must be filed in person, the fact that there are only two Bank of China branches in one city that can file these applications is a major hurdle. It also makes things inconvenient as the paperwork takes far longer to file than electronic applications found at other financial institutions.

Bank of China isn’t the best banking option when you’re shopping for deposit accounts in the United States. It would take online applications becoming available, additional branches opening and interest rates rising for that statement to change.

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