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

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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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.

SEE DETAILS 

Member FDIC

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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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Reviewed By

If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Written By

The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.