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Guide to Yankee Certificates of Deposit

By Rebecca Lake · May 18, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Guide to Yankee Certificates of Deposit

A Yankee certificate of deposit is a special type of CD that’s issued domestically by a branch of a foreign bank.

Yankee CDs, sometimes referred to as YCDs in finance, have several features that set them apart from other types of CDs, including higher minimum deposit requirements, short terms, and a lack of FDIC protection.

For those reasons, it’s helpful to understand how a Yankee certificate of deposit investment works and the potential risks involved.

What Is a Yankee Certificate of Deposit?

What are Yankee certificates of deposit? And how does a certificate of deposit work? Let’s compare the two.

First, a regular CD is a deposit account that requires investors to lock up their cash for a fixed period of time (typically a few months to a few years), and in exchange pays a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. CDs purchased at a bank are generally FDIC insured up to $250,000 (CDs bought at a credit union are NCUA insured up to the same amount).

By contrast, a Yankee certificate of deposit is a CD account that’s issued by a branch of a foreign bank in the U.S., to U.S. customers. In general, the term of a Yankee certificate deposit is less than a year, and the minimum deposit required is more in line with a jumbo CD.

So, for example, a Canadian bank that has branches in the U.S. could offer Yankee CDs to U.S. residents. Even though the CDs would be issued by a foreign bank, they would still be subject to U.S. regulation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board. But a Yankee certificate of deposit would not be federally insured.

Foreign banks that operate in the U.S. can issue Yankee CDs in order to generate capital for making loans or investments. These CDs can be purchased at issuance or on the secondary market.

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How Yankee CDs Work

As noted above, Yankee CDs work much the same as other types of deposit accounts that are CDs. There are some differences, however, with regard to:

•   Minimum deposits

•   Interest rates

•   Maturity terms

•   Investment risk

Minimum Deposits

Though you might be able to invest in a standard CD with $500 or $1,000, a Yankee certificate of deposit investment might require an initial deposit of $1 million or more. Scotiabank, for instance, issues its Yankee CDs in increments of $250,000 while UBS requires a $1 million minimum deposit for Yankee CDs offered through its Stamford, CT, branch.

A CD of this size issued by a U.S. institution could be categorized as a negotiable CD or NCD. NCDs have a face value of $100,000 or more. But Yankee CDs are not negotiable CDs because they are not FDIC insured.

Fixed and Variable Rates

Interest rates for Yankee CDs may be fixed or variable, which is another difference from other CDs which typically offer a fixed rate, making them more predictable instruments for fixed-income investors.

Shorter Terms

Maturity terms for a Yankee certificate of deposit tend to be shorter (one to three years, depending on the issuer), while regular CDs can have terms ranging from 28 days up to 10 years. The investor cannot access their cash until the CD matures, without triggering an early withdrawal penalty.

Potential Risk

Perhaps the biggest difference between Yankee CDs and other types of CDs is the level of risk involved. Generally speaking, CDs are considered to be safe investments since they offer a practically guaranteed rate of return, and deposits are federally insured up to a certain amount. Yankee CDs, on the other hand, carry certain risks including credit risk and the possibility of lower-than-expected returns if you’re choosing a variable-rate option.

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Why Does a Yankee CD Matter?

Yankee CDs are not something the everyday investor is likely to be concerned with. After all, most people don’t have $1 million or $50 million to invest into a single CD.

If you’re able to invest in a Yankee CD, however, it’s possible that you could earn a higher rate of return for your money. That’s important if you’re working on building wealth and want to diversify your portfolio.

Are CDs smart investments? They can be, if you’re comfortable leaving money in a CD account until it reaches maturity. Again, with a Yankee certificate of deposit you may be looking at a one- to three-year wait until the CD matures. So given the higher deposit requirements involved, it’s important to consider how comfortable you are typing up larger amounts for that long, and what kind of return you can expect.

From a banking perspective, Yankee CDs matter because they’re a source of capital for foreign banks, which may need U.S. dollars to cover domestic obligations.

Yankee CDs: Real World Example

Scotiabank is one example of a Canadian bank that offers Yankee CDs to U.S.-based savers. The bank, headquartered in Toronto, offers both floating-rate and fixed- rate Yankee certificates of deposit. The bank’s floating-rate products have maturity terms ranging from two to three years, with minimum deposits of $250,000 and target principal amounts ranging from $50 million to $90 million.

The fixed-rate Yankee CD earns an impressive yield and requires a minimum deposit of $250,000, with a target principal amount of $100 million. The maturity period for this CD is also two years. Scotiabank offers these CDs exclusively to institutional investors who are accredited.

Special Considerations for Yankee CDs

There are two important things to keep in mind with a Yankee certificate of deposit investment. First, investors assume a certain amount of credit risk with these CDs.

The quality of these CDs is determined by the credit rating of the issuing bank. Banks with lower credit ratings may be more likely to default on financial obligations, including the payment of interest to CD holders. Tying up large amounts of money in Yankee certificates of deposit issued by banks with questionable credit ratings could therefore be risky.

Second, it’s important to keep in mind that FDIC protection does not apply to these CDs. Ordinarily, CDs issued at FDIC-insured banks are protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per financial institution, per account ownership type, in the rare event that the bank fails. With Yankee CDs, you don’t have that reassurance that your money is safe should the worst happen.

How to Open a Yankee CD

Opening a Yankee isn’t that different from opening any other type of CD. Here are the main steps involved:

•   Locate banks that offer Yankee CDs in the U.S.

•   Compare the Yankee certificates of deposit available, including the minimum deposit and interest rate.

•   Complete the application to open an account.

•   Make your initial deposit.

As noted, it’s important to choose a financial institution with good credit ratings. So you may want to take the additional step of checking credit ratings with Moody’s or Fitch Ratings to measure the bank’s financial health and strength.

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Alternatives to Yankee CDs

If you’re looking for CD options that may be more accessible than Yankee CDs, there are some other possibilities. You could use any of the following to reach your savings goals:

•   Standard CDs. A standard CD is a regular CD offered by a bank or credit union that pays interest and has a reasonable minimum deposit.

•   Jumbo CDs. Jumbo CDs are similar to standard CDs but have larger minimum deposit requirements. For example, you may need $10,000 or more to open a jumbo CD.

•   No-penalty CDs. A no-penalty CD allows you to withdraw money from your C before its maturity date without triggering an early withdrawal penalty.

•   Bump up CDs. Raise your rate or bump up CDs allow you to raise your interest rate once or twice during the CD term. This type of CD might be attractive if you expect rates to rise.

•   Add-on CDs. An add-on CD allows you to make additional deposits to your account after your CD has been opened. Ordinarily, CDs don’t allow additional deposits.

You may also consider CD-secured loans if you’re interested in a CD product that can help you build credit. With a CD-secured loan your CD serves as collateral. Your money stays in the CD until maturity, earning interest. Meanwhile, you make payments to the loan which can be reported to the credit bureaus.

Once the CD matures, you can withdraw the principal and interest or roll it into a new CD. You also get the benefit of on-time payment history, which can help to improve your credit score.

The Takeaway

A Yankee certificate of deposit is issued domestically by a branch of a foreign bank to U.S. investors. Yankee CDs are designed to help investors earn a solid return while allowing foreign banks to raise capital via U.S. investors. Due to their high minimum deposit requirements (as much as $1 million or more), these CDs may be better suited to some investors than others; they’re sometimes restricted to institutional investors.

Yankee CDs may offer competitive rates, but they are not federally insured like most U.S.-issued CDs.

If you’re committed to seeing your money grow slowly and steadily over time, the good news is you don’t have to miss out on a great rate when saving money. If you’re banking with SoFi, you can take advantage of SoFi’s all-in-one Checking and Savings. You can sign up for an account right from your phone and pay zero account fees — and if you qualify and sign up with direct deposit, you can earn 1.25% APY. Open your Checking and Savings today.

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FAQ

Can you lose money on a certificate of deposit?

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are generally a safe, secure way to save money. It’s possible, however, to lose money with a Yankee CD if the bank that issued it is unable to meet its financial obligations and pay interest to investors as scheduled.

What are the cons of a certificate of deposit?

Certificates of deposit may offer lower rates of return compared to other investments, which means your money has potential for growth. With bank CDs, savers may face early withdrawal penalties if they take money from their accounts before the CD matures.

How do I redeem a certificate of deposit?

If your CD is reaching maturity or you need to withdraw money for any other reason, you can visit a branch to redeem your CD or do so online if your bank allows it. You’ll need to specify how much money you want to withdraw and where that money should be sent if you’re redeeming CDs online.


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