Anyone who has ever worked on a travel budget will know that banking fees are one of the sneaky, hidden costs that are always neglected from consideration. But they can be quite steep and bite you in the bum. While a one-off trip is bearable, frequent travelers need an alternate solution. If you’re looking for the best banks for digital nomads that are great for international travel, then this is a great starting point.
The best bank accounts for international travel will depend largely on the country that you originate from. The following list of six banks includes some of the most effective for international travel.
Banks for Digital Nomads: What to Consider
Living and working remotely is a fantastic position to be in, but it takes a lot of preparation in order to make it work. Strict budgeting, self-discipline, and excellent communication skills are essential.
As you travel, you’ll be spending your money in different currencies, supporting various industries, and possibly even earning an income from different corners of the globe. If you do a little bit of research for an ‘international bank’ then you may even find your current bank pop up.
As banking is a global operation, you’ll very seldom find yourself in a position where you can’t withdraw or spend money. The trick is to cut down on the exchange fees and withdrawal costs.
One of the first things to consider is what kind of account you want to open and use. There are three main types of accounts, namely;
- Checking or Savings account – which is pretty standard and includes a normal debit card
- Virtual bank – which doesn’t have a physical location but rather everything is managed online
- Cryptocurrency – for those of you that enjoy the thrill of fluctuating value
The main aspects to consider when choosing which bank account to open include currency exchange fees, the cost to withdraw money at an ATM, and customer service. Once you’ve chosen the perfect bank for you then you’ll just need a reliable internet connection and you’re set to continue business as usual.
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Best Bank For International Travel
We’ve done our fair share of research into what banks work internationally and even had personal experience with two of the banks on this list (both of which we’d recommend). We’ve managed to narrow our conclusion down to the best banks for international travel.
N26: European Union
We were members of N26 and were very proud of our black metal banking cards but were requested to close our accounts when Brexit was finalized. Still, we had a good experience with them and N26 digital bank is a top choice for many.
Pros of N26
- The free account is versatile and useful
- Unlimited no-fee ATM withdrawals are available on the premium account (at the cost of a low fee)
- Exclusive partner offerings with businesses such as GetYourGuide
- Inclusion of an Allianz insurance package
- 24-hour customer support
- No foreign transaction fees
Cons of N26
- There are reports of phishing frauds which is a risk that comes with digital banks
- Only available for those living in the European Union
Revolut: United States, United Kingdom, European Union
Revolut is one of the top international online banks, and we love having an account with them. As we earn income from different parts of the world, we find the functionality of Revolut to be user-friendly and easy to manage.
The bank beautifully combines the workings of STACK, another financial app for travelers, with the advanced features of N26. As one of the world’s fastest-growing banks, it serves a number of nationalities and is one of the best multi-currency accounts.
Pros of Revolut
- Possible to store up to five different currencies within your bank account
- Minimal ATM withdrawal fees
- Free to open and maintain your account
- Several expanding features such as crypto trading and virtual cards
- Free international bank transfers
- The premium version offers unique perks such as travel insurance
Cons of Revolut
- Customer support isn’t the best out of these listed banks
- Only online which doesn’t help those who prefer a physical location to visit
Charles Schwab Bank: United States
Charles Schwab Bank is one of the most popular international banks in the USA. If you open an investment account with the bank then you’ll receive a free checking account, which has left a positive impression on many.
Pros of Charles Schwab Bank
- Fully refundable fees on all foreign ATM withdrawals
- No foreign transfer fees
- Free checks
- No monthly maintenance fees
- Excellent interest rates
- 24/7 online customer support chat
- Full guarantee of account security
Cons of Charles Schwab Bank
- You need to be a US resident to open an account
- In addition, you need to be in the United States in order to verify the opening of your account
Monzo: United Kingdom
Monzo is loved as one of the best banks for traveling internationally and is a popular choice for UK citizens. The bank has several useful features such as salary saver, saving pots, bill pots, and overdraft.
Pros of Monzo
- Competitive saving rates
- Easy to set up
- Automatic savings feature
- Ability to set up a joint account with another Monzo member
- Free cash withdrawal
- Option to take out a loan
Cons of Monzo
- Daily withdrawal and spending limits
- There are no physical branches to visit
Payoneer: United States
Payoneer is an American financial services provider that allows you to be paid by international clients. Their catchphrase “Pay and Get Paid Worldwide” and their ability to follow through puts them on this list of best banks for travelers. Keep in mind that Payoneer is best suited for larger businesses and not really small freelancers.
Pros of Payoneer
- They charge a flat rate of $3 per transfer
- Easy to use
- Direct bank withdrawal
- International prepaid card
Cons of Payoneer
- Small freelancers may be overwhelmed with fees
- Ordering a new card is pricey
- Customer support is limited
Bonus Tool: Transferwise
Although it isn’t technically a bank, Transferwise is growing in popularity among digital nomads as it allows you to transfer money internationally without any cost. The company was birthed out of the need to avoid paying hefty transfer fees and is loved for offering the lowest fees when sending or receiving large amounts of money.
Transferwise is quickly becoming a preferred alternative to Paypal. There is also the Transferwise borderless account which gives you the opportunity to deposit money in several countries.
What Is The Best Bank For Travelers?
At the end of the day, you’ll be limited by your nationality and where you are able to open up a bank account. Each of the banks on this list has something that makes it unique and helpful when traveling as a digital nomad and is worth further research.
We’ve gone through the teething process of having to adjust our budget after withdrawal fees and exchange rates. In the end, we’ve decided to go with Revolut and so far, so good! If you have any experience worth sharing about another bank, please do let us know!