Updated January 31, 2024

Best International Banks

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Getting an international bank account could save you thousands if you're always out of the country. Read on to find out how.

What are the best international banks?
Here are the best banks and financial technology companies that help you bank without borders:
  1. HSBC for expats
  2. Charles Schwab for frequent travelers
  3. Citibank for free money transfers
  4. Capital One for low fees
  5. Wise for multiple currencies
  6. Revolut for travel perks
  7. Chime for USD transactions
  8. Payoneer for digital nomads

No matter where you are, easy access to your money is crucial. Whether you're an expat, digital nomad, or a frequent traveler, having an international bank account can go a long way.

Looking for a bank to take with you across borders? Here are the top picks. Read on to see which one works best for you.

What is an International Bank?

An international bank is a bank that serves customers all around the world. They can cater to those who are always traveling or those who are planning to migrate to a different country.

What is the primary reason you're considering an international bank account?

If you're looking for an account to open with an international bank, here are some of the best picks depending on what you need.

What banks offer international accounts?
Banks like HSBC, Charles Schwab, Citibank, and Capital One all offer international bank accounts. Alternatively, money service providers like Wise, Revolut, Chime, and Payoneer also offer services that allow you to transact internationally.

HSBC for Expats

LocationsAustralia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, France, Germany, Guernsey, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Jersey, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam
Foreign transaction feeN/A
ATM withdrawal feeThird-party fees may apply outside the US[1]

HSBC is one of the biggest global banks on the market. Their Global Money Account is a prepaid, multi-currency account that could help you if you live in a different country or if you have international finances.

With this account, you can convert and hold your money in over 8 different currencies, allowing you to make transfers no matter where you are. Their exchange rates also refresh every 90 seconds to stay aligned with foreign markets.

The main drawback to this account is its high minimum balance. To open this account, you'll need at least one of these HSBC US accounts:

  • HSBC Premier Checking Account
  • HSBC Premier Savings
  • HSBC Premier Relationship Savings

For those that can handle the balance, this account is perfect for expats since it doesn't charge you foreign transaction fees on debit card purchases. It also lets you monitor and move money between accounts in multiple countries.

Pros + Cons:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Competitive and frequently updated exchange rates
  • Free transfers to other HSBC customers
  • High minimum balance
  • $50 monthly fee if you don't meet their requirements
  • Poorly-rated mobile apps

If you're a customer of HSBC Expat, the bank has a version of this account designed specifically for expats, offering 58 currencies and allowing you to hold up to 19 different currencies in a single account.

Charles Schwab for Frequent Travelers

LocationsUnited States
Foreign transaction feeN/A
ATM withdrawal feeUnlimited ATM fee rebates (fees from third parties may still apply)[2]

With no foreign transaction fees and unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, Charles Schwab could be a go-to for frequent globetrotters.

Their Investor Checking account refunds all your ATM fees whenever you withdraw cash using the Schwab Bank Visa Platinum Debit card.

The account also features no foreign transaction fees and no monthly fees and minimums.

This account even has travel and emergency assistance services[3] including emergency messaging, medical and legal referral assistance, emergency transportation, emergency translation, lost luggage locator, and more. Just note that you'll be charged for most of these services.

Pros + Cons

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide
  • Free Visa debit card
  • Highly-rated mobile app
  • Low APY
  • Account needs to be linked to a brokerage account (but you don't need to use it)

Citibank for Free Money Transfers

LocationsAustralia, Bahrain, China, Colombia, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam
Foreign transaction fee0-3% (depending on your account)
ATM withdrawal feeNo fees for Citibank ATMs (regular charges may still apply)[4]

Citibank is one of the biggest banks in the world. They span across over 20 countries, meaning if you ever encounter a problem, you can likely head to a physical branch to get it sorted.

They offer free international transfers[5] to other Citi accounts through their Citibank Global Transfers service.

On top of that, they have free Citibank ATM withdrawals in more than 20 countries. These machines will even allow you to withdraw in the local currency of the country you're in.

If you need foreign currency and don't have the time to head to the nearest Citi branch, you can have it delivered to your door using their World Wallet Foreign Currency Exchange Services. Just give them a call and they'll deliver it to your home or office.

Pros + Cons

  • Foreign currency delivery
  • Free international transfers to other Citi accounts
  • International presence (ATMs in 20+ countries)[6]
  • Withdraw in local currency
  • Possible ATM fees for non-premium accounts
  • Fees are high for sending money to non-Citi account holders

If you're in the market for a new credit card, Citibank also offers a few cards that have no foreign transaction fees, so be sure to check which of those will work best for you.

Capital One for Low Fees

CountriesPuerto Rico, United States
Foreign transaction feeN/A (for 360 products)
ATM withdrawal feeN/A (for 360 products)[7]

Capital One's 360, like a few others on this list, doesn't charge you foreign transaction fees. They also don't charge monthly fees or require a minimum balance.[8]

If you're the type to use cash when you're abroad, Capital One won't charge you fees for taking money out of an ATM. However, you can still be charged by ATM owners if your withdrawals are out of network (which won't be reimbursed by Capital One).

If you're looking for a travel account with low fees across the board, this might be the one for you.

Pros + Cons

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No ATM fees
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No refunds on fees charged by ATM owners

Alternatives

Depending on what you're looking for in your travels, traditional banks may not have what you need. Luckily, there are a few other money service providers you could check out.

Money Service Provider vs Bank: Banks offer many different services like loans, savings, interest accounts, and more. Money service providers, on the other hand, specialize in holding and converting foreign currencies and sending international bank transfers.

Wise for Multiple Currencies

Wise is a financial technology company, not a bank.

LocationsAustralia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States
Foreign transaction feeFrom 0.42% (fee varies by currency)[9]
ATM withdrawal fee2% + $1.50 per withdrawal[9]

Wise, although not technically a bank, is one of biggest money service providers in the world. Their multi-currency account lets you hold money in 40 different currencies and provides a universal card you can use in over 160 countries.

If you're looking to send money abroad, you get mid-market exchange rates for international transfers with Wise. However, it's worth noting that you still have to pay fees for sending, withdrawing, spending, and receiving money.[10]

When it comes to ATM fees, the first 2 withdrawals of up to $100 each month are free. But the succeeding and any amount you withdraw above $100 will have a small fee, excluding fees from out-of-network ATMs.[11] Here are a few other fees to take note of:

ServiceFee
Opening an accountFree
Sending moneyFrom 0.42% (varies per currency)
Converting moneyFrom 0.42% (varies per currency)
Hold 40+ currenciesFree
Receiving money (non-wire)Free
Receiving USD wire payments$4.14 (fixed rate)

For a more detailed breakdown of Wise's fees, check out their fees page.

Opening an account with Wise is free and it even comes with a virtual card that lets you make online transactions.

If you're looking for an account with multi-currency support, this just might be the best one out there.

Pros + Cons:

  • Multi-currency support
  • Low exchange rate
  • Free to open and free virtual card
  • No interest on deposits
  • Higher fees than some competitors

Wise also has a travel money card that lets you transact abroad and withdraw money through foreign ATMs (the first $100 of withdrawals is fee-free, but the succeeding may have a small fee—excluding fees from out-of-network ATMs).

Revolut for Travel Perks

Revolut is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Member FDIC.

LocationsAustralia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweeden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Foreign transaction feeNo fees during market hours; 1% outside market hours
ATM withdrawal feeNo fees (only up to $400/month for out-of-network ATMs)[12]

Revolut's account lets you hold and send money in over 25 currencies. They offer currency exchange, international transfers, and even travel perks.

Instead of charging a markup fee for their exchanges, the exchange rate they use is close to the market's exchange rate. [13] This means you get the best exchange rates if you're looking to pay with your card or get cash in a currency you don't hold.

The catch of their exchange rate is that if your base currency is USD, you have a limit of $1,000 worth of exchanges per month (for the Standard account). After you use it up, you'll pay 0.5% on any additional amount.[14]

They also charge higher fees outside the foreign-exchange-market hours. This means that if you need to exchange money any time between Friday 5:00 PM to Sunday 6:00 PM, you'll be charged higher fees.

For a more detailed breakdown of Revolut's fees, check out their fees page.

Revolut's Standard (and free) account even comes with travel perks, you can make currency exchanges up to $1,000 each month with no fair usage fees.[15] But the higher the plan you get, the more travel perks you get. So if you're willing to dish out a little extra, you could get travel perks like:

StandardPremiumMetal
Price$0.00/month$9.99/month$16.99/month
International spending at market exchange rates$1,000/month limit$10,000/month limitUnlimited
No foreign transaction fees
Complimentary lounge accessXYou +1 friendYou +3 friends
Primary accidental medical insurance (up to $10,000)X
Trip delay expense coverageX
Trip cancellation and interruption protectionX
Delayed baggage expense coverageX
Lost or damaged baggage protectionX
Discounted airport lounge accessX

For a full breakdown of all the perks and plans of Revolut, check out their comparison page.

Pros + Cons

  • Real and accurate exchange rates
  • Travel perks
  • Revolut card provided (easy worldwide purchases)
  • Limited free currency exchanges for Standard and Premium plans
  • Monthly fees (if you go for higher plans)

Chime for USD Transactions

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

LocationsUnited States (card can be used anywhere the card network is accepted)
Foreign transaction feeN/A
ATM withdrawal fee$2.50 for OTC cash withdrawals or out-of-network ATMs[16]

Like the other money service providers, Chime also offers its fee-free banking services through its partner banks.

Their mobile app lets you handle all your money from one place. If you're looking to use a debit card for your purchases, they mail you a Visa debit card right after you open an account.

Chime's checking account has no monthly fees, no minimum balance fees, and no overdraft fees. However, it's worth noting that you can still be charged fees by ATM owners if you use an out-of-network ATM.

Despite Chime not having a multi-currency account, you can still use their card internationally without having to pay any international card transaction fees.

Pros + Cons:

  • Free Visa debit card
  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Poor customer service (low Trustpilot rating)
  • No multi-currency support

Can Chime cards be used internationally?[17]
Yes. You can use your Chime card internationally as long as Visa is accepted and you have International Transactions turned on in the mobile app.

Payoneer for Digital Nomads

Payoneer is a financial technology company, not a bank.

LocationsAustralia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States (withdraw locally in over 190 countries)
Foreign transaction fee0-3%[18]
ATM withdrawal fee$3.15[18]

With Payoneer, you can open an account in the currency of your choice. This means you can avoid any costly international wire transfer fees when accepting or making payments.

Opening an account is free and you even have an option to get a Mastercard debit card with it. Just note that there are some fees—like annual and withdrawal fees—that come with the card.

Other additional fees include charges for transferring money or moving money between accounts that use different currencies—unless they're both Payoneer accounts. In that case, accepting international payments is free but sending funds to other Payoneer account holders in certain regions may incur a fee. [19]

Payoneer's fees will depend on if your recipient is a Payoneer customer, the currency you're using, what country you're in, and more. For a detailed breakdown of everything they charge, check out their fees page.

This account is great for digital nomads who love to work fully remotely. This includes business owners who receive money in different currencies or freelancers who decide to make the whole world their office.

Pros + Cons:

  • Open an account with the currency of your choice
  • No international wire fees
  • Fees for transferring money to non-Payoneer accounts using different currencies

How to Avoid Banking Fees & Costs Abroad

Being charged for a fee you weren't aware of while you're abroad is a hassle. Here are a few general tips you can use to avoid these unwanted costs:

  • Check your bank's foreign transaction fees/exchange rates
    Avoiding unwanted fees starts with reading the fine print. Before traveling, be sure to read up on your bank's foreign transaction fees and exchange rates.

  • Pay with the local currency
    Paying with the local currency avoids dynamic conversion completely. This can lead to less expensive transactions and less strain on your bank account.

    Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) lets you make credit card purchases abroad using your home currency. Although it saves you from doing the math on your purchases, it often comes at a poor exchange rate.

  • Use a multi-currency account
    Using a multi-currency account keeps your money in local currencies. This helps you avoid high conversion fees and bad exchange rates.

  • Choose a bank that reimburses ATM fees
    Withdrawing cash abroad makes you susceptible to non-network ATM fees. Look for a bank that reimburses these fees so that you can save the extra money for your travels.

What to consider when looking for an International Bank

Choosing an international bank is like choosing a travel partner—you need to make sure you're compatible. To help you with your decision, here's a list of things you can look out for:

  • Foreign transaction fees:
    Ideally, you won't want to be charged for your purchases abroad. Without these fees, your wallet will feel heavier and you'll have more money to spend on other things.

  • Currency exchange:
    Some banks offer in-app currency exchange at little to no fees. Since you'll be likely using different currencies, you'll want the convenience of exchanging money in-app.

    Not only are finding local money exchangers a hassle, but for their services, they might charge higher than the current exchange rate.

    Local banks or ATMs are the best places to exchange money when you're abroad. Local money exchangers will often charge a high markup on top of their exchange rates, especially the ones you see at the airport.

  • ATMs:
    When you're abroad, an ATM is one of the only ways for you to withdraw cash. When choosing a bank, make sure they give you ATM access no matter where you are.

    Also, be on the lookout for the fees that you'll be charged. If your bank has no ATMs overseas, you'll want to at least make sure they reimburse your fees.

  • Mobile app:
    Whether you're an expat, digital nomad, or frequent traveler, having a good mobile app is essential because it allows you to manage your money on-the-go.

    Not all banks have physical branches online, so be on the lookout for highly-rated mobile apps from both traditional banks and money service providers.

  • International presence/customer service:
    Running into problems with your bank is always a hassle, even more so if you're abroad. For the smoothest banking experience, make sure that the bank you're considering has dedicated customer service even if you're abroad.

Which feature is most important to you in an international bank account?

Do I need to alert my bank of International travel?
Yes. Generally, you should inform your bank if you're going abroad. Notifying them helps them monitor the security of your account and prevents you from getting locked out.

How to Open an International Bank Account

The process of opening an account with an international bank will depend on the bank. If you already have a bank or money service provider in mind, be sure to read up on how to open an account with them.

These banks will often ask for document requirements when you open an account with them. No matter where you are, you'll likely need:

  • Proof of Identity - Passport, driver's license, state ID, etc. Banks will also often require two forms of ID.

  • Proof of Residency - Recent utility bills, lease agreements, or an ID with your address.

  • Minimum Deposit - Depending on the account, you might be required to make an initial deposit for your account.

If you're moving to another country for studies or work, make sure you also have a student/work visa as well as proof of enrollment/employment.

Methodology

The first thing we took into consideration is the fees that come with each account. Whether you're a frequent traveler, digital nomad, or an expat, you wouldn't want fees eating into your funds.

Next, we looked into the mobile app. Since not all banks on the list have physical locations, we wanted to make sure that you have control over your money and account. With the best mobile apps, you can check your balance, monitor your transactions, and be notified of any suspicious activity (if there are any).

Last but not least, we looked at the currency exchange rates. You won't always have a money exchanger nearby, so banks that offer multi-currency support or low in-app exchange rates are always a plus.

Bottom Line

When you're always abroad, having a good international bank account as a travel partner is essential.

Each bank has something to offer, whether it be multi-currency support, international presence, competitive exchange rates, or even reduced fees. To choose the best one for your needs, figure out what you need in your travels and match it with the bank that can fulfill those needs.

References

  1. ^ HSBC. ATMs, Retrieved 01/04/2024
  2. ^ Charles Schwab. A checking account built for investors, Retrieved 01/04/2024
  3. ^ Charles Schwab. Your Visa Card Guide to Benefits, Retrieved 09/04/2023
  4. ^ Citi. Citibank ATMs around the world, Retrieved 01/04/2024
  5. ^ Citibank. Citibank Global Transfers, Retrieved 09/04/2023
  6. ^ Citi. International Banking services and Offshore Banking services, Retrieved 10/3/23
  7. ^ Capital One. International ATM Fees, Retrieved 01/04/2024
  8. ^ Capital One. 360 Checking Account, Retrieved 09/04/2023
  9. ^ Wise. Wise Fees: Only Pay for What You Use, Retrieved 01/06/2024
  10. ^ Wise. Wise Fees: Only Pay for What You Use, Retrieved 09/04/2023
  11. ^ Wise. Fees for the Wise card, Retrieved 9/27/2023
  12. ^ Revolut. Personal Fees, Retrieved 01/06/2024
  13. ^ Revolut. How can we help?, Retrieved 09/04/2023
  14. ^ Revolut. Personal Fees, Retrieved 9/27/2023
  15. ^ Revolut. Revolut Standard, Retrieved 9/27/2023
  16. ^ Chime. Banking That Has Your Back™, Retrieved 01/06/2024
  17. ^ Chime. Can I use my card outside of the United States?, Retrieved: 10/4/23
  18. ^ Payoneer. Payoneer Fees., Retrieved 01/06/2024
  19. ^ Payoneer. Fair fees. Pricing without surprises, Retrieved 09/04/2023

Write to Katarina Rodriguez at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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