If you’re planning for long-term international travel, one of the best things you can do to prepare for this transition is to look into opening a bank account in the country you’re moving to. While you can just use your credit or debit card or international remittance services, living abroad and managing your finances while you’re there can prove to be tricky.
You’ll have to deal with issues such as fluctuating exchange rates, ATM fees, and fees for international transactions, which can eventually accumulate into a hefty sum.
One of the most common misconceptions about opening an account with an international bank is that they’re only reserved for big companies or wealthy individuals.
Another common misconception is that international bank accounts or offshore banking is primarily used for illicit purposes such as money laundering or tax evasion. While this might be true in some cases, offshore banking is legitimate if you’re running a business in a foreign country, want to protect your investments, or stay most or half the time in a different country.
If you want to build your investment portfolio or set aside money for retirement, offshore banking can be a feasible alternative to domestic accounts. Just note that international banks’ policies, guidelines, and procedures will have to comply with the laws of the country they’re set up in. These banks may also set their own terms and policies, provided that they meet their host country’s laws and regulations.
An international bank account is a bank account that you open in a foreign country or a country that you’re not a citizen of. Think of it as opening a bank account with a domestic bank in your home country, but with some additional requirements, which may vary among international banks. Common requirements of opening an international bank account include:
Other requirements may include:
Working with an international bank offers a lot in terms of benefit for travelers or business owners other than having access to international savings accounts. International banks make their financial services available in different countries and offer multicurrency banking. This enables you to pay bills or transfer money using the foreign country’s currency, complete transactions in your home country, and even travel across various regions, without having to worry about the hefty fees that usually come with international remittance services.
With an international bank account, you can also tap into foreign investments1, such as real estate in Bermuda or in Switzerland, to diversify your assets. Some banks even offer international online banking services, so you can make international payments or fund transfers and manage your account anytime, anywhere.
In this article, we’ve rounded up some of the best international banks in the US that are great options for international travel.
Citibank is one of the best international banks in the US for expat banking because of their very international model. It currently physically operates in 97 markets2, supporting clients from more than 160 countries, making access to their ATMs more convenient.
Citibank offers quick and easy-to-use financial services, including opening and managing your money in up to 21 different currencies. Moreover, if you open a GBP, EUR, or USD cash account, you can earn an interest on your balance3, provided that it’s over $200,000. You’ll also have 24/7 access to international online banking services that let you manage a portion of your investment portfolio.
Perhaps one of the reasons that make Citibank a great bank for expats is how convenient it is to do global fund transfers. Travelers can quickly send money to family or friends in over 20 countries in more than 60 currencies. The best part is the transfers are free if you’re sending money to a Citibank account.
Note that there are corresponding fees for transfers to non-Citibank accounts.
HSBC is also a great bank for expats as it makes opening an international bank account hassle-free for travelers. It currently offers three ways to open an overseas account4:
Frequent travelers can open an HSBC bank account in over 30 countries and territories, including:
Opening an international bank account with HSBC is free and doesn’t require payment of any annual account fees for HSBC Jade or HSBC Premier clients. In addition, receiving international wire transfers is free, and fees will be waived for clients who apply for an overseas Premium checking account online. Overseas cash withdrawal fees from any of the HSBC Group’s ATM network will also be waived for clients with a Premier checking account.
Capital One 360 is a boon to frequent travelers who periodically make purchases while they’re abroad. It doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee5 or ATM fees, which is why opening a Capital One 360 account is one of the best bank accounts for traveling. Best of all, travelers won’t be charged additional fees for overseas transactions made using their Capital One 360 product.
The Charles Schwab Bank lets you set up an international checking account without the need to open a premium checking account with them. Instead, you can opt for the Schwab Bank’s High Yield Investor Checking account6 (HYIC), an account that earns interest and has no monthly fees or minimum balance, and enjoy fee-free ATM withdrawals. Moreover, you’ll receive rebates for any ATM fees you might incur.
First Republic Bank’s ATM Rebate Checking account7 lets you withdraw for free worldwide. You’ll receive a rebate for any fees charged by other banks or providers. For Rebate Checking account holders, overdraft protection service is available. You’ll need a minimum of $500 to open this particular account, which can potentially earn interest when you hit a minimum of $3,500 in your account each month.
Do you frequently travel to the US from Mexico or vice versa? Finding US banks affiliated with Mexican banks can be a bit challenging. The good news is that there are several banks that you can work with whether you’re staying in the US or in Mexico. However, it’s worth noting that you may need to set up a separate American or Mexican bank account. If you’re a frequent traveler to Mexico, opening a Mexican bank account can help you save on fees.
Bank of America8 is affiliated with Santander Bank. As such, this enables you to easily use all Santander ATMs within Mexico. However, withdrawals are charged an international transaction fee.
Citibank has a subsidiary in Mexico known as Banamex9, which offers several financial services, including:
HSBC Mexico10 lets you open an international online banking account. In addition, they also offer access to other accounts such as checking and debit accounts.
Several large European banks have already entered the US market, including:
However, their presence in the country has been weakening due to challenges brought about by factors that hampered economic expansion. These include geopolitical issues and global economic crisis in 2007 to 2009. In 2019, European banks, such as Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, started to limit their operations in the US11.
Running an international business means having to make transactions involving multiple currencies in various countries. Working with international banks gives you access to accounts that you can use for operating funds, payroll, and time deposits.
With the pandemic, changes in trade policies, and other factors greatly altering global trade, many banks have risen to the challenge, offering new strategies and solutions to keep up with the ever-changing times and technologies.
Some of these banks are leveraging new technologies. Citibank, for example, has recently launched a new digital assets group that enables clients to invest in blockchain technology12, including crypto and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Bank of America13, for example, has recently introduced the Intelligent Receivables solution, a receivables matching service that’s powered by AI and machine-learning technologies to match payments with open invoices.
Other notable banks that have risen to the recent challenges to global trade include:
1. Find a bank that matches your financial habits
Do you use your credit card frequently or do you prefer to regularly withdraw cash from the ATM? Working with a bank that matches your financial habits is important when you’re moving to another country. If you use your credit or debit card often, it helps if you open a checking account with a bank that supports your card to make any transactions easier later on.
If you tend to withdraw cash often, find a bank that has multiple ATM networks in your new destination to avoid being charged withdrawal fees or low exchange rates if you’re using foreign currency.
2. Consider your new destination
If you’re moving to a new country, you’re more likely to have a lot of options when it comes to international banks. However, a smaller country might not have a lot of options for you. Before leaving the country, check to see if your preferred bank has locations in the US and in your new destination. If you still have limited options, opt for a bank that offers a comprehensive range of international online banking services.
3. Work with US banks with international locations
Before leaving, check if your US bank has overseas locations to make the transition easier once you get to your destination.
While opening an international bank account does have its merits, sometimes it can be challenging to set up one, especially if you’re still trying to settle down in your new location. Boss Money is an innovative solution that combines three services into one app:
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Sources: all third party information obtained from applicable website as of February 8, 2022
This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to address every aspect of the matters discussed herein. The information in this article is not intended as specific personal advice. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax, regulatory or other professional advice from IDT Payment Services, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “IDT”), and should not be taken or used as such by any individual. IDT makes no representation, warranty or guaranty, whether express or implied, that the content in this article is current, accurate, or complete. You should obtain professional or other substantive advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the information in this article.