Last Updated on by Talita
If you are an expat or a digital nomad… Or someone living in another country in general, such as an immigrant or student, you may come across times when you need to make withdrawals, transfers, payments and many money related issues. After all, moving our money is something natural nowadays.
It is almost impossible for you to have an account at a physical bank abroad. However, physical banks usually have a huge bureaucracy, in addition to charging very high fees. Because of this, it may be necessary for you – and much more useful – to have an online bank account.
Because of it, keep reading to discover the benefits of having a digital bank, the best options for you as an expatriate or a digital nomad. Learn the difference between an expatriate or a digital nomad them and also check the comparison table between the banks. Maybe you’re a digital nomad and you don’t even know!
Why opt for a digital bank as an expat or digital nomad?
There are many benefits to using an online bank over a traditional physical bank, I will name six of them here:
- Accessibility: As an online bank user, you can access your accounts anywhere, anytime, as long as you have an internet connection. There is no need to go to a bank branch in person or stand in long queues, as everything is done 100% online;
- Ease of use: Most online banks have easy-to-use apps and websites that make banking easier. You can transfer money, pay bills and check your balances on your device’s screen;
- Lower Fees: Online banks generally charge lower fees as they have less operating costs such as rent for brick-and-mortar branches and staff. This means you can save money on account maintenance fees, bank transfers and other transactions;
- More options for financial products: Online banks usually have a wider range of financial products, such as savings accounts, loans, credit cards and investments. You can compare and choose the products that best suit your needs and financial goals;
- Security: Online banks invest in security technology, as their operations are completely digital, which means that your financial information and transactions are protected by encryption and other security measures;
- Customer Service: While online banks don’t have brick-and-mortar branches, most offer 24/7 customer service via live chat, phone, or email. This means you can get help and support whenever you need it.
But, after all, what is an expatriate or a digital nomad?
An expatriate is a person who lives outside their home country, usually for an extended period of time, for professional, educational or personal reasons. In other words, an expatriate is someone who has moved to another country to work, study or live for an indefinite period of time, but who still retains their original citizenship or nationality.
Expatriates can be employees of multinational companies, international students, entrepreneurs, retirees, among others. They often have to deal with issues such as adapting to a new culture, language, customs and, in some cases, differences in work environment or education.
A digital nomad is a person who has the ability to work remotely, using technology to carry out their professional activities from anywhere in the world, without the need for a physical office or presence in a specific location.
Generally, digital nomads work in areas such as digital marketing, programming, graphic design, writing, translation, consulting and other professions that allow remote work. They can travel constantly, change cities or countries frequently, taking advantage of the flexibility that remote work gives them.
7 Best Online Banks for Expats or Digital Nomads
Right. You know you want online banking, considering all the benefits, and you know it will be good for your life as an expat or digital nomad. However, which bank to choose?
The options are numerous, so I will mention seven of them here.
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, was founded in 2010. The company offers international money transfer and currency conversion services through its online platform.
The bank allows users to send and receive money in different currencies, with exchange rates up to seven times lower than those offered by traditional banks. Additionally, Wise offers a multi-currency account that allows users to hold and spend money in different currencies without paying exchange fees when they use their card to make purchases or withdraw cash at ATMs.
Wise has more than 10 million users and its values are to provide transparency and honesty in its operations and offer consumer protection through various security measures. In addition, they offer services to 150 countries and in 50 different currencies.
Founded in 2015, Revolut now has over 25 million users and supports operations in over 200 countries and regions.
You can have four types of accounts at this bank:
- Standard: Free and that will meet your basic needs as an online and global bank;
- Plus: Fee of $2.99 per month and on top of basic services gives your finances a boost;
- Premium: Fee of $6.99 per month gives you the opportunity to invest and save smarter;
- Metal: Fee of $12.99 per month that gives you several additional benefits in your account, like cashback, more ways to save and more.
In addition, your cards have the option to connect with your Apple or Google Play account, facilitating many commercial transactions and it is possible to make instant payments with the card, configuring security in the way you prefer.
Multipass can be considered an outstanding international account for businesses operating with multiple currencies. In other words, it is more focused on individuals who require a bank account in the company’s name rather than personal use. If this is not your case, you can skip to the next option!
The company was founded in 2017 and is part of the Dyninno Group, which has over 19 years of experience in the market. It offers an account where the client, in this case, a company, can hold funds in over 30 currencies from various different countries.
Furthermore, payments can be made to/from over 180 countries and with physical and virtual cards.
Like the other options, N26 is a 100% European online banking option. They prioritize the safety of their more than eight million users and offer charts that help you keep track of your spending habits.
Your card also gives you the opportunity to connect to Apple Pay and customer service can be provided in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
As with the previous option, you can choose your account type from four options:
- Standard: Free, where your card is virtual only, but it is possible to make international payments and free deposits, it has customer service and the necessary security protections, that is, the basics necessary for your account;
- Smart: €4.90 monthly fee. From here you already have a physical card, where you can choose between five colors. In addition to the previous benefits, it is possible to have an extra card, if necessary, and 10 more sub-accounts;
- You: €9.90 monthly fee. In addition to everything mentioned in the other accounts, you get health, flight and travel insurance coverage;
- Metal: €16.90 monthly fee. In addition to everything present in the other accounts, an interesting benefit is that in addition to travel-related insurance, here you get insurance coverage for everyday items, such as cell phones, cars and mobility.
This is a US company and to create your account you need a US citizen card, but you do not need to have an address in the US. However, if this is not your case, you can skip to the next option!
It was founded in 1971 and is known for offering a wide range of financial services including investing, stock trading, options, mutual funds, bonds and other investment options.
The bank offers an easy-to-use online trading platform that allows customers to access their investments anytime, anywhere, whether using a computer or mobile phone.
One of its advantages is that there are no account maintenance or brokerage fees. This means you can invest as much or as little as you like without worrying about additional fees.
However, they do charge fees for certain services such as wire transfer cash withdrawals and transfers to external accounts, but these fees are refunded!
Chime was founded in 2013 and offers a bank account with no maintenance fees, debit card, personal loans and an investment platform.
One of its main advantages is that it does not charge fees for services in general, making it an attractive option for those looking to save on bank fees. The bank also offers a rewards program that allows customers to earn cashback on purchases made using the Chime debit card.
Another advantage of Chime is the “early payment detection” feature, which helps customers better manage their finances and avoid late payment fees.
It is important to note that, even without charging maintenance fees, Chime may charge fees for certain services, such as withdrawals at ATMs outside the partner network and international bank transfers.
Founded in 2015 with headquarters in London, UK, Monese makes it easy for users to open an account, regardless of their location or financial background. You can sign up via the Monese app in just a few minutes, with no credit check or bank history required.
This bank offers the option of having bank accounts in multiple currencies, allowing customers to pay and receive money while avoiding conversion fees. It also offers a feature that helps customers take control of their finances by tracking their spending and offering money-saving suggestions.
Just like some other options on the list, they also offer the option to connect with your Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Monese may charge fees for some services, such as ATM withdrawals outside our partner network and some international bank transfers.
A UK address is not required to create an account, but there may be some limitations for those who are not from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Bonus: Starling Bank
Like its predecessor, Starling Bank is a London-based bank that offers a wide range of banking services, including current accounts, debit cards, loans, savings and foreign exchange services.
The bank’s mobile app is intuitive, allowing customers to manage their finances efficiently, and it offers multi-currency bank accounts. The bank also offers an “auto-savings” feature, where customers can set the app to automatically transfer a specified amount of money to their savings account every time they make a debit card purchase.
Their rates are also great compared to competitors and most services are free. Another interesting feature is the “Marketplace”, where customers can access and subscribe to various third-party financial services, such as accounting and lending services, directly through the bank’s app.
Comparison table between the 7 best online banks
|Founding country||Exchange rate||Transaction fee||Make withdrawals?||Physical card?||
|Wise||United Kingdom||Real exchange rate||Starting at 0.35%, but varies depending on country and transaction||Yes||Yes||Email or chat|
|Revolut||United Kingdom||Interbank exchange rate||Varies depending on country and transaction||Yes||Yes||Chat|
|N26||Germany||Interbank exchange rate||Varies depending on country and transaction||Yes||Yes||Chat|
|Charles Schwab||United States||Interbank exchange rate||No fee||Yes||Yes||Phone|
|Chime||United States||Interbank exchange rate||Varies depending on country and transaction||Yes||Yes||Chat or phone|
|Monese||United Kingdom||Interbank exchange rate||Starting at 0.5%, may vary depending on country, transaction or account type||Yes||Yes||Email or chat|
|Starling Bank||United Kingdom||Interbank exchange rate||Varies depending on country and transaction||Yes||Yes||Chat or phone|
I hope this article has helped you in some way to decide the best online banking option. It is worth noting that, despite our summary, it is important for you to draw your own conclusions about the options by going to their sites and analyzing them. It will take a little longer, but it’s always good to be sure…
Any questions about these or other options, feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!