There are many different reasons people get an international bank account, including ex-pats moving to a new country and those handling multiple currencies.
Frequent travelers can also find this type of account advantageous.
International bank accounts come in all shapes and sizes, so regardless of why you want one, you’re likely to find one that fits your requirements.
In this article, we will be looking at the top international banking accounts available today along with the different types of international bank accounts, and their main features.
7 Best International Bank Accounts
- Charles Schwab: Best for International ATMs
- Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking: Best for Multiple Currencies
- Barclays International Bank Account: Best for Telephone Banking
- HSBC Everyday Global Account: Best for No Monthly Fees
- Citibank Plus Account: Best for Fee-Free Withdrawals
- Wise Borderless Account: Best for Frequent Travelers
- N26 Metal Account: Best for Additional Coverage
Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account
Charles Schwab is a mammoth financial institution that offers bank accounts, electronic trading, wealth management, and a myriad of other financial services.
Their High Yield Investor Checking account is of particular interest due to its international-friendly setup.
As the name might suggest, it’s important to note that his account is not an ordinary account and comes bundled with a Schwab One brokerage account.
Either way, the account has no monthly service fees and no minimum balance to maintain, making it very accessible.
The bank will also refund you unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide and not charge any foreign transaction fees.
To top it all off, you get an APY interest rate of 0.03% on your checking account balance.
The bank receives excellent reviews from its customers and has a solid reputation all around the world.
- Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide
- No foreign transaction fees
- Account earns interest
Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking
Bank of America’s Advantage SafeBalance Banking is a checking account aimed at international students and professionals studying or working in the US.
If you’re a non-resident alien with a physical residential address in the US (but not a US citizen or permanent resident), you’ll need to apply at one of the bank’s branches.
The account has a monthly maintenance fee of $4.95. This fee, however, is waived for students and account holders enrolled in the Preferred Rewards program.
Bank of America has also simplified global money transfers with a transparent pricing structure and timelines.
You can send international wires to over 200 countries, and the bank offers more than 140 currencies. Any outbound international wire transfer sent in a foreign currency is free.
In contrast, outbound international wires sent in US dollars will set you back $45. International wire transfers should reach the payee within two business days, provided they are sent before the 5 PM cut-off window.
- Free outbound foreign-currency wires
- International wires take two business days
- More than 140 currencies are available
Barclays International Bank Account / Premier World Account
Barclays offers a truly international bank account that you can open in a selection of different countries and locations.
The base currency can be US Dollars, Euros, or British Sterling, and funds are held in the Isle of Man.
Using this account, you can make payments in up to 60 different currencies and use ATMs worldwide without providing any advance notice.
The account also comes with a banking app, international telephone banking, as well as internet banking.
The minimum opening deposit for this account is £25,000 – which is in Sterling.
While the account doesn’t have any monthly fees, if you don’t maintain an overall balance of at least £25,000 across eligible accounts, you’ll need to pay a £40 service fee per month.
- Choose base currency
- Make payments in any of the 60 currencies available
- International telephone banking
Citibank Plus Account: Australia
In the land down-under, Citibank offers a Plus Account that has built-in international features and a few additional add-ons.
Features and benefits include worldwide cash back on card purchases from participating retailers, hotels, and restaurants, access to Citi World Privileges, and fee-free withdrawals.
You can also opt for foreign currency accounts with nine different currencies available. Each account comes with its own bank account number, enabling you to receive and send payments in the account’s currency.
You can apply for an account online and use the online status tracker to see it progress from the application stage to approval.
- Worldwide Cashback
- Foreign Currency Accounts
- Fee-Free Withdrawals
HSBC Everyday Global Account: Australia
HSBC Australia’s Everyday Global Account is a truly international bank account, allowing you to buy, hold, and spend in 10 different currencies.
You can pay in the local currency when traveling, saving you from the exuberant fees that sometimes get charged at cashpoint for currency conversion.
The account has no monthly fees and no transaction fees. HSBC Australia also does not charge any ATM fees; however, you may be liable to pay operator charges, so do beware. You also get Visa Zero Liability, helping you stay safe on your travels and at home.
At the moment, HSBC is also running a bank promotion where you can earn a bonus of $200 when depositing a minimum of $2,000 per month for three consecutive months within six months of opening the account.
You can also earn up to $50 per month in cashback (2% on eligible purchases under $100).
- Buy, hold, and spend in 10 different currencies
- No monthly fee
- Welcome bonus of $200
Wise Borderless Account: UK
Wise is a UK-based fintech offering a multi-currency account that lets you keep and exchange 54 different currencies and send money to 80 countries.
One thing that the account does differently is that they provide you with local bank details for foreign currencies.
You can receive money from different countries more efficiently, including New Zealand, Turkey, Singapore, the US, and many others.
While Wise is not a bank, it is regulated by different authorities worldwide, giving a deeper sense of security.
The account also uses two-factor authentication and is monitored for fraud around the clock.
- 54 different currencies are available
- Local bank details for the different currencies
N26 Metal Account: Europe
N26 is a fully licensed European bank. Even so, it looks and feels like a neobank more than any traditional bank.
Accounts come in various plans, with the Metal plan being the best out of the lot.
The account comes with a debit card that has fee-free withdrawal in any currency from ATMs worldwide.
Standard features with this account include emergency medical cover while overseas, car rental insurance, trip insurance, and flight delay coverage, among others.
There are no opening deposit requirements, but the account does have a monthly fee of 16.90 Euros, which you can’t waive.
The account is also insured up to 100,000 Euros by the German Deposit Protection Scheme, which works similarly to FDIC insurance as available here in the US.
- Travel and phone insurance
- The account is insured up to 100,000 Euros
- Fee-free withdrawals
What Is An International Bank Account?
International bank accounts mean different things to different people, technically speaking. However, an international bank account is in a financial jurisdiction other than the one you’re a citizen of currently.
If you’re ultra-rich, an international bank account often means a bank account that has favorable tax rates, if any.
The types of international bank accounts are used to offset some risks, including government control, lawsuits, and asset protection.
If you’re not ultra-rich, you may want to open an international bank account to avoid fees associated with international transactions and currency exchanges.
Many expats and travelers make use of international bank accounts to avoid such hefty fees.
International Bank Account Services
International bank accounts usually come with the following banking services:
- Multi-currency accounts
- Favorable exchange rates
- Low or no foreign transaction fees
- Low or no international ATM fees
- Debit card
In most, if not all cases, international bank accounts are checking accounts and not savings accounts.
Since they’re mainly for receiving and sending payments, it makes more sense for them to be checking accounts. In some places, a checking account is synonymous with a current account.
How Do You Open An International Bank Account?
Opening an international bank account is easy, and in most cases, there are no unique processes or requirements.
Keep in mind that this may differ from one jurisdiction to another, so the process of opening an international bank account in Honk Kong might vary from the process in Portugal.
Either way, the best banks will have similar processes, even if the documents required may be different, so don’t worry too much about this.
Proof of Identity & Residency
Proof of identity and residency are two types of documents universally required to open an international bank account, regardless of the country or jurisdiction.
Depending on the terms of the account, you might also be asked for additional documentation.
For example, suppose you are applying for an international bank account as an international student.
In that case, you might need to show proof of this, including a student visa or a letter from the institution where you will be studying.
In some cases, you will also need to make an initial deposit. Due to international financial laws, you may also need to provide proof of how and when you acquired those funds.
While this may seem unnecessary, most banks need to comply with international laws against financial crime.
International Bank Account FAQs
Can I open an international bank account?
Yes, as long as you satisfy the account opening requirements, you can open an international bank account.
Since different banks have different requirements, you might not be able to open an international bank account at any bank. Some banks have very high and stringent requirements.
In contrast, others have requirements more in line with a traditional, domestic bank account.
What is the best international bank?
The answer is that it depends on your financial situation, which jurisdiction you want to open your account from, and why you need it.
It’s pretty safe to say that no two international bank accounts are quite the same – they may target slightly different customer cohorts. They may also have additional requirements, features, and perks.
Since we all have our own financial needs, requirements, and goals, the best international bank will be the one that offers what you’re looking for in an account.
It’s essential to understand your requirements and needs first, and then look for an international bank that offers everything you need.
If you have never heard of the bank before, make sure you do your research first. Our review of international bank accounts includes some of the most reputable banks in the industry, so be sure to have a read.
Can you open an international bank account online?
You can open most international bank accounts online; however, this does not mean that this will always be the case.
Once you’ve picked a bank, check their website for more information, as this is will be your best bet on getting information on how to open an account with them.
What banks offer international accounts?
Many banks offer international accounts. Although they might not necessarily refer to them as international accounts, they will include all of the features and perks that make bank accounts international.
You will also find neobanks and financial apps that offer accounts with the same perks and features as the more traditional bank accounts.
These accounts are usually more targeted towards younger customers but still offer great features that anyone can benefit from – especially if you take many trips abroad.
You’ll find the best international bank accounts listed in the article above.