International bank accounts are more necessary than people think. Whether you travel often, transfer money, or are an expat moving to a new country, understanding how to get the best international bank accounts is important as the fees can get quite high, and access to your funds can be challenging if you aren’t careful.
With an international bank account, you can make fee-free ATM withdrawals worldwide, send money internationally fast and free (or low-cost), and have access to transparent pricing for conversion rates.
When choosing the best international bank accounts, we closely monitored each account’s fees, access to cash, conversion rates, and other features offered to international banking customers.
5 Best International Bank Accounts
Here are the top international bank accounts you can open today:
- Schwab Bank: Best for International ATMs
- Revolut: Best Digital Bank for International Accounts
- HSBC: Best for No Monthly Fees
- Capital One 360: Best for No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Bank of America: Best for Multiple Currencies
1. Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account
Best For: International ATM Access
Charles Schwab is a mammoth financial institution offering bank accounts, electronic trading, wealth management, and many other financial services.
Their High Yield Investor Checking account is particularly interesting 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 0.45% on your checking account balance.
The bank receives excellent customer reviews and has a solid reputation worldwide.
Great for investors looking to hold all their accounts in one place, while earning a decent APY on their checking account.
- Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide
- No foreign transaction fees
- Account earns interest
- May find higher APYs elsewhere
- Charles Schwab does a soft credit check when you apply for the account
Best: Digital Bank for International Accounts
Revolut is a digital bank based in the UK that made its way across the pond in 2020. Rather than a traditional bank account, Revolut is a one-stop money management app. You can download the app and open an account in a few minutes.
With Revolut, you can make global exchanges with more than 28 currencies at competitive exchange rates and instantly transfer money abroad. The cost of international transfers varies based on the plan. Those on the standard plan pay the standard fees, but those on the Premium plan get a 20% discount, and those on the Metal plan get a 40% discount.
Its Premium and Metal plans also include perks like access to dozens of airport lounges when your flight is delayed.
Revolut offers cash-back rewards and discounts on purchases made with the Revolut debit card.
The platform gives you access to a network of 55,000 fee-free ATMs and allows you to withdraw up to $1,200 from out-of-network ATMs monthly.
You can also use the app to invest in stocks, crypto, and FDIC-insured vaults. Revolut has a free Standard account, a $9.99 Premium account, and a $16.99 Metal account.
Get access to 28 different currencies while taking advantage of other benefits, including cash back-back rewards and 55,000 fee-free ATMs.
- Offers travel insurance with its paid accounts
- Fee-free account option
- Cashback rewards
- Not all features are available on all plans
- Customer support is limited
3. HSBC Everyday Global Account
Best For: No Monthly Fees
The HSBC Global Money account is a multi-currency account for current HSBC customers holding a checking or savings account. With this account, you can manage your finances in eight different currencies from your phone.
With the HSBC Global Money account, you can convert funds to any of the eight currencies and transfer funds fee-free to other HSBC customers. The exchange rates refresh every 90 seconds so you’re always paying exchange rates in real-time, and they use many security measures to keep your funds and information safe.
- US dollars
- Australian dollars
- Singapore dollars
- Canadian dollars
- New Zealand dollars
- Hong Kong Dollars
- Pounds (GB)
To qualify for the HSBC Global Money account, you must have an HSBC Premier checking or savings account, or Relationship Savings.
If you’re looking for a way to easily convert and transfer funds, apply for HSBC Global Connect to connect to your existing HSBC accounts and transferring money is a cinch!
- Buy, hold, and spend in 8 different currencies
- Free transfers when you transfer to other HSBC customers
- You must have an existing HSBC bank account
- No ATM card tied to the account
4. Capital One 360
Best For: No Foreign Transaction Fees
Capital One 360 Checking, the bank’s primary checking account, has no foreign transaction or ATM fees.
Capital One account holders can use features like online bill pay, mobile check deposit, and money transfers in the mobile app.
The 360 Checking Account also offers 0.10% APY interest with no monthly fees and no minimum opening deposit requirement.
Foreign transfer fees can get excessive, especially if you travel often, but Capital One 360 doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, making it a fierce competitor for the best international bank accounts.
- No foreign transaction fees
- No ATM fees
- No cash deposits at partner ATMs, like MoneyPass® or Allpoint®
- May incur ATM fees from ATM owners abroad
5. Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking
Best For: Multiple Currencies
Bank of America’s Advantage SafeBalance Banking is a checking account aimed at international students and professionals studying or working in the US.
You’ll need to apply at one of the bank’s branches if you’re a non-resident alien with a physical residential address in the US (but not a US citizen or permanent resident).
The account has a monthly maintenance fee of $4.95. This fee, however, is waived for students under 25, anyone under 18, 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 cost $45. International wire transfers should reach the payee within two business days, provided you send them before the 5 PM cut-off window.
If you transfer funds to many countries, you can’t beat Bank of America with wires available to over 200 countries in 140 currencies.
- Free outbound foreign-currency wires
- International wires take two business days
- More than 140 currencies are available
- Has a minimum opening deposit requirement that most banks don’t have
- Has a monthly service charge
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 with 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 use 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.
What Makes a Good International Bank?
Every person will have different needs for the best international bank account, but here are some common factors to consider.
Low or No Fees
Like domestic bank accounts, the best international bank accounts minimize their fees. This includes monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees, and any other costs the bank may require.
You should be able to deposit and withdraw cash wherever you travel without worrying about excessive fees. If you transfer funds internationally, you should know the cost and be able to minimize the fees to keep more money in your pocket.
Just because you open a foreign bank account doesn’t mean it’s accepted everywhere you go. Ensure the bank you choose has international acceptance and has the currency you need, whether traveling or transferring funds.
Sending money abroad or dealing with currency in a foreign country can be scary. Ensure any bank you choose uses top-notch security measures, including two-factor authentication, fraud protection, and bank-level encryption.
Good Customer Support
Dealing with international currency can be challenging, especially if you cannot get support in your native language. Finding a bank that offers around-the-clock support in English is important to ensure your money is safe and your questions are answered.
Online and mobile banking are two features the best international bank accounts must possess. This makes it much easier to bank from wherever you are, whether in the country or outside of it. You know you can satisfy your financial needs without a lot of hassle.
How Do You Open An International Bank Account?
Opening an international bank account is easy; 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 Hong Kong might vary from the process in Portugal.
Either way, the best international banks will have similar processes, even if the required documents may differ, so don’t worry too much about this.
Proof of Identity and Residency
Proof of identity and residency are two 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.
You may need to prove this by 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 must comply with international laws against financial crime.
How to Reduce Banking Costs Abroad
Banking costs add up when you bank domestically, but they can get even higher once you travel abroad.
- Choose a bank that reimburses ATM fees: When you withdraw cash abroad, you face non-network ATM fees plus foreign transaction fees, costing you a lot of money just to access your cash. Instead, stick with banks, like Charles Schwab, that reimburse all ATM fees.
- Use a bank that doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees: If you don’t qualify for the Schwab account, consider an international bank account that doesn’t charge fees for out-of-network ATM use but may not reimburse the other bank’s charges. While it’s not perfect, it lowers your banking costs abroad.
- Pay in the local currency: Instead of paying in US dollars when traveling abroad, pay in the local currency. While you’ll pay the exchange rate to convert your funds, you’ll avoid other excessive banking fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I open an international bank account?
You can open most international bank accounts online; however, this may not always be the case.
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.
Does Citibank offer an international bank account?
Citibank used to offer a highly popular international bank account in Australia called the Citibank Plus account. Its features included cash back on most purchases worldwide, fee-free withdrawals, and foreign currency in up to nine currencies.
NAB has since bought Citibank in Australia, and the account is no longer an option.
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 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 offering accounts with the same perks and features as traditional bank accounts.
These accounts are usually more targeted towards younger customers but offer great features that anyone can benefit from – especially if you take many trips abroad.
To provide you with the list of the best international banks, we considered many factors, including the following:
- Fees: Paying close attention to fees, such as monthly maintenance, out-of-network ATM, and foreign transaction fees, allows us to find the best international bank accounts for any purpose.
- Accessibility: Accessing your banking information and getting answers fast is important when banking internationally. We looked for banks with easy access, including online and mobile banking.
- Minimum balance requirements: Banks with no or low minimum balance requirements are much easier to own and manage, especially when dealing with foreign transaction fees.
- ATM access: Accessing funds via ATM is important, especially when you need cash fast. We looked for banks with the largest ATM network to ensure easy access to your funds.