Best Banks for Digital Nomads: Your Ultimate Guide To Banking On The Go
Are you looking for all the best banks for digital nomads ?
When I began working as a digital nomad I was suddenly faced with trying to figure out how to get paid from clients all around the world and there wasn’t much info out there to help guide me on the best way to avoid international fees and ban charges.
Some of the best banks for digital nomads understand that as someone traveling to different countries while earning a living remotely, the last thing you want to be dealing with is the stress and tediousness of banking.
In this article we explore:
- The best bank accounts for digital nomads
- Why digital nomad banks are the way to go
- The best banks for travelers in general
Summary of Best Banks for Digital Nomads
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Why Do You Need A Digital Nomad Bank ?
While it may not be the first thing you think about when you embark on your digital nomad lifestyle, some practical realities come into play here:
- You need to get paid by your clients who could be based in different countries around the world. This could mean being paid in a different currency than your home or base country.
- You will need to convert your income to the currency of your home or base country for your daily expenses.
- You need to be able to consolidate your income from all your clients so that you can effectively make your own payments, be it for your bills, sending money back home, or making payments to your own freelancers.
As you can see, there is indeed a lot to consider when you are earning a living as a digital nomad.
Here, we take a look at some of the best banks for digital nomads that allow you to manage your digital nomad income efficiently.
Best Banks for Digital Nomads
While many companies have started to provide digital banking services, there are a few that stand out. Among other factors, this is due to their presence worldwide, as well as because of their competitive service charges and versatility of use.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of some of the features of each of these banks for digital nomads.
This digital banking giant probably needs no introduction. Paypal has indeed revolutionized how people pay and get paid.
Among other things, Paypal allows you to:
- Hold a virtual account where you can pay out or receive money
- Link your physical account to your Paypal account
- Arrange for automatic payments of your monthly bills
One of the biggest advantages of using Paypal is that it is widely used and accepted among many digital nomad friendly countries such as Kazakhstan, Thailand, Nepal, and Indonesia which happens to be one of the best places in Asia for digital nomads, especially the all-time favorite location – Bali!
That being said, Paypal’s fees for conversion of currency can be quite high.
While they charge a flat rate of between 3% for most currencies, this can add up if you are looking to convert and transact high amounts.
For example, if you are based in the USA and wanted to receive $100 from your client based in Malaysia for services that you have provided to them, Paypal will take $4.99 plus the 3% conversion fee if your client can only pay you in Malaysia’s local currency.
This would come up to a total of $7.99 in fees to Paypal alone.
You can find a complete list of their fees here.
Transferwise is probably the savvy digital nomad’s choice of digital bank.
Transferwise primarily works as a digital bank account which allows you to hold money in multiple currencies and link to any physical bank accounts that you may have.
Transferwise also offers the conversion and sending of money at extremely affordable rates. They can do this as a result of their unique process of converting and sending money.
- Once they calculate the exchange rates for you, you send them that amount in the currency of your choice.
- They then take that amount and send the converted equivalent to your intended recipient from their account based in the recipient’s country. This saves you international transfer fees.
- You only need to pay a small fee (which depends on the amount converted and transacted) to Transferwise for the services that they provide.
Some of the biggest advantages of using Transferwise are:
- It is regulated by the relevant monetary authorities of the applicable country
- It is transparent and prides itself in ensuring that there are no hidden fees when it comes to international transactions
- Depending on which country you are located in, you can sign up for the Transferwise Mastercard® debit card which forms the basis of your multi-currency account and allows you to make payments in the currency of your location.
Transferwise is one of the safest and most reliable platforms available. They take pride in strictly complying with the regulations imposed by the financial authorities in the countries in which they operate.
You can read more about Transferwise’s safety and security policies here!
As you can tell, it is easy to see why Transferwise is one of the best banks for nomads!
Revolut considers itself to be one of the best financial super apps.
It allows you to do all your banking, payments, and transfers using only your phone or mobile device.
Revoult also has a few plans to choose from depending on your digital banking needs. However, for the most part, the free standard plan works well to cover the needs of digital nomads.
What stands out about Revolut is that it recognizes the need for a bank card for you to make your every-day purchases.
Taking this into account, Revoult provides the option of a physical and a virtual debit card that is linked to your Revolut account.
It also offers one-time use credit card number services to make shopping online safer and more secure. One-time use cards are also known as single-use or disposable credit card number services.
These one-time use credit card numbers are perfect if, for example, you are looking to purchase a laptop online. (Check out our list of the best laptops for digital nomads here!).
In essence, they provide temporary credit card numbers for online purchases. The temporary number is linked to your credit card for that purchase only.
The aim of this is to hide your credit card details and it works as an extra layer of protection in the event the site is not secure. Your actual credit card details will not be stored on the site.
One drawback of Revolut however is that for now, it is only available to residents who are in the European Economic Area. This will include countries like Portugal (which is one of the best European countries for digital nomads!), Germany, France, and Spain.
However, they are expanding globally. So if you are a digital nomad outside of the European Economic Area, this is a great digital banking option to look out for in the future.
This is another great digital bank for digital nomads who are based in Europe.
Some core features of N26 that stand out as a mobile bank include:
- A free digital bank account
- Full transparency of charges and fees
- A free Mastercard® debit card that is linked to the digital account
N26 also has a range of plans for you to choose from. There is the N26 Standard which is the free online bank account. This is usually perfect for the basic banking needs of digital nomads.
N26 has also teamed up with Transferwise to offer the most reasonable foreign exchange rates for international transfers.
Technically speaking, Charles Schwab is an investment account.
However, for digital nomads who are based in the United States and travel frequently around the world, this works well as a digital bank account.
One of the reasons why this is a crowd favorite among the American community of digital nomads is that Charles Schwab refunds all international ATM withdrawal fees.
This means that you can withdraw cash from any ATM around the world without having to incur the exorbitant withdrawal fees that almost all banks usually charge for international withdrawals.
This is truly one of the best gifts for digital nomads who are constantly on the move!
Cash on hand, in a foreign land, without having to pay extra to take out your own money!
Charles Schwab also has a secure mobile banking app that works perfectly for digital nomads who are constantly on the go.
Additionally, they do not charge any service fees nor do they require you to maintain a minimum balance in your account.
This is another up and coming online banking account that is suitable for digital nomads who are based in Europe.
Monese allows you to hold money in 3 different currencies.
Additionally, Monese has 3 plans to choose from, the most basic of which is a free plan that gives you all the features that you need to operate as a digital nomad.
The best thing about Monese is that they do not tie you down to your chosen plan. This means that they do not require you to be on your selected plan for a specific time.
You are allowed to upgrade your plans or downgrade them depending on your budget as a digital nomad.
All plans come with a free debit card that you can choose to use as a virtual card for added safety and online security.
This is an app-based bank that is available to UK residents.
One of the best features about this particular bank is that it does not charge any ATM fees if you were to withdraw your money when you are abroad.
Additionally, there are no extra charges for foreign exchanges or international transfers. They use Mastercard®’s foreign exchange rates but do not impose their own fees.
Starling Bank also gives you a debit card for free without charging you for using it while you are in another country.
However, do keep in mind that this account only allows the holding of British pounds and is not a multi-currency account.
Additionally, they do not charge fees or charges on top of exchange rates.
You can also use the card to make ATM withdrawals from wherever you are in the world. There are no withdrawal fees imposed on any withdrawals done in the European Economic Area and you can take out £200 for free every 30 days.
If you do exceed that amount or if there are more frequent withdrawals, a 3% charge is imposed.
Monzo also has 3 plans to choose from depending on your banking needs. It is worthwhile to note that while the free account gives you all the basic digital banking features, the paid accounts are rather affordable and worth considering.
Why Should You Use A Digital Nomad Bank?
With all this information about the various digital banks, you may be wondering if you really do need to get on the bandwagon and use a digital bank.
Banking in today’s modern digital world can be broadly divided into three categories:
- Traditional Banking
A physical bank with branches where you can go and open your account and carry out physical transactions.
- Digital Banking
A purely virtual bank that you can set up online to make transfers or receive payments.
A digital currency that can be transferred to your relevant account. Examples of cryptocurrency include Bitcoin, Stellar Lumen, and Litecoin.
As a digital nomad, the most suitable type of banking services will be the one that is provided by digital or online banking accounts.
Pros of a Digital Nomad Bank:
1.Digital Banking Is Cheaper
With physical banking, there are plenty of charges that come with using the various banking services provided by the bank.
This is even when you use their online services.
Depending on the individual country’s financial regulations, the bank, and the type of services that you sign up for, these charges include but are not limited to:
- Transaction Fees
- Administrative Fees
- Marked up Foreign Exchange Fees (so that the banks can make a profit)
- Withdrawal Fees
- Annual Fees for keeping your account open and managing it
On the surface, these charges may not seem like much. However, over time, they can add up to a substantial amount.
As a digital nomad, you would have had to budget for every dollar carefully. Spending your hard-earned money on these miscellaneous fees is the last thing you want to do.
For the most part, digital banking services charge minimal fees and any foreign exchange fees are substantially lower than that of traditional banks.
2.Digital Banking Is More Convenient
Most digital banks have comprehensive and secure mobile apps.
This means that you can quite literally carry out all your banking needs in the palm of your hand without having to take a trip to your bank branch.
The user interfaces of these apps are well-designed, making it easy for you to navigate and use them while you’re on the go or if you are in a rush.
More importantly, most digital banking accounts allow you to open your account online. This is a huge plus as you can save time and energy and have access to their services almost instantly.
All you need are your identification documents and in most cases a copy of your passport will suffice. Verification is usually done by sending the digital bank a selfie or through any facial recognition features that they may have.
3.Digital Banking Allows for Real Time-Transfers
This is probably the biggest advantage of digital banking. You can transfer funds instantly.
If you are transferring large sums internationally and are rather anxious about it, you can also track your transfers live so that you know where your money is at all times.
You can’t put a price on peace of mind when it comes to this!
What Is The Best Bank For Travelers?
Out of all the digital banks that have been explored above, the best bank for travelers is probably Charles Schwab.
This is because of the unlimited refunds on ATM fees.
This is wonderful for travelers who travel frequently and need to withdraw cash to pay for their travel expenses.
Best Physical Bank Account for Travellers
If you still require a physical bank account for any reason (though it is always best to maintain at least one, even if you are a digital nomad), then some international banks stand out for frequent travelers.
Citibank is one of the most well-known and reliable international banks. They offer a full range of services all over the world. These include:
- International withdrawals
- Withdrawals using your credit card
- Currency exchange
- 24-hour worldwide customer service hotlines
Citibank also provides award-winning digital banking and mobile banking services. So you can bank with them wherever you are in the world.
The only issue that you may encounter as a digital nomad is having to track down the branches and ATMs in the country that you are located in.
This international banking pioneer needs little to no introduction. It has a stable and well-established international presence in more than 64 countries all over the world.
HSBC is a great choice for travelers who frequent big cities regularly. Their bank branches and ATMs are conveniently located, thus making them one of the best banks for digital nomads who require physical banking facilities.
HSBC also boasts an impressive online and mobile banking portfolio. They allow you to open an account online even before you arrive in the country of your choice with their international account opening services.
One of the great things about HSBC’s international account is that it supports multiple currencies. Perfect for the constant traveler!
Which Bank Has The Most Secure Online Banking?
Paypal or Transferwise.
If you are a digital nomad who primarily deals with digital banking accounts, then most digital banks, including the ones discussed above, take their security and encryption extremely seriously.
Paypal, however, stands out in terms of ease of use without compromising even the slightest on safety, encryption, and security. Among other measures, Paypal requires you to enter your password every time you open their app.
When dealing with online banking, Expatica explains that the best banking security measures ought to have 2-factor authentication or a secondary device that requires fingerprint verification to authorize a transfer.
Data leaks are rare when it comes to online banking accounts. While it is impossible to say for certain which bank has the most secure online banking facilities, the Global Finance Magazine has drawn up a list of the world’s safest banks.
What Is The Best Bank For Everyday Banking?
The best bank for everyday banking is the one that gives you everything you need as a digital nomad!
Every digital nomad is different and may have different habits when it comes to spending and saving money.
Of course, whether a bank can give you what you need will depend on which country you are from. This is because some physical and digital banks have a residency requirement as can be seen from our list of best banks for digital nomads above.
All things considered, it is safe to say that Transferwise is probably the best bank for digital nomads when it comes to every-day banking.
Transferwise is truly an all-in-one banking solution for digital nomads.
They have money transfer features, work as a multi-currency account, and they give you a debit card that you can use for online purchases or physical purchases anywhere in the world.
Whether you are looking to:
- get paid, buying groceries online,
- looking to purchase the best backpack for digital nomads,
- or requesting payments from your clients,
Transfewise is probably the most versatile choice for digital nomads.
That being said, Paypal and N26 deserve honourable mentions as a result of their ease of use, security, and flexibility.
Whether you are a veteran digital nomad or a newbie digital nomad, it cannot be denied that digital or online banks are the way forward if you are looking to get paid and manage your money effectively as you travel around the world.
There are plenty of digital or virtual banks out there, and with the rise of digital nomads all over the world, these banks are constantly working on expanding their global network and availability of their services.
Most digital banks are flexible and accommodating to the needs of digital nomads. Whichever bank you choose to go with from our list of the best banks for digital nomads, do ensure that you go with the one that best suits your needs.