As a digital nomad working remotely from different parts of the world, figuring out the best banks for digital nomads and the options available should be one of your absolute priorities.
A lot of people overlook this and continue only using their home bank card which very likely has a lot of fees associated with using it abroad. This is definitely not the best way to go about your digital nomad banking.
There are some great services available out there that provide more ‘global’ services and are better suited to the digital nomad lifestyle.
Keep on reading as in this article I’m going to give you a breakdown of my top suggestions for banks and credit cards for digital nomads that can save you a ton on your bank fees, currency transactions and travel expenses.
Why should you ditch your bank at home and go for more ‘global’ banking options?
At first you might feel a bit overwhelmed with the available options out there and decide to just stick with your regular bank provider at home. But as a digital nomad traveling to different places, most of the time that isn’t the most sensible option.
What are the benefits of an international bank for digital nomads?
The best banks for digital nomads and expats will provide you the following digital services:
- zero international card transaction fees;
- generous limits for ATM withdrawals abroad;
- low currencies conversion fees
- mobile app and virtual card;
- offers flexibility for travelling to different countries
- can be opened remotely from your computer or smartphone.
I’ve literally had so many discussions with people complaining about their domestic bank accounts charging them hefty fees for their international transfers and withdrawals. Sometimes as high as 2.75%, mentioning no names… mhm, Santander and HSBC, I’m looking at you.
Yet despite these high fees people still carry on using the same old service, which overtime it adds up and literally amounts to daylight robbery 😀
While at the same time there are available options out there that have little to no international transaction fees, free ATM withdrawals, offering the best currency conversion rates with no fees.
Here’s what I use for my travels and my self-employed income.
Best banks for Digital Nomads
Revolut – Best overall bank for digital nomads
Revolut goes far beyond being just a regular bank. They are the closest thing to an all-in-one financial package for digital nomads and travellers I have come across.
I’ve been using Revolut for the past 5+ years and I can’t even explain to you how much it has changed travel spending for me!
There are the main benefits of Revolut for travellers:
Free debit card and virtual cards
Revolut offers a free debit card that you can use in 150 countries with no foreign exchange fees.
No fees for domestic transfers and between Revolut accounts
Revolut has no fees for domestic transfers. That means you’ll pay no fees for transactions between your Revolut account and banks within your country of residence.
The fees for international transfers are only very small in comparison to other banks.
With that said, there are no fees for transfers between Revolut accounts, regardless of your country of residence.
Which means, for example, you can send money from your UK-based Revolut account to your friend’s Greece-based Revolut account within seconds and with NO fees whatsoever.
This is an absolute game-changer for transferring money between international-based accounts and it’s what sets Revolut apart.
Accounts in different currencies
Revolut offers a variety of different currencies from the usual GBP, EUR and USD to some other international options such as Thai Baht, South African Rand and the New Zealand Dollar.
Therefore, you can hold a number of different currency accounts at the same time at no extra charge which helps when receiving international payments for example.
Competitive exchange rates
The exchange rates that Revolut offers are also some of the most competitive among the well-known travel cards.
You can either use funds that you have in your current currency accounts or get a real time international exchange rate at the point of sale for currencies that you don’t hold.
Free ATM withdrawals
Most banks charge a set Foreign ATM withdrawal fee (£2-£5) and a Foreign ATM transaction fee on top. As you move around, over time this can add up and end up costing you a fortune!
Revolut has a limit on the free withdrawals you can have within a month but that depends on the level of your plan, i.e free Revolut accounts have £200 free withdrawals and anything after that is charged a 2% fee. But if you decide to upgrade to one of the paid plans that free withdrawals limit goes up to £800.
I recommend you start with a free plan and then decide if it makes sense for you to upgrade to one of the paid plans depending on your banking needs.
These benefits are only really the tip of the iceberg. Revolut has a number of other services like free business accounts, expenses tracking, savings vaults with paid interest, cashback on services and website, lounge passes and so much more!
Sign up for a Revolut account here.
Wise (Formerly TransferWise) – Best for multi-currency account for digital nomads
Wise is one of the most popular and best banks for digital nomads.
It operates in over 170 countries and 50 currencies and it was one of the first online banks to break the international market and position itself as a leader in online banking. It allows you to easily make international transfers and transactions at the best exchange rate.
These are the main benefits of Wise for digital nomads:
Holding and being paid into different currencies
With Wise you can add money to your account in 21 currencies, including the most used ones – USD, EUR, GBP and AUD.
You can also receive money in 12 different currencies. This is a super important feature of banking for digital nomads that makes all the difference if you’re working with international clients as well as sending or receiving funds from different countries.
You can also hold your money in over 50 currencies within your account and exchange between them using real time exchange rates. This allows you to spend in local currency and buy internationally without worrying about hidden transaction fees.
International Money Transfers
Wise are one of the best digital online banks when it comes to money transfers. It provides some of the fastest and most transparent transaction options.
There are no hidden fees and Wise gives you an accurate estimate as to when the funds will arrive.
Wise allows you to make transfers from $1 to $1,000,000 per day. The transaction time is usually a few minutes to a few hours, instead of the usual 1-3+ business days traditional banks take.
Wise charges very low fees for its services specially compared to traditional banks and other money transfer services.
To get you started, opening an account with Wise is completely free and depending on the currency, sending money has a fee starting at 0.41%.
Getting the Wise debit card costs $9 but has no on-going subscription fee making it really affordable in the long term.
Real Time Exchange Rates
Wise offers competitive exchange rates based on the mid-market exchange rate, which is why they typically have the best conversion rates of any transfer service.
Before making a payment, you are able to convert the conversion rates and fees in real time. Wise lets you know if their exchange rate at the time of the transaction is the cheapest on the market which again speaks for their transparency.
Sign up for a Wise account here.
Other banks for digital nomads worth mentioning
Revolut and Wise are the two main best banks for digital nomads that my partner and I use. We have looked into many other options, and quite honestly, none really compare to what Revolut and Wise have to offer when it comes to digital nomads and long-term travellers.
However, I’ll give you a brief summary of the other available banks for digital nomads, so you know what other options are available.
I also always recommend having a couple of back-up bank cards in case anything happens with your primary one while abroad, so it’s definitely worth checking out some of the other banking options below and consider signing up to some as a back-up.
Monzo – UK-based bank for digital nomads and travellers
Monzo is one of the most popular banks for digital nomads in the UK. It offers a debit cad that can be used in over 130 countries with no international transaction fees. You can also easily track your spending and manage your finances through their app.
Monzo also offers unlimited ATM withdrawals in the EEA zone (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and the equivalent to £600 per month outside the EEA. Which is really good if you’re planning to stay in Europe or withdraw a little less if travelling outside the region.
However, it’s worth noting that all Monzo transactions go through the Mastercard exchange rate. This means that you’re not getting the exact real time exchange rate like with some of the other digital nomad banks and you’ll pay a little bit extra on top of your transactions.
N26 – Digital bank in the EU
N26 offers digital banking options available in the EU, currently only available for residents of Germany and Austria.
With N26 you only get an EUR local bank account details, which means you can only hold euros in your bank account in comparison to the multi-currency accounts available with Revolut and Wise.
N26 offers unlimited fee-free foreign card transactions which makes it great for spending abroad. However, they do charge 1.7% on foreign currency ATM withdrawals, and a €2 flat fee when withdrawing more than 3 times per month in Europe.
Overall, it’s a good digital nomad bank if you are a German or Austrian citizen and intend to use the bank primarily in the European Union (or countries that use the euro).
Chime – Best free ATM access for US residents
Chime is one of the most popular digital banks in the US, available to those with a social security number. Chime’s main selling point for digital nomads and travellers is that it charges zero transfer fees and international transaction fees.
It also offers access to fee-free ATM withdrawals in more than 60,000 locations in the US but may incur fees when using out-of-network ATMs.
The account can only be held in dollars which is a downside when compared to Revolut and Wise, but it’s a good option if you’re planning on primarily travelling within the US.
Choosing the right bank as a digital nomad can greatly enhance your financial freedom and convenience when moving abroad and travelling to different countries.
The best banks for digital nomads offer many advantages over the traditional brick-and-mortar banks in your home country, saving you tons on fees and exchange rates while offering easy account management on the go with their easy to use mobile banking apps.
Overall, digital banks like Revolut and Wise are the best choice for digital nomads who seek flexibility, convenience and cost-effectiveness. It’s a good idea to start preparing your banking before you leave your home country so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re already abroad.
If you’re getting ready for your first digital nomad trip make sure to check out my guide on the best digital nomad essentials you need to prepare before your first trip.
If you have any questions about digital nomad banking or anything else, feel free to send me a message on Instagram and I’ll be more than happy to help! Bon voyage!