When you are working in your home country, banking is easy – there are a number of reputable banks to choose from, offering a variety of products and services to meet your needs. But what if you're living and working in a foreign country? What are the best banks for digital nomads?
For a few reasons that we'll be covering below, it can be a little more difficult to find a physical bank that is both reputable and tailored to your specific needs as a digital nomad. But don't worry – we're here to help! Let's dive in and discover the best banks for digital nomads.
Biggest Banking Problem for Digital Nomads
If you're living and working as a digital nomad in another country, you'll know that there are a lot of banking problems to solve. For example, you need to find a bank that doesn't charge fees for withdrawing money or using your credit card abroad. You also need to make sure that the bank has a branch or ATM in the country where you'll be spending most of your time.
One of the biggest issues for digital nomads is finding a bank that doesn't charge outrageous fees. Many banks have substantial international transfer and withdrawal fees associated with them; US Bank, for instance, charges $2.50 on every out-of-network ATM transaction. Chase Bank charges $5 per international transaction, not to mention their 3% user fees.
These amounts may seem minimal at face value, but even small fees paid on a regular basis can begin to add up. So, what's the alternative? How can you keep a digital nomad bank account without breaking the bank in the process?
Why a Digital Bank is the Best Choice
You've heard of online banking; it's the service that most (if not all) banks offer nowadays, allowing you to access and manage your bank account from your computer or smartphone. But what about digital banking?
Digital banking (or neobanks) is a term that's been coined in recent years to describe the next evolution of online banking, and it describes banks that offer the entire range of banking products and services solely through their digital channels – that is, their websites and apps.
The main advantage of such banks is that their fees for international transfers are often much lower than those of traditional banks. This is because they have no physical branches or ATMs abroad, so they don't have to charge customers for the cost of transferring money between countries. But that's not the only advantage.
Other Benefits of Digital Banks
In addition to their low fees, neobanks offer a much better user experience than traditional banks. Their websites and apps are typically much more user-friendly and intuitive to use. Not only that, but they offer a wider range of products and services than traditional banks, all of which are supported by 24/7 assistance lines.
Digital banks are also typically much more open to working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. They're more likely to give you a business account without requiring lots of paperwork or proof of income, and some even offer innovative products and services that can help small businesses grow.
Finally, digital banks are typically much more secure than traditional banks. Their websites and apps use the latest security technologies, and they often have better fraud protection systems in place. This makes them a safer option for storing your money and banking online.
So, if you're after a bank account for digital nomads, then a digital bank is the best choice. They offer lower fees, a better user experience, and more products and services than traditional banks.
With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the best banks for digital nomad businesses and individuals.
Best for High Earners - Revolut
Everyone wants to keep their funds secure, and if you're pulling in a high income, you'll want to find a bank that caters to your specific needs. High earners often have complicated finances and need access to features like wealth management, international wire transfers, and investment advice.
If this sounds like you (and you're a digital nomad), you'll want to check out Revolut.
Founded in 2015, Revolut is considered a "challenger bank" because its services truly rival those of traditional banks. Revolut offers users a free Revolut card with no additional fees. Not to mention, their currency exchange rates are consistently near-perfect – so you can avoid pesky hidden charges when spending or transferring money abroad.
But Revolut's real standout feature for high earners is its wealth management services. With Revolut, you can easily invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and other securities – all with minimal fees.
To find out more, read our complete Revolut review.
How much does it cost?
With digital banks, it's important to keep in mind that they aren't necessarily set up for those who want to withdraw large sums of cash on a regular basis through an ATM. Revolut does charge a 2% fee after your first five withdrawals or €200 each month.
Still, this gives you a lot of freedom to spend and withdraw money as you please without having to worry about pesky bank charges.
Revolut has both a free plan and several paid plans. Let's take a look at what you get with each:
- Free Plan: You get a free Revolut card, no monthly or annual fees, and perfect exchange rates. You also have international spending and free exchanges between Monday and Friday (1% fees on weekends). ATM withdrawals are free up to £200/month.
- Plus Plan (£2.99/month): Alongside the features mentioned above, this plan gives you free insurance coverage on theft and accidents, tickets and events, refunds, and online shopping. ATM withdrawals are free up to £200/month.
- Premium Plan (£6.99/month): This plan has all of the above features. Additionally, instead of having a monthly exchange limit before incurring fees, there is no limit to the exchanges you make – they will all be free. You will also receive overseas health and flight/baggage insurance. ATM withdrawals are free up to £400/month.
- Metal Plan (£12.99/month): This plan includes all features listed above, the best interest rates, free ATM withdrawals up to £800/month, and a sturdy metal debit card. To find out more, read our Revolut Metal review.
This is considered by many to be the best bank for digital nomads because it caters to those with high incomes and offers great value for your money. It also has a global presence, making it ideal for those who frequently travel or work remotely.
Best in Europe - N26
European countries are some of the most popular destinations for digital nomads, which is unsurprising given the high quality of life, diverse cultures, and plethora of affordable destinations. If you're among the many digital nomads considering a move to Europe, you'll want to check out N26 for your banking needs.
N26 is a mobile-first bank that offers a number of features perfect for digital nomads. With over 7 million customers and 300,000 five-star reviews, N26 is loved for its user-friendly app, low fees, and great customer service.
Some of the features that make N26 perfect for digital nomads include:
- Free payments worldwide
- Travel coverage, trip insurance, and international health insurance
- 24/7 support
- Deposit protection
- Complete banking experience from a user-friendly app on your phone
The Mastercard you receive through this bank can be used in any ATM around the world, making it easy to get cash when you need it. What's more, nomads living in Germany, Italy, or Austria can use CASH26 to withdraw amounts up to 200 Euros from one of the 15,000 participating shops and restaurants.
To find out more, read our complete N26 review.
How much does it cost?
Like Revolut, N26 offers a number of different memberships. Let's take a look at their costs:
- N26 Standard (Free): This base-level membership includes a digital no-contact card for your mobile, and you can get a physical card for just the shipping fee. International payments are free with no limits. You are granted 3 free ATM withdrawals per month in the Eurozone, and the German Deposit Protection Scheme protects your money for up to €100,000.
- N26 Smart (€4.90/month): Take all of the features from the Standard membership and add another 2 free withdrawals (total 5 monthly), up to 10 sub-accounts that can be shared with others, and direct phone support 24/5.
- N26 You (€9.90/month): The main upgrade from Smart to You is withdrawal fees. With this membership, free withdrawals are unlimited. It also comes with a range of insurance benefits: medical, travel, flights, luggage, and mobility are all covered.
- N26 Metal (€16.90/month): This plan comes with a metal card for added durability, which is great for travel. You also get up to 8 free withdrawals in Eurozone and unlimited withdrawals internationally. There are a number of other insurance benefits added with this plan, too.
All in all, N26 is a great bank for digital nomads looking for an all-in-one banking solution with no hidden fees. The only downside may be that it's not available in every country, but this is changing all the time.
Best for Frequent Travelers - Payoneer
A common issue that digital nomads encounter is finding a bank that is both convenient and accessible, but this becomes difficult if you are constantly on the move. So, which banks are best for digital nomads who frequently travel?
In this case, we recommend Payoneer, which is a cross-border payments company that offers withdrawal services in over 150 countries. Payoneer also offers a reloadable prepaid Mastercard, which makes it easy to access your funds while you're on the go.
Payoneer is loved by many for its easy transfer services. It is simple to receive money from clients and other sources, and you can easily send your Payoneer balance to local bank accounts or keep it in your Payoneer account to spend on your travels.
To find out more, read our complete Payoneer review.
How much does it cost?
Instead of having different plans at varying prices, Payoneer assesses your needs based on how you want to use their services. The fees are consistent across all methods; let's take a look.
- Sending and receiving money to/from other Payoneer users: Free
- Sending and receiving money to/from non-Payoneer users: Up to 2%
- Receiving client payments via credit or debit card: 3% fee
- Withdrawals in local currency from a Payoneer balance of a different currency: Up to 2%
- Withdrawals in local currency from a Payoneer balance of the same currency: $1.50 USD to USD, €1.50 EUR to EUR, £1.50 GBP to GBP
- Withdrawals in non-local currency: Up to 2%
- Convert your balance to a different currency: 0.5% of the transfer amount
Also, note that Payoneer has an annual account fee of $29.95.
While this digital bank appears to have high fees, it really depends on how you use its services. If you're frequently withdrawing cash or sending money to users in different currencies, the fees can rack up. However, if you use Payoneer mainly for receiving payments from clients, the fees are very reasonable.
Best for Cheap Money Transfer - Wise
A digital bank service that has been rapidly gaining in popularity in the past few years is TransferWise, although the business name has changed to just Wise. This company is all about having complete transparency in their fees, so you know exactly what you're paying for.
They also offer some of the best rates in the market, making them an ideal choice for those looking to send money overseas without breaking the bank. You can rest assured that you're getting the best possible exchange rate when converting or transferring your money through Wise.
Because Wise is adamant about only charging for the services you use, you won't have to worry about any hidden fees or charges that could end up costing you more than you bargained for. This also makes them a great choice for digital nomads who are looking for ways to save money on their everyday transactions.
To find out more, read our complete Wise review.
How much does it cost?
Speaking of fees, Wise has just about the cheapest rates in the market – especially when you consider that they have no monthly or annual fees. In fact, the only time you'll ever have to pay a fee is when you're transferring money between different currencies.
Let's look into the current fees for UK citizens (you can look into other currencies here).
- Opening an account is free
- Sending and converting money varies by currency but starts at 0.35%
- Buying the Wise debit card costs 5 GBP
- ATM withdrawals are free for up to 200 GBP per month (1.75% for higher amounts)
- Receiving non-wire money is free (wire transfers differ between currencies, e.g. USD is $7.50)
- Holding money in your Wise account is free for up to 15,000 EUR (0.4% for higher amounts)
Despite most services having fees associated, it's important to keep in mind that you are not being charged for having a Wise account, and there are no hidden fees. You're only charged when you use their services, which is incredibly transparent and user-friendly.
Wise also has an incredibly secure, polished website and app that makes transferring and managing your money easy and convenient. All in all, Wise is a great choice for those looking for an affordable, user-friendly way to transfer their money internationally.
Start Using a Digital Bank Today
The nomadic lifestyle – especially that of the digital variety – is incredibly appealing. For those who work remotely, the endless flexibility and freedom is a dream come true, and many are making the jump in order to escape their 9 to 5 rat race.
The only problem? Banking is still stuck in the Stone Age. For the average person, banking is a necessary evil – it's something you have to do, even though it's not always convenient or user-friendly.
But for digital nomads, who rely on their smartphones and laptops to do their work, the archaic banking system can be a real pain. You can't always find an ATM when you need one, your bank may not have a global presence, and you can't always easily transfer money between currencies.
That's why it's important to find a digital bank that is designed for the modern nomad. The banks we've discussed here have all the features you need to make your life on the road a lot easier, and they're an excellent choice for anyone who wants to make the switch to a digital-first lifestyle.
How Sortter Can Help
If you're still undecided on which is the best international bank for digital nomads, or if you're looking for a second opinion, Sortter can help. We are the ultimate resource for comparing banks and finding the best deals on products and services.
With Sortter, you can compare all the best banks in minutes, and find the one that's right for you. We make it easy to see all the important details, so you can make an informed decision about your banking needs.
So what are you waiting for? Start using a digital bank today – use Sortter to compare the services and find the best digital bank for you.