Getting banking right as a digital nomad and remote worker can be challenging. Traditional banking doesn’t always work for people like us who perhaps don’t have a fixed address, wouldn’t be able to simply visit a branch if there was a problem, and ideally don’t want to be spending hours on the phone to do anything.
Most people who have spent a significant amount of the time on the road have at least one story of themselves, or a friend, needing a replacement bank card and going through hell to get one.
Luckily banking has massively transformed in the last few years, and there are now so many options for digital nomads, whether you want to keep your usual bank in your home country and simply have an alternative when you’re travelling, or you would like to totally migrate your banking to a more modern solution that caters to your needs.
Here are the banks that we’ve either personally tried and tested or heard great things from our friends in the digital nomad community.
First, what are we looking for exactly?
What makes a bank great for digital nomads and remote workers?
- Convenient: Banks for digital nomads need to be easy to open and easy to access at all times with apps, online banking, and good online support because popping into branch likely won’t be an option
- Cheap: You’re going to want the cheapest withdrawal and transfer fees as possible
- Monthly fees: Ideally, you’ll want no monthly fees or at least benefits that make it worth it for you
- Mobile wallet support: This is important if you want to pay using your phone or smartwatch
- Contactless debit card: Contactless is increasingly common so a contactless debit card is a must
Best global banks for digital nomads
Previously known as Transferwise, this is one of the best ways to transfer money between currencies and countries without high fees. As freelancers, we always request that we are paid via Wise rather than Paypal, if possible, as you can lose so much money in Paypal fees.
Wise also now has a bank card available for its customers (including those from the US, Australia, and New Zealand), which can hold multiple currencies and operates in the same way as other digital nomad credit cards.
You can hold your money in over thirty currencies and receive over eighty currencies fee-free, which is ideal if you receive payments for freelance work from multiple currencies. This is the bank we’re currently with, and we have had no problems using it abroad or getting help and advice when needed.
Best bank for European digital nomads:
Based in Germany and perfect if you’re from an EU country. You can open this account from anywhere in the world. We had such a great time with them until the Brexit situation meant they could no longer serve customers from the UK. Tragic.
They offer 24-hour service and a range of accounts (and business accounts) to suit all needs. Their basic account offers a virtual debit card and the paid accounts supply a debit card that is accepted worldwide and also offer bonus features such as unlimited no-fee ATM withdrawals.
We do think it’s a shame you have to pay for a debit card considering this is standard with most banks below. With the free account, you have several free withdrawals a month within the EU and some perks.
They also offer a business account that is ideal for freelancers.
Best bank for British and European digital nomads:
Monese are super easy to open an account with and require no proof of address or credit checks. Available if you live in one of 31 EU countries and the UK. They have customer service in over fourteen languages, and they also offer joint accounts, which is ideal if you’re travelling with your partner.
Basic accounts receive a contactless credit card, instant top-ups and spending notifications, and budgeting tools to help keep your spending down. It works worldwide and offers cheap transactions for sending money. You can also link your Avois and Paypal accounts which is handy!
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Best banks for UK digital nomads:
A fantastic option for people from the UK, Starling, is a multi-award winning bank with one of the best banking apps available with options for saving, budgeting, and rounding up purchases.
They also plant a tree for every friend you refer to their bank and are the first bank to use recycled plastic cards, that’s not the end of their environmentally-friendly policies as they’re committed to becoming a NetZero bank and currently run on renewable energy.
They have several current and business accounts, including multiple options for freelancers and a unique sole trader account. You can use both your card and ATMs freely when you travel, with no extra charges, and you can send money internationally with no hidden fees. They run everything totally online and are paperless and branchless.
Monzo operates similarly to Starling and also offer pots for saving and organizing your finances as well as fixed-term savings account switch a lightly higher interest rate than usual. While Starling has no fees, Monzon offers foreign ATM withdrawals free up to £200pm, which are charged at 3% thereafter.
It’s free to use your card abroad to pay for goods and services. They also offer premium paid accounts which offer several perks such as worldwide travel insurance, which could be worth the fees if you’re already paying for AXA insurance and phone insurance.
This was the account we switched to after not being able to use N26, and we were very impressed. They only do business accounts, not personal ones, but they are ideal for freelancers with tax support, invoicing features, features to upload receipts, easy to sync with bookkeeping software, and different labels to identify payments.
A debit card was included for basic free accounts and typical features like free transfers, free withdrawals abroad to a point, and a card that works worldwide.
Note that you need to have a UK address and phone number. (You can also use this code to receive £50 free ESAXBLKCC).
Best bank for Canadian digital nomads:
This is one of the few and best-prepaid cards available for Canadian remote workers. They offer great money management tools, cashback at numerous big retailers, no ATM fees, a card that you can use worldwide. We’ve only heard great things about this bank from Canadian friends.
Best bank for Americans and Apac Region:
Revolut was one of the first companies on the block to provide internet bank facilitates that were ideal for travellers. Everything the rest of these banks offer they also offer, but, like Wise, residents outside of the UK and EU can apply for a card. Residents of countries such as the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, and Singapore are included. You do have to pay a small fee for your first debit card, but the account itself is free.
If you’re Australian and having no access to a branch doesn’t sound ideal for you, then Citibank, an award-winning bank that operates globally and has branches worldwide, might be ideal for you. There are also extra perks for nomads working in Australia. It’s free to transfer money between Citibank accounts worldwide, and no transfer fees for intra-bank transfers on your end, but there may be on the receiving end.
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