Foreign transaction fees. High ATM withdrawal charges. A lack of physical banks to access your money.
If you’re already a digital nomad, you’ve likely experienced these issues. And if you’re a nomad-to-be, you’re in luck—I’ll help you skip the banking abroad learning curve.
Traveling abroad can drain your wallet in banking fees. So, choosing the right bank is lucrative because it’ll help you keep the cash you earn while working from your favorite hammock, cowork space, tent, etc.
I have over a decade of experience working and traipsing around the globe. It’s allowed me to gather firsthand experience of international banking. I’ve also chatted with countless digital nomads to find out what has—and hasn’t—worked for them in the banking department.
Needless to say, the best bank for digital nomads largely depends on where you’re from.
However, thanks to the rise of online-only banks, it’s becoming increasingly possible for people from all over the globe to access affordable banking options when traveling.
A Quick Digital Nomad Bank Low-down
You’ve got enough on your plate, so I won’t bore you with the features of all 12 banks.
Your citizenship and where you country hop are some of the many factors that impact the best bank for your nomadic ways. So, to help you fast-track your way to find your ideal bank account for traveling abroad, I’ve assigned each bank a “best for” title.
That’s right—this list isn’t in order of best to mediocre digital nomad banks. Instead, save your time by clicking on the banks below that sound applicable to your situation.
- Charles Schwab (Best for Americans)
- Monzo (Best for U.K. citizens)
- N26 (Best for Europeans)
- Wise (Best for cheap money transfers)
- Revolut (Best for high earners)
- Payoneer (Best for inclusivity)
- Starling (Best for British business owners)
- STACK (Best for Canadians)
- Monese (Best for a European alternative)
- Citibank (Best for countries with Citibank)
- PayPal (Best for digital nomads with few choices)
- Cryptocurrency (Best for techies)
Top Contenders for the Best Bank for Digital Nomads
Ready to learn more about these bank options? Read on.
1. Best for Americans: Charles Schwab
As an American digital nomad, Charles Schwab is a no-brainer for banking (I say that in hindsight, given that it wasn’t until a few years ago when a fellow nomad introduced me to it).
The biggest attraction of Charles Schwab for Americans wanting to open a digital nomad bank account is that your debit card will work at ATMs in over 200 countries.
When you insert your debit card, the ATM will charge you the same international fees that it would for most other banks.
But the end of the month is where the magic happens—Charles Schwab refunds 100% of ATM fees, provided you use Schwab-compatible ATMs.
I’ve used my Charles Schwab card in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East and have always been able to find a compatible ATM. In fact, it’s often harder to find an ATM that isn’t compatible with it.
So, how do you know that an ATM abroad is compatible with your Charles Schwab bank card? All you need to do is look for an ATM that has at least one of the following symbols:
- Money Pass
There’s no need to worry about memorizing these symbols—I took this info from the back of my Schwab debit card.
So, you can easily check them on your own card when you’re out and about.
In addition to receiving a lovely sum of money every month for the sometimes double-digit fees that international ATMs charge, Schwab also has a $0 foreign transaction fee policy for any items you purchase abroad with your debit card.
I’ve written an entire article explaining how to use the Charles Schwab debit card for travel if you’re interested in learning more about this option.
|No account minimums||Only available to American citizens|
|Free travel accident insurance||Not possible to directly deposit cash (only checks)|
|Free travel and emergency assistance insurance||You'll need to apply in the U.S. if using a VPN doesn't work|
|Unlimited monthly ATM fee rebates on eligible transactions|
|High yeild investor checking account of 0.03% (relatively speaking—this is a bank we're talking about, after all)|
You can visit Charles Schwab’s website here.
2. Best for U.K. Citizens: Monzo
Online banking is quickly becoming a favorite option among travelers. So, if you’re a U.K. citizen, the best bank for digital nomads in your case might be Monzo.
Monzo offers the same features whether you’re in London or Bangkok, and you’re never going to have to worry about a brick-and-mortar bank saying that you need to visit them in person to resolve an issue with your card.
Instead, you’ll have access to a free account setup from anywhere, no monthly minimums, and the absence of overdraft fees.
Furthermore, Monzo offers attractive ATM policies (although it’s hard to beat that of Charles Schwab if you have dual citizenship). When traveling in the European Economic Area (EEA), you’ll benefit from fee-free withdrawals at any ATM.
In non-EEA countries, you’re allowed to withdraw up to £200 once per month. If you exceed this amount, Monzo will charge you 3% on any additional money you take out. Ouch.
The good news?
You can use your Monzo bank card to make a purchase anywhere Mastercard is accepted without foreign transaction charges or added conversion fees.
So, depending on where you’re doing your banking for digital nomads, you just might be able to get away with taking out£200 in cash.
That said, Monzo uses Mastercard’s exchange rates, which are often higher than the standard interbank rate.
|No added fees to the exchange rate||Maximum free £200 withdrawal per month|
|User-friendly app to help with budgeting||£1 fee for depositing cash into your account|
|You don't have to let Monzo know when and where you'll be traveling||Heafty 3% fee for cash you withdraw over £200|
|Fee-free transactions when using your debit card with MasterCard compatible purchases||Mastercard exchange rate instead of interbank rate|
|Personalized information about exchange rates and banking info when you arrive in a new country|
You can visit Monzo’s website here.
3. Best for Europeans: N26
The best digital nomad banking for Europeans is often an easy choice. N26 is a German-based bank that primarily serves European countries, after a failed attempt at breaking into the U.S. market.
Since they’re an online bank, you can set up your N26 bank account from anywhere with a smartphone and an N26 country-approved residential address. It’s free to open an account and they say you can do it in only eight minutes.
As digital nomads, most of us are savvy in the tech department. So, using N26’s virtual Mastercard might fill your banking needs.
But if you prefer to have a physical debit card, no problem—simply order one from N26’s app and pay the one-time delivery fee.
If you’re the type of digital nomad that’s scraping by every month, you won’t have to worry about N26’s fee for deposits if you have a balance under €50,000.
Is€50,000 pocket change to you?
If so, upgrading to a premium N26 account or using another banking option on this list are likely better options for you.
|24/7 customer support||Hefty ATM withdrawal fees in non-E.U. countries|
|Zero foreign transaction fees||You must order a debit card if you want a physical one|
|No annual fees or account minimums|
|Tracks expenses and spending habits|
|Fee-free deposits if you keep your balance under €50,000|
|Ability to make Mastercard purchases with a virtual card|
You can visit N26’s website here. Their services vary according to region. So, head to the upper left section of their website to ensure that you’re viewing the correct page for your nationality.
4. Best for Cheap Money Transfers: Wise
Even if you sign up for another digital nomad bank account on this list, it’s still “wise” to consider signing up with Wise.
One of the most notable features of Wise is that it’s more inclusive than many of the banks up to this point—people from across the globe can sign up for an account.
Furthermore, you can send money between 80 countries at ultra-low fees. You can also hold over 54 different currencies in your account.
Wise helps you avoid costly international foreign transaction fees, making them arguably the best bank for digital nomads who country hop often. Furthermore, you can set up your account to receive client payments from 10 different countries.
They’ll do this by assigning you a personal Euro IBAN, U.S. routing number, etc.
For a mere $9, you can also order a Wise card that’s compatible with over 200 countries. Alternatively, keep it simple by using Apple or Google Pay.
Calling Wise a “bank” is a bit of a stretch because it’s more of a low-cost money transfer service, ideal for digital nomads working with multiple currencies.
However, the expectations that digital nomads and non-nomadic people alike have from their banking services are evolving. So, Wise is here to stay.
|Receive payments in 10 currencies||No savings account option|
|Wise card is accepted in 200+ countries||Isn't compatible with all world currencies|
|Uses real exchange rates without hidden fees|
|3 times cheaper international money transfers|
|2.3 million compatible ATMs throughout the world|
|Convert between and hold 50+ currencies in your account|
You can visit Wise’s website here.
5. Best for High Earners: Revolut
Revolut offers three banking tiers for their clients—Standard, Premium, and Metal.
The Standard has $0 monthly fees and comes with 140+ currencies that you can exchange at market rate. You can also exchange up to $1,000/month without hidden fees and enjoy fee-free ATM withdrawals at their 55,000+ ATM locations.
Furthermore, Revolut lets its Standard users withdraw $1,200/month from out-of-network ATMs free of charge. Can you say “a digital nomad’s dream?”
Revolut’s Premium and Metal tiers cost $9.99 and $16.99/month, respectively.
Needless to say, these plans are best if you want to keep a lot of cash in your digital nomad bank account since they offer 0.07% instead of 0.05% APY.
You may also be eligible for perks like LoungeKey Pass access, overseas medical insurance, delayed baggage, delayed flight insurance, and global express delivery, depending on the plan.
Regardless of the tier, you’ll also be able to make ten international transfers for free each month to any non-Revolut bank account in the world.
And if you make transfers between Revolut accounts, it’s free.
If you love the thought of banking where you keep your cryptocurrency and vice versa, Revolut is an option to consider. They offer their customers of all tier levels the ability to trade up to $200,000 in crypto per month without fees.
|Unlimited free in-network withdrawals||Monthly fees to upgrade to a plan that comes with more perks|
|Hold, spend, and transfer money in 30+ currencies||Charges for withdrawing more than $1,200/month from out-of-network ATMs|
|Unlimited free international transfers to Revolut users|
|Low international exchange rates to 200+ destinations|
Savings vaults including rounding up spare cash and recurring savings transfers
You can visit Revolut’s website here.
6. Best for Inclusivity: Payoneer
One of the biggest issues about banking for digital nomads is that bank options are almost always restricted to citizens from certain countries—most often, citizens from more developed countries.
That’s what makes Payoneer such a game changer for globetrotters with limited banking options. Payoneer facilitates withdrawals to local bank accounts in 150+ countries and currencies.
It’s also among the bestbank for digital nomads who own a business where you receive payments in several different currencies.
From converting your clients’ payments to your native currency (or the currency of the country you’re in) to paying VAT for your e-commerce business without fees, Payoneer offers powerful resources for their customers.
Best of all?
You can do everything from their user-friendly app.
Of course, every bank has its downsides. Payoneer will charge up to 2% of the transaction fee if you’re transferring money to a non-Payoneer account.
They also charge a nearly $30 fee if you don’t make a transaction on your account during a 12-month period.
|Pay VAT fee-free from the app||Fees for inactivity|
|Available to citizens in many parts of the world||High transaction fees for non-Payoneer money transactions|
|Money transfers to over 150 countries and currencies|
|Excellent resources for digital ecommerce businesses|
|Ability to request a client payment from Payoneer's platform|
You can visit Payoneer’s website here.
7. Best for British Business Owners: Starling
Yes, this is an extra-specific type of best bank for digital nomads. But if you happen to be a U.K. citizen and a business owner, Starling is worth a look.
Starling’s 100% digital business bank account offers digital nomads the ability to run their finances from anywhere and at any time. Thanks to 24/7 customer support, you can reach Starling by phone, chat, or email.
Try doing that with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank!
Your business account comes with $0 monthly fees and you can include bookkeeping for only an extra £7 per month.
Furthermore, you can open Euro and U.S. dollar accounts for£2 and£5 per month, respectively. That’s an excellent cost-saving option if you work with a lot of E.U. and American clients.
As if it couldn’t get better, you’ll be able to do your digital nomad banking with Starling without ATM or foreign transaction fees when you travel.
If too much time on the road gets you dreaming of putting down roots in the U.K. again, you’ll still be in good hands—over 400,000 British businesses trust Starling with their money. I think we can all agree that there aren’t 400,000 digital nomad British business owners globetrotting.
If you don’t own a business, Starling also offers individual bank accounts. It’s something to consider if you want to compare it to Monzo and other banks on this list.
|Free digital check deposits||Only available to U.K. citizens|
|Instant payment notifications||Limited on the types of currencies you can exchange|
|Zero ATM and foreign transaction fees||0.03% cash deposit fee that must be done at a post office|
|Ability to open Euro and USD accounts|
|Features like spending analytics and digital recepits|
You can visit Starling’s website here.
8. Best for Canadians: STACK
If you’re Canadian, STACK likely isn’t the first option that comes to mind when looking to open a digital nomad bank account. That’s because STACK isn’t a bank so much as a reloadable Mastercard.
Before you balk at the work involved in ensuring you have enough money on your STACK card as you travel, take a good look at its perks. No foreign transaction fees, zero ATM withdrawal fees, and excellent exchange rates for over 150 currencies are among some of the benefits you’ll receive.
Since STACK partners with Mastercard, you’ll be able to use your card anywhere in the world that Mastercard is accepted.
You can even take advantage of instant cash-back deals at qualified retailers. And that’s without racking up money on a credit card.
Furthermore, if you work with clients who also use STACK, they can pay you without incurring fees for either party.
Alternatively, if you receive monthly paychecks from an employer, you might be able to get paid up to two days earlier than usual.
|Zero foreign transaction fees||Canadian currency is the only currency you can deposit|
|Financial IQ spending tracker||You need to find a STACK-approved ATM so you don't get charged a fee|
|Free STACK-to-STACK money transfers||You must have a Canadian bank account or visit a Canadian post office to deposit money|
|Round up savings option for your purchases|
|You can take your money out from any ATM worldwide|
|No ATM withdrawal fees if you choose a compatible machine|
You can visit STACK’s website here.
9. Best for a European Alternative: Monese
It’s hard to beat N26 as the best bank for digital nomads. But in case N26 doesn’t check off all the boxes you need, Monese is worth considering.
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll appreciate that Monese has customer service representatives that speak 14 languages, covering nearly every language corner of the 20+ European countries they serve.
Furthermore, Monese lets you open an account in any of the following currencies: Euro, British Pound, and Romanian Leu.
Regardless of your country or currency, Monese allows its customers to do unlimited free money transfers with other Monese account holders.
Banking for digital nomads can sometimes get tricky in the ATM department. However, since Monese uses a debit Mastercard, you can withdraw your money at any Mastercard-compatible ATM.
Nevertheless, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Monese has four banking tiers—Starter, Essential, Classic, and Premium. The fees range from £0 for the Starter to £14.95 per month for a Premium account.
If you plan on withdrawing money from an ATM often, Monese might not be for you. They charge a £1.5 fee for every withdrawal if you’re on the Starter plan. You’ll then have minimum free withdrawal amounts that increase with each higher-priced plan (£200 – £1,500).
However, if the goal of your digital nomad bank account is to transfer money for free between clients or use it for cashless purposes, Monese could be a good deal.
|Multi-lingual customer support team||Costly ATM withdrawal fees and low limits|
|Wide range of ATM availability worldwide||Insurance is only available for paid plans|
|User-friendly app with budgeting options|
|Free money transfers between Monese customers|
|Low international exchange rate for non-Monese money transfers|
You can visit Monese’s website here.
10. Best for Countries with Citibank: Citibank
I haven’t included many traditional banks on this list, and for a good reason—brick-and-mortar banks tend to have stringent policies.
Citibank is among them.
However, the fact that Citibank calls many countries home makes it a best bank for digital nomads contender, provided that your travels only take you to Citibank-based countries.
Lucky for the globetrotter, Citibank calls many regions of the world home. You can view a list of them here.
By opening a Citibank account, you’ll have access to free ATM withdrawals wherever there’s a Citibank. Although I have a Charles Schwab account, I’ve withdrawn money from a Citibank ATM on many occasions using my Schwab card.
Another advantage of Citibank is that its debit card has no foreign transaction fees.
Furthermore, if the nature of your job makes it easier to have in-person interactions at a bank, doing your digital nomad banking with Citibank is advantageous because you can walk into a Citibank branch in many parts of the world.
|No foreign transaction fees||Monthly maintenance fee if you don't meet their minimum requirements|
|Account perks for senior citizens|
Overdraft, insufficient funds, and many other types of potential account fees
|Bank branches in many parts of the world|
|Full range of services from a traditional bank|
|Zelle available, allowing for free money transfers with other Zelle accounts|
You can visit Citibank’s website here.
11. Best for Digital Nomads with Few Choices: PayPal
PayPal likely isn’t a new “bank” to you. And that’s exactly what makes it a good option for your digital nomad banking needs if you live in a country where banks with decent travel policies are non-existent.
Citizens from over 200 countries and regions have the ability to create a PayPal account.
Once you go through the quick sign-up process, you can receive payments for freelance work, make payments to your providers, purchase items, and store your money online.
PayPal even rolled out a cryptocurrency feature, if you wish to invest in digital assets.
Whether or not you’ve used PayPal, you’ve likely heard about its high fees. One of my clients pays me through PayPal, and I can tell you from experience that those fees can take a beating on your bottom financial line.
In August 2021, PayPal raised its fees from what was an already painful 2.9% plus 30 cent transaction fee to 3.49% plus a 49 cent transaction fee.
However, the sad reality is that citizens from many countries in the world don’t have access to decent options for banking abroad. So, PayPal can offer many the freedom to experience digital nomad life.
|Supports 20+ currencies||Extraordinarily high fees|
|Can use PayPal to pay off credit cards||No ability to earn interest on money held in your account|
|No annual fees to keep an account open|
|Available to just about anyone in the world|
|Ability to open a personal and business PayPal account|
You can visit PayPal’s website here.
12. Best for Techies: Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency isn’t the first thing that most digital nomads think of when they hear the word “bank.” But that’ll likely soon change.
Setting up a cryptocurrency account is an excellent way to get paid and to send someone money quickly and cheaply.
By using “stablecoins” such as USDC, BUSD, and USDT, you can transfer any sum of USD for a fraction of what you’d be able to do at a traditional bank.
If the U.S. dollar isn’t your native currency, no worries. You can purchase coins like ADA and XLM in your native currency and then transfer that ADA or XLM to anyone anywhere in the world who has an ADA or XLM wallet.
Furthermore, you can purchase cryptocurrency with money from your bank account and use it to pay for items as you travel without worrying about foreign transaction fees or conversion rates, provided that you pay using a compatible coin.
If this is going over your head, I get it.
However, if none of the other choices on this list seem like a good fit for you, I encourage you to do a bit of research to see if crypto could be a viable option for your digital nomad banking endeavor.
|Low-cost transaction fees||Many people may not have a crypto account|
|Immediate transfers to anywhere in the world||Possibility of losing your crypto if you send it to the wrong address|
|No foreign transaction fees or currency conversion fees||No option for earning interest unless you stake your crypto|
|Hold fiat in the exchange like a bank account|
|Choose to make transactions from hundreds of crypto assets|
If you choose Binance, note that U.S. customers must use Binance.us whereas citizens elsewhere in the world can use Binance.com.
Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Bank for Digital Nomads
Opening a digital nomad bank account is an exciting endeavor. But before you fork over your hard-earned cash, it’s wise to assess your situation.
The following questions will help get you on the right banking track.
Does the bank offer credit cards?
Sadly, the best bank for digital nomads doesn’t always come with a credit card. Instead, several banks—especially online ones—only offer debit cards.
The reason for this is clear. Using a debit card, particularly those with pre-paid features, significantly reduces the bottom line cost for you and the bank.
Nevertheless, travelers understandably don’t love the idea of swiping their debit cards for non-ATM transactions. That’s because if you swipe on a compromised machine, it’s a fast-track way to deplete the money in your account.
So, if your bank doesn’t offer a credit card, it’s a good idea to set up a credit card with another company before you hit the road.
Will you get in a tax bind?
Depending on the country you’re from, there may be legal ways to not pay taxes if you’re a digital nomad. So, if you plan on taking advantage of tax breaks by being abroad, I recommend speaking with a tax specialist.
In some cases, you might dig yourself in a hole if you sign up with an online bank—called a fintech—with a home address that isn’t consistent with the type of taxes you plan on paying (or legally not paying).
“Legal” is the key word here. I’m not advocating to illegally avoid taxes.
So, do your due diligence according to the country you’re from, preferably with a certified tax specialist.
Can I set up a bank account in another country?
The “nomad” part of digital nomad assumes that you’ll be moving around as you work.
However, if your idea of nomading involves a year or longer stay in another country, it might be worth checking into whether you can set up a local bank account.
Countries known as offshore tax havens often have lenient policies for foreigners wanting to open a bank account.
What does that mean for you?
That you wouldn’t have to become a resident of that country to open an account. Instead, you’ll likely have to meet some basic requirements, such as depositing a minimum amount of money to open an account.
5 Ways to Protect your Digital Nomad Bank Account
No matter where you live or how much you move around, the best digital nomad banks that I covered here mean nothing if you’re not careful.
I understand firsthand how tempting it can be to want to store your bank login details on your laptop.
But it’s a dangerous place to keep them, both because someone could hack into your computer remotely. Alternatively, your laptop could get lost or stolen during your travels.
So, below are some crucial items to know to help keep your bank account as safe as possible during your globetrotting.
- Use a password containing at least 12 characters with a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters. Don’t believe me? This chart will change your mind.
- Withdraw money from ATMs inside of banks. That way, there’s a lower chance that someone tampered with the machine.
- Don’t give out your debit card PIN or bank login information. Hackers are excellent at making phishing emails and phone calls that seem like the real deal. Just know that your bank will never ask for these details.
- Leave your bank information with a trusted person. That way, if you forget your password or bank details, you can give them a call.
- Use two-factor authentication. This makes it more difficult for a hacker to access your account since they’ll also need to access your phone or email. A code generator app is also an excellent two-factor authentication option.
No matter how careful you are with your digital nomad bank account, the truth is that fraud and theft happen.
Therefore, write down the emergency helpline for your bank and keep it in a safe place (i.e. not your wallet).
A Final Tip: Reducing Conversion Fees
When you’re working with exchanging money to a currency that isn’t yours, you’ll encounter conversion fees.
However, you can usually reduce how much you spend on conversion fees by opting to use your bank’s exchange rate.
There are two situations where you’ll see conversion exchange rate fees occur:
- At ATMs
- When purchasing items with your debit or credit card
When you’re using an ATM, it’ll give you the option to accept the ATM’s conversion rate or let your bank do it.
Ignore any doomsday wording the ATM uses—if you don’t want to take the time to run the numbers yourself, more likely than not letting your bank do the conversion will save you money.
Similarly, when you’re making a purchase with your credit or debit card, ask them to charge you in local currency. That way, your bank will do the conversion.
Otherwise, if you pay for an item in your home currency, the credit or debit card company will do the exchange rate conversion, often leaving you with less money.
Ready to Bank Abroad?
As you’ve now seen, the best bank for digital nomads is dependent on where you’re from and the features you’re looking for.
I hope the information here helped you understand some of the many digital nomad banking opportunities out there.
I’m not about to claim that I’m a bank expert. However, if you have questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.
Alternatively, I encourage you to comment about your own experience with banking as a digital nomad. Whether you’ve used a bank on this list or would like to introduce future readers to a different bank option, I’m all ears.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.