So, you’re thinking of traveling and want to know which is the best digital bank to suit your needs? The best digital banks for travelers are an incredible option because of the flexibility they offer. They allow you to make transactions from anywhere that has a good Wi-Fi connection.
When traveling around the world, it’s important to keep specific banking needs in mind. Traditional banks are generally aimed at people who live in a fixed location. They require a standard address and usually don’t charge fees to access your money when you’re in your home country.
However, for travelers, the need is different. A good bank account for travelers should allow you to access the account easily from different countries, without penalizing you with hefty international fees. Flexibility and ease of access are key. No one wants to deal with complicated bank bureaucracy while traveling.
List of the best digital banks for travelers
Here’s what to look for in your bank and the aspects you need to consider.
You may have heard of Wise, which was once known as TransferWise, and is famous worldwide with over 11 million users. It offers incredible features, such as the ability to withdraw money from any ATM for free up to $250 USD at a time, useful for travelers. Wise also makes it easy to use digital payments via Apple Pay or Google Pay. You can keep money in over 50 different currencies and receive bank transfers directly at no extra cost. Creating and maintaining a Wise account is completely free.
Known for being one of the best global digital banking platforms, Revolut is also popular with travelers. It offers two card options, physical and virtual, and has a secure and practical app for managing finances while traveling. Revolut allows transactions in over 140 different currencies with no withdrawal fees. Plans vary in terms of price and features, with the most expensive offering priority customer support and facilities such as travel insurance.
The German fintech, N26, offers a euro-centric banking system that allows you to transfer up to 50,000 euros to your account without any fees. According to N26, setting up the account can be done in a mere eight minutes. The account is secure, with a full European banking license and a German IBAN that protects up to 100,000 euros of your money. However, the free or Smart plan is subject to a 1.7% withdrawal fee every time you withdraw money from an ATM, regardless of where you are.
For UK travelers, Starling is a great option, with savings accounts bearing 1.63% interest. Another attraction is the absence of ATM fees, even abroad. However, they do charge fees of up to £0.3 to 5.5 per international transfer, plus an exchange rate of 0.4%.
Capital One 360
US travelers might consider Capital One 360, which allows you to create an account in about five minutes with no initial deposit. Although it may not seem ideal for international travelers, it offers free ATM withdrawals and 50% off drinks at CapitalOne cafés in the US.
HSBC Global Account
HSBC is known as an international bank and allows free cash withdrawals from HSBC ATMs around the world. However, if you make transactions with the card abroad, you will be charged a fee. The ideal is to combine this traditional account with a more flexible digital bank card.
Monese is a promising digital bank, allowing you to keep money in GBP, EUR and RON (Romanian Leu), and deposit directly in 19 different currencies. However, the free or Essential plans are subject to a 2% transaction fee, making the Classic or Premium plans more attractive. Monese stands out for its integration with PayPal, allowing you to spend money from your PayPal account directly via your Monese card.
Is PayPal good for travelers?
We’re not big fans, the fee for withdrawing your money is around 5%, which is certainly significant for those who travel a lot or who are digital nomads. Although you can charge and hold different currencies in your PayPal account, which is a great feature, PayPal can be temperamental, and its customer service leaves a lot to be desired if you have any problems.
PayPal ends up being a necessary evil because it’s one of the easiest and safest ways to get paid as a freelancer or digital nomad, especially if you have clients from all over the world and therefore travel a lot.
Remember, what makes a digital bank good for travelers are features such as good customer service, ease of account opening and access, online or app control, low international transaction fees, ease of increasing your balance and withdrawing money abroad.
So when choosing the best digital bank for you as a traveler, make sure you consider your travel habits, your individual banking needs and the bank’s features.