Before becoming a digital nomad there are a few things you'll need to do. First on that list would be finding a bank. However, finding the best bank for digital nomads can be difficult. As nomads, we can't just walk into our local bank whenever we want to make a deposit or have an issue with our account.
Being world travelers, we have specific financial needs that others don't need to consider. Whoever we bank with must have a robust online banking system and no, or low, foreign transaction fees. Funds have to be accessible from anywhere, worldwide.
We researched banks available in the United States for you and found the ten best banks for digital nomads.
There are two things nomads and international travelers should consider when they are looking for a bank.
First, is the bank accessible? Typically, this means it needs to be online and you need to be able to access all of the bank's features and services from your phone (or computer). But also, can you access your funds from anywhere? You don't want to be stuck in Zimbabwe and not be able to use your card because it isn't accepted there.
Using banking services internationally can get expensive quickly. Most banks slap fees on everything they can think of when you travel. It's almost like they charge you a fee just for daring to pull it out of your wallet when you're aboard! I mean the audacity! Why would you even dare to pull your card out, you peasant!
But seriously, these fees add up and they aren't fun. Nomads need to consider what they are going to be charged to use the bank's services abroad. Some banks charge excessive ATM fees or foreign transaction fees. Others actually reimburse fees that other banks charge. A few other banks actually offer other perks like international health insurance just for opening an account with them.
So without further ado, here is our list of the best banks for digital nomads:
Revolut is hands down the best bank for nomads. Based in the U.K, they offer some amazing features for an online bank. Revolut is available to U.S. residents through Metropolitan Commerical Bank and is insured by the FDIC.
They offer free account options and paid accounts. The paid accounts understandably have more benefits than the free account.
What makes Revolut stand out from other banks is the ability to hold your account balance in several different currencies at a time. You can exchange up to $6,500 between 28 different currencies at the interbank exchange rate for free during the week. A small fee applies on the weekends and 0.5% on amounts over $6,500 a month.
There are no foreign transaction fees when using your card abroad and there are no fees on ATM withdraws for up to $300 a month. I was unable to find what the fees were for withdrawing more than $300 a month from an ATM.
Their Premium and Metal accounts were made specifically with travelers in mind. For a monthly account fee, they'll give you overseas medical insurance! This feature by itself makes Revolut stand out above the crowd! I wasn't able to find who the provider was or what the terms were for the medical insurance, but this sounds like an amazing deal to us, especially for nomads.
The paid accounts also offer free lounge passes for you and up to three others if your flight is delayed by an hour or more. Additionally, the Metal account offers delayed baggage and delayed flight insurance.
Signing up for the premium account will give you $600 in monthly ATM withdraws worldwide and the Metal account will give you up to $1,200 a month for free.
The Premium account is only $9.99 a month and the Metal account is $16.99 a month. Both products seem like very good investments to us and the features that Revolut offers make it the best bank for digital nomads.
This is the best U.S. based bank for nomads and offers a lot of features that we think are great for travelers. The account was created with mobile banking in mind and you do not need to visit your local Charles Schwab branch to maintain your account.
What makes Charles Schwab stand out from the competition is their unlimited ATM fee rebates. When you use an ATM the ATM owner charges a fee for that service - Charles Schwab will rebate that fee back to you.
Their checking account has a zero balance minimum and no service fees. It comes with a brokerage account (you can't opt-out) but that account also has no minimum balance requirements or additional fees.
This is one of the only true free bank accounts we've come across in our research and it is a great bank for travelers. It lacks some of the perks of Revolut, but if you want a free checking account from a well-known financial institution Charles Schwab is a great pick!
Betterment was founded after the 2010 financial crisis to help people better plan financially. It was initially a brokerage service but they have recently added an online checking account.
Their checking account is free with no fees and they are FDIC insured.
Quite frankly, what we like most about Betterment's checking account is that they refund all ATM fees and the 1% Visa foreign transaction fee. They have no ATM fees that they charge and there are no foreign transaction fees.
Additionally, if you use your Betterment Visa card to pay your cell phone bill, they will insure your cell phone for up to $600 per claim with a $50 deductible. This service is provided at no extra cost. So if you're ever pickpocketed, you have free cell phone insurance to cover that loss. That's an amazing perk for nomads, just saying.
Capital One's online 360 Checking account ranks pretty darn high on our list of best banks for digital nomads. They offer some amazing services that are a hit with international travelers.
A 360 Checking account can be opened online and you do not need to enter one of their branch locations for any of the services offered through the account. There are no balance requirements and it is a free checking account with no fees for the normal services you'd expect to use at a bank.
Capital One is one of the larger banks in the United States and you won't have to wonder who you're depositing your money with every month - it is a secure bank and FDIC insured. But beyond that, they offer no foreign transaction fees and fee-free ATM use - meaning Captial One will not charge you a fee for using an ATM.
If you want totally free ATM use you'll have to use an in-network ATM. However, even if the ATM isn't in-network, Captial one will not charge you a fee for using it. This includes foreign ATM use. That said, unlike Charles Schwab, they do not reimburse ATM fees charged by other banks.
Overall, Capital One's 360 Checking is a top pick of ours for digital nomads and we highly recommend them if you are going to be traveling internationally.
Chime is a unique online banking option. You could consider it the American version of Revolut. While it doesn't have the currency options that Revolut does, Chime is a good option for nomads who need banking accessibility from anywhere in the world.
The mobile app they've created is very intuitive and easy to use. They have received numerous positive reviews for their app design and their services.
For starters, Chime boasts of not having any fees - they don't even charge for over-drafting your account. There are no minimum balance requirements, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM fees. The fact that it is low cost and accessible from anywhere makes this a very viable bank for nomads and world travelers.
However, while they state that they do not ATM fees, if you are out of network the other bank will charge ATM fees. Currently, the only ATMs in the network that we're aware of are in the United States. So if you are using a foreign ATM, Chime will not charge you a fee for that use, but the bank that owns the ATM will. Chime does not reimburse ATM fees.
All in all, Chime is a great bank for international travel and digital nomads. It is easy to use and accessible from anywhere in the world.
A reoccurring theme on our best banks for digital nomad list, is accounts with no fees. Discover's online checking account is another such account. They boast of not having any fees. That boast appears pretty complete to us, there are no fees that we could find.
In addition to no fees, they even offer 1% cashback on all purchases. That's not a bad deal.
Discover offers no foreign transaction fees when used abroad. Being fee-free, they also do not charge any fees for using an international ATM. However, as with other banks on this list, the owner of the ATM used will likely charge a fee for that service.
One thing to consider before you open an account with Discover is while Discover cards are accepted worldwide in most countries, there are areas where coverage is low. This includes areas in western Europe. If Discover were accepted more broadly we would have definitely ranked them much higher on our list.
SoFi is an interesting option for travelers. They offer a 100% online spending account that you can use anywhere in the world. SoFi is not a bank but they hold your funds in a partner bank and it is FDIC insured up to $1.5 million. SoFi is a brokerage account and their focus is on investing.
SoFi offers some great perks that we felt was important to include in this list.
Like almost every bank on our list, SoFi has no fees. They do not charge ATM fees, account fees, minimum balance fees, or overdraft fees. And with a worldwide ATM network, they offer zero-fee transactions. But that network is only in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
They don't appear to offer any ATM fee reimbursement, but only a few banks we've come across do. In all, SoFi would make a great choice for nomads looking for online accessible banking options.
However, if you're looking for a brokerage account, the Charles Schwab account is a better option. They offer the same services, a more robust brokerage account, and they reimburse your ATM fees.
Varo is another online bank account that is very similar to Chime. They don't seem to be targeting international travelers directly, but they do offer some great options for nomads. They do not charge monthly fees or minimum balance fees and their bank account seems to be affordable in most cases.
The main thing that stuck out to us about Varo when we were looking for the best banks for digital nomads is the lack of foreign transaction fees. They don't charge any fees for using your card abroad.
However, they do charge you $2.50 for using an ATM out of network in addition to the fees the ATM owner charges. So unless you're able to use your card for every transaction aboard, these fees can start to add up.
If ATMs are something that you don't see yourself using that much, or if you're going to stay in the United States, Varo would be a good choice for you.
Another decent online bank choice for international travelers is CIT's eChecking account. Their eChecking account is another mobile banking account that doesn't require you to enter a brick and mortar location for services.
They advertise their eChecking account as "Mostly Fee-Free," however, it appears to us that they are just as free as other banks advertising free checking - if you use the account domestically. There are still fees involved but they are fees for over drafting and returned checks.
The main reason CIT Bank made this list was its mobile banking options. They offer a robust mobile app that allows you to do most, if not everything, you'll need to do at a bank all from right inside the app.
CIT Bank does not charge ATM fees, which is a plus. However, they do charge a 1% transaction fee on international transactions and ATM withdraws. This is a real bummer if we're honest.
On the bright side, they'll reimburse $30 per statement cycle of other bank's ATM fees. It is unclear if that includes international banks or just domestic banks.
You will find many travelers swearing by N26. And indeed, N26 is a great bank if you live in Europe. Based in Germany, they are an online bank with a very robust mobile platform that is easy to use. If you live in the EU, N26 would probably top our list of the best banks for digital nomads. But in the U.S., their services are mediocre at best.
N26 is available to U.S. residents through Axos Bank and is FDIC-insured. They offer both free checking accounts as well as premium accounts that offer more benefits but, if you have a U.S. address, only the free account is currently available.
N26 states they have no hidden fees, that's not exactly accurate but they don't have much more than most other banks. They have no maintenance charges or foreign transaction fees when you use your card overseas. They also don't have any minimum balance requirements - you can keep your account balance at $0 if you wish.
ATM fees are a different story. While they offer free ATM transactions on in-network ATMs, their ATMs are only in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.K, and Australia. So, if you're just traveling to those places, it's not a bad bank.
However, traveling abroad requires ATM use and N26 isn't the most friendly bank when it comes to international ATM use. They will charge you a flat fee of $2 plus 2% of your total withdraw to use an out of network foreign ATM. In addition, the ATM owner will also charge their fee for the use of the ATM. That can add up.
These fees are only for U.S. accounts, if you have a European account you're probably better off. From our research, if you're in Europe N26 is the best bank for nomads. We'll keep an eye on their U.S. product to see if it improves and update this post with any changes.
Despite the ATM fees, however, N26 is still a good bank for U.S. nomads. If you don't use foreign ATMs that often the mobile benefits start to outweigh the ATM fees.
As you can see, there are a few banks out there that are very nomad friendly. We hope our list of best banks for digital nomads will help you find the bank that meets your needs and avoid the nasty fee slapping that other banks partake in.
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Until next time, Happy Coddiwompling!
Disclaimer: The statements in this article are presumed to be accurate at the time of this writing, however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all terms and conditions. Before opening a bank account, you should confirm all terms and conditions with the bank you are opening the account with. The Coddiwomple Life and its affiliates are not an investment advisory service or a registered investment advisor.