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International bank accounts

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A smarter way to conduct foreign transactions.

If you regularly conduct business or invest in different countries, an international bank account can offer special features to make your banking easier and more affordable.

Compare international bank accounts

Updated October 15th, 2019
Name Product Monthly fee ATMs ATM transaction fee Out-of-network ATM fee ATM fee rebates Foreign transaction fee
$0
Free at any ATM in the world
$0
$0
You can withdraw $250 every 30 days with no fees
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Send and receive 40+ currencies right from your phone, but with a better exchange rate and low fees.
$0
Get free access to 32,000 ATMs across the US
$0
No account fees. No account minimums. No ATM fees. No incoming wire fees

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5 reasons to open an international bank account

The most common reasons to use one of these accounts include:

1. Foreign currency use

International accounts let you use overseas currencies more easily, often with more preferable exchange rates and fewer fees. If you regularly use foreign currencies, an international account can get you more value for your money.

2. International money transfers

If you frequently send money overseas, an international bank account might be able to get you better rates, lower fees and more benefits. It can also make the process run quickly and smoothly.

3. Access to foreign markets

Only having a domestic bank account might inhibit you when making foreign investments, while an international bank account may let you more easily access foreign markets to trade forex or trade shares internationally.

4. Overseas investments

Purchasing real estate, companies or any other investments overseas would generally involve getting a foreign currency and making a money transfer. Regular investors can save time and money by investing out of an international account.

5. Tax advantages

Money stored in international accounts is sometimes eligible for legal loopholes that cut down on tax costs. If you want to manage your bank account for optimal returns, then an international bank account could provide more options. But it’s a good idea to talk to a professional, because accidental tax evasion can land you in a considerable amount of legal trouble.

What are the pros and cons of an international bank account?

An international bank account has a lot of advantages, but you should also be aware of the potential risks involved.

Pros

  • Taxes. If the account is located offshore, you may be able to take advantage of tax breaks. But keep in mind that you’ll likely still need to report your balance to the IRS.
  • Privacy. Sensitive financial information may be safer overseas, in an anonymous account, than in a standard domestic bank account. If your occupation requires you to protect sensitive client information, or your own, then an international bank account may be preferable.
  • Multiple currencies. With a standard bank account you will typically need to exchange money through the bank or a third party, paying fees and exchange rates on that transaction. International bank accounts typically use different currencies with more fluidity.
  • International money transfers. If you keep making international money transfers through a domestic bank account, you can very quickly spend a large amount on fees and currency exchange rates. An international bank account typically lets you do it with preferable rates and at a lower cost.
  • Linked accounts. Depending on your preferences, you may link other accounts to your international bank account to earn interest on them or enjoy other benefits.

Cons

  • Legal risk. It is your responsibility to follow all applicable laws when holding overseas accounts. It may be advisable to use an experienced tax accountant to help you.
  • Financial risk. Money held in US bank accounts is generally protected by the FDIC up to $250,000. Money held in overseas bank accounts does not have this guarantee.
  • Fees. There may be additional fees and costs involved with international banking, and these can vary between providers. You should make sure you are well informed about all applicable fees and conditions before opening an account.

3 things to do before opening an international account

Get more out of your international bank account by ticking these off.

1. Have a purpose in mind

By deciding which benefits are most important to you, like easier international investments, more tax options or cheap international money transfers, you can choose an account tailored to your needs.

2. Know your must-haves

Know what the account absolutely must have. For example, if you know with certainty that you will be investing in the Chinese property market then you’ll probably want an account that delivers advantageous US-Chinese currency conversion rates and lets you quickly transfer and convert funds to take advantage of great deals or compete at auctions.

3. Know the law

International accounts can be more legally complicated because they might mean obeying the laws of two different countries at once. You need to operate within both US law and the laws of whichever nation your account is being held in.

Bottom line

International bank accounts can help make international transactions easier and cheaper, but you’ll need to make sure you’re not accidentally breaking any tax laws. Compare checking accounts both abroad and in the US to find one that’s the right fit.

Frequently asked questions

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