Best Banks for Emigrants

5 best banks for expatriates

Thinking about becoming an expat? I can tell you from my own experience that it's a great idea. However, setting up a life abroad requires some thought, especially when it comes to money.

That's why we've compiled a list of the 5 best banks for expatriates and listed all their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

1. Wise

Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise is one of the most popular international banking systems with over 11 million users.

The Wise app is completely free, easy to customize, and has no premium subscriptions that would block access to the best features. If you need to withdraw cash overseas, you can do so for up to $250 at a time at one of 2.3 million compatible ATMs around the world.

And if you prefer cashless payments, Wise provides physical and digital cards compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay, allowing you to conveniently make purchases right from your smartphone.

One of the best features, in my opinion, is the ability to store money in 50 different currencies. This is great for many reasons. You can set up alerts in your Wise account to keep track of exchange rates and let you know when the best exchange rate is.

This means you can take your time and get the most out of your money without having to depend on market fluctuations.


  • No subscription fees.
  • Up to 10 local banks to make international currency payments with no fees.
  • Stores money in over 50 different currencies.
  • Track all your transactions and international payments in full.
  • Set up alerts for the best exchange rates.
  • Request Money feature lets you share checks with friends.
  • 2.3 million compatible ATMs worldwide.
  • Accepted for payment in 200 countries.


  • Customer service is pretty slow and there is no web chat, which is unusual.
  • After you make a certain number of transfers, you have to send additional documents to Wise to prove you're human.
  • There is no option to save money.

2. N26

If you are a European citizen or heading to Europe to start your life as an expat, you should consider N26. Located in Germany, the financial center of Europe, the N26 is a true force of nature.

It is very reliable, which is not surprising for a German bank, and allows you to deposit up to €50 000 without any fees.

Frankly, that's a huge amount, especially if you're about to start a new life abroad. Starting an expat life can be expensive, so being able to have an account with such funds with no additional fees is a real lifesaver.

However, if you need cash, you'll have to contend with withdrawal fees on the two cheapest packages. N26 has four packages; Free, Smart, You and Metal. In the Free and Smart packages, you will have to pay a 1.7% withdrawal fee.

Naturally, if you don't need cash that often, it might make more sense to accept this fee than to pay a monthly fee for the You or Metal packages.

Of course, it all depends on your expenses. For example, if you're moving to a major city where cash is hardly ever used, premium packages may not be appropriate, unlike in less developed or traditional areas where cash is still widely used for small purchases.

One drawback is that the N26 currently only accepts Euros. While this is not a problem if you become an expat in one of the European countries that use the Euro, the constant exchange can be annoying if you are in a country with a different currency.

Ultimately, current exchange rates can be either favorable or unfavorable.


  • Easy and fast registration.
  • Huge transfer amounts.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Bonuses and privileges on more expensive plans.
  • Free plans are available.
  • The exchange rate for the day is used.
  • Round-the-clock customer support.
  • No commission for transferring funds abroad.


  • Accepts only euros.
  • Customer support is slow, but once you get in touch with it, it is very efficient and helpful.

3. Chime

If you live in the US, Chime is a great way to improve your credit history, although it's not exactly a foreign bank.

If you have plans to buy a house in the future or want to get business loans but aren't sure what terms you can get because of your current credit rating, I would definitely recommend opening an account with Chime to improve your credit scores.

The idea is that Chime provides you with a credit card that you fund and use like a debit card. Transactions from this card are recorded as credit transactions, which helps you strengthen your credit score.

Since you top up the card in advance, you don't have to worry about repayments at the end of the month since you are actually using it as a debit card.

Chime doesn't charge transaction fees for worldwide transactions, but there are some restrictions. For example, you can only store money in US dollars, which means you'll be subject to current exchange rates, and you'll have lower spending and withdrawal limits than many other banks.


  • Free account with lots of bonuses.
  • Reliable credit history building.
  • Worldwide usage with no international transaction fees.


  • Can only store money in US dollars.
  • Lower spending and withdrawal limits than many competitors.

How to choose a bank for traveling

4. Revolut

If you're a frequent traveler, you've probably heard of Revolut or used it before. It's one of the most requested apps for international banking, and for good reason.

The app is very intuitive to use, and once you've set up all the necessary security measures, you can easily fund your account, set savings goals, or even invest in cryptocurrency, stocks, and funds right through the app.

Need a physical card? You can order one (although it's not always free in the basic version), and you can use it to withdraw cash from Revolut ATMs. However, it's worth noting that there is a fee for withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs, so it's worth checking where they are in the world before using it.

One attractive feature is that you can pay in 140 different currencies around the world at the current exchange rate. This means that your everyday expenses while traveling can easily be paid with the Revolut card.

If saving is important to you, Revolut offers a range of savings features where you can set withdrawal limits, set budget goals and even automatically round up your spending to save. It's an easy way to start saving, and you can track your money within the app.

However, if you need unlimited international transfers outside of the Revolut network, you'll need to upgrade to the Revolut Premium or Revolut Metal packages, where you'll have access to a number of additional benefits, including improved customer support.


  • Money is exchanged at a daily exchange rate.
  • Get trend forecasts on exchange rates so you don't waste time.
  • Built-in cryptocurrency trading platform.
  • Virtual and physical cards.
  • Includes travel insurance on paid plans.
  • Decent level of security.
  • Accumulative vaults to help you budget.
  • Unlimited withdrawals from your own network of ATMs.
  • Unlimited free international transfers to other Revolut users.


  • It can be difficult to get through to customer service unless you pay for Revolut Premium or Revolut Metal.
  • Charges a fee for withdrawals over $1 200 outside the ATM network.

5. Chase

If you are a UK resident and have a UK tax number, you have the opportunity to apply for a Chase account. This account is an interesting proposition as it provides cashback on all your purchases and savings.

Currently, each user is paid 1% cashback on all their purchases, including out-of-country purchases, every month. This means you get an extra 1% on top of the current exchange rate charges, making the exchange rate more favorable than many other banks.

As for savings, you can get a substantial cashback of 4.1% on a regular savings account and 5% if you round up your spending to the nearest whole number. This all accrues monthly, allowing you to get extra money without having to wait for a long period of time.

You'll also get a physical card which, interestingly, has no visible numbers. This is done to increase security, and the card number can be found in the secure app if you want to make a purchase online.

So, you can withdraw money from regular ATMs, make online purchases and save funds with this complete service.


  • Huge cashback on spending and savings.
  • Secure cards with tons of features.
  • Compatibility with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • Track your spending in the app and set limits.
  • Spend money abroad with no fees.
  • 24/7 customer support.


  • Only available to UK residents with a tax code.
  • No overdraft facility is available.

Frequently asked questions about the best banks for expatriates

Before we wrap up our review of the best banks for expatriates, let's answer a few frequently asked questions.

Q: Where should I open a bank account?

A: This is a question that depends on your specific situation. Most of the banks mentioned in this ranking are international and available in different countries. However, if you don't plan to change residences often or travel frequently, you may want to consider opening an account at a local bank.

As for credit cards, while they may not be necessary for everyday transactions, they can be very convenient when traveling abroad or for large purchases. Credit cards usually offer additional protections and benefits, such as cashback or bonus points.

Q: How can I reduce my foreign exchange costs and fees?

A: There are several ways to reduce your foreign exchange costs and fees. The first thing to consider is the choice of ATM - it is better to choose those that cooperate with your bank and offer no fees. It is also worth using credit cards with good terms for use abroad and prefer to pay in local currency to avoid additional fees.

Q: How do I keep my account safe?

A: There are some simple steps to keep your bank account safe. For example, don't share your PIN, create complex passwords, choose secure ATMs, use two-factor authentication and pay attention to your financial transactions.


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