The World’s Best Bank Accounts for International Travelers and Nomads

(Andrés Román Camorani) #11

Hi, I have some questions about Charles Schwab bank. First of all I’m actually Italian, but I live in Cancun, and I have easy access to cash us dollars, so I could find a way to deposit them through money gram. However, what would happen if they close my account because of the fact I live in Mexico? As I use Estafeta, which is a delivery service people use in Mexico to purchase stuff on eBay, I have a personal address in Laredo, which is where I send what I buy on eBay and then estafeta sends it to my address in Mexico. Could I use that Laredo address? And third question: They would probably notice I’m using the card in Mexico very frequently, would that be a problem?

(Thomas K. Running) #12

Hi Andres,

First of all, do you have a US Social Security number, some credit history, a US ID card etc? If not if will be hard/impossible to open an account with Schwab or most US banks—especially remotely.

Regarding the address, it’s better to use a proper street address as the address by most mail forwarding companies is just a PO box address. If the address isn’t already in your credit report, you might have to show documentation that you’re living there (plus probably visit a nearby branch).


(Andrés Román Camorani) #13

No, I never lived in the united states, so it’s impossible I have a credit history there. What do you recommend me to do then? I travel at least twice a year and having an account in us dollars would be very useful for me

(Andrés Román Camorani) #14

Ok, let’s say I would use N26, my parents live in Italy, I’m an Italian citizen, I have an address and some history there. I would send my parents cash USD through FedEx or UPS, how could they then deposit the USD to my EUR account? I definitely can’t deposit them from Mexico, unless I first convert them to MXN, but then everything would be nonsense…

(Tak) #15

Transferwise bordaless is available for exchange and sending most of currencies for you including USD, EU, ,w multicurrency master card.
Or you could have TIN for credit card
if you send form to IRS, and say you would like to pay tax (don’t worry, you do not have to).

(Andrés Román Camorani) #16

Thank you for the answer, can you give me more detailed information? I see transferwise lets you transfer money, burnt what would be the detailed process to do it, if you are in Italy, have cash USD, and want to deposit them to a N26 account? And what’s TIN, IRS? I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Is there a tutorial?

(Tak) #17

It’s a virtual bank, you could manage it with app in smartphone.
You could link your banks and cards with it, and deposit, exchange, transfer your money in it.

TIN, tax Id number
IRS, internal revenue service

(Andrés Román Camorani) #18

I finally opened an account with N26, as my parents live in Italy. I’m still struggling though to find the best way to deposit from Mexico. About the exchange rates, I’m not sure they use the MasterCard official rates, because I read in the contract that they use the Deutsche Bundesbank table

(Louis) #19

Hi Andres,

I think the best option for you is to simply take US dollars cash on your next trip and convert it to the local currency at your destination.

Since you live in Mexico, I think the only way you can deposit money to a European bank is by converting your dollars to pesos at a Mexican bank and doing a wire transfer. This is not a good idea since you would lose money on a double conversion (usd -> mxn -> eur) and pay wire transfer fees.
I believe Transferwise does not support sending pesos abroad at the moment, only receiving pesos from other currencies or sending pesos domestically within Mexico. Even if Transferwise supported the Mexican peso as a sending currency, you would still need to do a double conversion to get your USD into Euros.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s worth the pain of going through all this trouble and getting a travel-friendly bank when you have no easy way of funding the account. Also, the idea of sending cash through Fedex/UPS is absurd. Not only are you risking the loss of your money, you would be paying expensive delivery costs which would likely cancel out any savings with your European bank account.

(Andrés Román Camorani) #20

It is actually. I’m seeing the possibility through moneygram, in their customer service they insist telling me I can do it, but here they say I can only receive money, so the only way would be sending in cash through western union to my father, and then he deposits from Italy

(Louis) #21

If you’re okay with the ridiculous fees and exchange rates that Western Union charges then go ahead. I didn’t mention a service like Western Union because I didn’t find it wise spending money on double exchange and transfer fees to load a bank account in another continent.
According to NerdWallet, the fee for Western Union “depends on the amount you send and selected country. For transfers up to $1,000, the fee ranges from $0 to $95, while the median exchange rate markup ranges roughly between 0% to 10%”

Most people use a bank like N26, Monzo or Charles Schwab to save money on fees over traditional banks. I don’t see the point in having such an account if it’ll cost you more in fees to fund it than you’ll save in using it. Perhaps you need the account for another reason that I’m not aware of and/or the fees are not important to you.

Based on your situation, it would make more sense to just use cash everywhere or open a local bank account in Mexico. For example, Scotiabank Mexico has no fees when withdrawing on the Global ATM Network.

(elpea) #23

Forget TransferWise. Xoom has much better rates for international xfers. Used them a few times from US to EU transfers and their rates are MUCH better than TransferWise.

(Thomas K. Running) #24

I’ve never seen Xoom being cheaper than Transferwise, even on the USD to EUR corridor where Transferwise is a bit less cheap than when sending European currencies.

Take a 100 USD transfer to EUR today as an example:

Xoom: 100 USD (including 4.99 debit card fee) => Receiver gets 80.37 EUR
Transferwise: 100 USD (including 0.74 debit card fee) => Receiver gets 85.22 EUR

The difference is even larger if you do a bank transfer/ACH instead of debit card.

The the same holds for larger transfers. E.g. if you send 1000 USD to EUR with a debit card, you get:

Xoom: 1000 USD => 821.38 EUR
Transferwise: 1000 USD => 865.08 EUR

@elpea could it be that you forgot to take the transaction costs of Xoom into account when comparing the services?

(elpea) #25

Nope. I already have a bank account in the country I am xferring to and so I am depositing in local currency. Bank account to bank account transactions incur 0 transaction fee on Xoom. I checked TransferWise before and that is the reason I use Xoom.

Maybe if you don’t have a local bank account TransferWise is better, but for me it just isn’t.

Example, transferring $5,000 US is $46 bucks cheaper with Xoom - based on today’s exchange rates.

(Stanley Day) #26

Has anyone tried Denizen? I downloaded the app in Sept of 2017 and have been a Beta tester and exclusive user since. They use XE’s previous day end rate for FX rate when I convert USD to Euro, have no Bank owned ATM fee’s, and free transfers between my US, Spanish and German linked accounts.

As an early adopter I have paid no monthly fee for the card (which I have used to withdraw Euro’s in all of the Eurozone) as well as local currency in Hungary, Sweden, Czech Republic and Croatia. is their website, and they are on both the Apple and Google stores, respectively.

As far as N26, Revolute, Transferwise, etc… I have used them all, and the cheapest and easiest to use has been Denizen. Would love to hear if anyone else has used them, and what their thoughts are, as I did read they are coming out of Beta and will be launching a more Premium product in the coming months that will have a monthly fee. (I have my direct deposit going to my Denizen account because I can then transfer to my US and EU accounts and pay all my monthly bills without hassle and fee’s)

(Thomas K. Running) #27

I am talking about transfers to a local bank account, there aren’t any other options with TW.

I wonder where you are getting your rates? It’s currently $25 cheaper to do the transfer you mention with TransferWise than Xoom. $32.50 if your US bank doesn’t charge for wire transfers so you get out of the ACH fee with TW.



TranswerWise is also twice as fast as Xoom (next day vs two days).

(Thomas K. Running) #28

I tried to sign up, but unfortunately wasn’t able to since I’m not a permanent resident in either of those countries. On paper it sounds like a great product, so it’s great to hear that have been your experience as well.

It will be interesting to see what their plans will look like in the future, as I doubt the current pricing will be sustainable. But still, it might be worth getting an account now, in case you get grandfathered in to the current price. If I recall correctly, they hinted at something like that, no?

(elpea) #29

I really didn’t have the intention to start a war - eg Mac vs Windows. For my experience, I get better rates with Xoom for bank to bank transfer.


1,403,939.50 HUF - 1,391,067 HUF = 12,872.5 HUF
A saving of about $45.84 US.

(Thomas K. Running) #30

My bad, I saw EU in your first post and assumed EUR. I haven’t checked out all currency pairs, but it seems like at least for USD to HUF of that size they are indeed cheaper. But I wouldn’t extrapolate from USD -> HUF and conclude that they are cheaper for all/most transfers to the EU (who after all tend to be EUR or GBP, where TW has the edge).

Bottom line, it’s worth checking with both providers before any given transfer. :slight_smile:

(Claudia Jaldin) #31

Hello, thank you, very useful article. I have an account on Oceanpay, (don’t know if you heard of it) it’s supposed to be an international account. The fees to withdraw from the atm on different countries are high, and sometimes even to use it at some places to pay. Would you recommend to get an account in N26, I’m scared since I don’t really live in Europe, the account in oceanpay is in usd, N26 account only take euros? So would it be more expensive because of the exchange rate?