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

I found an issue in therm of transparency related to the insurance product N26 proposes. That is, they excite you by telling you are covered for this and that and that everywhere you go in the world, all included in your N26 plan. While in fact, if you look in the details of the insurance company, you are just covered for two ways trips that originate just and only from/back to your city of residency.
Being N26 a Card/account thought with flexibility, especially for recurring travellers and nomads it is a good product in some regards, but don’t rely on their insurance for it is close to useless for our lifestyle.

Hi Patrick, it looks like you managed to message me in the end. Feel free to let me know if you had any other questions as well!

I feel like every 100% online bank accounts (n26/Neat) or digital wallets (Revolut/Transferwise) can’t really be trusted as being a place to store most of your money. If you look at the app store comments (at least on Android) it’s plagued with people complaining of having their account closed with no warning and it seems that most of the time it’s false positives. It’s ok if they close the account but if at least they can send a warning for people to transfer their money first that’ll be great, but they seem to shut it down first then people are struggling to get their money back.

I feel like, even as of 2019, only regular banks where you made a physical KYC can be trusted to not put a knife in your back. Is this feeling shared or I’m the only one thinking like this around here? I would use/store very little amounts in my n26/Revolut because of this.

1 Like

You are right, you are not the only one! I have two customers whose account is closed at Revolut. One blocked on another day. I am in the world of finance. As an investor on the stock exchange, I advise my clients to choose to open a bank account. There are better solutions to do it right. If I know what my client wants, I look for the best solution.

1 Like

I agree. While even physical bank, you had better pay attention to the weight of derivatives in assets and also loans (Texas index). Not only Deutch bank, :statue_of_liberty:Citi, Goldman (Marcus), Chase, etc, expose their assets to huge amount of :bomb:derivatives. Those are scattered into all over the world via several types of funds, ETFs, rearrenged derivatives, CDSs, etc. Total amount of derivatives is at least three times higher than that of in 2008 crises.
You had better keep your money in stable conservative brokers having insurrance of your fund, and banks and credit union or keep in safe box like a sniper :male_detective:.
The lethal amount of derivatives :volcano:gives you a good chance to amplify your assets by selling bad portfolio (containing lethal derivatives :bomb:) and buying crash-resistant stocks :surfing_man:.
Actually, you need to keep small amount of living expenses for a few months in high interest cheking/saving account (no international transaction fee), and the rest should be in fund insurance brokers.

Merciless closing of your account probably and partly comes from the invasion of privacy by google that gathers all of your privacy and behavior (including misunderstandings, mistakes, mixtures, etc) on the web, and sell it to financial organisations FOs, although some of the FOs do not care it as far as you have enough money.

1 Like

These online banks are usually understaffed startups that rely more on algorithms than human compliance officers. Therefore, if the algorithm detects unusual activity, the account will likely get flagged and then possibly frozen.

It is much safer for these banks to just freeze suspicious accounts than face heavy fines from the government regulators. See this article regarding N26 and it’s problems with German regulators.

Therefore, if you plan on using these services in a suspicious manner, be prepared to face the consequences. If not, then enjoy the benefits since they are great services. In either case, if you have a large amount of money, you should keep it in a regular bank which you know and trust.

In regards to suspicious activity, it’s hard to say exactly what this banks consider suspicious. By law, banks are secretive about how the flag accounts for things like money laundering. However, after visiting the N26/Revolut subreddits, I’ve noticed the people complaining about having their account frozen have done one of the following suspicious activities:

  • Sending and receiving transfers from Localbitcoins/Cryptocurrency exchanges
  • Receiving large bank transfers from third parties
  • First transaction is funding from a third party (e.g. a “friend”)
  • Receiving business related transactions
  • Receiving many Paypal transactions
  • Sending to or receiving from IBAN’s flagged for money laundering

Very interesting @louisz . I didn’t see things from that perspective indeed. I was just afraid that somehow I would trigger one of their false positive filters and get one of my accounts closed down. What you say make total sense regarding their frozen accounts policy. A startup need to move fast and iterate quickly, they don’t have time to loose investigating people’s account manually and shutting down their account altogether makes more sense from their point of view.

From all the points you listed I didn’t do any of them so I guess I’m safe for now… considering they don’t have another way of flagging accounts lol. I’ll only put very small sum of money in those account from now, things that I need on a day to day basis.

1 Like

Bitwala is an interesting new option for EU residents. They offer what they call “blockchain banking” including a free, fully licensed German bank account with solarisBank. If you ignore the blockchain part (the account is linked to a bitcoin wallet and trading platform, which is probably where they hope to make money) this appears to be a good way to get a completely free account including free IBAN transfers, free Mastercard debit card, 0% FX markup, and free worldwide ATM withdrawals.


For Canadian residents, especially those with USD income but no SSN, TD Bank N.A. in the US is a good option. Using TD’s cross border service, you can use your Canadian address, SIN, and credit file to open a US-domiciled checking account. Their basic account is free as long as you keep $100 in it and comes with a Visa debit card with 0% FX markup. Through the same cross border service, you can also get their TD Cash Visa which has no annual fee, 0% FX markup, and gives 3/2/1% cashback on dining/groceries/everything else. This is a better package than any Canadian bank offers, including TD in Canada :neutral_face:

Edit 2020-02-11: TD just raised the debit card FX fee on the basic Convenience Checking account from 0% to 3% :angry:
To get 0%, you now need the Beyond Checking account which requires $2500 minimum balance to waive monthly fees :frowning:


I was based in the US and I’ve been using two bank accounts over the last ~6 months of traveling:

  • Alliant Credit Union -
    • 2% interest on savings accounts, and… you don’t need to keep money in the checking account! Set up overdraft protection and if for some reason you need money from the checking account, it will kick in for free up to 6 times a month. I have under $100 in the checking account - all are reimbursed ATM fees.
    • ATM fee reimbursement for up to $15/mo (or thereabouts; enough that I always got reimbursed),
    • mobile app with mobile check deposit even of pictures from your laptop screen (!; yep. No need to mail checks to yourself, just get someone or your virtual mailbox to take a photo of them)
    • no-nonsense fast website
  • TIAA bank
    • ATM fee reimbursement up
    • checking interest
    • Alliant is still better, but it’s good to have a backup bank

As for credit cards,

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (of course; if you can pay it every month in full)
  • American Express Blue Cash - APR only 15%, vs. 22% for the Sapphire Reserve. You can pile on expenses on the AMEX and you’ll be far better off in terms of monthly interests savings, than with the Chase Sapphire
  • Alliant Credit Union’s VISA card with 3% cashback in the first year, and 2.5% cash back in subsequent years. I haven’t used this one yet.
  • Capital One 1.5% cashback - no messing around with points; just straight cash back. Warning: they did detect that I was using a Traveling Mailbox address and threatened to close my account unless I gave them my real physical residential address.

Hope this helps!


I have registered on Revolut, and got account activated. But before loading additional funds have decided to convey due diligence… What a surprise: Revolut’s blog is FULL of claims on the blocked accounts, where the situations are not resolved for WEEKS.
Can community members comment on their experience? I got a bit scared with this reading at

Is there anything that community can say to defend Revolut?

As a follow-up, I successfully opened a bank account with Bitwala. I was able to use a statement from my N26 account as proof of address :sunglasses:.

Their web and mobile apps are really basic (you can see your transactions and do SEPA transfers, that’s pretty much it). Fingerprint ID on the iOS app doesn’t work most of the time.

All incoming and outgoing SEPA transfers I tried arrived next business day so far. The Mastercard debit card works as advertised: PIN or contactless, free ATM withdrawals, no FX markup (MC rate). It works with Curve too.

The account is marketed as “blockchain bank account” but it looks like it is perfectly usable as a normal bank account without ever touching the bitcoin stuff :nerd_face:.


If your account is closed then the bank has an obligation to return your funds to you. They cannot just embezzle your money - if anyone is in that situation that’s when it is time to engage lawyers and sue them. Quite often a demand letter from a lawyer is enough for people to get brown underpants and cave.

Hi all. If you’re an international student, try signing up for North Loop. North Loop is a US digital bank account that international students can sign up for and transfer money to for free even before arriving in the US. The sign-up process was simple and took me only 5 minutes on my smartphone. I didn’t need a US social security number (SSN) or individual tax identification number (ITIN) to sign up. By the time I arrived in the US, a Visa debit card for my account was already waiting for me in the mail at my US residential address. I now use my North Loop debit card to pay for most of my purchases here in the US and to withdraw or deposit cash at ATMs whenever needed.

1 Like hasn’t been mentioned. Are those cards way better than Payoneer?

Yes, it’s literally one of the worst cards out there. Payoneer cards charge a whopping 3.5% foreign transaction/conversion fee AND a hefty annual fee. Most cards mentioned here charge 0% in foreign transaction/conversion fees and have no annual fees.

While it does seem interesting, it is incredibly new (less than 100 installs on play/app stores). I’m pretty sure you’re an employee or otherwise related to the company, so it would be nice if you admitted to it, and let us ask some questions about your service.

Be very careful with N26. You can open it with only a delivery address in Europe without living there. But it is against their rules. I already heard stories about accounts getting closed if they discover that you do not live in one of their “supported” countries. And probably it is not difficult for them to find out where you stay most of the time. The app on your phone can easily report your location, and they can of course see where most of your transactions with the card are made.

Hi Tuatini, I have the same feeling. Would like to play around with Revolut and Neat and others, but would never depend on them, and would keep only minimal amounts in accounts. I’d go a further few steps: if possible, know the bank branch manager and do business with him, her; select a couple of development banks, buy their stock and use them for business functions regularly - L/Cs, etc. ; willingly pay monthly fees for use; use multiple banks, perhaps four, in different jurisdictions/countries.

Hey Thomas and all,

I see under ‘Honorable mentions’ in your article you listed DKB. They are traditionally a pretty good bank - aside from their unwillingness to communicate auf Englisch, do you know if it’s open for U.S. citizen with a German address? My understanding is the ID verification uses IDNow, similar to N26 (which I also have).

Thx in advance!

Please remove Schwab on this list. Was a customer of theirs for 11 years and they just closed my account for no reason because I spend too much time traveling. They don’t deserve to be on any travel-related or nomad list.

1 Like