If you live an international lifestyle, you may be in the market for a foreign currency account. Whether you frequently travel abroad, earn your income in a foreign currency, or run a business with international suppliers, a foreign currency account could help you save significant sums of money.
In this article, we will explain how foreign currency accounts work, compare their advantages and disadvantages, and introduce the leading banks through which you can open a foreign currency account.
How Foreign Currency Accounts Work
A foreign currency account enables you to send, receive, and hold funds in a currency other than U.S. Dollars (USD). Some accounts are often called “multi-currency” accounts, as they support over 20 international currencies.
As with foreign transaction fees, each time your bank receives and converts money from a foreign merchant, they charge a percentage of the total transaction. By sending and receiving money in a borderless account, however, you neutralize the exchange rate fees.
Here are a few additional advantages to opening a foreign currency account:
- Currency value fluctuation will benefit your bottom line. With a borderless account, you’ll be able to leverage exchange rates by switching currencies and increasing your profit margin.
- Most foreign currency accounts will also pay you interest. Though the interest rates may be less than your standard domestic savings account, your money will continue to grow.
These advantages are tempered by three potential disadvantages:
- Many foreign currency accounts are optimized for businesses. As a result, they typically require high minimums that are often prohibitively expensive for individual investors.
- Abrupt changes in currency value will directly affect the value of your money.
- While you will be exempt from currency exchange costs, some banks may subject you to various overdraft charges and hidden fees.
The Best Banks to Open An Account
If you decide to open a foreign currency account, be sure to thoroughly research your banking options. Carefully examine each provider’s Terms & Conditions to identify all potential fees associated with the account.
To help you get started, here are four of the leading banks that provide foreign currency accounts to Americans:
HSBC: Offering accounts that service 19 different currencies, HSBC offers fee-free global transfers. To open an account and become an HSBC Premier client, you must have a minimum of $75,000 in total deposits and investments OR manage at least $5,000 in total direct deposits per month. Click here to learn more.
Citi: Transferring across 16 different currencies, Citi International Personal Bank requires you to maintain a minimum $200,000 balance to open an account. While the initial investment is steep, Citi provides a range of investment services, Foreign Exchange solutions, and a dedicated Relationship Manager with each foreign currency account. Click here to learn more.
TIAA: The most financially accessible of all banking options, TIAA requires just $2,500 to open an account. You can also skip the initial investment and opt for the $100/month purchase plan. TIAA accounts currently support 21 currencies. Click here to learn more.
Wells Fargo: If you are a business owner or work for a multi-million dollar international company, Wells Fargo may be your most compelling option. Supporting 33 countries, Wells Fargo offers robust accounts for multi-million dollar global businesses. Click here to explore Wells Fargo’s International Treasury Management.
Alternative Solutions to Banks
If major banks don’t seem suited to your needs, consider one of the following alternatives. Each of these providers lets you manage international payments and foreign currencies without steep banking commitments.
Airwallex: With zero transaction fees, no monthly fees, and great exchange rates, Airwallex lets you open a foreign currency account in a matter of minutes. Airwallex also integrates with global platforms like Amazon and PayPal, so you can easily accept payments. The only drawback? Airwallex only supports currency accounts in Europe, the UK, and Australia. Click here to learn more.
Payoneer: Currently supporting seven currencies, Payoneer lets you convert funds with a fixed fee of .5% of the amount transferred. Payoneer is ideal for online sellers and medium-sized businesses. Click here to learn more.
OFX: While designed to compete with banks, OFX accounts offer substantially lower rates without the associated fees. OFX accepts payments in seven currencies, including the Singapore and Hong Kong dollar. Click here to learn more.
Whether used for business or personal purposes, a foreign currency account will empower you to leverage currencies and streamline your international banking needs.
While foreign currency accounts are ideal for large transactions, there’s a better way to support your loved ones back home. With uLink’s great exchange rates and low fees, you can send more money home than ever before.
Plus, after your 1st, 2nd, and 5th transactions, we’ll send you a $10 gift card to use at your favorite retailers. That’s $30 in gift cards after your first five transactions with uLink.