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Digital nomads, in general, are people who actively work online and travel frequently. The digital nomad movement is closely linked to the location-independent movement. Location independence means that you can take off anywhere in the world that has internet connectivity (although most of us end up working from one or two places more frequently than others).
Location independence is a lifestyle choice and as such, you can find people from all kinds of backgrounds doing it. While most digital nomads are entrepreneurs, many others work remotely for companies that don’t care where they work from.
Digital nomads come from all walks of life and include designers, developers, business consultants, writers, and artists (to name a few). The core values of location independence are freedom, control, and flexibility.
Digital nomadism is not for everyone – not everyone wants to work from anywhere. It’s often romanticized by many who have never done it before. Working from a cafe in Bali never gets old, but there are sacrifices that you’ll have to deal with.
Digital nomadism is not a silver bullet. It’s a lifestyle choice and it comes with its share of trade-offs. But ultimately, if you are passionate about travel or remote working, there are ways that you can explore the digital nomad life without being held back by certain things that hold others back from trying it.
Best Banks For Digital Nomads
The best banks for digital nomads offer high-interest rates, low fees, and worldwide availability. The best banks for digital nomads are online-only or branchless institutions that save money by not having physical retail locations.
The bottom line is that the best banks for digital nomads offer rock-solid bank accounts (savings, checking, money market) with great banking features without the hassles of maintaining a physical bank account.
The 5 best banks for digital nomads are N26, TransferWise, Varo, Curve, and Payoneer. The specific reasons that they are regarded as the best are:
N26 [formerly Number 26] is a great bank for digital nomads because they are an online-only bank with no branches. The only thing you need to open an N26 account is a smartphone, which makes it easy for anyone who travels frequently or doesn’t have a permanent place of residence anywhere.
The entire sign-up process can be done from your phone or computer and takes just 5 minutes. The best thing about N26 is the use of direct debits in multiple currencies to settle your bills (most banks in Europe only allow you to choose one single currency).
The N26 card can be ordered for free and it will arrive within 2-5 business days. The ATM fee is 1.7% when withdrawing funds in a foreign currency.
The fee for withdrawing funds from an ATM locally is just 2.8 euros per transaction, which isn’t bad at all considering you’ll save a lot of money on currency exchanges with the use of direct debits. The N26 account also comes with a free VISA Debit card and there’s no minimum balance required to open the account.
The only downside is that N26 will not allow you to open a business account right now (you can still run your company online through N26, but there’s no separate account available just for businesses). The process is generally streamlined and very easy to use – most of it takes place on the app.
The N26 card is a full-fledged debit MasterCard and it’s accepted anywhere that accepts major credit cards. The account comes for free for all users and additional services such as overdraft, currency exchange, etc., are very reasonably priced.
N26 is an excellent choice for digital nomads who want to travel the world without worrying about local currencies or optimizing foreign exchange.
The Wise digital nomad account comes with the ability to open both checking and savings accounts in USD, GBP, or EUR. The account is FDIC insured just like you would get at any traditional bank in the US. The best thing about this bank is that there are no fees for doing an international money transfer – which means your recipient gets the full amount you sent.
The transfer takes place on the next business day and there is no upper limit on the amount of money that can be transferred. The Wise savings account also has a 2% APY (in USD) for all accounts above 10,000 dollars.
The only downside is that you cannot send an international wire outside of the US from Wise – you can only receive international wires. The account is ideal for digital nomads who want to be banked in a traditional way. The bank is FDIC-insured and it’s very easy to transfer money back to the US from anywhere in the world. The best part about opening an account with Wise is that they have no mandatory monthly balance requirement.
The account comes with a debit card that can be used anywhere VISA is accepted. The bank charges 1% for international ATM withdrawals. The only downside of the digital nomad Visa debit card is that it doesn’t charge any fees for foreign currency transactions, but there are no additional perks either (e.g., 2% cash back on purchases in foreign currency).
The bank does not charge any fees for incoming wire transfers. The amount you can transfer is unlimited and the service is available 24/7. The only downside is that the account doesn’t come with a separate business account (it’s possible to run your company online, but there’s no separate account for that purpose) The minimum balance requirement is just 10 dollars.
The main downside of this bank is that the debit card doesn’t charge any fees for withdrawing money from foreign ATMs, but it also doesn’t provide extra perks in terms of cashback or 2% fee rebates.
Varo mobile account comes with full access to your money in any location. The bank is FDIC insured and there are no fees for making international wire transfers – which allows ex-pats and digital nomads to save a lot of money on currency exchange (which usually takes place when transferring funds back home).
The best thing about this bank is that it doesn’t charge any monthly fees for holding an account. The Varo debit card doesn’t charge foreign currency transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees, but it also has no additional perks (e.g., 2% cashback). The bank has a minimum balance requirement of 10 dollars.
The main downside is that this bank does not offer any business accounts – so it’s not very suitable for companies. The best part of the Varo bank is that there are no fees for international transfers, even when they come from a different country than your own (i.e., you can receive money in USD if you’re living in Europe).
The debit card also has several perks – including 2% cash back on foreign transactions. The only downside of the Varo account is that it doesn’t come with business accounts.
The Curve bank comes with a Mastercard debit card. The digital nomad account is FDIC insured and it has no monthly fees. The card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees – which makes using a Curve debit card a very cost-effective solution for traveling and making online purchases abroad.
The Curve account also comes with the ability to receive money via bank transfer or paper check, which means you can easily save on international transfers.
The only downside of this account is that it doesn’t come with a business account option. The best part about this account is that there are no monthly fees associated with the Curve debit card (which some people just need to have an account with no monthly fees and those don’t come with a business account).
The Curve bank debit card has no fees associated with foreign currency transactions or international ATM withdrawals. The downside is that this account’s only additional perk is the ability to receive money via paper check – which can be difficult to manage as a digital nomad.
The Payoneer prepaid Mastercard is a transactional account that comes with an accompanying debit card. The account doesn’t charge for wire transfers and there are no monthly fees to worry about (balance requirements apply).
The only downside of this card is that it charges 2% on international ATM withdrawals (which can add up quickly when you’re traveling abroad).
The best part about this account is that there are no monthly fees associated with it and that it comes with a debit card (with additional perks like 2% cashback on international transactions). The only downside of the Payoneer account is that it charges 2% on foreign ATM withdrawals.
The main perk of using the Payoneer bank account is that there are no monthly fees associated with it, and you can easily make international transfers for free. The only downside of the account is that the debit card has a 2% fee on foreign ATM withdrawals (which can be pricey).
The Bottom Line
It goes without saying that all of these banks offer basic banking services like savings, checking, money market accounts, and debit cards. The digital banks are extremely useful to the nomad on the go.
All of them offer debit cards (with contactless payments) and some of them even offer credit cards for extra flexibility. The best banks provide users with an easy and intuitive way to move money in and out of their service.
The best banks provide users with the option to hold, buy, convert and spend multiple currencies (digital and fiat). The best banks for digital nomads also offer a great way to track spending (spending categories) that you can monitor on the go.
The best banks for digital nomads will also offer great personal finance tools like savings goals, budgeting features, and financial tracking. The best banks for digital nomads will all have some sort of insurance policy that covers theft of funds (FSCS), flight delays (AssurCard), and medical coverage.
The best banks for digital nomads will also have great security features to protect your account and give you peace of mind while traveling abroad. The best banks for digital nomads are not just “digital” banks in the name – they offer users all the essential banking tools needed in multiple countries around the world.