What's the best bank account for a global nomad?

Hi @BarryBJJoubert, my better half uses Sable FX for her transfers from SA to Europe. Their customer service is slow but good, and they charge good forex rates in addition to handling the capital controls documentation with the central bank. All SA banks suck when it comes to nomads, and there’s little hope of improvement. Keep expectations low.

We’ve also heard HSBC sucks too for Saffers, despite their branding, though haven’t tried it.

I’ll be on holiday basically (travelling as a tourist with my family), all my customers will pay to the same bank account in my home country as they always do. Iv’e got to a point where I don’t have to work hard to keep business going (recurring revenue). The point would be to get local cash without the 3% “convenience” fees + exchange fees + atm fees.

I found a local bank with an extremely low fee option for international withdrawals but once again its hyper restricted and illegal to use the card overseas under certain circumstances (including not having a return air ticket).

I would rather deal with the Thai restrictions then the local ones, whatever cruel laws other countries can think of, the South African government can and will “improve”.

We actually pushed our trip forward 6 months before the “travelling with children” law comes into affect on June 1 since they are taking too long to process documents, so 4 hours after I leave I am not allowed to ever return until I find an embassy that can print an unabridged birth certificate.

South Africa is fantastic and beautiful if your visiting, but as a local (who pays tax) it’s like waking up to a punch in the face everyday. We are now forced to pay VAT on international purchases and if you touch an online casino or lottery you go to jail for 10 years. It’s also illegal to spend more than $80k a year abroad, so if your doing well you need alternate banking options.

Hi guys thank you so much for all the replies, I really appreciate your help.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and I’ve pinned it down to two different accounts they need to get.

Orbit visa credit card
Multi currency cash passport

Hopefully both of these will work fine with direct deposits and paypal

I’m just nervous so please advise

As you are South African, you should check out Standard Bank in the Isle of Man.


If you set up a foreign bank account, you can use TransferWise to move money between your accounts for .05% fee. Way better than most forex fees of 3%.

For German-speaking nomads, I recommend DKB and Number26. Both have no ATM fees.


In France Monabanque is not bad. I’m looking for alternative and waits for availability (and prices !) of Ipagoo.

Hello everyone

I am from Buenos Aires, up until recent it was not possible to own dollars here unless the government gave you permission to. I managed to workaround all the issues this brought to me by using Payoneer. What do you think of it? I am very happy with the service and support service. I have received payment from market sites like freelancer.com and guru.com airbnb.com but also companies and individuals all around the globe. The debit card has worked everywhere I tried it, Europe, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay both for ATM withdrawals and payment method. Also online. The rates seem reasonable, but maybe I’m easy to please because banks are the enemy here at home and I don’t know what else is out there. Do you know it? What do you think of it?

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@theArtivistEU you can send me a referal code :slight_smile:

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Of course! Send me your email in PM please :slight_smile:

Sorry I can’t because of some forum setup, hence the public proposal :smiley: you PM me :wink:

@manu: DKB and Number26 might be an option for EUR.
Did you check the exchange rate?
Citibank for example does not charge an ATM fee if you use their ATM overseas but their exchange rate is not that great.
With an ATM fee only being £/€/$ 1 or 2 the exchange rate is actually more important

They use Visa’s and MasterCard’s exchange rates (respectively) with no markup.

@thomas : Did you check yourself?
I often hear “good exchange rates” but if you try those “good” exchange rates are usually 2-3% worse than the interbank rate…

Yes, I’m using N26 actively myself. They follow Mastercard’s rates, which you can find here: https://www.mastercard.com/global/currencyconversion/

Exact markup compared to interbank varies a bit per currency pair, you can check the spread yourself on the page above. But from my experience, any bank that says 1% currency conversion fee really means 1% in addition to the MC or Visa rates, not the interbank rate…

An example:
These are MC’s rates for yesterday:
1 USD in EUR = 0.887705
1 EUR in USD = 1.126200

At these rates you can start with 100 EUR, change them to USD and back and end up with
100 EUR * 1.126200 * 0.887705 = 99.9733371 EUR

That means there’s a currency markup of only 0.01333145% per transaction. Not bad.

And I’ve personally tested that both N26 and Schwab actually give the rates they claim.


Yes, that is indeed not too bad.
If I am withdrawing from my HK HSBC card at a foreign ATM, I would usually have a difference of some 2% - same with Citibank HK.
I just received a Revolut card (a MasterCard). They claim to charge no fee / markup on most currencies. Well, we will see …

I used https://www.xoom.com/ to transfer money to myself when I arrive at certain countries. I did this before paypal bought them though so not sure how they work now. Worth a look though - worked fantastic when I visited Argentina a few years ago.

Get Charles Schwab checking account. They refund all your ATM fees. Full stop.

If you are doing business in multiple countries, then you need Transferwise borderless bank account. It’s the boss and having run the numbers, it comes up trumps.

I did an explainer video on youtube, just add this to the end of the YouTube URL. I promise it’s not spam just good advice /watch?v=urqtltmxiVw&t=108s

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Depending on how much money you’re talking, a good option can be Bank of Georgia SOLO + TBC Status accounts in Georgia.

You can open a bank account with just a passport, qualify for personal banking with a much smaller deposit than in most countries, and get an Amex Platinum, free withdrawals around the world, etc. + access to term deposit options with very favourable interest rates.