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

Dear all
As a wanna be nomad figuring out a way to get free of the rat race, I was wondering what is the best bank account to have while travelling the globe? I need an account where is easy for me to receive payments from all over the world and it also need to be a bank that I can find almost anywhere in the world. I want to avoid carry cash on me if it’s possible.

it would help if you tell us where you are from as each country has different rules about banking.

Thank you for your reply Mandy

I’m currently based in South Africa, but if all my plans work out I will be traveling all over the world. So I need to start thinking about opening a bank account that will facilitate that. Do I go offshore? Do I go american express? I don’t know any advice please.

HSBC immediately comes to mind.

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Your nationality makes a big difference.

For Americans, Charles Schwab is probably one of the better ones.

Reimbursement for foreign exchange fees, etc.,

Not sure for other nationalities.

However, what exactly do you mean when you say “receive payments” there?

I’m assuming you’re implying more than just wires, and thus, implying you need a merchant account.

In that case, you might be talking about more structure needed (billing companies you incorporate, etc…) - again, depends on jurisdiction and nationality.

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I have looked into as many banks as I can think of online and none express any interest in banking a South African. Technically if you receive and spend money without first converting it to ZAR (and loosing a bunch of it) and then converting it back (and loosing a bunch of it) you are committing a crime. Paypal frequently remind me I’m breaking the law, even if I receive $5 then spend it on fiverr. You are actually required to convert the money to ZAR in 30 days or return it to the sender, and you are not legally allowed to spend a cent.

With that in mind it means you can do whatever you want, since your always breaking the law or loosing almost 10% of everything. I am going to just walk in to some banks in Thailand and try my luck, if it fails it’s possible to setup an offshore corporation in Delaware (or similar) and receive a bank account that way. Something I’ve considered just to accept credit card payments online.

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…