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What are good US-based banks for digital nomads?

 

by @ramblurr | 5yr  | 24 comments

For some of us maintaining a US Based Bank is just a necessity. Either we never pick up residency abroad, or have a US based business for which a US based account makes life easy.

Purely online personal banking is a growing trend. Schwab has a great checking account that reimburses ATM fees and has no international fees, Simple is a new online only bank with tons of great features (though not so great for nomads abroad).

Anyone know of similar services for small business online?

Features Iโ€™m looking for:

  • Business accounts (not a human name on the account)
  • Great website experience
  • Photo Check deposit
  • Cheap / below-average transfer and wire fees
  • Cheap fees / minimum balance requirements
    I prefer storing my cash in personal accounts or investment accounts
  • Free international use of cards
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@itsmikechu | 3yr

Totally agree with @Ramblurr. Simple is closing my account because I donโ€™t have a US house or apartment. Itโ€™s sad that a once cutting-edge bank that was the new hotness is now becoming old and busted.

Iโ€™m checking out Chime Bank and Charles Schwab next.

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@andrewkent | 5yr

I opened up a Charles Schwab account and theyโ€™re great so far, but before I left the US, I called Capital One 360 (formerly ING) to let them know I would be out of the country. Initially, I was just going to use my Schwab account and keep my 360 account as a backup.

However, when I spoke with the customer service rep, he told me they donโ€™t charge an international transaction fee, there are no international ATM fees, and they cover any ATM fees that might be charged by foreign banks.

My mind was absolutely blown. I honestly didnโ€™t believe him at first, but itโ€™s true. Been taking out cash and the amount withdrawn is exactly the amount of the exchange rate and no international transaction fees on any purchases yet.

I would also like to say that they have the best customer service of almost any business Iโ€™ve ever interacted with. Iโ€™m not one to plug corporations, but my god these people are ridiculously easy to work with. Iโ€™ll call in, thinking Iโ€™m going to wait on hold forever, be transferred twice, and then just be told they canโ€™t help me, but every time Iโ€™ve had an issue, the rep is always very knowledgable, extremely helpful, very polite, and always tells me about some great (free) feature they have that I didnโ€™t know about.

On top of that, if you need to send a check for some reason to someone (or a business) in the US, you can send one for free by logging on to your account, typing in their name and address, and clicking send. Usually arrives in 2-3 business days.

As I mentioned, Capital One 360 used to be ING and they are run as a separate branch of Capital One, so they shouldnโ€™t be confused with the account that Capital One offers (confusing, I know). Iโ€™ve heard some horror stories about Capital One, but Iโ€™m seriously a raving fan of Capital One 360 (if you canโ€™t already tell).

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I just called Capital One 360 and here is what the rep told me:

  • no currency conversion fees
  • no foreign transaction fees
  • no ATM fees

However - she told me they do NOT refund the fees an ATM might charge you, which would be the main downside compared to Charles Schwab.

However, if you canโ€™t open a Schwab account (like me) it sounds like Capital One 360 Checking may be your best betโ€ฆ

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@rabourn | 5yr

You have to be resident in the US to open a Charles Schwab High Investor Savings Account now. I donโ€™t really understand all the new US tax laws meant to ensnare people hiding money in offshore accounts etc. along with other applicable laws, but apparently itโ€™s no longer possible to open an account that allows investing unless you can prove you live in the US (e.g. show an apartment lease, utility bill, etc.)


When I tried, the initial customer support person I spoke with at Charles Schwab said something about the Patriot Act, but maybe they were confused. Whatever the applicable law, itโ€™s not possible to legally open such an account anymore if you plan on spending an extended time abroad.

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@yanokwa | 5yr

Anyone know of similar services for small business online?
Yes. I use Wells Fargo for my LLC and I think they are reasonable.

Business accounts (not a human name on the account)
Yup. You will likely have to set it up in person though.

Great website experience
Its not Simple, but itโ€™s reasonable for a bank. Integrates nicely with most accounting software. They show you your check deposits, they have PDFs of statements, bill pay is good.

Photo check deposit
On my account, itโ€™s $2.5k daily limit and a $5k monthly limit. Itโ€™s kind of terrible.

I use Earth Class Mail for my business mail and they can deposit paper checks of any size. Itโ€™s $15 per mailing and $5 per check in the mailing. ECM ends up being a lot cheaper than paying the 3% on accepting Paypal.

Cheap / below-average transfer and wire fees
Most of my clients pay electronically through international wires or ACH. Incoming transfers are $15 for domestic transfers and $16 for international. Outgoing transfers are $30 for domestic transfers and depends for international. As with all wires, there is sometimes an arbitrary amount of money taken out by intermediary banks. Itโ€™s usually a small amount (under $50). See the simple business account summary and the Wells Fargo service fees for more.

To take money out of the company you can do bill pay to send checks to yourself or free/cheap transfers via ACH. You can also set up direct deposit and payroll, but those have monthly fees which are fair, but donโ€™t really fit with my companyโ€™s variable revenue.

Cheap fees / minimum balance requirements
Depends on the type of account but for the basic account, the monthly fee is $10. That fee is waived if you have an average monthly balance of $500 and choose to receive online statements only.

Free international use of cards
$5 per ATM withdrawal outside of the US and 3% of international debit card purchase fee. There might also be currency conversion fees, but I donโ€™t think so. See the simple business account summary and the Wells Fargo service fees for more.

Iโ€™d recommend getting a Capital One Spark Business credit card for your company purchases because they have no foreign transaction fees. And you can get a [Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking] (http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/banking_lending/checking_account) account for the free international ATM withdrawals and have the company reimburse you for the personal money you are using.

Personal banking
For personal banking, I like to have a primary and backup accounts. I like Schwab and Ally for checking. Both have free ATM withdrawals and Ally has crazy high limits ($50k) for photo deposit and good rates on savings accounts.

For credit cards, I like Capital One Spark Business (you can register yourself as a business) for itโ€™s 2% unlimited cashback and the Chase Sapphire for good points on flights, hotels, and restaurants. Both have no foreign transaction fees.

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@ramblurr | 5yr

Yea, my intention of this thread was to discussbusiness bank accounts, which is an even further under-served market than personal bank accounts for full time travelers.

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@ileitch | 5yr

I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, not international fees and good points on travel + dining. Might not be easiest card to obtain however.

Word of warning about using Simple.com debit card abroad: DONโ€™T

  • High fees.
  • Theyโ€™ve blocked my card twice, despite me notifying them of travel.
  • They blocked the entire country of South Africa whilst I was there!!
  • No Chip, easy target of card skimmers (I got skimmed in London).
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@riennn | 5yr

Anyone not from the US (maybe Belgium/Netherlands) has a Charles Swab international account? Looks like itโ€™s the same as the one for US citizens, but with a $10 000 minimum deposit :confused:

Not a lot of other/better options for me in Belgium Iโ€™m afraidโ€ฆ

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@tkrunning | 5yr

Well, how about looking into Number26 in Germany for example? See my recent Medium post about it for details: https://medium.com/nomad-gate/the-world-s-best-bank-accounts-for-international-travelers-and-nomads-3257e6839cff

I think the international Schwab account is meant for investing, not regular checking accounts, so even with a $10K deposit you would be out of luck. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding Number26 or any of the other banks I mention in the post.

Note: these are personal accounts, not business accounts, if thatโ€™s what you were looking for.

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@riennn | 5yr

Thanks for your reply Thomas

Actually I already read your article, good work! :smile:
I even contacted them through their facebook page to ask when their service will be available in Belgium, since it isnโ€™t yet. They told me theyโ€™ll let me know through the mailing list as soon as it is. The problem is, I need it now :slight_smile:

If you got any info on getting the number26 account without being German or Austrian resident, please do let me know. :slight_smile:

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@worldtravel | 5yr

all the research Iโ€™ve been doing I keep hearing Charles Swab is great for travelingโ€ฆ I use TDbank which also donโ€™t have many fees and reimburses you for some fees also.

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@travelingpm | 5yr

Weโ€™ve used Schwabโ€™s brokerage and high-yield checking accounts for the last 4 years abroad and would definitely recommend them. No ATM fees, wires are super easy and quick, overdraft protection from your brokerage account at no cost, and excellent customer service. This is probably with all US banks, but itโ€™s important to keep a US resident address active or theyโ€™ll close your account. I mentioned that I relocated to SA a few months ago and they said theyโ€™d need to close my account. I gave them my parents address and said Iโ€™m back in the states a few months a year, all was sorted.

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@ramblurr | 5yr

Just got my application to Everbank rejected. The official reason was that they canโ€™t open accounts for businesses operating outside the USA, despite the fact I am a US citizen, have (mostly) US clients, and do all my business legally from the USA.

As my address I gave them my mail forwarding address in SD, but they wanted a physical location. If I had given them some address, a friend or family, I suspect they would have given me the account without any hassle.

But I was trying to do it without any hinkyness, and, well, now Iโ€™m still stuck with BoAโ€™s expensive business checking :cry:

@Juan: Yea, the no incoming international wire transfer fees are why I canโ€™t use Capital One 360.

So Iโ€™m still looking for an digital nomad friendly bank with small business products ala Simple.

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@10kjuan | 5yr

Having said that, @Ramblurr, I just used TransferWise for the first time today and because the money never travels across borders, you can use it to receive money from clients abroad just fine, even on Capital One 360 โ€“ free for the sender on the 1st transaction too, and with significantly less fees (and time + hassle) than PayPal etc. afterwards.

This is a godsend, though it doesnโ€™t work in the country where I have the most clients (Brazil), at least not in the direction I need it to (Brazil=>USA), so Iโ€™m hoping they figure that out soon.

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@kikikarpus | 5yr

I have a Charles Schwab High Investor Savings Account. No foreign ATM fees. And for a credit card I use United Mileage Plus Card & Amex Platinum - no foreign transaction fees. For my business account I have a JPMorgan Chase - all of these are connected so I can transfer money easily. Typical married banking I use Ally - high interest on savings!

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

I use Capital One 360. No minimums, interest paid on all funds, depending on balance, no ATM fees, No international fees, I can create as many named sub-accounts as I need which helps with budgeting, photo deposits, etc. They used to be ING Direct.

https://home.capitalone360.com/business-savings-account

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@ramblurr | 5yr

@wanderingdev, interesting! I had an ING Direct account back in the day, but I didnโ€™t know they now had a business product offering. It looks like its just a savings account thoughโ€ฆ can you receive check deposits and wires? Also, you have an ATM card for the savings account?

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

I donโ€™t use it for business so you would have to read the description or contact them. I just mentioned them because I know they have business accounts and their personal accounts fit your requirements so their business might as well.

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@10kjuan | 5yr

If itโ€™s like my 360 checking account, incoming domestic wires are free, but they donโ€™t do incoming international wires โ€“ a big strike against it if you have overseas clients who pay by wire transfer only. Love the zero international fees, though. That includes ATM, too, @Ramblurr, yes. I lucked out and found a no-fee ATM close to my place in Barcelona, so between that and my debit card, itโ€™s just like being home.

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Capital One is a good one if you have a SSN (or perhaps TIN), but they donโ€™t let you wire money in or out (to me, domestic ACH is not a wire) and there are no business accounts.

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@worldtravel | 5yr

I question Capital Oneโ€™s ethics in my experience dealing with them.

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@andrewkent | 5yr

Yes, can understand that, but Capital One 360 is a separate branch of the company that used to be ING. Iโ€™ve had great service and no problems with in 8 years.

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@andrewkent | 5yr

I absolutely LOVE CapitalOne 360, but they only offer a business savings at the moment. I called them not long ago and they said theyโ€™ll be offering a business checking sometime in the not-so-distant future. Otherwise, great bank.

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@ramblurr | 5yr

I thought Iโ€™d share this review of small business bank:

Banks for business suck. Also, a SmallBusinessBank review. Definitely read the article and the comments.

The TL;DR is that SBB has sketchily closed peopleโ€™s accounts for dubious reasons, their web app is a mess, and the android app canโ€™t make it through a check deposit without crashing.

Everbank might be the only alternative these days :expressionless:

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Read and participate in 13,918 discussions on Nomad List

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How to get SMS verifications for banks while traveling?

 

by @jackgopack | 22h 22 hours ago | 38 comments

Any suggestions for seamlessly receiving SMS Verifications from US financial institutions and other sites while traveling internationally continuously? Wonโ€™t keep my US Verizon account due to cost and currently plan to use local sims at each destination (T-Mobile and Project Fi are NOT an option as they terminate for continuous roaming). In summation, I wonโ€™t have a US mobile account.

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Any Ph.D students dissertating while a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 3mo 3 months ago | 5 comments

Anyone know of any groups or resources for Ph.D. students working on dissertation while living as a digital nomad? I know there are several virtual writing groups around, but wondered if there were any specifically for digital nomads, particularly those who are dissertating.

Thanks!

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Does international health insurance for digital nomads exist?

 

by @al_steffen | 3mo 3 months ago | 59 comments

Hey Nomads!

Iโ€™m looking for an international health insurance (no travel insurance) for my nomadic life. It should cover the basic services and at least be accepted in the EU (itโ€™s ok if itโ€™s not accepted in the US as Iโ€™m aware they rarely are). Nice to have: enter into a contract online. Anyone got a good experience or a recommendation?

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I dream of being a digital nomad? How do I do it?


by @programmingmark | 5mo 4 months ago | 2 comments

Hello digital nomad!

I dream of being an independent digital nomad. But it feels very elusive & unattainable with my success rate. In full disclosure, whilst I have dreamed about making money online since high school; I have not earned a single cent making money online. $0, nada, zilch!! On the contrary, I have spent a lot of time & money on books, podcasts. Even though I have spent a lot of time reading/listening to others, I do not have anything to show for it!

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Instead of reaching for the ultimate nomadic lifestyle goal, I want to start much smaller. Really small! I am simply looking to make $50 profit per month from a new online business. Thatโ€™s it.

I need some advice from you please!

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by @rodriigovieira | 5mo 5 months ago | 19 comments

Hello everyone! Iโ€™m new here and probably this is a very newbie question, but it doesnโ€™t leave my head.

How do you, nomads, pay your taxes? I mean, if youโ€™re constantly traveling, how are you going to pay taxes for a certain country if you are going to stay there a short period of time?
Or do you return to your โ€œoriginal countryโ€ and then pay them?

By the way, this forum has very nice cool formatting features! :smile:

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by @levelsio | 8mo 7 months ago | 61 comments

Thereโ€™s been a lot of discussion on this recently.

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How do we solve housing for digital nomads?

 

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Thereโ€™s been a lot of discussion on this recently.

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Hi all, I was looking for a cool spot in Southern Europe for winter and Iโ€™m considering Sicilyโ€ฆ Have you ever been there? If yes, how was your experience? If not, why?
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in Bari, Italy by @mitch_dina | 9mo 9 months ago | 7 comments

Greetings!
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How is Bari, Italy for digital nomads?


in Bari, Italy by @mitch_dina | 9mo 9 months ago | 7 comments

Greetings!
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How is Mauritius for digital nomads?


in Mauritius by @wakkos | 10mo 10 months ago | 14 comments

Hello all,

Iโ€™m planning on spending a couple of month in Mauritius Island and even when Iโ€™ve been there for a week, never rented or worked there.

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by @ryanjames | 10mo 10 months ago | 1 comment

Hey all:

Does anyone here have any experience attending a full time fitness bootcamp or a fitness resort while working? I know there is one in Cambodia for digital nomads (Fitness Retreat Resort Kep Gym), unfortunately the time difference vs my work schedule would make my life suck if I tried to go there. Iโ€™m looking for a place between US and Europe timezones that lets you live with them, kicks your butt with fitness, but would also have good WiFi/accommodate working eight hours a day. Iโ€™m also open to other tangential ideas for something close-ish to get that same experience.

Thanks for any help!

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Best place to set up a company selling digital services?


by @pras_k | 11mo 10 months ago | 10 comments

Whatโ€™s the best place?
For residency Iโ€™m looking at Portugal and they have the NHR (non habitual resident) program which would exempt dividends from foreign income.
So all Iโ€™m really looking for is the best place to actually start the company.
Biggest factors are of course low taxes and ease of setting up the company plus a business bank account that enables me to receive payments through Stripe.

What I found so far:
Hong Kong
Corporate tax rate of 16.5% (8.25% for the first HK$2 million)
โŠ•/โŠ– offshore income from outside HK is exempt from taxation but itโ€™s not clear whether this can be done in the first year and prorated or if itโ€™s only through filing the offshore exemption claim. This might take two years and requires not income from HK at all. More info on that would be great
โŠ– seems very difficult to get a business bank account
โŠ– necessary services and fees are roughly around โ‚ฌ2000 / year
โŠ– accounting requirements seem to be very strict
โŠ• Doesnโ€™t require local partner
โŠ• Agencies available that seem to handle most of the work

Singapore
Corporate tax rate of 17% (0% on the first S$100k, 8.5% up to S$300k)
โŠ– requires a local director. What are the implications of this?

Malta
Corporate tax rate of 35%
There is the โ€œfull imputation systemโ€ but I donโ€™t really understand it.
"In most cases, the tax refund to the shareholder is 6/7 of the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends. The tax refund rate may be different in the following cases: " This would result in an effective corporate tax of around 5%.
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that

Cyprus
Corporate tax rate of 12.5% and there seem to be ways to lower this
โŠ– European customers would have to pay VAT and Iโ€™d have to deal with that
โŠ– requires staying in Cyprus for 2 months / year

I find it surprising how much research this requires and how much โ€œit dependsโ€ information is out there when Iโ€™d assume that there are probably thousands of digital nomads who probably have very similar requirements.

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Do you "out" yourself as a digital nomad?


by @larsheather | 11mo 11 months ago | 2 comments

When you meet new people or reconnect with old friends, do you โ€œoutโ€ yourself as a digital nomad? The simple question โ€œwhere do you live?โ€ makes us uncertain now. We wonder if some places may be less welcoming to digital nomads, or if โ€œdigital nomadโ€ has a negative connotation in some places. If you are forthcoming from the start, does your status as a digital nomad make it hard to form friendships?

We would love to hear how other people navigate thisโ€ฆ how to balance being authentic in relationships vs. withholding the context (and allowing people to assume youโ€™re on vacation, for example).

Thanks!

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Property Ownership - should digital nomads buy properties?


by @sparrow_23 | 12mo 11 months ago | 16 comments

I have been a digital nomad for the last couple of years. I have always worked in tech and now run a couple of profitable online businesses that give me a reliable income and allow me to fund a nomadic lifestyle.

I recently exited one of my businesses and I am considering to invest the income from the sale in properties, mainly for 2 reasons:

a) I donโ€™t want to keep wasting my money in renting apartments across the cities I stay

b) I believe in properties as investment and I want to diversify my investment portfolio (mainly stocks)

After years of constant wander from one place to another, now I am the type of digital nomad who sticks to few locations: I mainly rotate across 4 places each year (San Francisco, Medellin, Berlin, Bali). Buying a house in each of those location would be difficult and too expensive. Therefore, I was wondering if there was any sort of service that combines an investment opportunity with the ability to access different properties around the world (even if just for a limited time per year) ?

Imagine living in 4 cities per year and having a house in each place that you can exclusively use for 3 months and at the same time having your investment growing (this depending on the market, of course). Wouldnโ€™t that be great? I believe it could be done via a property fund selling you a share and giving you access to some of their properties for a limited timeframe each year.

Has anyone heard of anything like that?

Thanks!

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Apple TV and Netflix: Do these work for Nomads?


by @lricci | 1yr 1 year ago | 8 comments

We launch in 2 weeks. In the US, we use Apple TV and Netflix regularly. Do these work abroad?

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Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan - which island is better for a digital nomad?


in Ko Lanta, Thailand by @melinda | 1yr 1 year ago | 6 comments

Iโ€™m currently in Penang, Malaysia and I was thinking to head to Thailand next. What are the best islands in Thailand to get some work done? I was considering either Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan because those both islands have coworking spaces. I might need to take some client calls, also video. Is the wifi good enough? Are there any other differences between the islands?

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