/ / Best Foreign / Multi Currency Accounts (Uncovered)

Best Foreign / Multi Currency Accounts (Uncovered)

While banks make it easy to manage our money (like sending and receiving local payments), things become quite complicated when you’re dealing in foreign currencies.

Exorbitant fees linked to these accounts, high minimum balances, and long transfer times can make banks inconvenient for small businesses and international individuals.

Recently, some independent financial institutions have recently emerged that have more effective international payment and currency management solutions.

This new breed of multi-currency accounts is making big waves for their low to no-fees services, and online convenience.

Here’s the deal:

In this article, you will learn the benefits and drawbacks of both bank multi-currency accounts and their low cost online alternatives.

Then you can make the best choice for your needs.

Don’t miss the alternatives (below)!

Disclosure: This post may contain offers and affiliate links to save you money and it also helps us to keep providing the best information. For more information, see our disclosures here.

1. What is a Multi-currency Account?

A multi-currency (or foreign currency account) is a type of account that allows you to hold, send, and receive funds in multiple foreign currencies.

Having a single multi-currency account can be cheaper to manage, compared to multiple bank accounts in different countries — where you may have to pay monthly fees or maintain a certain balance in each of your accounts.

But what exactly can you do with a multi-currency account?

Well, whether you’re a business or individual, you can:

  • Hold different currencies in one place (and wait to convert it at a good rate)
  • Get paid or receive money in different currencies
  • Spend in different currencies without paying conversion fees

Traditionally, most people will go through their local bank to open a multi-currency account.

But, they are usually not the most cost-effective option!

Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you and consolidated the best cheaper alternatives for multi-currency accounts. (Jump to our multi-currency alternatives section if you want to find out about them now!)

2. When Will a Multi-currency Account Work For You (or Not)

Opening a multi-currency or foreign currency account can be a great option for many individuals and businesses.

But, it may not be right for everyone. And yes, there are lower cost alternatives to traditional banks!

Here is a quick summary of who a bank multi-currency account it’s good for (and not).

Works For You

  • You want to hold multiple currencies in a single bank account.
  • You want to be able to send and receive different currencies into a single account.
  • With banks, you may earn interest in different currencies.
  • With banks, your funds are protected by government schemes.
  • With banks, you can get in-person help from a local branch.
  • Banks may provide overdraft options

Individual examples:

  • You if you live and work abroad but also need to handle bills and other expenses in your home country.

Business examples:

  • You operate an e-commerce store that accepts payments in multiple currencies
  • Engage in international trade (both import and export)
  • Employ contractors or suppliers in different countries that need to be paid in different currencies
  • Freelancers that work with clients around the world that pay in multiple currencies

Won’t Work For You

  • If you want a cost-effective way to hold, receive, and spend different currencies from one account, going through your bank may not be the best option. (This is where alternatives can help)
  • Banks usually include high minimums to open an account, monthly/yearly maintenance fees, high withdrawal/receiving fees, and more. (This is also where alternatives can help)
  • Plus, many banks only support a handful of currencies. (As you will see a newer breed of alternatives can provide a lot more flexibility)

Jump to our multi-currency alternatives section below.

Getting a multi-currency account from a bank in your own country (see best options for UK, Europe, US, Canada, Australia, and other countries below) can be a good option if you want:

  • The security of a bank that’s back by local government schemes
  • In-person help from a physical branch
  • To be able to earn interest on your multi-currency balance

But that’s where the benefits stop.

The biggest issues are that they often slap you with high fees (account maintenance, withdrawal/receiving funds, etc.) and only accept a small number of currencies.

3. Best Alternatives to Multi-Currency accounts

Multi-currency or foreign accounts offered by banks may not be for everyone especially because of the fees involved.

That’s where companies like Wise (review) (formerly TransferWise) come in.

Here is an example of how Wise (our top pick) works:

The account requires no minimum balance, it has zero monthly fees, and it charges very competitive currency exchange rates whilst always converting your money at the mid-market rate.

It is also available pretty much world wide and the account comes with a supporting debit card so users can spend the money they hold in their accounts at the mid-market rate and low fees.

A big differentiator of Wise is that they provide unique local bank account details for the US, UK, Eurozone, Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Turkey, Romania and Hungary so that customers can receive payments in those currencies for free and there is no minimum holding deposit required. 

You also can open an account online and don’t need to visit a bank.

Get Wise Multi-currency Account Here 

N26 (review) and Payoneer (review) also have Multi-currency accounts.

Generally, multi-currency accounts offered by these companies work similar to standard bank accounts where you can receive money (your salary, pension, tax benefits, business payments, etc.), hold multiple currencies, and access your funds online or via ATM withdrawals.

They’re also licensed in many countries, which means that like banks there are lots of safety and security built in.

But unlike banks, you don’t earn interest on the money you hold, can’t apply for overdrafts, and the funds are not protected by government schemes.

There are also limits on how much money you can receive and hold.

Nevertheless, they’re great alternatives to traditional foreign currency accounts from banks because you avoid high fees.

This makes them great for frequent travelers, digital nomads, and growing global businesses (especially online businesses) looking to reduce high costs and have a better experience.

Pros

  • Hold, send and receive foreign currency without paying conversion fees

Banks

  • Interest and overdraft protection may be possible
  • Some deposits are guaranteed (in the event they fail)

Alternatives

  • Significantly cheaper fee structure to banks

Cons

Banks

  • Bank conversion fees apply when converting foreign to local currency
  • Most banks require high minimums

Alternatives

  • Do not pay interest or have overdraft protection
  • Deposits are not guaranteed

Here’s a look at our top 3 multi-currency account alternatives:

3.1 Wise Multi Currency Account — Manage 55+ currencies with low, transparent fees

Wise (review) is a money transfer company that lets you hold and manage 55+ currencies and get international bank details in 10 currencies so you can get paid like a local. 

But before you get too excited, click here to see if the Wise account is available in your country.

Supported currencies for international bank details include: USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, SGD (Singapore dollars), TRY (Turkish lira), RON (Romanian lei), and HUF (Hungarian Forint).

You also get a MasterCard debit card (review) (for both personal and business) that can be used in 200 countries and for online transactions in foreign currencies. 

They’re great for international bank-to-bank transfers too because of their good exchange rates (they always provide mid-market rate) and low (and transparent) fees. 

You can even see from the Wise calculator here, the exact fee you will pay based on the amount and the currency pair — so there will be no surprises when your money reaches the receiver.

Wise also offers dedicated business accounts that support bulk payments, integrations with business apps, and invoicing, among others.

You can also freeze and unfreeze your card whenever you like. PIN reminders and instant transaction notifications, also help to ensure you know what is going on.

3.2 Payoneer — Great Additional Business Payment Features

Payoneer (review) offers multi-currency accounts for online sellers, freelancers, service providers, and digital marketers. It’s geared towards small businesses with additional features like client invoicing, and linking to popular marketplaces or networks (like Upwork and AirBnB).

With Payoneer, you can accept payments like a local with bank details in USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, CAD, and MXN.

They also let you easily convert between currencies you hold in your Payoneer balance to pay for your business expenses, including setting up bulk payments to suppliers and contractors in 200 countries.

Check here to see if Payoneer is available to you.

3.3 N26 — Spend foreign currency with no fees

N26 (review) is a digital bank (they have a European banking license and your funds are protected up to €100,000, according to EU directives) that’s available in the Eurozone and the US.

With N26, you can receive EUR through SEPA transfers from anywhere in Europe.

Even though you technically can’t hold multiple currencies with N26, we still had to include it in this list because of their powerful MasterCard debit card.

It’s accepted in 200 countries and offers fee-free foreign transactions while paying for goods and services abroad — great for those looking to spend in different currencies!

N26 has a free option, but their paid plans come with a whole lot of other perks.

N26 also offers dedicated business accounts.

Check here to see if N26 is available in your country (not the UK).

4. How to choose a service

For most, the volume of your transactions will usually determine what kind of service is best for you.

If you have a mid-size to large business, a bank operated multi-currency account is most likely your best option. Despite the fees, these accounts usually come with other benefits associated with high-volume transactions.

For instance, you may be able to arrange overdraft limits with your bank, so you’ll never delay a payment.

And while the interest rates may be low, it’s still an addition to a P&L.

Furthermore, you may also benefit from more personal customer service (like in-branch support) whenever needed.

If you are a small business or individual, traditional bank operated multi-currency accounts become expensive and less useful.

And that’s where alternatives like the multi-currency account from Wise (review) become much better options.

With Wise, you still get many of the benefits of a traditional bank account — but without the hefty fees. If you choose to make currency conversions, their rates are also one of the best in the market. And they’re always transparent about the exact fees you pay. Furthermore, you’ll even be able to get local bank account details in a variety of countries.

In our full review for Wise we showed a review from Thomas,

Transfer Wise (or now Wise) is perhaps the best online bank / transfer service I have ever come across to. It’s fast, reliable, supports answers quickly, and it’s cheap. Compared to my physical bank … this is miles ahead, and it is even better than competitors … A big shout out to Wise, that I now use as my everyday bank: receive my salary, pay in stores, pay online, send money to friends…

Trustpilot

If you’re looking for a powerful card, Wise also has a MasterCard debit card linked to your multi currency account that lets you spend the different currencies you hold in your account.

N26 (review) is another excellent option as they have a debit card that lets you spend with very low costs in 200 currencies.

If you mostly conduct your business online, Payoneer (review) is a strong option as they let you manage online payments in multiple currencies and have direct payment solutions and work with outsourcing platforms like Upwork and e-commerce marketplaces.

Now that you have an overview of multi-currency accounts, let’s look at the best options by country.

5. Best for UK

The United Kingdom has several banks that offer multi-currency accounts including local ones like Barclays, Lloyds, and NatWest, and international banks such as HSBC and Santander.

If you already have a sterling bank account with Barclays, you can open a foreign currency account in one of the 23 currencies currently offered by the bank. Besides sterling and foreign currency accounts, Barclays also has deposit accounts in EUR and USD.

Alongside Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC, and Santander all offer foreign currency accounts to businesses and individuals. All the banks require you to hold a sterling account with them and be 18 years or over.

Among them, NatWest and Lloyds are the only ones who charge account maintenance fees. But while it’s cheaper to hold an account with the others, the international transfer fees can be relatively expensive.

This makes traditional options like these only suitable for large businesses and wealthy retail customers.

Good news is, there are cheaper options like Wise and Payoneer.

Wise offers multi-currency accounts to both individuals and businesses with the ability to hold way more currencies, while Payoneer is an excellent alternative for online sellers, freelancers, and digital marketers.

 Available CurrenciesMinimum BalanceMaintenance FeesTransfer Fees
BarclaysAUD, NZD, CAD, USD, HKD, JPY, ZAR, DKK, NOK, CHF, SEKNoNo FeesSEPA Credit Payments - Free

International transfers - £25
LloydsGBP, USD, EURCharges applicable£7.50 GBP/ €8 EUR/$10 USD per monthNo fee charged by the bank. But currency conversion fees applicable + fees may be charged by the receiving bank (£12-£20 GBP)
NatWestAUD, CAD, USD, JPY, CHF, HKD, NOK, NZD, AED, EUR, HUF, PLN, MXN, TRY, ZAR, SEKNo£72/yearOutward SWIFT – £25 manual/£20 electronic
Outward CHAPS – £23 manual/£15 electronic

Outward SEPA – £5

Inward payments – free up to £100 (currency equivalent); £7.5 from £100.01 onwards
HSBCAUD, NZD, CAD, USD, HKD, JPY, ZAR, DKK, NOK, CHF, SEK, CNY, AEDNoNo fees£0 for all transfers from an HSBC account to another HSBC account anywhere in the world.
£6-£52 depending on currency for currency transfers to any other bank
SantanderEUR, USD, GBPNoNo feesOutward SWIFT – £30 online/£45 electronic
Inward payments – no fees
Wise56 currencies, including GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, EUR, etc.NoNo feesflat fee + a percentage fee based on the amount and currency (percentage fee ranges between 0.35%-1.5%)
PayoneerUSD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, CAD, and MXNNoNo feesFree to Payoneer accounts | 2% fee to other bank accounts

6. Best for USA

Your options for foreign currency accounts with banks are quite limited if you’re in the US.

Bank of America doesn’t offer foreign currency accounts, but they do let you buy specific currencies if you’re traveling abroad.

Citi Bank’s multi-currency account is actually an offshore account and comes with a hefty minimum balance requirement and high international currency transfer fees.

Wells Fargo is ideal for multimillion-dollar businesses, but TIAA is more affordable – though you do need a $2500 minimum to open an account.

In comparison, Wise offers so much more in terms of the currencies you can hold, transfer fees, and what you can do with your multi-currency account overall. Not to mention they offer multi-currency accounts for both individuals and businesses.

Payoneer is a great option for growing businesses, and N26’s robust MasterCard debit card will make paying for your travels abroad very affordable.

 Available CurrenciesMinimum BalanceMaintenance FeesTransfer Fees
CitibankAUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, JPY, USD, NZD,
CZK, DKK,
HKD, HUF
ILS, JPY, NOK,
PLN, RON, RUB, ZAR,
SEK, CHF, TRY, AED
$2,00,000 USD$150/month if minimum balance isn’t metCiti Global transfers – $0 (to 20 countries)

SWIFT – $60
TIAA (formerly EverBank)AUD, GBP, CAD, DKK, EUR, HKD, JPY, NZD, NOK, SGD, SEK, CHF$2,500 opening deposit or $100/monthDepend on currencyCurrency conversion costs of 1% of the wholesale rate for the selected currency.
Wells FargoAED, AUD, BHD, CAD, CHF, CNY, CZK, DKK, EUR, FJD, GBP, HKD, HUF, JOD, ILS, INR, JPY, KWD, MAD, MXN, NOK, NZD, OMR, PHP, PLN, QAR, SAR, SEK, SGD, TRY, USD, XPF, ZARContact BranchContact BranchContact Branch
Wise56 currencies, including GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, EUR, etc.NoNo feesflat fee + a percentage fee based on the amount and currency (percentage fee ranges between 0.35%-1.5%)
PayoneerUSD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, CAD, and MXNNoNo feesFree to Payoneer accounts | 2% fee to other bank accounts
N26USD, MasterCard debit card works in 200 countriesNoNo membership fees in the USInternational transfer rates offered by Wise - flat fee + a percentage fee based on the amount and currency (percentage fee ranges between 0.35%-1.5%)

7. Best for Europe

Opening a foreign currency account in Europe is a bit trickier because banks in each country follow different regulations.

The conditions for opening a multi-currency account and the fees, therefore, vary widely even between branches of the same bank opened in different European countries.

Picking a bank with branches in multiple countries could be a wise choice, though, as most banks practice free foreign currency transfers between their European branches.

Some of the biggest players with branches in most European countries are UniCredit, ING Bank, Raiffeisen, San Paolo Bank, and Santander.

For most European countries, Wise (review) is a good alternative to banks as it lets you hold 55+ currencies and has more affordable, transparent transfer rates. Payoneer is another option to look into for small businesses, online sellers, or freelancers that need to hold multiple currencies.

If you simply need an affordable debit card for international spending, N26 is a good option. They’re a digital bank that offers a debit card without any foreign exchange rate fees. N26 are also a real bank based in the EU.

8. Best for Canada

Like the US, Canada also has limited options for foreign currency accounts (especially for retail customers).

Scotiabank only offers multi-currency accounts to businesses while CIBC only lets you hold USD (other than CAD). HSBC’s accounts are also for businesses only.

So if you want to easily manage your international money, Wise is the best alternative (although their MasterCard debit isn’t available in Canada yet). Wise lets you hold 55+ currencies and their transfer rates are one of the most affordable out there. Plus, you can get a multi-currency account with them whether you’re an individual or a business.

Small businesses can also go with Payoneer (they’re particularly great for online sellers as Payoneer can be integrated into payment gateways).

 Available CurrenciesMinimum BalanceMaintenance FeesTransfer Fees
Scotia BankGBP, EUR, JPYNo$16 CAD per month2 free outward transactions per month.
$1-$5/transaction for all other transactions
HSBCAUD, NZD, CAD, USD, HKD, JPY, ZAR, DKK, NOK, CHF, SEK, CNY, AEDNoNo feesDepend on currency
CIBCUSDNo$6/month for a business account$1-$1.25/transaction
Wise56 currencies, including GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, EUR, etc.NoNo feesflat fee + a percentage fee based on the amount and currency (percentage fee ranges between 0.35%-1.5%)
PayoneerUSD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, CAD, and MXNNoNo feesFree to Payoneer accounts | 2% fee to other bank accounts

9. Best for Australia

In Australia, the major players offering multi-currency accounts are NAB, Commonwealth, ANZ, and Westpac.

NAB, Commonwealth, and Westpac open foreign currency accounts to both individuals and businesses. You won’t have to maintain a minimum balance, but maintenance fees can be charged for holding some currencies in your account.

ANZ offers foreign currency accounts to both individuals and businesses as well, but its fee structure is pretty complicated.

Wise on the other hand offers way more than traditional multi-currency accounts. For one, you can hold and manage 55+ currencies. You also get international bank details in 10 currencies and a MasterCard debit card linked to the account that’s accepted in 200 countries.

And the best part? Wise is open to both individuals and businesses.

And if you’re an online seller, international freelancer, or digital marketer, you can also check out Payoneer.

 Available CurrenciesMinimum BalanceMaintenance FeesTransfer Fees
NABUSD, GBP, NZD, JPY, CAD, SGD. HKD, DKK,
FJD (Fijian Dollar), NOK,
PHP, WST (Samoan Tala), ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, AED
NoA fee may be charged on holding large balancesOutward payments: $10 AUD
Inward payments: up to $15 AUD
CommonWealthUSD, CAD, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, NOK, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THBNoNo$22-$30 AUD, depending on how the transfer is funded
ANZAUD, USD, GBP, JPY, EUR, CADDepends on currencyContact branchOutward payments: $9-$28 AUD

Inward payments: $15 AUD
WestpacUSD, GBP, JPY, ZAR, EUR, NOK, CAD, DKK, SGD, NZD, CNY, HKDNoNo$10-$32, depending on funding method
Wise56 currencies, including GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, EUR, etc.NoNo feesflat fee + a percentage fee based on the amount and currency (percentage fee ranges between 0.35%-1.5%)
PayoneerUSD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, CAD, and MXNNoNo feesFree to Payoneer accounts | 2% fee to other bank accounts

10. Best for Rest of the World

10.1 Germany

Large businesses can open a foreign currency account with Deutsche Bank to receive and hold multiple currencies. For details on currencies you can hold, fees to open your account, maintenance charges, and transfer fees, please contact your local branch. Payoneer is a better option for small businesses.

For individuals, Wise’s multi-currency account is an excellent option to hold and manage 55+ currencies.

For those who are looking to only transfer EUR in the EEA or a robust travel money card, you can’t go wrong with N26.

10.2 Singapore

DBS, Citibank, and HSBC are your best options if you’re looking to open a foreign currency account with a high street bank. They all let you hold major currencies including USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, etc (10+ currencies supported), and DBS even offers a multi-currency debit card that would be helpful for frequent travelers.

Alternatives to traditional multi-currency accounts in Singapore are Wise (for both individuals and businesses) and Payoneer (for small businesses).

10.3 Philippines

Security Bank, Maybank (only USD account), DBP, PNB, HSBC, Citibank all offer foreign currency accounts in the Philippines.

Alternatives to traditional multi-currency accounts in the Philippines include Payoneer (for small businesses) and Wise (but note that the Wise multi-currency debit card is not available in the Philippines).

10.4  India

You can get a multi-currency account with SBI, HDFC, Axis Bank, and ICICI Bank.

Unfortunately, Wise doesn’t offer its multi-currency service in India, so individuals are limited to traditional foreign currency accounts with banks.

However, Payoneer has an excellent presence in India, which is good news for small businesses looking to expand their global presence.

Final Word

A multi-currency account could be a great solution for individuals and businesses involved with multiple currencies.

But you need to be aware of their drawbacks as it’s not for everyone (jump here to a rundown of the pros and cons). In most situations, they’re mainly for multinational companies or rich people who can afford the fees.

Fortunately, we now have alternatives that are much more affordable, secure, and flexible.

From our experience, Wise, Payoneer, and N26 are 3 great alternatives with Wise our top pick. (You can see our detailed summary of each here).

Click here to make sure you can get the Wise account.

Of the 3, Wise is the best overall option for individuals or small businesses looking for an easy and cheaper way to receive, hold, and spend in different currencies — plus, you can hold balances in 55+ currencies!

Payoneer is great for small businesses that want extra business features (like linking to popular online marketplaces), while N26 is the choice for those that just want a debit card that lets you spend in many currencies without added fees.

We hope you have a better idea of the multi-currency account options out there. Remember — expensive banks aren’t the only choice anymore and there are more cost-effective ways.

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