1. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
2. Bank of America
This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the top five international banks that can meet your financial needs, whether you're a frequent globetrotter, digital nomad, expatriate, or international business person.
In today's interconnected world, having a bank account with an international bank has become increasingly essential for anyone who regularly travels across borders or conducts business internationally. These banks offer a range of services that are tailored to meet the needs of a global clientele, including low fees, competitive exchange rates, multi-currency accounts, and digital banking solutions that enable customers to manage their finances from anywhere in the world.
By selecting the right international bank for your needs, you can save time, money, and effort while ensuring that your finances are secure and accessible wherever you are in the world. So, without further ado, let's dive into our top five picks for the best international banks.
If you are considering an international bank for both personal and business use, we recommend reading our article about the Importance of Separating Personal and Business Accounts.
What makes a good international bank?
What makes a good international bank depends entirely on selecting a bank account that provides features and benefits tailored to your specific needs. However, there are some common features that all good international banks must have, and they include:
Bank account that offers low transaction fees, exchange rates, and ATM fees when withdrawing cash or making purchases overseas are a must. This is important because everyone will be involved in transactions in one way or another, so the lower the fees, the better.
Ensure that the bank account is widely accepted internationally and supports the currency of the country you are visiting. Some banks may have partnerships with foreign institutions that simplify accessing funds and prevent additional charges.
Consider opening a bank account that allows you to hold multiple currencies in one account, facilitating the management of finances while travelling or conducting business abroad.
Online and Mobile Banking
Opt for a bank account that provides online and mobile banking options, allowing for easy monitoring and transaction management while on the go.
We always assume that a bank is safe, due to the strict regulations that a bank must have before providing their services to consumers. However, when it comes to international banking, security measures are extremely important. Choose a bank that has options for two-factor authentication, fraud protection, and other safety measures that protect your personal information and account.
Having good customer support from a bank cannot be underestimated, especially if you plan to visit non-English-speaking countries. This will make it easier to address any concerns or inquiries that may arise while using your bank account internationally.
1. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
J.P. Morgan Chase is a multinational investment bank and financial services holding company. The bank was founded in 1799 in the United States and has its headquarters located in New York City.
They are currently operating in over 100+ countries around the world, providing a very global reach. They also offer an extensive variety of financial services which include investment banking, commercial banking, asset management, and more.
According to their Annual Report from 2021, the bank has approximately USD3.7 trillion in assets and over 270,000 employees serving their customers worldwide.
Pros of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
- Foreign Exchange: They offer a suite of forex solutions that helps businesses navigate the complex nature of foreign exchanges. This is especially useful for businesses.
- Global Trade Solutions: This gives you access to global finance solutions that help facilitate your working capital and reduce risk.
- Business Services: J.P. Morgan’s onboarding services will provide you with expertise on the local legal requirements of your employees abroad.
Overall, J.P. Morgan Chase offers a superb international banking service for international businesses.
If your business is expanding internationally or operating abroad, this bank offers some good solutions that you will need.
Cons of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
- Businesses Only: J.P. Morgan Chase’s international banking is more suited for commercial banking, not individuals.
- High Account Minimums: In order to avoid fees, you must maintain a relatively high minimum account balance depending on the type of account you open with the bank.
2. Bank of America
The Bank of America is an American-based multinational investment bank and financial services holding company as well. Founded in 1904, its headquarters is situated in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What started as one of the biggest banks in America, has expanded internationally and now has a global reach. With operations in more than 35 countries around the world including Spain, Germany, and Japan, they are able to provide services to a worldwide customer base.
The bank offers a suite of financial products including, but not limited to, commercial banking, investment banking, and consumer banking.
By 2022, Bank of America has approximately USD3 trillion in assets as stated on their Annual Report, and reported about 217,000 employees in their workforce.
Pros of Bank of America
- Ease of Access: With locations throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, and The Middle East, you’ll always have a branch of your bank within reach.
- Easy to Use: An intuitive app, free online banking, and reliable branch banking make it easy to carry out your financial transactions.
- Variety of Accounts: The Bank of America allows you to customize your personal checking and savings accounts with ease.
Cons of Bank of America
- Below Average Interest Rates: As larger banks tend, Bank of America has a lower APY than many other banks.
- Poor Response Times: Many Bank of America customers have complained about how difficult it is to get a representative on the phone when having a problem with their banking service.
Citigroup is a global investment bank and financial services corporation formed through the merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group in 1998.
It is one of the largest and most known banks in the world, being present in over 160 countries.
As the others mentioned, the bank offers an array of financial services such as commercial banking, credit card services, and investment banking.
CitiGroup's total assets reached approximately USD2.4 trillion according to Macrotrends. Additionally, CitiGroup has over 210,000 in employment at the end of 2022 and serves over 200 million customers globally.
Pros of CitiGroup
- High-Yield Savings Accounts: CitiGroup offers very high APY savings accounts with rates as high as 0.50%.
- Rewards: Many Citi accounts offer a wide range of rewards for their customers such as airline miles.
- Myriad Options: A CitiGroup customer has many account options to choose from, each with its own perks and benefits.
Cons of CitiGroup
- Many Fees: There are many fees associated with CitiGroup accounts, so be prepared to pay a little out of pocket.
- Complexity: Account opening may be more complex due to the great number of options.
HSBC (Holdings PLC) is a multinational investment bank and financial services holding company founded in 1865. Today, HSBC has grown to become one of the biggest banks in the world and serves approximately 39 million customers. To service its customers, HSBC employs approximately 219,000 employees and it became the largest employer in the European banking industry. This allows HSBC to operate in over 60 countries, providing financial services including retail banking, commercial banking, and investment banking to customers worldwide.
According to its 2022 Annual Report, the bank has now reached approximately USD2.8 trillion in total assets, making it one of the world's largest financial services organisations.
Pros of HSBC
- Opening an account remotely: You can open a bank account from anywhere in the world, through video conferencing.
- Accounts are linked: Your HSBC accounts are linked in all countries and currencies, making it easier to use no matter where you are.
- Quick transfers: Transfers are quick and easy between countries and currencies.
Cons of HSBC
- Fees: Banking with HSBC will incur some relatively steep fees.
- Lower Interest Rates: HSBC’s interest rates are not very competitive.
5. Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered is a multinational bank and financial services company based in London, UK. It was founded through the merger of The Standard Bank of British South Africa and the Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and China, back in 1969.
The bank offers a range of banking and financial services to different customers whether individuals or corporations. The bank has a strong focus on developing markets and is popular for its expertise in the topic.
Pros of Standard Chartered
- Global Network: Standard Chartered has operations in more than 60 countries making it accessible as a banking option.
- Multicurrency Accounts: The bank offers a range of foreign currency accounts making it an easier choice for international business.
- Expertise in Emerging Markets: They are well known for their expertise in doing business in developing areas.
Cons of Standard Chartered
- Higher Fees: Fees charged by the bank can be comparatively higher, especially for international transfers.
- Service Quality: Customers have shared issues with the bank's customer service, which might be essential for some.
In summary, each bank on this list is an effective solution for banking around the world, with each having its pros and cons. It may be worth spending more time on their individual websites to learn more about their services.
Alternatively, fintechs have been emerging as a viable banking solution for many individuals and businesses. Nowadays, virtual bank accounts are more available to customers whether personal or business.
What works for one business may not work for another, so double-check your numbers and make sure you’re joining the right bank for you!
Which is the best bank for international banking?
Which bank has branches worldwide?
What banks offer international accounts?