In today's interconnected world, the need for effective international banking solutions has never been greater. Whether you're a frequent traveler, a digital nomad, an expatriate, or an international business owner, the right bank can significantly enhance your financial management across borders.
In this article, we will discuss the factors you should consider when choosing a bank for your international banking needs. We will also provide an overview of the top 5 international banks in 2023, highlighting their benefits and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision.
Without further ado, let's dive in.
6 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Your International Bank
While the ideal bank for you will align with your specific international banking needs, there are 6 critical features that distinguish good international banks. These key factors are essential to consider in your selection process.
1. Low Fees
An international bank that offers a competitively low fee structure for transactions, currency exchange, and ATM withdrawals is a must. This is important because you will be involved in international transactions in one way or another. Hence, minimizing these costs can significantly impact your financial efficiency.
2. International Acceptance
It’s important to 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 may help avoid extra charges, making your financial dealings smoother and more convenient.
3. Multi-Currency Options
A bank that offers the facility to hold and manage multiple currencies in a single account is invaluable for those who travel frequently or engage in international business. This feature simplifies financial management and can help you save more on transaction and conversion fees.
4. Online and Mobile Banking Services
In today's digital era, it is essential to have a bank that offers comprehensive online and mobile banking services. These features enable you to oversee transactions and manage your finances on the go, ensuring constant access to your finances.
While all banks follow strict regulations, international banking requires heightened security measures to protect your personal information and financial assets. Opt for a bank that offers advanced security features such as two-factor authentication and fraud protection. These features offer an extra layer of protection and give you peace of mind.
6. Customer Support
Effective customer support is crucial, particularly for international banking needs. Choose a bank that offers robust support, preferably with multilingual assistance, to cater to your needs regardless of your location. This is especially important if you're dealing with banking issues while in non-English-speaking countries. A bank with a dedicated and responsive customer service team ensures that any queries or concerns you have are addressed promptly and efficiently, enhancing your banking experience worldwide.
When it comes to choosing international banks, a critical factor for me has always been the bank's global network and reach. The broader the reach, the smoother the transactions and the better the support in various jurisdictions.
I've also prioritized banks that offer competitive exchange rates and low transaction fees, ensuring cost-effectiveness in international dealings.
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 a wide variety of financial services, which include investment banking, commercial banking, asset management, and more.
According to The Annual Report 2022, the bank has approximately USD 3.66 trillion in assets and over 290,000 employees serving its customers worldwide.
Pros and Cons of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
- Foreign Exchange Solutions: They offer a suite of forex solutions that help businesses navigate the complex nature of foreign exchanges, especially beneficial for businesses.
- Global Trade Solutions: This gives you access to global finance solutions that facilitate working capital and reduce risk.
- Expertise in Business Services: They provide you with expertise on the local legal requirements of your employees abroad, making it easier for businesses to operate globally.
- Business-Centric Services: Its international banking services are more suited for businesses, not individuals.
- High Account Minimums: 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.
Bank of America has approximately USD3 trillion in assets, as stated on their 2022 Annual Report, and reported about 217,000 employees in their workforce.
Pros and Cons 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: Bank of America allows you to customize your personal checking and savings accounts with ease
- 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. Although Citigroup offers multi-currency accounts that enable clients to access 16 major currencies, these accounts are part of their wealth management solutions and require a minimum balance of USD 200,000.
CitiGroup's total assets reached approximately USD2.4 trillion, according to Citi’s 2022 annual report. Additionally, CitiGroup has over 210,000 employees at the end of 2022 and serves over 200 million customers globally.
Pros and Cons 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.
- Variety of Options: Customer has many account options to choose from, each with its own perks and benefits
- Many Fees: There are many fees associated with CitiGroup accounts, including account maintenance, transactions, and handling fees.
- 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 has become 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 USD 2.96 trillion in total assets, making it one of the world's largest financial services organizations.
Pros and Cons of HSBC
- Multi-currency Accounts: HSBC offers various accounts to hold and manage in multiple currencies in one account–helping individuals and businesses manage finances more effectively.
- 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.
- Fees: Banking with HSBC will incur some relatively steep fees, as they often have handling fees added up.
- Lower Interest Rates: Its 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.
In 2022, their total assets were around USD 820 billion, according to the Annual Report. Currently, Standard Chartered has approximately 85,000 employees in 150 markets worldwide.
Pros and Cons of Standard Chartered
- Ease of Access: Standard Chartered has operations in more than 60 countries, making it accessible as a banking option.
- Multi-currency 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
- Higher Fees: Fees charged by Standard Chartered 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.
Alternative Solution: Statrys
In summary, while each of the banks listed provides effective solutions for worldwide banking, they come with their own sets of advantages and limitations. For a more comprehensive understanding, it's advisable to explore their individual websites for detailed insights into their services and fees.
Alternatively, fintechs have been emerging as a viable banking solution for many individuals and businesses. If you own a business in Asia or are considering entering the Asian market, then we recommend you consider Statrys.
As a licensed Money Service Operator in Hong Kong, Statrys provides financial services and solutions to businesses incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the BVI. These services include
- The multi-currency business accounts that can hold 11 major currencies.
- Local payout in 14 different currencies.
- Virtual and physical business cards have built-in controls to manage expenses and cash withdrawals through ATMs.
- FX services with competitive exchange rates (spot and forward contracts).
- Xero integration to save time and resources using automated accounting.
- A dedicated account manager for every client.
With its responsive human customer service, Statrys has received a score of 4.6/5 from over 200 reviews on Trustpilot.
Moreover, the application process for opening an account with Statrys is simple and fast, with 85% of its customers being able to open an account within 3 business days.
If you own a growing business and have clients and partners in Asia, be sure to check out Statrys' business account to see how Statrys can support your business with payment.
Which is the best bank for international banking?
The best bank for international banking depends on your financial needs. Our top picks are J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered.
Which bank has branches worldwide?
What banks offer multi-currency accounts?