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Neobanks and superapps for digital nomads and frequent travelers
Did you know that every time you swipe in a foreign country, your bank charges you exorbitant fees and offers you a terrible exchange rate? However, you can save thousands of dollars each year by choosing the right bank. If you are traveling abroad for a week or two per year, 3-5% miscellaneous foreign transaction fees and a bad exchange rate when using an international card are not a big deal. Yet, if you’re a frequent traveler or digital nomad who spends most of your time abroad, these fees add up quickly. In fact, you can donate hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your bank every year. Thus, we invite you to discover best European neobanks for those who travel a lot and/or live abroad.
Wise, formerly Transferwise, is one of the biggest names in the world of fintech and international banking. Wise allows you to hold money in over 50 different currencies and is probably the banking product that comes closest to offering a truly global service, for which it received this special mention. There are only about a dozen countries where you can’t use Wise at all (for cheap international money transfers, for example), and a few more countries where you can’t get their free multicurrency borderless accounts. In many countries, you also get access to the Wise Debit Card, which offers some of the most competitive low fees for international spending.
Wise provides local bank details in a number of countries (e.g. Europe, USA, Australia, Singapore and many more), making it easy to receive payments from customers or friends located anywhere in the world without extra charges and delays. Wise is transparent about the low fees they charge, including how much goes towards their direct costs as well as how much goes towards improving their product. Unlike competitors who initially started off with too good to be true prices that skyrocketed soon after (classic bait and switch), Wise has worked tirelessly to improve its cost structure, resulting in even lower commissions over time.
By now, it is one of the most mature of the user friendly and innovative neobanks that have revolutionized the European banking market over the past few years.
Starting in Germany, the N26 euro account is now available in most European countries. Since the end of 2018, N26 accounts in euros have also been available to residents of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You can open an account from anywhere in about 5 minutes. You just need your smartphone, internet connection and your ID. Yet, you would still need a physical address in Europe to receive your N26 card.
N26 currently offers several different plans, but the free standard plan is probably still the best choice for most, unless you can take advantage of the excellent travel insurance included with the paid plans. This is the case if you mainly live in a European country and frequently travel abroad for up to three months at a time.
The N26 You (9.90 euros per month) and N26 Metal (16.90 euros per month) accounts provide users with medical assistance, trip cancellations, luggage, winter sports and even car, electric scooter, and e-bike rentals covering damages. The N26 Metal plan also adds car rental insurance and phone insurance (up to €1,000 for theft and damage). Both plans now also cover issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic if you have to cancel or shorten your trip due to illness, quarantine or emergency medical bills up to €1,000,000.
Dutch bank Bunq is a mobile bank offering both personal and business accounts. They offer many features with their personal accounts, including the ability to have a shared account with a partner, an IBAN in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, or Ireland (or multiple IBANS in the premium plans), and the option for a Maestro Card (especially useful in Central Europe and the Netherlands).
While Bunq has a free version, it’s quite limited and doesn’t come with a debit card, so the best option would be €2.99 per month for their “Easy Bank” plan. To add 16 different currencies and investment features, the Bunq user can upgrade to Easy Money for €8.99 per month or €17.99 per month to Easy Green, which will allow you to offset your CO2 emissions.
This is a competitor to Wise, that, probably, many users already know about. Revolut became quite famous in nomad circles in the mid-2010s when they launched free unlimited currency conversion, free international money transfers and free instant top-ups from debit and credit cards. Now you can only exchange up to £1,000 per month for free, all international transfers are chargeable, even on the Premium and Metal plans, and only non-commercial cards issued in the EU can be used for free top-ups.
The main weak points of Revolut for digital nomads and frequent travelers are:
- Free currency conversion (including international card charges) is not available for all currencies, neither on weekends nor for large amounts.
- The travel insurance that you get with the Revolut premium account, that advertises coverage for your entire family, actually only includes your children (under 18) and not your spouse.
- The 1% cashback on all your purchases outside the EU for those who spend money on the Metal plan is capped by the amount you pay for the plan, so it’s basically just a discount, not a cashback.
Revolut can also add value if you are a freelancer, self-employed, contractor, or otherwise self-employed as they now have Revolut Pro. It is essentially the same as Revolut Business while it can be accessed through their personal account app to make life easier for solo business owners.
Quppy is operating in the EU since 2018 being fully licensed in Estonia, Latvia, and the UK. Quppy offers both traditional bank accounts in euros, US dollars, and British pounds, as far as wallets in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and USDT. You can have several accounts in several currencies as a time. Wallets offered by Quppy are both centralized and decentralized meaning you can have both storage solutions and thus protect your funds and data.
The account opening at Quppy is free with no monthly service fees. The fee structure is transparent and well shown on the Quppy official website. Quppy issues physical as far as virtual cards that are instantly ready for online and offline payments, as far as ATM withdrawals and subscriptions.
For digital nomads and frequent travelers, Quppy works on instant and convenient crypto payment both online and offline directly through the app.