If you have made the decision to make the move abroad, there are a number of options available to you when it comes to banking as an expat. Most probably you are trying to get to grips with some of them and are feeling a bit overwhelmed which would be the ideal choice for you.
We feel your pain, which is why we’ve decided to outline the biggest pros of the most popular banking options. Of course, there are cons to each option as well, but you may find that one that suits you best.
Keeping your current bank account when moving abroad – why is it a good idea?
If you have decided to start a new life abroad but you’ll keep some of your assets such as property in your country of domicile, you should consider keeping your existing bank account open. This way you will be able to receive local bank transfers and keep your existing direct debits and standing orders running. Also, this is a great idea if you will be renting out your apartment or house as your tenants can easily submit payments while you can save on currency transaction fees. Plus, if there is a slight chance to return to your home country at some point in your life you will definitely need a bank account to manage your money. And reopening one can sometimes be a difficult process for expats who have lived abroad for a long period of time.
Bear in mind that if you want to keep your current bank account, it’s essential that you visit a bank branch and inform them of your plans of moving abroad. Thus, they will be able to offer various banking options available to expats which you may otherwise overlook.
Here are some of the pros of keeping your current bank account:
- You will keep using your bank account without any interruptions – the only thing you’ll need to do is to inform your bank of your new address.
- You can keep any direct deposits and standing orders running if you need to.
- It’s a good option if you will continue to receive funds from institutions based in your home country, for example, private or state pensions.
- You will receive payments such as rent quickly and easily.
- If you make regular trips home, you will have a bank account and a payment card at hand.
- It is a good option if you have gone abroad to earn money to send home.
- You will maintain a good credit history, which is important if you decide to move back in the future.
Opening a bank account in your destination country – why is it a good idea?
If you are planning to move abroad for a long period of time, you can consider opening a bank account that is managed in the local currency. This option may be quite beneficial if you are relocating for work and expecting to receive monthly salary payments in the local currency. What’s more, opening a local bank account will make you feel ‘more local’ and is an important part of your checklist of things to help you establish yourself in your new country of residence.
The procedure of opening a local bank account varies greatly from country to country, so there is no one-size-fits-all advice. Even though the application process and the procedure may be different, most banks would require you to present two very important documents: proof of identification and for some countries with strict immigration rules, proof of residency status.
Although opening of a bank account in a foreign country may sound intimidating due to the different procedures and the potential language barrier, it comes with a good number of pros – here are some of them in a nutshell:
- You can easily make payments and withdraw cash in the local currency.
- Many employers would not agree to deposit your salary into a foreign bank account, making it obligatory to have a local bank account.
- You will save on currency exchange fees and international ATM withdrawal fees which could turn out to be quite a lot of money, as many banks will hit you hard with international charges.
- It will be easier and quicker to make rent, mortgage, utility or phone bills payments in your destination country.
- You will start building a credit score which is important if you plan to borrow money whilst abroad e.g. applying for a mortgage.
- It will be less complicated to get customer support if you experience any unexpected issues.
Having two bank accounts – one in your domestic country and one in your destination country
Many people moving abroad decide to keep and manage two bank accounts which seems attractive at first sight, but it comes at a certain price. Keeping two bank accounts with two different banks may be difficult to manage and will result in extra fees, so be careful with this option and make sure to include any costs for maintaining, opening and closing accounts in the decision making.
International banking through Fintech
Fintech companies and their next-generation banking solutions are gaining much popularity these days. A good alternative to traditional cross-border banking, Fintech companies offer mobile banking apps which are often quicker and cheaper than the standard international bank accounts. They allow individual customers to open a “borderless” account with a range of financial services such as international bank transfers, debit cards, tap & pay payments, and others.
Fintech banking solutions are definitely a good option for people who are moving abroad and want to simplify the way they manage their money. There are a number of Fintech companies in Europe that have started the revolution in the banking sector and it is relatively easy to open a bank account with them. You can usually do this online, through their website or through their mobile apps by following a few simple steps and providing an ID card or passport for identification purposes.
As with many decisions you’ll face when living abroad, there is no one-size-fits-all answer and you’re probably feeling even more confused. So sit back and answer the below questions before making up your mind and deal with your money matters:
- Are you moving abroad for good or you’re planning to return to your home country at some point in the future?
- Will you receive your salary in local currency or you’ll continue to receive your income from a company in your home country and in the domestic currency?
- Can you afford to maintain two bank accounts?
- What you’re planning to do with your property – will you rent out or sell?
- What are the taxes and charges for keeping your current bank account?
- Can you afford to wait for a while before making a final decision?