Embarking on a global business adventure or working with international clients? Or are you an expat or digital nomad looking for something flexible?

Having a business bank account tailored to handle international transactions is crucial in these scenarios. An international business bank account saves you from hefty transaction fees and shields you from unfavourable currency exchange rates when making cross-border payments.

In this regard, the challenger banks offer a notably cheaper solution than the high street banks, so there can be huge cost benefits even if you’re using it as a secondary account.

In this article, I’ll compare the best accounts on offer, looking at currency exchange rates, transaction fees, and account minimums.

I’ll also give you my verdict on the UK’s top international business bank account based on my research.

best international business bank accounts illustration

How did I research the top international bank accounts?

What Makes a Good Online International Bank Account?

In an international business bank account, you really need flexibility, low fees, security, and of course support for multiple currencies.

Here at the most important features you should look for:

  • Regulation: Opt for a bank regulated by a recognised authority like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This ensures adherence to financial safety standards.
  • Competitive Exchange Rates: Choose accounts with competitive international transaction fees and favourable currency exchange rates to reduce costs when dealing with multiple currencies.
  • Residency Requirements: Verify the bank’s residency requirements to ensure you’re eligible. Some banks offer services globally, while others might have restrictions based on your location.
  • Multi-Currency Accounts: For businesses dealing with international clients or suppliers, multi-currency accounts are essential. They allow you to hold, manage, and exchange multiple currencies without incurring excessive fees.
  • Low Fees & Accessibility: Seek out accounts with minimal fees for maintenance, ATM withdrawals, and international payments. Accessibility through a wide ATM network is crucial for cost-effective cash access abroad.
  • Customer Support: Ensure the bank offers responsive and effective customer service, vital for resolving any issues that arise, especially in different time zones.
  • Security Features: Look for accounts with advanced security measures, such as two-factor authentication, to safeguard your financial information and transactions against fraud.

>>Read our main page on the best business bank accounts

The 4 Best Features for any International Business Bank Account

Here are the 4 main things you’re going need:

  1. You’ll need to receive money in different currencies: This lets you accept payments from clients worldwide without the extra step of converting their money.
  2. You’ll need a multi-currency account: It allows you to hold and manage various currencies in one place, simplifying your international finance management.
  3. You’ll need to send payments internationally: This feature makes it straightforward to pay your suppliers or partners in other countries.
  4. You’ll need credit cards without international transaction fees: This enables you to make business purchases abroad without incurring additional charges for cross-border transactions.

What is the Best Bank Account for International Business?

Here are five of the top international business bank accounts to consider:

Revolut: The Best Overall International Business Account

Revolut is my top choice for businesses in need of an international bank account. It would be ideal for an expat, digital nomad, or someone who is doing business throughout the EEA.

Revolut offers a cost-effective solution for international transfers, working out significantly cheaper than traditional High Street banks like Barclays or Lloyds.

Why Choose Revolut?

Lower Transaction Fees: High street banks often charge between £8-15 per international transaction. In contrast, Revolut provides free international payments up to certain account limits. Once customers exceed their free allowance, Revolut charges a nominal fee of £3 per transaction, which is still significantly lower than the fees charged by traditional banks. Upgrading to the paid accounts incurs a monthly fee, which increases the free allowances for local transactions and foreign currency exchanges.

No Markup on Exchange Rates: Traditional banks usually add a markup of around 1.75% to the interbank exchange rate, which they include in the spread. Revolut, on the other hand, uses the real-time interbank exchange rate, without adding any markup.

In addition, Revolut has a range of other features that make it a useful and competitive account.

  • Accept payments worldwide: Easily accept payments from around the world and get fast access to your funds.
  • Smart cards for business: Empower your team with physical and virtual company debit cards.
  • Team management: Control spending and permissions from one place.
  • Automated Expenses: Streamline expense management and save time.
  • Accounting integrations: Integrate with software like Xero and Quickbooks for easier financial management.
  • Access to Partner Apps and Integrations.
  • Smart invoicing: Get paid faster with efficient invoicing.
  • Customizable Business API: Seamlessly integrate your own tools and automate payments.
  • Mobile app: Access your Revolut Business account securely from your phone.
  • Advanced security features: High-quality tech security systems to protect your money.
  • Card controls: Block or freeze cards and set limits with a tap.
  • Freelance and Company Plans: Tailored plans to suit your business needs.

» MORE Read our full Revolut Business Review

Wise: ‘Runner-Up’: Great for Multicurrency

Wise (formerly TransferWise) offers a range of benefits for businesses operating internationally, focusing on cost savings and transparent pricing.

In terms of actually transferring money abroad, Wise may be marginally cheaper than Revolut. But that said, Wise’s banking services are far less comprehensive and robust, so for an actual business bank account, we would choose Revolut.

Here’s a summary of Wise’s business account advantages:

  1. Cost-effective international payments: Make international payments in 70+ countries and save up to 6x compared to leading UK banks with no hidden fees or exchange rate markups.
  2. Local account details: Set up local account details for your business in any of 10 currencies, allowing overseas customers to pay you easily and quickly.
  3. Business debit cards: Provide your team with business debit cards for overseas use without foreign currency transaction fees, set spending limits on each card, and get 0.5% cash back as you spend.
  4. Software integrations: Easily connect to popular accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks, and FreeAgent to save time on administrative tasks.
  5. Batch payments: Upload a spreadsheet for each transfer and make one payment for up to 1,000 people, reducing the need for manual data entry.
  6. Bespoke access for your team: Set permission levels and decide who in your team can view specific accounts.
  7. Multi-currency account: View and manage 50+ currencies in one account, and move money between them at the mid-market exchange rate.
  8. Robust security: Wise offers 2-factor authentication, dedicated fraud and security teams, and holds your money with established financial institutions for safety.
  9. Transparent pricing: No hidden fees or monthly subscriptions, only a one-time fee for opening a Wise Business account.

MORE Read our full Wise International Business Account Review

Starling: Best Business Bank for Occasional International Transfers

Monthly Fee
£0
Bank Transfers
Free
Card Purchases
Free
Overdraft
  • Fully regulated and FSCS protected
  • Euro and Dollar accounts
  • Fast account set-up
Access
App & Online
See Deal
More info
Why Choose Starling?
  • Fast account set-up
  • No monthly fees or fees overseas
  • Integrations with Quickbooks, Xero & FreeAgent
  • Fully regulated and FSCS protected
  • Phone and App based customer service 24/7
  • Pay Cash in via Post Office
  • Euro and Dollar accounts are available
But be aware that
  • There isn’t any overdraft facility
  • There are no branches
  • Starling charges for paying in money
  • You can’t earn interest
  • Depositing cash comes with a fee

Eligibility Criteria

All directors with access to the account must be UK residents. The business must not be a holding company, dissolved, in liquidation or engage in any activities set out in our terms and conditionsEvidence of your trading activities so we understand that your business does what you say it does. We can’t accept Companies House documents for this. Credit Checks May Apply

Starling is generally a superb business bank account, which we’ve reviewed in detail elsewhere on the site. It does allow international payments to 37 countries in 21 currencies through their app, but it is not a core USP of the account as with Revolut or Wise, and hence works out more expensive.

There are also certain countries and territories from which Starling cannot accept payments yet, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gaza Strip, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar (Burma), Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, Venezuela, West Bank, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

Two fees apply when making an international payment with Starling Business: a Starling transfer fee of 0.4% and a variable delivery fee, depending on the chosen delivery option. The SWIFT delivery option costs a flat £5.50 for all currencies. A low-cost delivery route is available for some currencies, with fees starting at £0.30 and varying based on the specific currency.

MORE Read our full Starling Business Review

Anna Money: Best for Customer Service

ANNA Money has recently introduced an international payment feature for businesses; it’s currently in beta testing.

They use Currencycloud (the same as Revolut), making their offering competitive. However, it’s a significantly paired down offering to Revoluts, and you can’t receive international payments at all without connecting a Payoneer account, and then only in Euros or USD.

Also, they do charge an additional 1% foreign transaction fee for foreign currency transactions.

Anna offers:

  1. International transfers in Euros, US Dollars, and GBP sterling.
  2. Support by Currencycloud provides fair and up-to-date exchange rates without additional fees.
  3. International transfer setup through the ANNA app chat.
  4. Ability to receive money, via Payoneer, in Euros or US dollars

ANNA Money vs Revolut for international payments:

  1. Currency support: Revolut supports over 150 currencies, while ANNA currently supports international transfers in Euros, US Dollars, and GBP sterling.
  2. Exchange rates: ANNA uses Currencycloud’s exchange rates with no added fees, while Revolut employs the interbank exchange rate, occasionally charging a weekend markup fee between 0.5% and 2.5%.
  3. Prepaid currency card: Revolut offers a prepaid currency card for fee-free payments abroad, while ANNA only provides a debit card for international transactions.

MORE Read our full Anna Money Account Review

Airwallex

Airwallex offers a powerful set of features for businesses that need to manage money across borders. Its strengths in currency support, cost efficiency, and software integration make it a strong candidate for international businesses.

However, improvements in customer support and streamlining the account setup process could enhance its appeal. Overall, it’s a solid choice for businesses looking to save on international transactions and manage multiple currencies efficiently.

Airwallex is particularly strong for businesses that operate e-commerce platforms or have a high volume of international transactions. Its ability to handle payments in over 130 currencies and competitive exchange rates make it an excellent choice for minimizing costs associated with currency conversion.

Revolut, however, offers a broader range of banking features beyond international payments, including budgeting tools, personal accounts, and insurance options, which might be beneficial if you’re looking for an all-in-one banking solution.

Factors to Consider When Researching the Best International Bank Accounts

Currency Exchange Rates and Fees

When searching for the ideal international business bank account, currency exchange rates and fees are undoubtedly a top priority.

Currency exchange rates represent the value at which one currency can be traded for another. As you transfer funds between different currencies, banks convert the money using a specific exchange rate. However, these rates can vary considerably between banks, and some may even add extra fees for currency conversion.

To discover the most favourable currency exchange rates and fees, it’s vital to compare what different banks have to offer. Keep in mind that the rates displayed on a bank’s website may not necessarily be what you’ll get when making a transfer, as banks could impose additional fees and charges.

Another important aspect is the transparency of a bank’s fees. Be cautious of hidden fees and charges, such as markups on exchange rates, which can significantly inflate the overall cost of your international transactions. Make sure to thoroughly examine the bank’s fee schedule and carefully read the fine print to steer clear of any unexpected surprises.

Remember, the more you know about currency exchange rates and fees, the better equipped you’ll be to make a well-informed decision for your international business banking needs.

International Transaction Fees

Don’t forget to pay close attention to international transaction fees. These fees are levied by banks when funds are transferred across borders, and they can differ quite substantially from one bank to another.

International transaction fees can take the form of a fixed fee or a percentage of the transfer amount. Additionally, some banks may impose extra charges for services like SWIFT transfers or intermediary bank fees.

Customer Support

Customer support quality can vary significantly between different banks. Some banks may offer 24/7 support via phone, email, or chat, while others may have limited hours or only offer support during business hours in certain time zones.

To find the best customer support, you should consider your business’s needs and the level of support you require. If you make frequent international transactions or operate in multiple time zones, a bank with 24/7 support may be essential.

Best UK banks for International Transfer fees and Exchange rates

By my analysis, Revolut is the best bank for international transfer fees and exchange rates, although it is a challenger rather than a regulated bank. It is notably cheaper than high street banks for transfer fees and uses interbank exchange rates.

Wise is also a good option, although it is a less sophisticated account than Revoluts, lacking some of the banking functionality.

When a high street bank processes an international payment, it typically adds a per-transaction fee, a fixed cost that the bank charges to facilitate the transfer. This fee can vary depending on the bank, the amount being transferred, and the destination country. Additionally, the bank often applies a 1-2% markup on the exchange rate.

These extra costs can have a significant impact on international transactions. For businesses that deal with international payments, these costs can accumulate and negatively affect their profit margins, making it more difficult to compete in the global market.

ProviderFeeExchange rateBank feesTotal cost
RevolutFree for most plansInterbank exchange rateNoneFree or low cost
Wise£3.84Interbank exchange rateNone£3.84
Barclays£0 (online)£25 (branch or phone)Exchange rate + markupVaries£0-£25 + exchange rate markup + correspondent fees
Co-operative Bank0.25% (min. £13 to max. £35)Exchange rate + 4% markupVaries£13-£35 + 4% exchange rate markup + correspondent fees
Halifax£9.50Exchange rate + 3.55% markup£12£9.50 + 3.55% exchange rate markup + £12
HSBC UK£4 (online) to £17 (postal)Exchange rate + markupVaries£4-£17 + exchange rate markup + correspondent fees
Lloyds£9.50Exchange rate + 3.55% markup£12£9.50 + 3.55% exchange rate markup + £12
Metro Bank£25Exchange rate + markupVaries£25 + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
Nationwide£20Exchange rate + markupVaries£20 + exchange rate mark-up + correspondent bank fees
RBS£0 (standard) to £15 (urgent)Exchange rate + markupVaries£0-£15 + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
Santander UK£25Exchange rate + markupVaries£25 + exchange rate markup + correspondent bank fees
TSB£10 (online) to £20 (branch or phone)Exchange rate + markup£6£10-£20 + exchange rate markup + £6
The information presented in this table is provided for general informational purposes only and is accurate as of the date it was compiled. Please be aware that facts and figures are subject to change over time, and the table may not reflect the most recent data or updates.

Best UK Business Debit Cards for No Foreign Transaction Fees


For UK businesses seeking debit cards with no foreign transaction fees, the best options are:

  • Revolut Business Accounts (including Standard, Plus, Professional, and Enterprise plans)
  • Tide (Mastercard’s exchange rate will apply. They don’t charge any additional mark-up or fees on top of this.)
  • Starling Bank Business Account
  • Wise for Business

It’s worth realising that, in most cases, when banks and financial institutions offer “no transaction fee” services for international transactions, they still find a way to make money through the exchange rate. Instead of charging a direct fee for each transaction, they apply a markup to the exchange rate used in the conversion process. This means they offer a rate slightly worse than the mid-market rate (the real exchange rate you see on financial news or a currency converter tool).

For instance, if the mid-market rate for GBP to USD is 1.30, the bank might use an exchange rate of 1.28 for converting your pounds to dollars. The difference between these rates allows the bank to profit from the transaction without imposing an explicit fee.

FAQs

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