Best International Bank Accounts in the UK 2024

If you’re an expat, digital nomad or frequent traveller, having an international account from a UK bank or from a non-bank alternative provider can help you manage your money across different currencies. You’ll be able to hold a balance in foreign currencies, and depending on the account you pick you might also get a linked card for spending and ATM withdrawals or the option to earn interest. Having a foreign currency account means you can convert from pounds to the currency you need for spending in advance if you spot a good exchange rate, and hold a foreign currency balance as needed, to avoid losses when exchange rates fluctuate

This guide looks at some of the best accounts for international travellers, both from major UK banks and from non-bank alternatives such as Wise and Revolut.

5 Best Banks for International Travel

Here’s a look at the top 5 banks for international travel for UK expats and digital nomads which we’ll cover in this guide.

  • Wise Account: best for holding 40+ currencies, and spending with your linked Wise card in 150+ currencies, with the mid-market rate and low fees
  • Revolut Account: best for picking from a selection of account tiers depending on your needs, with a linked Revolut card, and some no fee ATM withdrawals and currency exchange

  • Barclays international account: best for existing Barclays customers looking to hold a balance in any of 12 currencies to make digital payments in foreign currencies

  • Lloyds international account: best for customers looking to hold a balance in USD or EUR, and spend online and with a linked payment card

  • NatWest international account: best for eligible NatWest customers who want an easy access or fixed term deposit account in one of 25 currencies

    What is an international bank account?

International accounts can be opened with banks and with UK based non-bank providers. The UK market has a lot of options for international accounts which means you can choose from a selection of features to get the one which suits you. Some accounts are meant for daily use for receiving transfers and spending with international travel cards, while others are more aimed at higher wealth individuals looking to save, invest or earn interest on foreign currency balances.

We’ll look at some smart options in just a moment - for now, here’s a rundown of some of the features you may get from an international account:

  • Hold one or more foreign currencies and convert between them

  • Send payments overseas with low or no fees

  • Access preferential exchange rates

  • Spend internationally with a linked debit or credit card

  • Earn interest on your balance in foreign currencies

What is the best international bank?

The best international bank account will depend on your specific needs and the sort of payments you’ll be making. While some accounts are optimised for travel, others are intended for investments or paying foreign currency bills for example.

Let’s start with an overview of each provider we’ve picked for this review - we’ll explore the accounts available from each more in detail right after. Later on, we’ll also cover what to consider when choosing an international bank so you can make sure you’re picking the right option for your needs.


WiseRevolutBarclaysLloydsNatWest
Account opening feeNo fee for personal accountsNo feeNo feeNo fee - but a deposit must be paid into your account within 30 days of openingNo fee - but an opening deposit may be needed, depending on the account you pick
Account maintenance feesNo fee

  • some accounts have no maintenance fee

  • others up to 45 GBP/m

No feeBased on currency selected - 8 EUR/month or 10 USD/month for exampleNo fee
Multi-currency Account40+ currencies; local bank details 10 currenciesYes, 150+ countriesNo - one of 12 different currenciesNo - hold either euros or US dollars only+25 currencies 
Travel Card Wise international debit cardRevolut debit cards availableNot availableYesNot available
Foreign Transaction feesFree to spend a currency you holdFree to spend a currency you holdExchange rate markups may apply2.99% when spending a currency you don’t hold in your accountExchange rate markups may apply
Currency Conversion RatesMid market exchange rates - currency exchange costs from 0.43%Mid market exchange rates during weekdays, up to your plan limitsBarclays exchange rate applies which may include a markupNetwork rate + any applicable foreign transaction feeNatWest exchange rate applies which may include a markup
Foreign ATM Transaction FeesSome free ATM withdrawals monthly, low fees after thatSome free ATM withdrawals monthly, low fees after thatNot available1.5%Not available
International Business AccountsAvailableAvailableDifferent business account options Different business account options Different business account options

Different international accounts from banks or non-bank providers all have their own features and fees - which suits you might just come down to how you want to use your account, and which services are important to you. Here’s a brief summary of who the accounts we’ve picked out may appeal to:

  • Wise Account: great for personal or business customers for day to day use - hold, send, spend and exchange 40+ currencies, get local bank details for 10 currencies

  • Revolut Account: great for personal or business customers, with some no fee currency conversion and a linked card for day to day use. You can also access higher tier account plans which have perks and discounts available, for a monthly fee

  • Barclays international account: great for Barclays customers who already have a GBP account and are looking to hold a balance in any of 12 currencies to make digital payments in foreign currencies 
  • Lloyds international account: great for customers looking to hold and spend USD or EUR with the option to hold a balance in either currency 
  • NatWest international account: great for anyone looking to open an interest earning account to hold one of 25 major global currencies - both easy access and fixed term options available

Wise Account

Wise accounts can be opened and managed online or in the Wise app, and allow you to hold and exchange 40+ currencies. You can get a linked Wise card for convenient spending online and in person, and for ATM withdrawals in 150+ countries with no foreign transaction fees.

Go to Wise

Read a full Wise review here.

Depending on your preference you can convert your GBP balance to the currency you need in advance, or let the card handle the conversion when you pay if you’d prefer. In either case, you get the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%. If you need to get paid in foreign currencies, a Wise account can help. You’ll be able to get local bank details for 10 currencies so you can get paid conveniently to hold a foreign currency balance or send payments to 160+ countries, quickly or even instantly.

Wise account is best for: holding and exchanging 40+ supported currencies, and ways to get paid in 10 currencies by local transfer

Wise travel card: available for use in 150+ countries

Foreign transaction fees: free to spend a currency you hold; currency conversion from 0.43%

International ATM withdrawals: some free withdrawals every month, low fees after that

Revolut Account

Revolut UK customers can choose from 5 different plan types for personal customers, with other options available for business customers. Some Revolut accounts have no monthly fees and others do have a charge every month, in return for higher no-fee transaction limits, and extra benefits. For international use, some Revolut accounts come with handy perks like insurance or airport lounge access for example.

Go to Revolut

Read a full Revolut review here.

All Revolut accounts have some no-fee ATM withdrawals offered every month, and some currency exchange that uses the mid-market exchange rate. Depending on the plan you pick, limits may apply, with fair usage fees after that. Some out of hours charges can also apply if you’re exchanging currency when markets are closed.

Revolut account is best for: 5 different plans so you can choose the one that suits you - plus a linked card, some no fee ATM withdrawals and some no fee weekday currency exchange

Revolut travel card: available for use in 150+ countries

Foreign transaction fees: no fee to spend a currency you hold; all accounts have some weekday currency conversion that uses the mid-market rate, with fair usage costs after that

International ATM withdrawals: some no-fee withdrawals every month, low fees after plan limit is exhausted

Barclays international account

Barclays offers foreign currency accounts in 12 popular global currencies, which are designed for people who need to hold a balance in a foreign currency, and make international payments online or in person. You won’t get a linked debit card with a Barclays international account, which means this may not be suited to people looking for an international account for travel - but you can use your account to reduce exchange rate risk by holding a balance in the foreign currency of your choice, for payments you know you may need to make in future. Add money when the exchange rate looks good and hold your funds until you next need them, to avoid worries about rate fluctuations at the time your transfer is needed.

Barclays account is best for: Barclays GBP account customers looking to hold a balance in any of 12 currencies

Barclays travel card: Not available

Foreign transaction fees: Exchange rate markups may apply when you make payments to and from your account and need currency conversion

International ATM withdrawals: Not available

Lloyds international account

Lloyds offers international accounts in euros or US dollars, to eligible customers with an annual income of 50,000 GBP or more. There’s a monthly fee to pay, which varies depending on the account currency, and you’ll be able to get a linked debit card to spend conveniently from your account. You won’t be charged a foreign transaction fee when you spend a currency you hold in your account, but a 2.99% fee applies if you’re using your card to spend in an unsupported currency. You can get 24/7 access to your account online, and there’s no Lloyds fee to send a foreign payment - correspondent bank or third party costs may still apply, though.

Lloyds account is best for: Holding USD or EUR, with a linked payment card for local and international use

Lloyds travel card: Available for USD and EUR

Foreign transaction fees: 2.99% fee to spend a currency you don’t hold in your account

International ATM withdrawals: 1.5%

NatWest international account

NatWest offers international accounts in 25 or so currencies, which can be either instant access or fixed term saving vehicles. To be eligible you’ll need to either arrange to deposit a salary of 40,000 GBP/year or more into your account, or deposit 25,000 GBP at the point you open your account. NatWest international accounts have no fees for eligible customers and variable interest rates depending on the currency you pick and the specific account type you prefer. Accounts don’t come with a linked debit card which means they may not be the best option for travel - but they can pay interest depending on the specific details of the product you select.

NatWest account is best for: Eligible customers who want to hold foreign currencies in an account which may pay interest on your balance

NatWest travel card: Not available

Foreign transaction fees: Exchange rate markups may apply when you make payments to and from your account and need currency conversion

International ATM withdrawals: Not available

What are the advantages of international banks?

As we’ve seen, there are different international account options out there so you can pick the one which best suits your specific transaction needs. The advantages you get will vary depending on the specific account and provider you pick, so weighing up a few different options is essential to make sure you select the right one for your needs. Here are a few of the common advantages you may get from an international account:

  • Hold and exchange one or more foreign currencies to avoid losing out when rates fluctuate

  • Preferential exchange rates when you convert or spend in foreign currencies

  • Spend overseas with a linked card to avoid paying foreign transaction fees

  • Open your account and manage your money on the move with transaction alerts and an instant overview of all your currency balances in the provider’s app

  • Open local receiving accounts to get paid easily and with no or low fees, in a selection of currencies

How to choose the best international bank account for your needs

There’s no single best international account, so you’ll need to review a few, looking at features and fees, to pick the one that suits you best. Here are a few things to consider when you’re comparing different accounts from banks or specialist services like Wise and Revolut:

Availability of foreign currencies: Some accounts hold a single foreign currency, others are multi-currency accounts supporting a range of currencies - pick an account which covers all the currencies and transaction types you’re likely to need, now and in future

International fees: Compare the costs of transactions you’ll make often, such as sending and receiving international payments, shopping online or in person, or making cash withdrawals

Currency conversion rates: Banks and account providers can pick their own exchange rates which may include a markup. Often picking an account which uses the mid-market rate or as close as possible to it is the best way to get a good deal on currency conversion

Safety: Make sure any account option you consider is safe, reliable and properly regulated by a body like the FCA in the UK - all of the accounts we’ve profiled in this guide are considered safe to use

International travel cards: If you’re a frequent traveller, having an account with a linked debit card is helpful for making payments and cash withdrawals overseas. Not all international accounts come with a debit card, so it’s worth double checking your options before you sign up

How to open an international account

Usually to open an international bank account you’ll need to make an application in person, online or in an app, and provide some ID and other documents for verification. The process varies by provider or bank, but in most cases you can get your account entirely set up online or through an app - so there’s no need to visit a physical bank location to apply.

The documents needed for verification can vary depending on the bank or specialist non bank provider you pick. However, it’s common to be asked for a proof of ID like a passport, and a proof of address, such as a recent utility bill. If you’re applying online you’ll just need to take a photo of these documents and upload it - you may also need to take a selfie with the ID document to prove it’s really yours. Some international bank accounts require you to have a minimum income - if this is the case you’ll also be asked to prove your salary by uploading a payslip.

How to open international bank account online

Here’s what you’ll usually need to do to open an international bank account online:

  1. Download the provider’s app or visit the desktop site

  2. Tap Sign up and follow the prompts to enter your personal and contact information

  3. Upload images of your ID and address documents, and any other specific details needed by the bank

  4. Await verification - once your account has been verified you’ll get all the details you need to use your account, and a card if one is available to you

  5. Depending on the account you pick you might be required to make an opening deposit to activate your account functions

What are the best international banks with no fees?

Although some banks may look like they have no fees for their international accounts, usually that just means there’s no ongoing maintenance fee to pay. In fact, international bank accounts pretty much always have transaction and service fees, and some may also include exchange rate markups which aren’t always easy to see.

To get the best international account for your needs it’s important to read the terms and conditions attached to the account carefully, so there are no surprises down the line.

Here is fee the structure of the providers we’ve explored in this article:

  • Wise fees: Accounts are free to open, there is no maintenance fee, there are low transaction fees.

  • Revolut fees:

    • There’s no fee to open an account, there are different packages with varying monthly fees including a standard plan with no ongoing charges - other plans have monthly fees up to 45 GBP/month.

  • **Barclays fees: No maintenance fee, but bear in mind that exchange rate markups may apply when you make payments to and from your account and need currency conversion. 
  • Lloyds fees: Monthly fees are based on currency selected - 8 EUR/month or 10 USD/month - plus there’s a 2.99% foreign transaction fee and a 1.5% ATM withdrawal fee.
  • NatWest fees: No maintenance fee, but exchange rate markups may apply when you make payments to and from your account and need currency conversion.

What is the safest international bank?

All of the banks and alternative non-bank providers we’ve covered in this guide are safe to use. If you open an account with the provider’s UK entity, the services you access are usually regulated by the FCA. In some cases, if you open an account with an international division of a major bank you might find that a different regulator oversees the account - but you can be assured that all the providers we’ve picked are licensed and regulated for the specific services they provide.

It’s also helpful to note that most banks and non-bank account providers have extra built in security when spending and transacting - such as instant in-app transaction notifications and easy ways to freeze or cancel your payment card. The exact features available will depend on the bank or non-bank account you pick - take a look at what your preferred account provider does to keep your money and your information safe before you sign up.

Best ways to withdraw money when travelling abroad

Paying with your card, or using your phone and a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, is usually most convenient. But sometimes only cash will do when you’re overseas. Here are some ways to get cash abroad, without paying high fees:

  • Always check your banks foreign transaction fees so you know if you’ll pay a premium when abroad

  • Check which ATMs you can use for no extra fee when you travel - providers like Wise and Revolut offer some fee free international withdrawals every month

  • Always withdraw in the local currency wherever you are, to avoid dynamic currency conversion

  • Avoid withdrawals with a credit card as these have extra fees

    How to avoid foreign transaction fees

Getting an international account from a bank or non-bank alternative may let you cut down or even avoid foreign transaction fees altogether. Here are some ideas to keep down costs when you spend with your card abroad:

  • Check your bank’s foreign transaction fees and exchange rates - you may be better off with a specialist like Wise or Revolut

  • Pay in the local currency to avoid dynamic currency conversion

  • Look at from non bank alternatives like Wise or Revolut which let you keep your money in a broad selection local currencies to avoid paying high conversion fees with bad exchange rates

Conclusion on best international bank for expats

You can open an international account with a bank in the UK, or go with specialist alternatives like Wise and Revolut instead. There’s not really one single best international account option for UK travellers, digital nomads and expats - the one that’s right for you will depend on how you prefer to transact.

The international accounts from UK banks are often targeted at people looking to earn interest on a foreign currency balance, rather than spending on a day to day basis in a selection of currencies. On the other hand, international accounts from non-bank providers like Wise and Revolut can mean you get a more flexible account which supports multiple different currencies and which can be used to send, spend, hold, exchange and receive a range of currencies from around the world.

FAQs on Best Banks for International Travel

Can you open an international bank account online?

Yes. You can open an international account with a bank or a non-bank provider like Wise and Revolut. Digital services like Wise and Revolut have fully online onboarding and verification processes - some banks offer the same, but in some cases you’ll need to pop into a branch to finish your application.

What are the best international banks with no fees?

It’s not usually possible to find an international account which has no fees whatsoever. However, it is possible to find international accounts with low or no ongoing fees, and fair and transparent transaction fees. Compare a few options from banks, as well as from non-bank providers like Wise and Revolut which both have accounts on offer with no monthly charge to worry about.

Which bank account is best for international travel?

There’s not a single best bank for international travel. The best one for you will depend on how you transact, and which currencies you need to use. It’s worth knowing that international accounts from non-bank providers like Wise and Revolut can be flexible and low cost, with linked cards which are very handy for overseas spending and withdrawal.

How can you avoid bank charges when travelling internationally?

Check through your specific account’s terms and conditions carefully before you start to transact internationally. Look out in particular for international ATM charges and foreign transaction fees which can push up costs a lot. Multi currency accounts from digital providers can often be cheaper than using a bank card when you’re away from home.

What bank does not charge international ATM fees?

You’ll need to double check your own bank’s policy on international ATM withdrawals as the fees can vary significantly. As well as a charge from your own bank, there may be a fee added by the ATM provider - which will often be shown on the screen before you confirm your withdrawal.

Should you have a separate bank account for travel?

Having a separate international account for travel can be very handy to manage your spending overseas and keep your overall costs low. For low cost options, consider a non-bank provider like Wise or Revolut - both of which have accounts with no maintenance fee that you can just use as and when you need to with no ongoing costs to worry about.