Managing your finances when you live abroad is a real headache. Without the correct documentation it is almost impossible to open a new bank account. It is understandable why these safeguards are in place, but that doesn’t make it any easier for someone who is travelling or living abroad to manage his or her finances.
As an expatriate who has lived outside of the United Kingdom for most of the last ten years, I understand better than most the problems of trying to open up a bank account in a different country. In fact it is only relatively recently that I have been able to open up a local bank account in Indonesia. This means that for almost four years I was managing my finances from an English bank account.
Luckily banks understand that this is a major problem for a lot of people, so along with the option to open a new bank account abroad, many British banks offer special financial services for foreign students residing in the UK and expatriates living abroad. These accounts have been created specifically for travellers and expatriates and offer account holders specialised international banking services.
The international banking services that British banks offer are great for expatriates and travellers. For instance, to simplify the process of managing your money while you are abroad, you can open current accounts in multiple currencies. This measure simplifies money transfers between accounts, meaning it’s easier to move your money to take advantage of interest rate fluctuations. Other services that you should look out for is 24 hour telephone banking services.
While I’ve already covered some very general issues that you should consider before opening a new bank account, there are some specific things that I think are important for travellers and expatriates to consider. Some banks will refund ATM expenses while others will not. Some banks do not offer you competitive exchange rate. Even though these two things might sound insignificant at first, remember you will be taking out money almost every day as you travel and just these two things by itself can cost you hundreds of pounds on a year-long round the world trip.
Alongside the special current accounts for expatriates and travellers, most of the larger banks in the UK offer special savings accounts. So, if you have enough money in the bank then you could even open a savings account. Of course you should shop around and compare deals before you settle on any savings.