Frequent travellers and entrepreneurs working across several countries will know that - unfortunately - every time money is converted from one currency to another, there are costs and fees involved.
One way to limit the costs of working across different currencies is to open a euro bank account. Some traditional banks in the UK offer euro-denominated bank accounts - however, they tend to come with different terms, conditions, and costs, than the same bank’s sterling accounts.
Aside from the familiar options on the high street, there are also smart new alternatives like the euro account from TransferWise. Before you decide which euro account will suit your needs, it’s worth looking at both traditional high street banks, and specialists such as TransferWise.
To get you started, here’s what you need to know about NatWest’s offshore bank account options, and their offer for expats and those working overseas.
Before you get started, a word.
Banks often charge hefty fees for foreign and multi-currency accounts. And if you’ve already tried managing multiple accounts in multiple countries, you know it’s rarely simple.
TransferWise could help. With TransferWise, it’s free to open a borderless multi-currency account with no monthly fees. There, you can manage and send dozens of different currencies all from the same account. All around the world. (Likely, for a lot cheaper than your bank.)
Give it a try. Check out TransferWise today.
Now, back to what you came here to read.
NatWest has an international operation - called NatWest International. NatWest International offers offshore private banking.1 Through offshore banking, it’s possible to have a bank account denominated in any major foreign currency - including euros - but it’s quite different than a regular current account you might be familiar with.
Offshore banking means that your money is held in a country different from your own. While offshore banking has a reputation for being used by people wanting to limit the tax they pay in their home country, offshore accounts can also be used to help people protect their money from the effect of currency fluctuations. In this way, they function similarly to other euro-denominated accounts - but these offshore accounts tend to be targeted at wealthy individuals, and come with a strict set of eligibility requirements. More on this later.
NatWest recommends these account types for UK citizens who are moving abroad for work, or for expats moving to the UK and looking to open a sterling account while they’re there.1 The requirements to open an offshore account are typically much higher than for a euro-denominated account which functions more like a regular bank account, or for a euro account from a specialist provider such as TransferWise.
Exactly what customers are eligible for depends a lot on where in the world they’re based, and what their income and savings look like.
To check what account you might be able to open, you have to call the bank to discuss your personal circumstances. However, the website gives an outline of eligibility criteria, saying that offshore accounts are offered for new NatWest customers, on the condition that a salary of at least £75,000 a year is paid into the account, or a balance of at least £100,000 is maintained in the account.1 If you already have a NatWest account and want to open a new offshore bank account with them, you need to hold £25,000 minimum balance across all of your NatWest accounts to be eligible.
The multi-currency accounts available from NatWest International fall under their savings and investments category, which might mean they’re not well suited for someone looking to continue everyday banking in euros.2
If these eligibility requirements mean that NatWest International’s accounts won’t suit your needs, then it’s worth looking at other options. You can get many of the same benefits of using a traditional bank, and some extras, if you choose a specialised company like Transferwise.
You don’t have to be among the super-rich to benefit from a euro-denominated bank account.
In fact, a euro bank account can be a good idea if you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur and get paid or pay suppliers in euros, or if you’re a frequent visitor to the eurozone. It’s also pretty much essential if you’re an expat and live full time in a country that uses euros, or if you have financial commitments overseas, such as a holiday home somewhere in the euro area, even if you live in the UK most of the time.
Having a euro-denominated bank account has a few advantages - including:
- Protect your money from the impacts of currency fluctuations
- Avoid the high costs of international bank transfers on some payments made in euros
- Keep your money safe in a euro account which is regulated by the FCA
Many high street and traditional UK banks offer euro accounts with these benefits. However, specialist providers might give you all this and a few extras. For example, a Transferwise euro account - also known as a multi-currency borderless account offers the following benefits:
- Open your account online
- Hold money in dozens of currencies within one account
- Transfer money in euros to friends and family, within the eurozone for a small fee
- Get paid like a local in the euro area and also in the UK, the US and Australia, with your own local bank details
- No service charge, regular monthly fee, or minimum balance requirement to maintain your account
- Depending on where you are, you may be able to get a debit card, to pay directly in stores and restaurants when you travel
The borderless account from TransferWise isn’t a bank account, but it is FCA regulated, just like the banks you’re familiar with on the high street. This new account is a smart way to pay and get paid in euros - as well as other currencies - at a low cost, and with many of the benefits of a more traditional account.
If you’re interested in opening a NatWest International Cash Management account - which is the offshore account which allows you to hold your money in euros - you’ll need to know the costs involved. Unfortunately, to find out all of the terms and conditions of the account, as they would apply to you, you’ll have to call the bank and discuss your personal situation.2 Not all products are available in all jurisdictions, so NatWest asks new and potential customers to call for more details.
It’s worth knowing that the costs and fees attached to a NatWest International Cash Management account won’t be the same as those which apply to your regular sterling account. For example, to get a bank card which allows you to make payments in euros directly when you’re in a store or restaurant, you’ll pay a fee - unlike most sterling accounts.2
It’s also worth noting that international payments made from a NatWest International Cash Management account are processed via the SWIFT network.2 This can end up adding costs to international money transfers because several banks work together to process every international transaction. Each bank involved can add their own fees and charges, and that can get pricey.
|Service required||Transferwise euro account fee|
|Adding money to your TransferWise euro account||Free|
|Receiving money into your TransferWise euro account||Free|
|Setting up local bank details for the euro area, UK, US or Australia||Free|
|Converting money to other currencies||Low and transparent fees, may vary depending on the currencies involved- carried out at the real exchange rate|
|Withdrawing cash to a linked bank account||Small, fixed fee, depending on the currency you’re withdrawing|
To open a NatWest International bank account, you’ll need to either call into a branch or phone the bank’s customer centre directly. There are branches of NatWest International on the Channel Isles - Jersey, Guernsey and Sark, on the Isle of Man, and in Gibraltar.2 If you’re not in any of these areas, you’ll have to call the bank and discuss your needs over the phone.
The NatWest International Cash Management account allows you to hold your money in euros, but it’s not exactly the same as a sterling denominated current account you might be familiar with. The terms and charges, as well as the eligibility criteria are different.
So if the NatWest account doesn’t suit your needs, you could be eligible to open a euro bank account with a different UK high street bank. These, however, are still likely to come with significant restrictions and fees. A better choice might be a specialist provider like TransferWise, for an account with many of the same benefits of the high street, but without the minimum balance requirements.
Compare the costs of accounts available from NatWest, with a multi-currency borderless account from TransferWise, and see which offers the best deal for your situation.
https://www.natwestinternational.com/nw/global/criteria.ashx?channel=offshore-banking (March 15 2018)
https://www.natwestinternational.com/nw/offshore-banking/savings-and-investments/cash-management-account.ashx (March 15 2018)
https://www.natwestinternational.com/nw/personal-banking/nearest-branch.ashx (March 15 2018)
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| This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. |
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