It’s hard to say how much money actually exists in physical form and how much is only out there in the digital world, but estimates put non-tangible currency above 95%. Only an astoundingly tiny percentage of all the money in the world is physical, which means the rest is just bits of data. Why then do we pay such high fees for every transaction, especially international ones?
If you ever tried sending money abroad, without a multi currency account, to a friend, relative, or someone you were simply doing business with, then you know how frustratingly expensive and slow it can be. How has this not been resolved in all those decades that online payments have been available?
Luckily this is starting to change. Amending wrongs is one nice benefit, but the implications of this simplified process are positive and many. Greater savings, ease of use, and the readiness to deal with situations that we were reluctant to approach because of bad experiences or dead ends.
Have you ever tried to pay rent with a bank transfer only to find out it has been received weeks later with multiple unexpected fees deducted? Have you ever eagerly waited for a payment only to discover an astounding 8% have been removed? Have you tried a promising, game changing, money transfer service only to find out that the savings are marginal? These foils are not only infuriating, they are unnecessary.
Therefore, opening a multi-currency account is one of the most important decisions you can make if you plan to live, work, study, or travel abroad.
Choosing and Opening A Multi Currency Account
The UK has multiple banks offering multi currency accounts. Always be sure that the banks in question are accredited with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is the absolute minimal requirement that they must satisfy in order to be considered an option. You also want to be sure that your bank offers SEPA Direct Debit access, which will allow you to make payments in Europe like a local.
Your bank of interest should also offer low fees and rates, both on transfers (FinecoBank for example only charges 0.20% per transfer, as opposed to the much much higher rates offered by traditional banks and intermediary services), and currency conversion at the fair market exchange rate. Transfers should be instant, as they would be among European banks, without added wait times (or those you will experience with a middle-man service). Your bank card should be usable as it would be back home, at any cashpoint without added fees, as well as with any vendor and merchant.
You also don’t want to compromise in terms of customer service. 24/7 service with minimal wait times is crucial for your banking abroad experience. If and when trouble should arise, or if you simply need quick information for making prudent decisions or avoid confusing situations, then reliable quick responses are a godsend.
Speaking of customer satisfaction, you want to check how the banks you’d be considering rank among customer review scoring sites. While it is true that customers are more likely to provide feedback upon experiencing frustrations, the average rating speaks volumes. Do not compromise, and do not provide excuses on behalf of the bank. Narrow down your choice to the highest rated service you can verify.
Other than that, be sure to get acquainted with the service experience itself, as well as the usability of the bank’s website and app. Some banks provide live demos, in which you will be guided by a live representative that will show you exactly what to expect when you start using their service, as well as answer any questions you might have and address any and all concerns.
As will all productive choices in life, once you get settled into your multi-currency account, you’ll regret not doing it sooner. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll start saving, and the fewer life-shortening frustrations you’ll experience.
The fees and hurdles we’ve come to take for granted when banking internationally are beginning (hopefully) to fade away, and being ahead of the curve never hurts. Especially when making financial planning decisions in a competitive world.