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Which U.S. Banks Offer Foreign Currency (Multicurrency) Accounts?

Find out which U.S. banks offer foreign currency accounts -- also known as multi-currency accounts -- to personal banking customers.

A foreign currency account (also known as a multi-currency account) may often be used by businesses that need access to several currencies.

After all, the United States Dollar is far from the only currency used to make transactions worldwide.

But businesses aren’t alone in their need for multi-currency accounts. Some individuals may have personal dealings in several countries and need access to multiple currencies in their day-to-day lives.

These individuals might also find a multi-currency account useful.

The issue:

Many U.S. banks do not offer a multi-currency account for personal-banking customers.

Rather, they are typically available only to businesses and commercial clients.

If you're in the U.S. and looking for a multi-currency account, we've found some options for you to consider.

What Are Multi-Currency Accounts?

Multi-currency accounts are bank accounts that allow you to hold foreign currency balances within them. For instance, you may be able to hold US dollars, euros, and Japanese yen within your account.

These exist to make it easy for individuals to make international transactions. It can be helpful if you personally need to complete transactions in several currencies.

Benefits

The main benefits of a multi-currency account are:

  • Avoid foreign exchange conversion costs and rate fluctuations
  • Use of local currency may allow for better pricing on your purchases
  • Offers another way to invest in foreign currency

Who Might Need Multi-currency Accounts

Most people won’t need a multi-currency account. In fact, even people who travel internationally once every year or two likely wouldn’t benefit from having this type of account.

They’re likely better off using credit cards or their standard checking account’s debit card and getting the currency they need before their trips.

Instead, multi-currency accounts focus on people who regularly need access to multiple currencies.

Examples of people who may need a multi-currency account include:

  • People who work, live, or frequently travel to other countries.
  • People who don’t travel overseas but regularly make transactions in foreign currencies
  • Business owners who often conduct business in foreign countries but also need the ability to make personal transactions where they do business

The key is that these people need access to foreign currencies on a regular basis. By simply holding the currencies, they may avoid transaction fees from exchanging currencies whenever they need access.

Some people may also want to keep money in different currencies to avoid the valuation changes between foreign currencies.

If you know you have bills due in British pounds over the next several months, you may decide to set that money aside in British pounds. This way, you know you have the money to pay those bills without worrying about the British pound increasing in value.

List of Personal Multicurrency Accounts at Major Banks

  • Citi
  • HSBC
  • TIAA Bank
  • East West Bank

Citi

Citi International Personal Bank offers an offshore bank account that includes a debit card for transfers across 16 different currencies.

Do note that this is not the same as the U.S. retail banking division of Citigroup.

To qualify

You have to maintain a minimum balance of $200,000 USD (or currency equivalent).

Supported currencies

  • Australian Dollars (AUD)
  • Canadian Dollars (CAD)
  • Danish Krone (DKK)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Great British Pound (GBP)
  • Hong Kong Dollars (HKD)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  • Norwegian Krone (NOK)
  • Polish Zloty (PLN)
  • Russian Rubles (RUB)
  • South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Swedish Krona (SEK)
  • Swiss Francs (CHF)
  • United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
  • US Dollars (USD)

HSBC

HSBC offers the Expat bank account that offers current accounts for three currencies and linked savings accounts in 19 currencies.

To qualify

You must be 18 years or over and meet one of the following criteria:

  • hold a minimum of 50,000 GBP (or currency equivalent)
  • have a sole salary of 100,000 GBP (or currency equivalent)
  • already qualified for HSBC Premier in another country

In the U.S., to become an HSBC Premier client, you must have one of the following:

  • at least $75,000 in total deposits and/or investments
  • at least $5,000 in total direct deposits per month
  • an active U.S. residential mortgage loan with an original loan amount of at least $500,000

Supported currencies

  • UK Sterling (GBP)
  • US Dollar (USD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Czech Koruna (CZK)
  • Danish Krone (DKK)
  • Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
  • Hungarian Forint (HUF)
  • Israeli Shekel (ILS)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  • Norwegian Krone (NOK)
  • Philippine Peso (PHP)
  • Polish Zloty (PLN)
  • Chinese Renminbi (CNY)
  • Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR)
  • South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Swedish Krona (SEK)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Singapore Dollar (SGD)
  • Thai Bhat (THB)
  • UAE Dirham (AED)

TIAA Bank

TIAA Bank offers the WorldCurrency Access Deposit Account to world travelers and global investors who can transact in 21 currencies.

To qualify

You must have $2,500 to open the account or commit to a $100/month purchase plan.

Supported currencies

  • Australian dollar (AUD)
  • Brazilian real (BRL)
  • British pound (GBP)
  • Canadian dollar (CAD)
  • Chinese yuan (CNY)
  • Czech koruna (CZK)
  • Danish krone (DKK)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • Hungarian forint (HUF)
  • Indian rupee (INR)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)
  • Mexican peso (MXN)
  • New Zealand dollar (NZD)
  • Norwegian krone (NOK)
  • Polish zloty (PLN)
  • Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • South African rand (ZAR)
  • Swedish krona (SEK)
  • Swiss franc (CHF)

East West Bank

East West Bank provides a foreign currency demand account that holds deposits in the United States and funds are FDIC insured.

The account has no minimum balance requirement, but a monthly fee may apply.

Supported currencies

  • Australian dollar (AUD)
  • British pound (GBP)
  • Canadian dollar (CAD)
  • Chinese renminbi (CNH)
  • Denmark kroner (DKK)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • Hungarian forint (HUF)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)
  • Mexican peso (MXN)
  • Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Swedish krona (SEK)
  • Swiss franc (CHF)

How to Choose a Multi-currency Account

Picking a multi-currency account depends on your specific needs and priorities. Like any other account, you need to shop around to find the best option for you.

Currencies available

Start by looking for multi-currency accounts that deal with the specific currencies you want to hold within the account. Without access to this feature, having a multi-currency account is pointless.

Accessibility

Bank accounts need to be easy to use. With a multi-currency account, this is even more important.

Understand what methods you can use to make transactions in each currency. Do you have access to write checks, use an ATM, or use a debit card while using your foreign currencies?

If you need to make a transfer, how quickly can you send money to a client using a money transfer?

How fast can you receive payments from international banks your clients use to make payments to you?

Requirements to hold an account

Banks likely have requirements to open a multi-currency account. They may require you to keep a minimum balance in the account or have a certain relationship with the bank before you can access this account type.

Fees

Once you’ve determined you can use a multi-currency account for what you need, you need to find one that’s affordable.

Banks generally charge several potential fees when you hold a bank account with them. Multi-currency accounts may have more fees than a standard account.

Look for transaction fees, currency conversion fees, monthly fees, and any other fees the account may charge.

Ideally, you’ll find a low-fee account that also meets your other needs.

Exchange rates

You may come across times when you need to convert some of one of your currencies to another currency to make a necessary transaction.

Keep an eye on your bank's currency exchange rates when converting currency. Some banks may use this as a way to make money from their multi-currency accounts. They do this by offering rates that fall outside of current market rates for conversions.

Reporting Foreign Bank Accounts

Under the Bank Secrecy Act, you must report certain foreign financial accounts by filing a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) if both these conditions are met:

  1. You have a financial interest in, or have signature, or other authority over a financial account that is not based in the United states
  2. The combined value of those foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any point in the year of filing the form

The FBAR is due April 15 on the following calendar year -- automatically extended to October 15 if you miss the due date.

You’ll notice that bank accounts held within the United States are not subject to this requirement. This holds true even if you have foreign currency in the account. Only bank accounts held in foreign countries require meeting FBAR requirements.

Speak with Tax and Banking Professionals

Any time you deal with foreign currency, potential foreign bank accounts, and other items that are closely regulated and monitored, it makes sense to consult with professionals.

In particular, you should reach out to a banking professional to make sure the multi-currency account you’re considering works as you intend.

You should also consult a tax professional to ensure you comply with the laws about the bank accounts you open.

This can include reporting requirements you must meet, such as FBAR, and any tax-related transactions you may need to report from using the account. A foreign taxation expert could also advise you on any foreign tax requirements you may need to comply with in other countries, too.

Speaking to these experts before you open foreign currency accounts is likely the best move. This way, you can open a multi-currency account and fully understand the impact it may have on you.

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