A growing number of businesses and individuals are interested in the benefits of opening a multi-currency account. A very limited group of bank customers, such as large corporations or HNW individuals, get what they need through their banks but many SMEs and internationals do not. Fees are expensive and opening new foreign currency accounts is a minefield of legal and operational hurdles. That’s how a brand new industry has been born over the last decade, with fintechs offering a variety of “virtual” solutions for a foreign bank account abroad. The best multi-currency accounts in UK (which are in fact also accessible to customers from outside the UK) – as per our editorial selection – are displayed below.
These top 5 multicurrency accounts enable businesses, online sellers, and individuals to enjoy much greater flexibility in receiving payments from abroad, as well as making international payments to a bank account abroad, or simply holding foreign currency in your account until you wish to convert or withdraw it. In addition to this, multi-currency bank-like accounts also provide customers with better exchange rates (you will pay less than 1% on any currency exchange as compared to up to 5% in banks fees for international transfers or even more for PayPal international payments). Based on our comparison, we have deemed having a virtual multi-currency account being one of the cheapest ways to send and receive foreign money.
Best Multi-Currency Virtual Bank Account Comparison
View our foreign currency account comparison below – Updated for: December 2022
- Bank accounts available in UK, EU, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and USA but you can hold money in 50+ currencies
- Most recognisable name in money transfers and multi-currency account, serving millions of customers and traded on the London Stock Exchange
- Very transparent about its fees which are generally among the cheapest for both private clients
- Very easy to use online, fast (especially with transfers with other Wise accounts)
- Easy to set up to receive payments from PayPal, Amazon, eBay, ETSY etc.
- Bank accounts available in UK, France, Germany, USA and Canada, as well as Singapore, China and Japan (recent additions)
- FX Margins are anywhere up to 0.75%, depending on the amount sent, potentially cheaper than competitors like TransferWise (Wise). Payment fees range from £1.50 - £15, depending on the payment type
- Industry Leader in the eCommerce Space, owned by Ant Financial (AliPay). Easy integration with any eCommerce platform, and an Amazon recommended solution for currency exchange
- Operating since 1979 - the first commercial foreign exchange space. Specialising in businesses - both large corporations and small businesses. Each business customer with volume of £5,000 is assigned with a dedicated currency dealer, demonstrating a very high level of professionalism and excellent availability
- Virtual IBAN bank accounts available in GBP, EUR and USD - but you can use Moneycorp to hold balances in over 120 currencies
- 98% satisfaction based on online customer review -many customer and business awards
Types of Multi-Currency Accounts ↔️
Additional Multi-Currency Solutions on the Market
In addition to the above companies offering the best multi-currency solutions for businesses, the following companies also have a multi-currency solution:
- SpartanFX runs a multi-currency solution using their payment platform (provided by Currency Cloud).
- Payoneer has been a pioneer of multi-currency accounts for businesses and sole-traders. Specialising more in accounts receivable than payments.
- Revolut offers a form of a multi-currency account, combined with a debit card to spend multi-currency account balances around the world.
- Kantox offers foreign payment collection accounts.
- VFX Financial runs a multi-currency account for corporate FX cash (for business travel).
- MultiPass (previously DynaPay) provides local GBP, EUR & USD accounts for business + 30 other currency accounts held in London
- TransferMate – a company geared mainly for SMEs and corporates, is soon to launch global currency accounts.
- Interpolitan (previously The Currency Account) – a company whose main selling point is virtual bank accounts and withholding funds in 55 currencies. Operating since 2011 but not particularly well-known in this space.
Multi-Currency Accounts FAQ
Foreign Currency Accounts are Still Relatively New
Non-bank multi-currency accounts have actually been around for about a decade now. WorldFirst was the first fintech company to offer them but they were targeted specifically at ecommerce sellers. Being an authorised payment institution with the FCA, as opposed to a fully fledged bank, the regulatory landscape at the time meant accounts were collection only and any payments received had to be from pre-vetted institutions. Companies like WorldFirst could therefore complete the required due diligence for online marketplaces such as Amazon and then allow businesses to receive their international Amazon payouts. It was a great solution for online marketplace sellers but offering a full-scale business account which required KYC on every new company or individual paying into the account just wouldn’t have been workable for most importers/exporters.
Things changed when firms were able to apply for an e-money license. Reflective of improved capabilities for fraud and anti-money laundering detection, the requirement to conduct due diligence on companies or individuals paying into digital accounts was reduced. It was then that multi-currency accounts, provided by fintech companies, really kicked off. As little as 5 years ago, it was extremely difficult for SMES, sole traders and particularly individuals (unless high-net worths) to access multi-currency accounts. The application would be slow and arduous, and the bank solution would be costly.
It’s a wonderful thing for everybody (except for banks) that multi-currency accounts have evolved to where they are today. There are 12 different companies we have covered, to date, who offer such services and that means greater selection for customers, leading to lower fees. The most recent company to enter the multi-currency account domain is TransferMate and we are certain there will be many more to follow. In terms of fees, WorldFirst are offering the best exchange rate for business bank transfers bar none, from 0.15% to 0.6% per exchange (depending on annual volumes). This is about 80% cheaper than the average margin a business would pay 5 years ago andit’s still more than 80% cheaper than the cost online sellers would incur using a multi-currency account through PayPal and the non-sterling transaction fees incurred by cards.
A multi-currency account is sometimes referred to as:
- Foreign currency account
- Collection account for foreign currency
- Receiving account abroad
- Collection account abroad
- Bank account abroad to receive payments
They essentially refer to the same solution presented on our multi-currency bank account guide, supplied by some of UK’s best currency brokers, as per the below:
Digital Currency Accounts Top List of Fintech/Bank Collaboration
As detailed in McKinsey’s 2021 guide as to how banks are reinventing treasury services, the most common area of bank and fintech collaboration was for the provision of digital bank accounts.
When customers access an online currency account through a fintech company like WorldFirst or Wise, they’ll find that the underlying account is actually held with a bank. This ability to cooperate with a bank provides a stamp of trust for fintechs, who generally face less regulatory oversight and benefit from a more agile response to new market demands. For banks, it allows them to be a part of the seamless digital customer experience that fintechs seek to create.
With a multi-currency account you can
✔ Accept payments from abroad into your own local currency bank account, in your name
✔ Transfer back the funds into your domestic currency and your bank account with ease and for cheap
✔ Make payments abroad in a multitude of currencies for a great rate with no fees
✔ Avoid Amazon’s and PayPal’s currency exchange system which is extremely expensive
With a multi-currency account you cannot
❌ Use it for personal purposes (with the exception of Wise and Revolut)
❌ Receive cheques or cash payments into your named back account abroad
❌ Process local card payments
To read more about specific currencies use our navigation below:
Virtual IBAN vs Local Currency Accounts vs Digital Wallets
Multi-currency accounts are often referred to by a number of different terms. And whilst they might all sound the same, there are subtle differences between each. The most popular terms you’ll hear are; foreign currency accounts, local currency accounts, virtual iban accounts and digital wallets. Let’s explore each of them in more detail here.
Local Currency Accounts
Local currency accounts are arguably the most advantageous multi-currency account of all. This is particularly true if you’re a business or individual that operates internationally and want the ability to make and receive domestic transfers in the countries/currencies you are opening a bank account. Local currency accounts are the closest thing you can get to a fully fledged bank account through a bank, without having to go through the strenuous rigmarole that can come with opening an actual bank account in a new country (like needing a local business/local address in order to do so).
Each currency account is held locally to the country it represents, i.e. USD accounts are held in the US, HKD accounts are held in Hong Kong, AUD are held in Australia and so on. This means that if you have a requirement to send or receive money in a new country, it removes the need for transfers to have to go via SWIFT, which, in turn, significantly reduces payment fees and the length of time a payment takes to process. For example, if you were selling goods in the US, having a local account in which customers could make a local transfer, via ACH or fedwire, would be a competitive advantage vs a business holding a USD account in the UK.
OFX, WorldFirst and Wise provide local currency accounts in most major currencies. It’s one of the primary reasons why we recommend OFX and WorldFirst for business multi currency accounts and Wise for personal multi currency accounts. Personal users in the US can even connect their Wise USD account to Plaid and synchronise with a number of other financial services.
Virtual IBAN accounts
Virtual IBAN accounts are generally run out of just one location, which, more often than not, is the UK. This means that whatever currency a multi-currency account is opened, it will be physically held in the UK. A virtual IBAN (Virtual International Bank Account Number) has exactly the same format as a regular IBAN. Virtual IBAN accounts will operate in one of two ways. Firstly, some providers will give customers just one IBAN which they can quote to any customer, no matter what currency they’re sending to you. The operator will then see what currency is hitting the account and then automatically allocate the funds to the correct multi currency account. Secondly, some operators will let you set up multiple virtual IBANs to one account. Meaning you could create a different IBAN per currency, or you could even generate different virtual IBANs for different customers in order to improve reconciliation.
The most obvious downside to a virtual IBAN is that the accounts are held in just one location. Whether it’s a USD, HKD or AUD account, these ‘virtual accounts’ would most likely be held in London. Let’s say you had a B2B business with sales in Australia, your customers would still need to submit an international payment to your AUD account in London, all-be-it same currency. Same currency international transfers usually attract higher payment fees as the provider cannot make any money from the currency exchange (banks will often charge $50 for same currency transfers).
One of the major benefits to virtual IBAN accounts is the ability to open foreign currency accounts in a much wider range of currencies compared to local currency accounts. With moneycorp, you can receive money in 33 currencies into your multi currency account and hold balances in a mammoth 120+ different currencies.
A multi currency digital wallet lets you hold, convert and manage funds in a number of different currencies but will not let you receive payments from external accounts. All money into the accounts will have to be transferred through one of your own personal accounts or by your debit card. They are helpful tools for cash management but you can’t ‘do business’ with them so to speak. This is the major drawback of digital wallets and thus nullifies them from our multi-currency account selection.
You could say that Wise and moneycorp actually provide a hybrid multi currency account / digital wallet solution. In addition to the 10 local currency accounts that Wise provides, they allow users to hold and convert balances in an additional 40 currencies. In addition to the 33 currencies available through moneycorp’s virtual IBAN solution, they allow users to hold and convert balances in a further 90 or so.
Revolut and MultiPass provide local currency account details in GBP, EUR and USD, with the rest of their currency accounts held in London, UK. Interpolitan provides ‘multi-jurisdictional domiciled account details’ for some currencies.
Most Value add for Businesses
For businesses selling internationally and/or paying suppliers abroad, multi-currency accounts can make international trade easier, faster and, perhaps most importantly, significantly cheaper. The same goes for individuals who constantly need to receive foreign exchange payments and/or make them.
Our multicurrency foreign bank account comparison will help you find a suitable solution for any purpose – whether you are an online seller, small business, corporation or an individual – it will highlight the benefits and limitations of multi-currency accounts and reveal the best foreign currency account in the UK for each sector.
Are you an online seller (Etailer) looking to collect sales from one of the world’s Ecommerce giants? The multicurrency accounts featured on this page work perfectly with payments from:
Multi Currency Bank Account vs. Default Currency Conversion
The answer which is more profitable for your business is quite clear.
The ground facts
- If you are selling on Amazon and using their default setup, you will lose up to 4% of your sales in foreign exchange fees when using their Amazon Global Seller Program.
- If you are using eBay, your items will appear more expensive than their listed price for international buyers (due to Paypal’s high currency exchange fees, even if you transfer money from Paypal account to your Transferwise account).
- If you use your bank to exchange overseas funds to domestic currency, it may cost you up to 5% of the lump sum (unless you have a multi foreign currency account set up).
- If you quote a GBP bank account on international invoices, domestic UK banks can take roughly 7%-10% of the total amount when converting receipts to GBP.
Selling internationally is somewhat complex and expensive as it is, but nevertheless – a huge growth opportunity. Using the right services together, offering you multi-currency accounts and cheaper FX will beat Amazon’s currency exchange program (offered via its Global Sellers Online centre), eBay’s currency exchange fees, or other high-cost “default” solutions.
Best Multi-Currency Accounts UK & Your Savings
|Annual Turnover||Amazon Currency Exchange||Specialist Provider||Saving|
|$10,000||$400 in currency fees||$50-$100 in currency fees||$300-$350|
|$50,000||$2,000 in currency fees||$250-$500 in currency fees||$1,500-$1,750|
|$100,000||$4,000 in currency fees||$500-$1,000 in currency fees||$3,000-$3,500|
|$1,000,000||$40,000 in currency fees||$5,000 – $10,000 in currency fees||$30,000 – $35,000|
Notes: The table above uses 4% as the default figure for Amazon Currency exchange fees and 0.5% – 1% in foreign currency fees when using a specialist multi-currency account provider. This is based on the latest information we were able to gather on Amazon and a conservative estimate for specialist providers. Some providers, such as WorldFirst, offer spreads as low as 0.15% for accounts transferring higher volumes. The figures are also relevant to other online marketplaces where similar FX spreads are charged to Amazon.
The Best Euro Account? The Best USD Account Bank Account?
Global Currency Accounts Keep You Covered!
The below are the type of foreign currency accounts you can open globally using two of our most recommended multi-currency accounts:
|With World First You can…||With OFX You Can…|
|✓ Open USD accounts from UK||Open USD accounts from UK|
|✓ Open USD accounts from Australia||Open USD accounts from Australia|
|✓ Open USD accounts from Europe||Open USD accounts from Europe|
|✓ Open EUR accounts from UK||Open EUR accounts from UK|
|✓ Open EUR accounts from Asia||Open EUR accounts from USA|
|✓ Open EUR accounts from Australia||Open EUR accounts from Australia|
|✓ Open CAD accounts from USA||✓ Open CAD accounts from USA|
|✓ Open CAD accounts from UK||✓ Open CAD accounts from UK|
|✓ Open CAD accounts from Asia||✓ Open CAD accounts from Australia|
|✓ Open foreign currency accounts in China||✓ Open foreign bank account in New Zealand|
|✓ Open foreign currency accounts in Japan||✓ Open foreign bank account in Honk Kong|
Added Values When Using Our Recommended Multi-Currency Accounts?
The very best multi-currency account providers – foreign exchange giants like World First, MoneyCorp or OFX – provide whoever chooses to use them with a lot more than simply moving money from point A to point B, or enabling businesses to collect and pay savings from a multi-currency bank account. It’s not only about improving the poor currency exchange rate offered by banks and Amazon’s Global Sellers Program or improving your eBay seller account’s value proposition to overseas buyers.
WorldFirst, Moneycorp and OFX are happy to provide customers with dedicated account managers who become an integral part of the businesses they work with – they can assist on the right time to exchange certain currencies, suggest hedging solutions tailored to each business’ needs, and even help on topics relating to selling internationally online based on their experience escorting many clients in the industry.
They can even suggest alternative marketplaces to sell on and may even be able to provide introductory offers for no-fee listings, based on their long-standing relationships with the world’s largest online marketplaces.
Additionally, the power of opening a foreign bank account abroad (or a multi-currency account locally), and accepting payments in foreign currency into a bank account is simply unparalleled in the money transfer and currency exchange industry. Very few companies have the same capabilities when it comes to online sellers as WorldFirst.
Reporting a multi-currency account to HMRC?
Our recent guide about reporting a foreign bank account to HMRC has concluded that multi-currency accounts, which aren’t foreign bank accounts per se, do not require specific reporting. Just make sure that you periodically repatriate the funds from this account to your UK account.
Bottom Line – Best Multicurrency Accounts
If you are an online seller or small business, making foreign currency payments or receiving them, you should consider a specialised global currency account provider. The best multi-currency accounts featured on this page help to reduce international trade barriers, allowing for local collection accounts in a number of countries around the world and cheap currency conversion back to your domestic account. If you’re an individual that regularly travels overseas or moves money across borders on a regular basis then having a multi-currency account will provide greater flexibility to hold different currencies for as long as you like and make and receive digital transfers. Depending on your provider, you should also be able to spend money from your multi-currency account balances with a debit card abroad and withdraw money from overseas ATMs, making significant savings in the process.
If you are looking for more information about a specific multi currency account have a look at our related guides: