Currency conversions for digital nomads



I am a UK national, i work as a freelance web designer and the majority of my income is in USD. I spend a lot of time abroad, specifically in south east asia. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesi and the like.

At the moment i take a double hit as my money has to convert from USD into pounds sterling when it hits my UK bank and then again when i withdraw in Thai baht (or wherever i am ), not to mention the actual withdrawal fees.

Would a monzo card save me money on all of these currency conversions compared to regular banks?
That combined with zero withdrawal fees while abroad would be an absolute god send.

Thank you

(Mike Fuller) #2

Monzo will save you money when you spend sterling in your Monzo account abroad. Please note that foreign ATM withdrawals cost Monzo money so some costs or limitations may apply to foreign Monzo ATM withdrawals in the future.

What Monzo can’t do is protect you from the costs and exchange losses in getting your US currency salary into sterling. Monzo won’t charge you for receiving that sterling into your Monzo account though.

If you receive in dollars and have costs in other currencies you might want to consider Revoult. It’s not entirely free but likely to help eliminate conversion costs. There are some limits on transaction values though.

You may also need to consider your domicile for tax purposes too (where you live for tax purposes).

(Josh Bray) #3

Yeah monzo will be able to offer no fees on currency conversion and then give you the MasterCard wholesale rate.
In terms of atm withdrawals abroad, monzo are looking at fair charges for this since it currently costs them quite a lot.

(Alex Sherwood) #4

My advice would be to use a service like TransferWise to transfer the money to your U.K. bank account which will probably save you money there.

Mike & Josh have covered the upcoming changes to ATM limit’s / fees :slight_smile:

(Jolin) #5

I don’t have experience with it, but instead of normal TransferWise transfers, you might want to also look into their borderless account. It’s new, but I think designed to solve exactly your sort of problem.

[Changed URL as first one I used required a login; this should now work for all.]


Thank you everyone for your help.


(I am the Original Poster)

Well, i got the Monzo debit card I was so happy when the post man came. Really gutted now though. Seems Monzo cannot receive international payments from which completely negates the purpose, requires Monzon to have an " IBAN" .

Massively disappointed. My own ignorance i guess, i assumed all banks can receive International payments,.


Well the good news is…you haven’t gone backwards. IBANs are on the roadmap, so if you stay where you are, all will be well…

(Allie) #9

Out of curiosity, is there any reason you don’t keep the money in a USD account? It seems to make more sense to keep it in the currency you earned it in, assuming it’s a stable currency (which the USD is).

(Simon B) #10

You could use TransferWise?


I have tried with many of the high street bank but none seem to offer USD accounts unfortunately


Unfortunately Upwork only does direct, pay pal or wire transfers to usd accounts.


For some reason my other related post was unlisted, locked and “merged” with something wholly unrelated. Goodness knows why.

(Jolin) #14

You can fund TransferWise by USD wire transfer (they provide you with US bank details to send the wire to).


thanks for this. I see you actually suggested this months ago. i have saved the link and will look into it this time. Cheers!

(Simon B) #16

Beat me to it! For anything to do with international transfers, TransferWise are really great. I’d be surprised if there were popular use cases they weren’t able to assist with.

(Allie) #17

Look into ‘ex-pat’ banking options, I know Lloyds has them.

Another option is - does the money actually go through the US (e.g. you need a US ITIN or SSN and it’s reported in the US anyway)? If so, you may as well open a US bank account (Capital One 360 is great) and credit cards (with no FTF) anyway. They tend to offer much better deals than we get here in the UK. The card will be chip and signature, which is a hassle, but you can get around that with Android Pay/Apple Pay everywhere.

I’d ONLY recommend that option if the money is reported in the US anyway, because the tax implications could be… not fun…


The TransferWise “borderless” account is designed exactly for this, check it out!


Struggling to wrap my head around what transfer wise actually is, is it just an app or do you get an actual debit card with sort code, account number like a high street bank. i have been on their site but it just seems to want me to download an app.


(Allie) #20

The ‘borderless’ account is only business banking, as far as I know. Normal Transferwise is just a service to transfer very cheaply between your own bank accounts in multiple countries. Unless I’m missing something, using Transferwise would require the money first be paid into a USD account.

And perhaps I’m missing something, I don’t know the product that well. I use it to transfer money to the US (I have US citizenship so I have to report my worldwide income anyway). Mostly, I use this for travel to the US, but also to countries like the Philippines where ATMs almost always charge for withdrawals. I have a US bank account with no foreign transaction fees and they pay any fees charged by ATM operators. So, lets say an ATM charges 200 PHP to make a withdrawal - at the end of every month, Schwab pays me back any fees like that charged. This makes it worth the Transferwise fee to put money into that account when travelling to these countries.