What is it and how does it work? – Forbes Advisor


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If you do business in other countries, you could spend a lot of time and money exchanging currencies. And if you transact with multiple currencies, you might be dealing with multiple bank accounts all over the world. This can make it difficult to both track your money and capitalize on favorable exchange rates.

A multi-currency account, or foreign currency account, can eliminate some of the confusion, hassle, and expense of dealing with multiple currencies on a regular basis. If you frequently use foreign currencies, this type of account may be beneficial for you.

What is a multi-currency account?

A multicurrency account is a type of demand deposit account that allows you to send, hold, and receive various currencies in one place. In other words, a multi-currency account allows you to make and receive payments in foreign currencies without the need to open multiple foreign accounts. An account holder can easily transact between different currencies with a single account number.

Multi-currency accounts can include dozens of currencies. At a minimum, they typically include the following:

  • US dollar (USD)
  • Canadian dollar (CAD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • British pound (GBP)
  • Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)

How does a multi-currency account work?

A multi-currency account makes international transactions relatively quick and inexpensive. It works like a regular bank account. You can deposit money, make withdrawals, send and receive payments, and depending on the account, potentially earn interest.

When you receive payments in foreign currencies, you can keep the money in that foreign currency or convert it to US dollars. The ability to hold various currencies and convert them whenever you want allows you to take advantage of exchange rates, while avoiding the fees that your regular bank account would charge for such exchanges.

Some multi-currency accounts, like those from fintech Wise, even offer debit cards with their accounts.

How to request a multi-currency account

Applying for a multi-currency account is similar to opening any other bank account. You will need the following items:

  • Personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, contact details and social security number
  • Cash, debit card or bank account information to make an initial deposit
  • Government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport

Depending on the financial institution, you may be able to open the account online. Otherwise, call customer service or go to a bank branch to open your account.

An initial deposit may or may not be required to open your account. It depends on where you do your banking.

Advantages and disadvantages of a multi-currency account

Not everyone needs a multi-currency account. But if you regularly use multiple currencies, consider the pros and cons.


Practice: All your foreign transactions flow in and out of a single account.
Simple: Accounting becomes easier when dealing with one account instead of multiple international accounts.
Profitable: You can avoid currency conversion losses due to bad exchange rates because you don’t need to convert foreign currencies right away. You will also pay less fees than if you used multiple accounts.
Easy: Multi-currency accounts are easy to open and use. Doing business with international customers is also easier for both parties.
Protected: Depending on where you open the account, you may be able to protect your money with FDIC insurance or other coverage.
Fast: You can make fast international transfers.

The inconvenients

Costs: Various fees are common in multi-currency accounts.
Limited options: Investing is generally not available through multi-currency accounts.
Little interest: Multi-currency accounts can earn you interest, but at very low rates.
Terms: Many accounts require high minimum balances, although it is possible to find accounts without them.

Who qualifies for a multi-currency account?

You will need to be 18 to open a multi-currency account, and many accounts are only available to residents of certain countries. You may also need to have enough money to cover minimum balance requirements. Some multi-currency accounts are designed for businesses or high net worth individuals and may have quite high minimum balance requirements.

Those who could benefit from a multi-currency account include:

  • Companies that employ or contract people in other countries
  • Companies that sell their products or services in different currencies
  • Anyone who frequently transacts with people in other countries
  • Expats who have expenses in more than one country or currency

If you travel abroad from time to time or need to make a one-time international transfer, you probably don’t need to worry about opening a multi-currency account. There are many alternatives, such as currency exchanges, non-bank money transfers or credit cards with no foreign transaction fees that work better in these circumstances.

What are the fees associated with a multi-currency account?

If you frequently transact in foreign currencies, multi-currency accounts can be a cost-effective solution. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay any fees on your account. Read the fine print before opening an account so you know exactly what fees you’ll have to pay. Here are some common fees to watch out for:

  • Account opening fees
  • Transaction fees
  • Monthly service fees
  • Overdraft fees
  • Conversion fees

There might be room for negotiation with some of these fees. Be sure to ask ahead and weigh the costs of any fees you expect to pay with account benefits.

Where to get the best multicurrency account

You can open a multi-currency account with certain banks, fintech companies or private banking services. The best multicurrency account for you will depend on the currencies you use and the services you need.

Many banks only offer multi-currency accounts to businesses, although some also work with individuals.

The following major banks offer multi-currency accounts:

  • Citi®
  • TIAA Bank
  • HSBC
  • Eastern West Bank
  • Wells Fargo (business accounts only)
  • PNC (professional accounts only)

Of course, you can also open a multi-currency account with a fintech. Wise, Payoneer and Revolut are popular platforms.

When deciding where to open an account, consider each institution’s fees, services, and customer support. And don’t forget to make sure you open an account that supports the currencies you use.


Multi-currency accounts can greatly facilitate frequent international transactions, whether business or personal. With the ability to hold different currencies in one account, you can receive and make payments quickly and affordably. However, if you only make occasional international transfers, there may be a better alternative for you.

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