Being a digital nomad means you need financial products and services that will work wherever you are in the world.
You’ll want to look for financial products, banks, and credit cards that:
- Do not charge currency conversion fees
- Do not charge/reimburse international ATM fees
- Have 24/7 customer service
- Have travel benefits
- Work in other countries
- Aren’t expiring soon
I did a lot of research before choosing my products and services. Often, you want to get these things set up before you start nomading – and when you have a US mailing address for them to ship you a card. I found NerdWallet to be a helpful site for making some comparisons, though keep in mind it’s not aimed at nomads.
Below are my picks and tips!
Depending on where you are, you’re going to need cash – and that means ATM fees and currency conversion fees, if you don’t have the right accounts.
I cannot recommend Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking enough; this is what I use for my checking accounts. The only drawback is you can’t deposit cash, but in three years, I haven’t needed this. You can deposit checks and withdraw cash anywhere for no ATM fee – I use cash abroad a lot, and simply withdraw cash wherever I go to avoid paying currency conversion fees.
For savings, I recommend stashing your emergency funds in a high-yield savings account so that they’re at least collecting some interest!
If you’re going to be nomading and spending tons of $ abroad, you should not miss the opportunity to rack up credit card points. I’ve booked so many flights on points! Plus, you want a card that is built for travel – no currency conversion fees and good customer service are important.
For credit cards, I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (the Preferred is great too)!
If you use PayPal or Venmo, need to get paid in a foreign currency, or need to send money in a foreign currency or to a foreign bank account, you need to get Wise. Many American cash-transfer apps, like PayPal and Venmo, either don’t work abroad, charge RIDICULOUS fees, or your foreign friends won’t have or have access to them. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to send money abroad, Wise is it. I’ve used this to get paid by clients in Euros, pay my web developer in South African Rand, and pay rent in Vietnamese Dong. So, so much cheaper than sending an international wire transfer, or anything else I’ve found.
Taxes are definitely one area where you do not want to take any chances. In my experience, it is hard to find a US tax preparer who understands the ins and outs of being a digital nomad. Plus, I need someone who can advise me as a business owner. If you’re American and want to keep your US citizenship, you always have to file taxes. Pro tip though, if you’re outside of the US for 330 consecutive days, you’re eligible for the foreign earned income exclusion.
I’ve used Nomad Tax since 2021, and love them so far. I also love that you pay a set (reasonable) fee for estimated tax payments (BTW, if you’re an entrepreneur, expect to start paying estimated taxes four times a year…woohoo) and annual taxes. They were founded by a nomad and really get it!
Health & Travel Insurance
There are a lot of types of insurance – health insurance, travel insurance, insurance for your business. Check what’s already included in your credit card. It also depends a lot on where you’re from for health insurance.
When I’m outside of the US, I use Safety Wing – it’s been good for me so far (especially for the price!), but it’s mostly just coverage in case something happens – nothing preventative. It also has some minimal travel insurance. I don’t have specific insurance for my stuff – it’s a big risk (thieves, please ignore this section). If you have home / property insurance, that can often give you some coverage as well, or you can ask to extend it. Ultimately, if all my stuff is stolen, I might have to pay out of pocket to replace it all – but that’s not a sure thing. Sinking $ into an insurance company every year, which may or may not pay my claims after a lotttt of paperwork is a sure thing. I may yet get travel insurance, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!
Traveling with people for a few days or a while, and don’t want to have to constantly give each other cash or make the restaurant split the bill 8 ways?
If you’re becoming your own boss and starting a business, you’ll need to really take charge of and understand your finances. If you’re new at this, like I was, I recommend starting with some books like:
I Will Teach You to Be Rich
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke
SARA HOROWITZ & TONI SCIARRA POYNTER
The Freelancer’s Bible
What do you think about all these options – have you tried any of them? What do you use?
Hit me up on Instagram @t.prad and let me know if this was helpful, or what questions you still have!
Disclaimer: You'll find some affiliate links throughout the site - along with real talk about what I do/don't like about the product/service. I don't recommend things I don't like. If you decided to act on my (free!) advice (you're welcome 💁🏽♀️), this means I'll get back some coffee money on my efforts - so it's a great way to show your support for this multicultural creator 🙂