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What Is It And How Does It Work? –Forbes Advisor

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

A multicurrency account, or foreign currency account, can take some of the confusion, hassle and expense out of dealing with multiple currencies on a regular basis. If you find yourself frequently using foreign currencies, this type of account may be advantageous for you.

What Is a Multicurrency 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 multicurrency account allows you to make and receive payments in foreign currencies without needing to open several foreign accounts. An account holder can easily make transactions between different currencies with a single account number.

Multicurrency accounts can include dozens of currencies. At minimum, they usually include the following:

  • US dollar (USD)
  • Canadian dollars (CAD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Australian dollar (AUD)
  • Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • Pound sterling (GBP)
  • Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Japanese yen (JPY)

How Does a Multicurrency Account Work?

A multicurrency 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 when you want allows you to take advantage of exchange rates—while also avoiding the fees your regular bank account would charge for such exchanges.

Some multicurrency accounts, such as those from the fintech company Wise, even offer debit cards with their accounts.

How To Apply for a Multicurrency Account

Applying for a multicurrency account is similar to opening any other bank account. You’ll need the following items:

  • Personal information like your name, birth date, address, contact information and Social Security number
  • Cash, debit card or bank account information to make an initial deposit
  • Government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport

Depending on the financial institution, you might be able to open the account online. Otherwise, call customer service or go into 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’re banking.

Pros and Cons of a Multicurrency Account

Not everyone needs a multicurrency account. But if you regularly use multiple currencies, consider the pluses and minuses.


Convenient: All your foreign transactions come in and out of one account.
Simple: Accounting becomes easier when you’re dealing with one account instead of several international accounts.
Cost effective: You can avoid currency conversion loss from poor exchange rates because you don’t need to convert foreign currencies right away. You’ll also pay fewer fees than you would using multiple accounts.
Easy: Multicurrency accounts are easy to open and use. Doing business with international clients 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.
Quick: You can make quick international transfers.


Fees: Various fees are common in multicurrency accounts.
Limited options: Investing usually isn’t available through multicurrency accounts.
Low-interest: Multicurrency accounts may pay you interest—but at very low rates.
Requirements: Many accounts require high minimum balances, although it’s possible to find accounts without them.

Who Is Qualified for a Multicurrency Account?

You’ll need to be 18 to open a multicurrency account, and many accounts are only available to residents of certain countries. You might also need to have enough money to cover any minimum balance requirements. Some multicurrency accounts are designed for businesses or high-net-worth individuals and may have fairly steep minimum balance requirements.

Those who might benefit from a multicurrency account include:

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

If you travel internationally every so often or need to make a one-time international transfer, you probably don’t need to bother opening a multicurrency account. There are plenty of alternatives, like currency exchange services, nonbank money transfers or credit cards without foreign transaction fees that work better under these circumstances.

What Fees Are Associated With a Multicurrency Account?

If you frequently transact with foreign currencies, multicurrency accounts can be a cost-saving solution. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay 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 look 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. Make sure you ask upfront and weigh the costs of the fees you expect to pay with the benefits of the account.

Where To Get the Best Multicurrency Account

You can open a multicurrency 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 multicurrency accounts to businesses, though some also work with individuals.

The following major banks offer multicurrency accounts:

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

Of course, you can also open a multicurrency account with a fintech company. 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.

Bottom Line

Multicurrency accounts can make frequent international transactions—whether business or personal—a lot easier. With the ability to hold different currencies within one account, you can receive and make payments quickly and cheaply. However, if you only make occasional international transfers, there might be a better alternative for you.

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