I finally found the best bank account to accept international payments as a freelancer, no matter what country you’re from. In my case I am Canadian but this financial service works for freelancers in most countries, even Asia.
The recommendation below is cemented by our recent experience with PayPal, click here or scroll down to read about how PayPal put us in a pickle.
Best Bank for Digital Nomads
When I first started freelancing during my nomad travels, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to get paid as a Canadian.
There were a number of obstacles I had to jump through:
- Direct bank deposit is not available for most international services to Canadian banks, and I am obligated to receive checks in the mail instead –hard to do when you only go home every year or so (ie. Most freelance websites, international clients, or accepting payments from Amazon Associates)
- If PayPal can be used to accept payments, I was unable to get a plastic card I could use in international ATM machines like American citizens can because I am Canadian, so I’m obligated to transfer funds to my bank in Canada
- When using PayPal I had to wait 3 – 9 days for funds to appear in my Canadian bank account
- Fees were insane: When withdrawing money from international bank machines I had to pay an “international card fee” to the bank supplying the ATM, another $10 to my own Canadian bank, and PayPal was also skimming their own fees
- My Canadian bank wouldn’t mail a new card outside Canada when I lost it in Thailand –big hassle
- And don’t get me started on PayPal’s trigger-happy account freezing “for security reasons” –I was locked out of my account for days at a time which caused another set of problems entirely
Between the fees and the man-in-the-middle reliance on PayPal, I’d spent years looking for the best bank account to accept payments as a freelancer.
That’s when I discovered Payoneer as a PayPal alternative.
Payoneer has generally lower fees than PayPal, it provides you with the option of getting your own shiny new prepaid Mastercard, and it will ship it just about anywhere in the world you might be to an alternative shipping address. Which is great for working nomads.
But that isn’t the best part.
Payoneer also provides you with virtual bank accounts in other countries so you can accept currencies from other countries, just as you would if you had a local bank account in said country. I may have the terminology “virtual bank account” wrong, but it works like one. The service is called Payoneer Global Payment Service.
Payoneer’s Global Payment Service provides users with a “receiving account” for different countries / currencies and is handled by a bank in the country you’re receiving funds within.
Filipinos Knew Something I Didn’t
Some would say it seems that the majority of the people working remotely on Upwork have a Philippines passport –and Filipinos know something many of us don’t.
Payoneer is trusted by all the freelancers in my social circles here in the Philippines. It was recommended to me by a virtual assistant, as they use it as an Upwork payment method (local funds transfer Philippines).
How Payoneer Works
If you have a bank account in XYZ country and need to accept bank deposits in ABC country, Payoneer will provide you with a bank account number / financial institution in ABC country.
Payments deposited into your virtual bank account for ABC country can then be transferred with your Payoneer account into either your own home bank account, or deposited directly onto your prepaid Mastercard for use anywhere in the world you might be.
The Mastercard logo is accepted in more places than some traditional debit cards, and the turnaround time of these transactions is light-years faster than PayPal ever was.
Currently, Payoneer’s Global Payment Service works for USD, EUR, GBP, CNH, and JPY currencies in their respective countries. And as I understand it they are working on expanding that list.
Everyone knows that bank-to-bank transfers are the fastest, as they eliminate the middle man (ie. PayPal). This solution is suitable for getting paid from freelancing websites or customers who pay their invoices with bank deposits for nomad jobs.
Payoneer is also suitable for websites like Amazon, whether it is for Amazon Associates or drop shipping with Amazon FBA. And those are only a small handful of examples for working nomads.
Other features of Payoneer include customer invoicing (you can still accept credit cards), making payments, and all of the other functions or tasks you would expect from PayPal.
And because Payoneer is growing in popularity, more and more websites that normally accept PayPal right out of the box are now accepting Payoneer, too.
How to Receive Money Through Payoneer via Bank Transfer
In order for a working nomad to accept a currency from one country (that normally restricts direct deposit to local banks only), and place it in a bank account in another country –without waiting for checks to come in the mail, or other hassles during nomad travels —this is how you do it.
In this example I will show you how to receive money from Amazon.com (USA) disbursements to an account based in another country.
Step 1: Create a Payoneer account –with this link you get $25 free in your account after you receive $100 from outside sources (they just want to make sure you don’t take the money and run).
Step 2: Once your account is created and verified, login and click on the “Receive” menu, and click “Global Payment Service” from the drop down menu.
Step 3: Click “USD” on the left, and then record the US bank account information; bank name, routing ABA, account number, account type, beneficiary name. Even if you’re from another country, choose “United States” when you select the country your bank account information is from –because you now have a bank account in the United States!
Step 4: Provide the US bank information you recorded from Payoneer to your client, freelance website, or wherever you might want to receive money from as a deposit method. In this example, I am updating my Amazon Associates payment method.
Step 5: You can now either withdrawal funds received to your home bank account, or you can leave them on Payoneer and access them directly through your Payoneer prepaid Mastercard.
Your Payoneer prepaid Mastercard works just like a regular credit card; you can use it to shop online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
Payoneer Review Summary
After years of searching for a solution that’s this easy to use, you can see why I’m super-pumped about it. It’s a finserv hack that’s long overdue for working nomads.
To get $25 free from Payoneer just for signing up, use this referral link. Below you can watch a video that explains the above, directly from Payoneer.
Have a preferred online banking service for freelancers? Let everyone know in the comments.
October 5, 2017: It was only a matter of time. The fees, slow transaction speeds, and PayPal’s “sensitivities” for a lack of better word have been more than a nuisance for years. But this takes the cake.
First, my Canadian bank account got disconnected from my PayPal account. When we went to reconnect it, the form kept giving us an error. So we call in; the representative we spoke to told us to delete our account and start a new one. Sorry, can’t do that. I need my financial information for income tax purposes.
Called back. Emailed. No resolution. Not one representative gave advice that echoed the one before them. Then our account got flagged for security reasons. We couldn’t log in. So I try to upload my passport. “We’re sorry, but we’re having trouble uploading your file. Please try again”. And again, and again, and again.
One by one, all my linked services are being canceled because they can’t get paid. This morning, after 3+ weeks, I got another email saying they were still reviewing my account.
I called them again, spoke to someone from the Ireland call center, and was back up in running in 5 minutes. The disconnect between departments and geographic location is palpable. PayPalpable –pun!
Upon logging in –I still couldn’t add my Canadian bank account again, rendering the service useless for a number of my monthly subscriptions.
This whole process took about 3 weeks or so.
So, to recap our recent PayPal issue;
- Couldn’t reconnect bank account to PayPal
- Couldn’t upload passport photo to PayPal
- Could’t log into PayPal account
- Couldn’t bill clients with PayPal, can’t earn anything
- Couldn’t pay for services I use with PayPal
- Customer service took us in circles for 3+ weeks until we spoke to someone in Ireland who fixed the problem in a matter of minutes
- Still can’t link my Canadian bank account
Can you imagine? No access to funds or ability to invoice clients for almost a whole month. And the possibility of losing my account for good and being unable to provide financial information to do my taxes in the future would have been a nightmare.
The moral of the story: Hedge your bets, find a PayPal alternative. If it wasn’t for Payoneer, we’d have been entirely out in the cold.
With the exception of their team in Ireland, PayPal customer service is virtually incapable of proper support.
Transferwise just doesn’t cut it (yet) because they have higher fees on larger amounts (fees aren’t capped), they don’t have all the services we require, and their market saturation just isn’t there yet.
PayPal in the News:
- ‘It is killing my small business’: PayPal under fire for freezing money
- ‘PayPal locked up my money for 207 days’: What happens when an online company decides you’ve broken its rules
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