Holding a personal foreign currency account, sometimes called a multi-currency account, can be a smart way to manage your money if you’re a frequent traveler, have income streams from overseas, or manage a business or workers in different countries.
However, multi-currency accounts typically come with quite different terms and conditions to regular bank accounts, so it’s a good idea to do some research in advance if you’re considering getting one. Here’s all you need to know about what multi-currency options are available with Citibank USA.
Citibank USA doesn’t offer a foreign account themselves, but instead refers customers to their offshore banking arm — Citi International. You can open a foreign currency account with Citi International and then transfer funds into it from your Citibank USA account. However, as you’ll see below, the Citi International multi-currency account is aimed at high-wealth individuals and comes with a steep minimum balance — or very high monthly service fees.
To make the comparison a little clearer, we’ve included the information of the Wise borderless account — available for both personal and business use. You’ll be able to use the table to compare it directly with Citi International’s Personal Bank multi-currency account to decide, only for personal users, which best suits your needs.
|Feature||Citi International Personal Bank Multi-currency Account||Wise borderless Multi-currency Account|
|Currencies offered||21 different currencies, including AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, and JPY¹||40+ currencies including AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, JPY, and INR|
|Debit card availability||Yes¹||Currently available for UK/EU residents Coming soon to US residents|
|ATM limits||£2,000 or currency equivalent per day¹||First £200 withdraw within 30 days is free, after that charge of 2%|
|Minimum balance||$200,000 or equivalent to access the features of this account¹ If your balance falls below, you’ll be charged $150 monthly service fee²||None|
|Transfer costs||Citi global transfers — No charge² + possible exchange rate spread SWIFT transfers — $60² + possible other bank fees + possible exchange rate spreadSEPA, CHAPS, and Faster Payments in the EU² — No charge||Fees from 0.35%-3%|
|Exchange rate used for currency conversions||Citi IPB Reference Exchange Rate² — likely poorer than the rate you find on Google||Mid-market rate — like the rate you find on Google + percentage fee depending on the currencies|
|Local bank account details offered||None||Currently available to receive local bank details for domestic transfers in the UK, the EU, and Australia|
If you need to make an international transfer or payment to or from your Citi International multi-currency account, you’ll also want to know what exchange rate will be used. To find out exactly what exchange rate will be applied — and how it’s calculated, you’ll need to talk to your relationship manager as Citi doesn’t make these rates public. Unfortunately, not being able to check the exchange rate beforehand may leave you vulnerable to poor rates or possible markups. But you don’t have to be left wondering.
Once you know the exchange rate being used, to find out if it’s fair you can compare it with the rate from an online currency converter or simply the rate that comes up when you Google the currency pair. If you don’t like what you find — or if the high minimum balance and SWIFT transfer fees levied by additional banks don’t suit your needs, it may be worth your time to consider the Wise borderless multi-currency account as an alternative.
|Wise borderless service||Cost|
|Open an account||$0|
|Monthly service charge||$0|
|Hold 40+ currency balances||$0|
|Get a UK account number and sort code||$0|
|Get a European IBAN||$0|
|Get an Australian account and BSB number||$0|
|Adding money from your US bank account||0.15%|
|Receiving international payments to your account||$0|
|Converting money between currencies||0.55%-2.85%|
|Send money in US dollars to an account in the US (personal)||$0|
|Send money in US dollars to an account in the US (business)||$1.30|
|Send money in US dollars to an account outside of the US||$3.30|
In addition to sometimes expensive international transfers, there are also a number of fees you’ll want to keep an eye out for, too. More on that in the next section.
Here are some of the fees you can expect to find if you open a multi-currency account with Citi International — all amounts in US dollars:
|Service||Citi International Personal Bank multi-currency account fee|
|Monthly fee, if $200K minimum balance requirement isn’t met||$150²|
|SEPA transfers (London Branch only)||$0²|
|CHAPS payments (UK)||$0²|
|Faster payments (UK)||$0²|
|Citi Global Transfers||$0² + possible exchange rate markup|
|SWIFT Transfers||$60² + possible other bank fees + possible exchange rate markups|
|Currency conversion costs||There’s no upfront fee for currency conversion, but it’s important to note that the exchange rate used is likely to be the real exchange rate + a markup and it’s a good idea to compare the rate with the one you find on Google before you commit|
|Bank draft issuance||$30²|
|Copy of statements (per item)||$20²|
|Reference requests (per request)||$20²|
|Duplicate of statements to be sent to a third party (per annum)||$300²|
Citi International Personal Bank works with individuals rather than business customers.
If you want a foreign currency account for your business, a better option could be the Wise borderless multi-currency account, which can be used for both business and individual purposes. If you have clients in other regions, the borderless account may be able to save you a lot. There, you can generate local bank details to receive domestic transfers in several regions across the world including the UK, the EU (in Germany), and Australia.
As a business customer, you can hold your cash in any of dozens of currencies, send US dollars (USD) easily around the world, and us Wise’s batch payment solution for your international payroll needs.
See if your business can benefit, today.
If you already bank with Citibank USA, you might know that some accounts charge customers to receive foreign currency. Citi International doesn’t list a specific receiving fee for foreign currency transactions, although if you receive international transfers they will likely come with deductions from intermediary banks if the sender doesn’t also hold a Citi account. That’s because the SWIFT network relies on banks across the world working together to move money to the right place. Up to 3 banks could be involved in single transfer — and each of them can charge a fee for their services. This could mean that you end up with less than you expected in your account at the end of the transfer.
Secondly, some banks will wrap their own charges up in the exchange rate they use. This can mean that the exchange rate given can be, on average, some 4-6% worse than the real, mid-market exchange rate which you’d find if you Google your currency pairing. Again, a bad exchange rate means you lose out, and you have less money left to play with after the transfer than you might expect.
You can transfer cash into your Citi International account. There’s no upfront fee if you transfer money to or from another Citigroup account — but as we noted above, this doesn’t mean that the transaction will cost you nothing. Be on the lookout for sneaky hidden fees and poor exchange rates to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
As you’ve read Citibank USA can’t offer customers a multi-currency account — but as part of a large global banking group, they do have another solution: Citi International. However, Citi International Personal Bank multi-currency accounts have been designed with high-wealth individuals in mind. They are offshore accounts which have a high minimum balance, and won’t suit everyone.
- https://www.citibank.com/ipb/europe/manage/multicurrency.htm (June 26, 2018)
- http://www.citibank.com/ipb/europe/pdfs/Fee_Schedule.pdf (June 26, 2018)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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