23rd Apr 2020
Online bank account options for Superyacht crew
Increased popularity of online banking and a much more flexible foreign exchange market has given rise to a larger range of bank accounts available to Superyacht crew.
Until quite recently, a Standard Bank Seafarer bank account was considered the only viable option for yacht crew. It does remain the only account designed specifically for crew who need to bank in multiple currencies. Often touted as the most convenient way to bank abroad and around the globe, a Seafarer bank account has had very few competitors, until now.
Financial technology companies such as Revolut, N26 and Monese all offer ‘free’ online bank accounts that take only minutes to open as well as the convenience of easy and secure international money transfers. Along with 24/7 access to your account and low to no overheads, it’s obvious why online bank accounts are becoming more popular amongst Superyacht crew.
Weighing the pros and cons of different banking options
However, while there are some great-looking bank account options available to crew, there is no perfect solution. And before making a decision, it’s wise to weigh the pros and cons of each option.
We appreciate that when you’re working and travelling on board busy yachts, it’s often difficult to find time to deal with the hassle of researching what’s best when it comes to banks. That is why we’ve gone ahead and summarised for you what we think are the pros and cons of the options we’ve already mentioned.
Getting the right bank account for you and your needs is the first step to achieving financial success. This is why it’s so important for crew to understand the different options available. Once you’ve found, and opened, your bank account the next step is to sort out your tax obligations.
Disclaimer: the following accounts are in no particular order.
Revoult has quickly grown in popularity, both inside and outside of the Superyacht community. And it’s pretty easy to see why! The set up is fast, making it easy for crew to open an account whilst out on charter. Whilst Standard Bank does offer an online application and has been steadily improving its online offering, it has yet to match the speed of Revolut.
There are three types of account within Revolut: Standard, Premium and Metal. The paid accounts offer extras such as the opportunity to by Cryptocurrency and lounge access. The biggest differentiator between Premium and Metal is the cashback offer. If you spend a lot outside of Europe, the 1% cashback could quickly be worth the additional upgrade.
- Open an account directly from your phone.
- Transfer money abroad in 30 currencies at real-time exchange rates.
- Spend in more than 150 currencies.
- Free card (excluding delivery).
- Quick replacement of lost cards and ability to have 2 cards at once.
- Overseas medical insurance with the paid cards.
- If transferring large amounts (e.g. to purchase a property) it may be wiser to use foreign exchange services to lock in more favourable rates.
- You can purchase Cryptocurrencies but this doesn’t mean it is a wise investment.
N26 offers a ‘100% mobile experience’, so its attractiveness lies in the ability to do everything with a tap from the app. You can open an account directly from your smartphone and create sub-accounts to better organise your finances and savings. You can also set up notifications for whenever you spend or withdraw money, allowing you to keep track of your outgoings.
There are three types of bank account within N26: N26 (their version of standard), N26 You (premium) and N26 Metal (ultimate). As with all banks, N26’s accounts have different fees and features. The only real benefit to upgrading to N26 Metal would be if you’re really keen for a stainless steel card and priority customer support.
Note that, as at April 2020, N26 no longer accepts new bank account applications from British citizens. This is another reason why yacht crew prefer a Standard Bank Seafarer account as it accepts applications from all nationalities. Keep in mind, you don’t want to be caught without a bank account!
- Free MasterCard debit card.
- Free domestic currency withdrawals with standard or premium accounts.
- Send money in 19 different currencies using in-built TransferWise feature.
- Support in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
- Different accounts sound very similar but have different fees. The standard N26 bank account is free; the N26 You bank account costs €9.90 per month and the N26 Metal account is available for €16.90 per month, with a 12-month commitment period.
- N26 no longer accepts new bank account applications from British citizens.
Monese is similar to other online banks insofar as they’re fast when it comes to opening an account. Better yet, there are less restrictions to opening an account, such as not needing credit history or even a fixed address. Like their competitors, Monese offers three different accounts: Simple, Classic and Premium.
- Can open an account without credit history nor a regular fixed income.
- No need to supply proof-of-address.
- Ability to open an account completely online via a mobile app.
- No minimum balance and unlimited transactions.
- Not available to anyone living outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).
TransferWise offers both a borderless account and multi-currency MasterCard debit card, making it another attractive option for crew. Similar to other popular options, it doesn’t take long to open an account and verification happens completely online.
- Registration is free via their website or app. All you need is an email address, Google account or Facebook account.
- When transferring money, fees are outlined upfront so you know exactly what you need to pay in addition to the transfer amount.
- You can hold more than 50 currencies at once and convert between them in seconds.
- You can receive money for free with your own US, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand bank details.
- While it is free to open an account, there are fees attached to every currency conversion and to withdraw money from your account to another account in the same currency. Be sure to always read the fine print.
- If sending large amounts of money, TransferWise will ask to verify your identity. They do this by checking your photo ID and address, which usually takes about 2 working days.
Standard Bank Seafarer Account
The original bank account for Superyacht crew is the Seafarer Standard Bank Account. The Isle of Man branch which manages the account is part of Standard Bank Group Limited, incorporated in South Africa and regulated by the South African Reserve Bank as a bank controlling company. If you prefer a bank with historical standing the Seafarer Account would be a better match.
- The only account designed especially for Superyacht crew.
- Easily transfer money between various currency accounts.
- Unlike many onshore banks, if you use the card in multiple locations in one day, it will not be blocked.
- 24/7 access to your account via mobile banking.
- English-speaking support.
- You must maintain an average minimum credit balance of GBP2,500 | US$3,500 | EUR2,500 | AU$3,500 each quarter. If your average balance falls below the minimum during a quarter, a €60 maintenance fee will be charged.
- Anyone holding a balance of greater than €100,000 will begin to be charged a negative interest rate of -0.6% per annum on this balance. Dollar and Sterling accounts are not affected by the negative interest rate.
If you are considering opening a Standard Bank Account, we recommend reading our Seafarer FAQs. We have compiled these after helping hundreds of crew open accounts.
Choosing a bank account is personal and pragmatic
Choosing a bank account is a personal choice; it depends on your circumstances and what you want and need especially when it comes to things like international money transfers and foreign currency exchange.
But when it comes to the Superyacht industry, choosing a bank account also needs to be a pragmatic decision.
You need to handle multiple currencies as you frequently travel across borders and make purchases on one side of the world while working on the other; you have unique needs.
Every year, we help hundreds of crew members open a Standard Bank Seafarer account, so it’s a product with which we are familiar. Once you complete our online form, we will email you everything you need to open your account from wherever you are in the world.
STANDARD versus savings accounts
Keep in mind that most standard bank accounts, online or onshore, are not savings accounts and therefore won’t accrue interest. It’s always best to use your standard bank account as your current account and save in an account or plan that provides you with above-inflation returns.
It’s also important to note that many online banks don’t always protect your savings. You should check their protection thresholds in the event of the bank collapsing.
We’re here to help
If you have any questions about standard and savings accounts, and international banking in general, please get in touch.