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How to choose the best business account for international payments

With the right account, you can handle the challenges of global payments easily and effectively.

Choosing a business account for international payments is essential if you trade globally. However, with so many options available, deciding which provider to select can be hard.   


In this guide, we’ll go through ten things to consider when comparing international payments accounts, so that you can make an informed decision. 


1. Does this platform offer non-resident business accounts? 

Many traditional banks in the UK don’t allow customers to open an account if they are not a permanent resident of the country. If this applies to you, you may find it challenging to access basic banking services in this country, especially if your business is a complex structure. 


However, for international businesses and entrepreneurs, an offshore payments solution is an essential part of attracting investors and accessing the global marketplace. Therefore, when considering the best business account for international payments, look out for a provider that: 


  • Has an office in the UK and accepts applications from non-UK residents. 

  • Doesn’t stipulate a minimum account balance or minimum salary threshold. 

  • Doesn't impose minimum or maximum turnover thresholds. 

  • Allows you to open an account with more than one signatory. 


2. How quickly can you get your business account up and running? 

Understandably, time is of the essence if you need to expand your business overseas to pay international suppliers or receive international payments. 


Unfortunately, it’s common for businesses to wait several months to open business accounts with traditional banks. While many fintech challenger banks and electronic money institutions offer faster opening times – typically a few weeks – waiting can still cause disruption to your business. 


However, a select few alternative banking providers, like Interpolitan, can open business accounts in as few as 7–10 days. 


3. How many currencies can you pay, receive and hold money in? 

If you regularly make and receive payments in different countries, you could benefit from a multi-currency account that allows you to hold money in a wide range of currencies. By keeping funds in multiple currencies, you can wait for more favourable exchange rates before converting them to your home currency. 


The best business accounts for international payments offer a broad choice of major and minor currencies, and the more currencies that are available, the easier it will be to: 


  • Grow your customer or client base into different markets, including emerging market economies in Asia, Africa and South America. 

  • Reduce your currency risk by keeping your funds spread across a wider range of currencies (this could be considered a form of portfolio diversification). 


4. Does the management team have expertise in global banking challenges? 

If you need support handling special transactions, does your financial institution have the right expertise to help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals?  


For example, if you're looking for an offshore banking solution, does the provider have a strong understanding of the financial regulations and compliance rules that exist in different jurisdictions? Will someone be there to help you navigate these complexities and stay within the law? 


5. How long has the company been established? 

The best international payments account providers have good reputations and strong brand visibility.  

An established company is likely to possess the following characteristics: 


  • An active LinkedIn account with a large number of followers. 

  • Plenty of examples of affiliations or partnerships with other financial services companies. 

  • Memberships with relevant professional bodies. 

  • Regulatory authorisation in the provider’s jurisdiction. 


6. Is the company properly regulated? 

Let's expand the previous point: is this provider you’re considering properly regulated and licensed to provide financial services in its jurisdiction? 


To obtain this information (in a UK context), you can check the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) Financial Services Register.  


See the register here 


Every FCA-regulated company will appear on this register, which includes information about which financial activities the company is permitted to carry out and whether the regulator has taken any actions against it. 

You can also find out if a firm or individual is not authorised to provide financial services in the UK by checking the FCA Warning List of unauthorised firms. 


See the list of unauthorised entities here 


(Please note: At the time of publication, the FCA Warning List of unauthorised firms had last been updated in October 2023.) 


7. How does the company safeguard your funds? 

Funds deposited with traditional banks are covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects customers’ eligible deposits to the value of £85,000 if the firm collapses. 


In the UK, alternative banking institutions, including EMIs, are not covered by the FSCS. Instead, they are required to deposit client funds in segregated “safeguarding accounts” which meet the requirements of the Electronic Money Regulations (2011) and the Payment Services Regulations (2017). 


So, if you plan to open a multi-currency account with an alternative bank, it’s important to double check the firm’s safeguarding policies to ensure they’re watertight.  


In the unlikely event that an alternative banking provider goes under, the contents of its safeguarding accounts will be used to reimburse clients.  


8. Does the company have robust security measures in place? 

You should expect an account provider to have advanced security features such as two-factor authentication and encryption in place to protect your account from cyber criminals.  


Whether you choose a traditional bank or an alternative provider like Interpolitan Money, make sure your account is protected by: 


  • Robust internal funds safeguarding policies. 

  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and 128-bit encryption for maximum security. 


9. Does this company offer a full suite of services? 

If you need a flexible business account but live outside the UK or find it challenging to access traditional banking services, an alternative bank account could be the answer. But not all firms offer the same solutions. 


Some fintechs aren’t authorised to provide a full range of services. For example, authorised payment institutions (APIs) can only hold money for the length of time needed to initiate a transfer. On the other hand, alternative banks allow you to pay, receive and hold funds in a range of currencies.  


Other useful solutions include mass payments and direct debits, which simplify accounting and make paying employees, suppliers and utility companies much easier. Opening a single account with the right alternative banking provider can save valuable time and help you meet financial objectives for your business.  


10. Can you speak to the right person at the right time? 

It’s not impossible to speak with someone on the phone at a traditional bank. On the other hand, many fintechs use chatbots to tackle customer queries, making it hard to get support from a human being.

 

The most efficient way to tackle challenges and resolve questions is by speaking with someone on the phone, via video call or in person. If you appreciate one-on-one support, do check to ensure your provider offers this before committing to an account. 


Finding the right business account for you 

When choosing a business account for international payments, think about things like residency requirements, how fast you can set up the account, currency options and the provider’s expertise. Then, select a regulated provider with a good reputation, a full range of services and a strong suite of security measures in place. With the right account, you'll handle the challenges of global payments easily and effectively. 


Contact us to learn more about Interpolitan Money accounts, which come with personalised service from a dedicated relationship manager as standard. 

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