We have taken a look at the key FX players offering banking solutions for business who trade in foreign currency and worked through the features and pricing to present a simple comparison.
At the time of writing, there are three companies worth looking at. For most of our recommendations we balance cost vs service level, however, in the case of cross-border accounts the service level is sufficiently good amongst the major providers, so much so that in practice the main decision factor is cost.
The top bank accounts
The top three bank accounts share a couple of common features:
- Ease of integration with 3rd party software, e.g. Xero
- Use the prevailing market rate for exchange
- Can be set up usually in a 1-3 business days
- Provide local receiving accounts for all major currencies
- No monthly account fees (subject to being an active account)
As such the main distinguishing factors are cost and certain specific features. We have pulled this together in a comparison table below for ease of reference. The details below are correct as at the time of this article’s published date.
Comparison table of the top cross-border bank accounts
|Fee||0.35% – 3% (top currency pairs 0.35%-0.60%)||0.5% + £1.50||0.5% if annual FX volume less than £500k, 0.25% if £500k-£5m, 0.15% if £5m+|
|Minimum transfer amount||$1/£1/€1||$50/£50/€50||No minimum for Amazon/Shopify/Online Sellers|
|Additional features||Xero compatible
Mastercard debit card
Working capital loans
FX risk management tools, including currency forwards
Account manager (useful time saver for payment investigations and assistance)
|Free account to account transfers||No||Yes – transfer to another Payoneer account for free||No|
|Who is this account for?||You convert less than £500k per year and mainly deal in the major currencies||You convert less than £500k per year and a significant number of your payees also have Payoneer||You convert more than £500k per year or you deal in rare currency pairs.|
|Visit website||Visit website||Visit website|
Wise– Wise is one of the most popular solutions; a key USP is that you receive a business MasterCard debit with your account as well as a number of nice-to-have features, including a nifty bulk payment feature that means you can pay all of your suppliers in one go, no matter the destination or source currency.
Who is Wise good for?
If you are exchanging less than around £1m equivalent per year and trading in the major currencies, then this is the account for you. It also has the lowest minimum transfer amounts so it is useful if you need the flexibility to make small payments.
Payoneer is the platform with the greatest focus on serving online sellers. Notable features are free payments and connectivity when paying tax authorities for EU VAT, as well as specific merchant features like the Amazon Store Manager. Additionally, you do not pay a fee to transfer amounts to other Payoneer users which can be a significant saving for those whose suppliers are part of the Payoneer network
Who is Payoneer good for?
If you are exchanging less than around £1m equivalent per year and you might benefit from some of the online seller specific features, then this is the account for you. In particular, if you have a significant number of payees/suppliers who use Payoneer, the savings here often make this the most the most cost-effective solution.
WorldFirst have recently updated their pricing model to a tiered commission over the market rate (see table above). Note, we were under the impression this was a tiered structure where the first £500k is at 0.5% however this is not the case! The rate is simply based on your reported annual revenue, i.e if your run rate is equivalent to £500k+ annually then the rate is 0.25% from the start.
Who WorldFirst good for?
WorldFirst are targeting larger sellers, and they are the most cost provider effective for sellers who exchange more than £500k per year. It also the only provider to provide currency hedging tools which tends to be more important for larger sellers.
Cross-border bank accounts have come a long way in the last couple of years and the major providers now all offer simple to use, feature-rich accounts. The decision comes down mainly to how much currency your business converts in a given year. Use the table above as a guide to which account is likely to be the best fit for your business.