Where can you get an instant virtual bank account? Free virtual bank accounts can be much more convenient and involve a lot less bureaucracy and paperwork than accounts with traditional banks. They also tend to be cheaper (free!) and offer a lot more flexibility, especially when it comes to international payments.
Global virtual bank account providers such as Wise.com and Revolut, are serving both private as well as business customers in the US, the EU and other countries. Here’s an overview:
|Company||Geographies||client types||legal status|
|Wise.com||EU, US||personal, business|
|Revolut||EU, EEA, UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, US||personal, business|
|N26||EU||personal, business||bank license in Germany|
|Bunq||EU||personal, business||bank license in Netherlands|
|Dynapay||EU, US, Canada||business, low and medium risk||PSP|
Virtual IBAN bank accounts from Europe can be opened with virtual IBAN providers such as Revolut, Transferwise, Bunq and N26. In addition to the European IBAN bank accounts, virtual bank accounts are also possible in many other countries, including the United States, Hong Kong as well as Canada. All of these can be great solutions for specific situations.
- 1 Open a free virtual bank account in Europe or the US
- 2 Payoneer, Transferwise Borderless and other options.
- 3 Virtual bank account in USA
- 4 Virtual bank Account Europe
- 5 Virtual bank account in UK
- 6 Virtual bank account in Canada
- 7 Further Reading
What is a virtual bank account?
- A virtual bank account is a bank account that you can get without physically visiting a bank premise. You do not need to fill in any paperwork or send stuff by normal mail. Often there is a video-call to verify your identity or alternatively you have to send photos of your ID.
- Virtual bank accounts are regulated by the European Union, the Unites States or other national authorities making your funds secure. Though be aware that not all of these providers have proper bank accounts and in these cases your funds are not guaranteed in case of the institution going bankrupt. If the institute does have a full bank license you have some form of guarantee of your funds up to $250,000 in the US under FDIC or up to 100,000 euro in the EU.
- Many virtual bank providers offer free or cheap Visa or Mastercard debit cards. Credit cards are an exception. But a company like Bunq has a special travel card that says “credit card” which is actually a debit card but which makes it a whole lot easier to rent a car, since car rental companies are very reluctant to lock the deposit on a debit card.
Most of these providers offer free to open virtual bank accounts, but do charge for better features. Wise Borderless is overall the cheapest option for a virtual bank account with IBAN and comes with less additional “premium” features.
Open a free virtual bank account in Europe or the US
You can now open a free virtual bank account with many of the providers such as Transferwise Borderless, Revolut and N26. Another well known virtual bank account provider is Payoneer, but using Payoneer is not for free. Depending on your usage, we would either advise to use Transferwise or N26.
Transferwise is available from more countries and is very useful if you even want a US bank account besides a European IBAN virtual account. N26 is also nice, especially for consumers or freelancers. All these providers come with a virtual bank account with IBAN, which allows you to make and receive free payments in for example the SEPA zone in Euros, which includes nearly all European countries.
Payoneer, Transferwise Borderless and other options.
- A Payoneer virtual bank account is relatively easy to open, including for residents of countries such as Pakistan. With it you can get a European virtual account in the SEPA zone, but also a USD account in the US. Fees can be high though and the interface is not the most modern anymore.
- Transferwise Borderless feels much more leaner, but is not as widely available yet. Costs are very low and it’s great for transferring and converting freely convertible currencies, even to some countries in Africa. It is available to both individuals as well as businesses and comes with a free virtual credit card.
- N26 is a German bank that launched in the US in 2019, and they’re expected to launch in Brazil and other geographies and are already available in most countries in the EU as well as in the US, thus offering a European virtual bank account as well as an US virtual bank account. Which account you’ll get depends on where you open the account.
- Revolut is a British bank that offers virtual accounts in many countries. Apart from the EEA and Switzerland it’s also available in Australia, and is expected to launch in the US and Singapore shortly.
Virtual bank account in USA
Most Virtual bank account in USA are only available for residents of the United States but there are exceptions including US Bank Accounts for Non-Residents. Both Transferwise Borderless as well as Payoneer give you the option to open a virtual bank account in the USA as a non-resident.
But Transferwise Borderless is a lot cheaper here, offering most options for free. N26 is also available as a Virtual bank account in the USA, but only when you open it as a US resident. Transferwise offers you the option to have an American virtual account alongside a European virtual bank Account, and the same counts for Revolut.
Virtual bank Account Europe
A European virtual bank account is opened easily. Signing up with providers such as Transferwise, Revolut and N26 allows you to have a virtual bank account in no time. Depending on your usage, we would either advise to use Transferwise or N26. Bunq is a really good choice if you want to have a joint account without hassle. Note: these are all examples of a Sepa bank accounts which comes with an IBAN bank account number.
Free and instant virtual bank accounts in Europe
- Transferwise Borderless is very useful for individuals, businesses and if you need to make international payments. It offers a European virtual bank account as well as a virtual account for the US.
- N26 is also very nice to have as a virtual bank account, especially for consumers and freelancers. All of these providers come with a virtual bank account with IBAN, which allows you to make and receive free payments in for example the SEPA in Euros. It comes with a free creditcard and is available in the United States as well.
- Revolut is often compared with N26, as both offers comparative services and fees.
- Bunq from the Netherlands does not offer a free option as it starts with 9.99 euro premium accounts per month, but it is available to all residents and nationals of the European Economic Area (The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) – also when you live abroad.
- Dukascopy is a free virtual Swiss bank account that you can open from almost all places around the world, also for non Swiss residents. It allows you to have up to 23 different currencies in your account, including GBP, USD, AUD, CNH and PLN. The cards are not for free though, neither are withdrawals and transfers. It starts with 2 euro for a SEPA wire transfer.
- iCard.com and Vialet do seem to come with free cards, European IBAN accounts and more limited costs. Of these examples iCard seems to be the most promising, feature rich and easiest to use.
- Epayments.com is a free service that also comes with a virtual account from Europe with which you can receive payments from other bank accounts. But this service does not offer you your own SEPA/ or IBAN account. Other similar payment solutions that we found is Monvenience.com.
Virtual bank account in UK
If you would like a virtual bank account in the UK, the options are more or less the same. Accounts in the UK also come with an IBAN, which makes cross border payments possible which are for free in all countries in the European SEPA zone. Of all options available, it is Revolut that comes with an UK IBAN number, Account Number and Sort Code.
Transferwise Borderless also allows you to open a Virtual bank account in UK with your own Account Number and Sort Code, alongside a euro or US Dollar account. In fact, with transferwise you can hold and manage money in more than 50 currencies. This lets you avoid exchange rate costs.
Other examples for a UK virtual account include Monese. Just like the ones above, you don’t need to provide a proof of address, however the account is available only to residents from the European Economic Area, which includes most European Countries. You can open the account from Spain for example and get a UK IBAN.
Opening a virtual bank account in the UK with Starling Bank and Monzo, may give you better experiences as the offered apps are pretty lean, but the account does require you to be an official resident of the UK.
Virtual bank account in Canada
If you want to open a virtual bank account in Canada you need a Canadian photo ID. A foreign passport or study permit will not work in most cases. For more information on Canadian bank accounts check your rights on this official Canada website. You may be able to open a bank account if you’re not a Canadian citizen or if you live in another country, it says.
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The traditional banking system is about 150 years old by now. Someone is going to come along, take a chunk out of financial services, and start the ball rolling on a non-trivial amount of disruption in that space. – Why is everyone a bank?