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Best USD account, with Citi ditching the UK?

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  • Gagravarr

    Currently, I have a USD account with Citi in the UK (along with a normal GBP current account with them). For a not-crazy fee you can pay in USD cheques, you get a USD cheque book (though I haven’t had to use that much lately), you can deposit USD into the account in both the UK and the US, and a debit card that you can swap between your GBP and USD accounts. Free too, as long as you cycle enough cash through the GBP account each month. Was by far the best option when I opened it quite a while ago.

    I’ve just read in the FT that Citigroup are planning to withdraw from the UK retail banking market, and will be closing the accounts of anyone not able to make the leap to their Private Banking

    So, looks like I’ll be needing a new home for my USD account

    Who’s currently the best UK bank / fintech for USD accounts? Cheque deposit would be good, but probably not longer a must-have. Being able to receive deposits from the US is something I still need though.

    The Urbanite

    You can get a fully functioning USD current account through HSBC Premier.

    AJA

    I’d just open a USD account at Wise.

    From their website:
    “It’s free to set up your US dollar currency account, and there is also no monthly “subscription” fee.

    It’s free to get your American bank details, and free to receive US dollars using those bank details. It’s also free to spend the US dollars in your account using your Wise debit card anywhere in the US.

    There’s a cheap, transparent fee to convert between currencies. You’ll always see this upfront, so there’s no nasty surprises.”

    The only downside I can see is that they don’t appeat to pay interest on credit balances so that may not be a good thing if you have a lot of USD.

    AJA

    I’d just open a USD account at Wise. The only downside I can see is that they don’t appeat to pay interest on credit balances so that may not be a good thing if you have a lot of USD.

    From their website:
    “It’s free to set up your US dollar currency account, and there is also no monthly “subscription” fee.

    It’s free to get your American bank details, and free to receive US dollars using those bank details. It’s also free to spend the US dollars in your account using your Wise debit card anywhere in the US.

    There’s a cheap, transparent fee to convert between currencies. You’ll always see this upfront, so there’s no nasty surprises.”

    TooPoorToBeHere

    Wise is efficient (insofar as anything to do with the archaic US banking system can be so described). Payments in and out in USD are cheap, conversion is cheap, and the debit card is useful if you need to spend with a card. No cheques, no interest, and Wise is an EMI, not a bank, so if it fails your money is at more risk. I rely on Wise, use the linked business + personal accounts with same login, and have had no trouble beyond the usual “prove what the money is for” the first time the account did a 4-digit transfer.

    Revolut also does USD payments, cheap conversion, and a debit card. But Revolut is more of a toy than a serious business tool – it’s full of hidden charges & limits, and flash gimmicks like cr*pyocurrency accounts, support is a lottery, etc.

    memesweeper

    HSBC dollar accounts will do what you want, but changing money between dollar/euro/sterling accounts is best done via Wise, etc. Premier customers can also get a US dollar account in the US.

    Paying in cheques to a UK based dollar denominated HSBC account is something I’ve never tried. You can pay them in to a US account.

    points_worrier

    I have:
    – An HSBC USD account in the UK. This allows withdrawal and deposit of USD cash in UK branches. It costs USD to receive/send cash from outside HSBC.
    – An HSBC Expat USD account in Jersey. This has a USD debit card, with unlimited free USD withdrawals or spending. It can also send/receive money for free to other USD accounts outside HSBC, and to the HSBC UK USD account for withdrawal as cash in the UK.

    Both these accounts are free for HSBC premier customers.

    dahokolomoki

    Interactive Brokers do USD accounts, with interest paid. I’m a UK citizen and UK resident and managed to open one easily.

    dougzz99

    I bank with Citi and this is the first I’ve heard of this. Ouch if it happens. Whilst I couldn’t list a lot of things Citi do, the bank account has always worked well, and I like the single debit card that just makes the transaction against the US$, EUR or GBP account based on the currency of the transaction.

    JDB

    I bank with Citi and this is the first I’ve heard of this. Ouch if it happens. Whilst I couldn’t list a lot of things Citi do, the bank account has always worked well, and I like the single debit card that just makes the transaction against the US$, EUR or GBP account based on the currency of the transaction.

    The new CEO announced last year the plan to close all international retail banking, a loss making business, and they are now executing the plan in the UK, having just started consultations with UK staff.

    dougzz99

    For what it’s worth I just opened a Wise account. Very slick and straight forward. Ordered the debit card and setup a US$ account, transferred $50 from Citi as a test. I’ll make sure that arrives as expected and take it from there.

    Luca M

    As a small note, I had read reports years ago (when they closed all the london branches but Canary Wharf) of Citi closing all legacy standard retail accounts and only keeping Private clients, so you must have been one of the few exceptions that was able to keep the account this long.

    In any case, I have used Wise (previously TransferWise) for years, mostly for business.

    As others have said, it does not hold a banking license and thus there is no deposit protection (=money held with them are at higher risk).

    The exchange rate is good but not best in class (Fineco UK multi currency account offer better interchange rates, but it is slower in terms of transfer in/out and exchanging currencies between the internal accounts).

    Also, Wise does not offer cash options, but it does offer US bank co-ordinates (in addition to IBAN).

    So, I do not think it would be the full replacement you need for your Citi USD account but it offer a partial solution to some of your requirements.

    dougzz99

    Citi did once a good while back saying they were closing my accounts. I phoned up and they agreed not to, for seemingly me just asking. All I really want is a US$ facility to hold a few thousand dollars, less than 10K, and have a debit card that works in the US. I’ve typically just bought dollars when I thought the rate was good, or I’ve had some bonus money or similar, and just used it to buy dollars and prepay holiday cash.

    QFFlyer

    Another vote for Transferwise here. I have Citi and HSBC USD accounts, but use Transferwise to pay my USD Amex cards via Direct Debit, easiest option by far and exchange rates beat the others.

    Revolut I guess would be a runner up, but I don’t know if you get actual US account details. The exchange rates are good, but I use it to pay into my Citi account (which charges no inbound fees from overseas accounts) and have never been able to pay Amex US$ ICC with it (never tried a native US Amex, but the ICC didn’t work for me, although others have been successful, I believe).

    QFFlyer

    The new CEO announced last year the plan to close all international retail banking, a loss making business, and they are now executing the plan in the UK, having just started consultations with UK staff.

    It’s happening here in Australia too, Citi sold their businesses to NAB as of 1/6, and are now Citibank in name only (although nothing’s changed for now, and NAB are licensed to use all Citi names/branding for the time being).

    George K

    Just to say that Barclays also offers a USD savings account. No fees to send/receive money and can do it via online banking easily. Can withdraw/deposit cash in branches too.

    can

    Sorry for sounding silly but
    What are the fees for sending usd from USA to a UK usd account for wise or the others?
    Does having a usd account in the uk mean that I can avoid wise’s exchange rate?

    QFFlyer

    Sorry for sounding silly but
    What are the fees for sending usd from USA to a UK usd account for wise or the others?
    Does having a usd account in the uk mean that I can avoid wise’s exchange rate?

    The fees vary by provider. You can’t avoid Wise’s exchange rate, because you need to get the money from (presumably) GBP to USD somehow, however their fees will likely be a lot lower than your mainstream bank’s fees.

    TooPoorToBeHere

    What are the fees for sending usd from USA to a UK usd account for wise or the others?
    Does having a usd account in the uk mean that I can avoid wise’s exchange rate?

    There are two issues here:
    1 – What does a transfer cost?
    2 – What does currency exchange cost?

    You will have to DYOR as the number of permutations here is considerable.

    Right now for a $1000 transfer of USD, already held in USD, from my Wise account to another USD account elsewhere, by ACH, Wise want 79c in fees.

    Generally, in the USD world, ACH (approximately equivalent to BACS in the UK) is usually cheap (under $1 is common), whereas a “Wire” (somewhat like CHAPS/TT) can be a double-digit number of dollars. The “Wire” process is somewhat manual, at both send and receive ends; you may also be charged a fee to receive one. Wires are a pain in the arse, taking days to arrive, and subject to delay or rejection when something goes wrong with the manual processes.

    Banks and payment providers will sometime default to “Wire” payment, at substantial cost, where ACH is an option.

    The front page of wise.com has a comparison on it (live price of them vs competitors) which I assume to be honest in that it sometimes shows competitors to be better value – that is the case as I write this.

    TooPoorToBeHere

    Revolut I guess would be a runner up, but I don’t know if you get actual US account details. The exchange rates are good, but I use it to pay into my Citi account (which charges no inbound fees from overseas accounts) and have never been able to pay Amex US$ ICC with it (never tried a native US Amex, but the ICC didn’t work for me, although others have been successful, I believe).

    Revolut gives account details – an account number, ACH routing number, and Wire routing number, with your own name as Beneficiary.

    I agree with the quoted post in that payments to and from Revolt don’t seem as reliable as other banks/EMIs, and I have recently had experience of a party flatly refusing to send payment to Revolut with “sorry we don’t work with Revolut”.

    can
    gt94sss2

    Using HSBC currency account with a HSBC UK Global Money account to convert funds sounds as if it may now be a better solution then using Wise/Revolut etc to convert funds

    davefl

    For what it’s worth I just opened a Wise account. Very slick and straight forward. Ordered the debit card and setup a US$ account, transferred $50 from Citi as a test. I’ll make sure that arrives as expected and take it from there.

    I have Nasdaq traded company stock that I’m about to sell in an Etrade account that will result in a USD balance.

    Any idea if Wise will work for me in this situation or are there better options to keep that money in USD, so I can spend it as such via debit card/cash whilst in the US? I’d rather not transfer it to sterling and then back to USD when I go on hols.

    dougzz99

    For what it’s worth I just opened a Wise account. Very slick and straight forward. Ordered the debit card and setup a US$ account, transferred $50 from Citi as a test. I’ll make sure that arrives as expected and take it from there.

    I have Nasdaq traded company stock that I’m about to sell in an Etrade account that will result in a USD balance.

    Any idea if Wise will work for me in this situation or are there better options to keep that money in USD, so I can spend it as such via debit card/cash whilst in the US? I’d rather not transfer it to sterling and then back to USD when I go on hols.

    Don’t see why not. Wise provide details for both in US and outside US transfer ins. There’s a charge of $4.14 to receive into the account.

    davefl

    Thanks for the info @dougzz99

    Looking at Cater Allen as well. $11 for transfers in but otherwise no monthly fees, and full 85k FCSC compensation. Looks too good to be true, so trying to work out what the catch is or if I’ll even be accepted for a measly few grand 🙂

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