Money Bright - Bank Account travel in Asia

If you’re travelling abroad, and especially outside of Europe to the likes of Asia, it can be confusing to know which bank accounts to make use of. With the risk of steep card charges and accounts being blocked while travelling – it’s crucial you do the right kind of research before you set off to avoid any tricky financial blocks further down the line. Because let’s face it, travelling is a once in a lifetime experience that could easily take a turn for the worst should something such as your finances fall out of order.

Asia, which includes amazingly stunning places like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia, is a true backpacker hotspot. Tens of thousands of tourists head South East every year to explore the continent’s beautiful offerings. But, with some heading out for months at a time, it’s fundamental that they have sound finances before making the trip. Good money management is crucial.

Why Do You Need To Review Your Bank Account Before Travelling?

It’s a good idea to have a dedicated bank account for when you head out travelling. It’s far more secure than carrying cash, and means you can track your finances in real time and manage your spending. But why can’t you just head out with your standard bank account and use it as normal while abroad, and especially in Asia?

Well, for one – you can incur pretty steep charges if you opt to use your debit or credit card abroad. Even more so when travelling outside of Europe. This includes both withdrawal and transaction fees, so you can rack up an extra cost when taking out currency or just paying for something on your card. If you’re heading overseas for a longer period whilst travelling, this is something you’ll want to avoid.

Do You Still Need To Tell Your Bank You’re Travelling Abroad?

Another historic rule of thumb when travelling abroad was that you’d need to inform your bank or building society on your plans to head out of the country. Apparently, you no longer have to inform your bank when you’re abroad, whether that be on a short holiday or travelling for a longer period. However, many have reported stories of having cards blocked while in another country, which has left them without access to their finances and incurring steep call fees when trying to get the issue sorted too. So in short, it’s well worth setting up a dedicated bank account for travelling, especially in Asia, before you jet off.

Things To Mind When Opening A Travel Bank Account

When choosing a dedicated travelling bank account, you should take into consideration…

  • Whether the provider requires a minimum balance
  • Any monthly or annual service fees
  • It’s exchange rates
  • Any overseas card transaction fees
  • Ease of sending and receiving money through international bank transfers
  • Monthly or annual service fees, the minimum balance required on opening, the exchange rate offered, mobile banking apps and transfer fees. You should also pick an account that makes sending and receiving international payments a breeze.

What Are The Best Banks For Travelling To Asia?

To avoid bank charges abroad, and to circumvent any frustrating card blocks before travelling to Asia, it’s a good idea to research some banks that are good for backpackers. Luckily for you, we’ve omitted the hard work, and have listed our suggestions below for the best banks for travelling to Asia in 2019.

Starling Bank

Credited as one of the biggest challenger banks, Starling is a prime choice bank account for backpackers. They don’t charge you to use your debit card, and like other providers, they maintain you don’t have to contact them before leaving the country. Unlike other banks and building societies though, if you do incur a problem during your travels – you can contact them directly through the app.


TransferWise offers a ‘borderless account’ which allows you to operate in over 40 currencies in your account in the mid-market rate. It’s free to pay for goods overseas with the currencies you hold in your account, and you can also withdraw up to £200 a month fee free. Unlike most banks that’ll charge you a going rate for transactions and withdrawals overseas (and especially in Asia) – TransferWise won’t, and is, therefore, a sound choice for backpackers and travellers.


If you’re looking for an abundance of cashpoints while travelling in Asia – then HSBC is the bank for you. In fact, HSBC was the first commercial bank in Thailand, which was established as far back as 1888. They charge a transaction fee, though, unlike Starling and TransferWise so it’s worth noting that to make use of the wealth of places to withdraw money, you’ll also incur a small fee.


Another digital bank with an appeal to those travelling to Asia is Monzo. They offer free cash withdrawals up to the value of £200 a month. After that, it’s a 3% charge. Monzo bank accounts are quick and simple to open and are easy to maintain too – as you can do all of your banking through your mobile whilst on the go.

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