Banking Offshore: How to Start When You’re Not Shakira (a.k.a. Low on Cash)

In today’s article, we’re going to explore how to open an offshore bank account if you’re not rich.

And here’s why… offshore banking is not just for the rich anymore. Regular people, including small business owners, entrepreneurs, and retirees can access the benefits of the offshore banking world with a bit of guidance.

You just have to know where to look, who to contact, and how to get your foot in the door without being duped by intermediaries or choosing the wrong bank. 

Offshore banking isn’t only for the rich and famous. And while the rich and famous continue to use offshore entities and banking to enhance their lives, it’s now accessible to anyone with the right information.

If you’d like to get a head start on offshore account opening as a non-resident then download our FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide right now!


Now, before we get started, “rich” is a very subjective term and at GlobalBanks we like details and accuracy. So to help frame the discussion, let’s get a little more specific than Shakira or her Hollywood companions.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll consider “rich” as people that are making more than $480k per year (which is the threshold for being included in the top 1% in the United States).

In other words, if you make less than $480k per year and you’re wondering if offshore banking is right for you, read on.

Of course, like most things, the answer to whether offshore banking is for you depends on a number of factors. But in general, we think everyone should have at least one offshore bank account. 

Banking offshore allows you to diversify, protect your assets, minimize risk (instead of having all your money in a single currency or economy), and grow your wealth faster. In almost all cases it makes sense, no matter what. 

To clarify, “offshore banking” just means having a bank account anywhere outside of your home country. For example, if you live in Canada and have a bank account in the United States, you’re “banking offshore.” Likewise, if you’re a Swiss citizen and have a bank account next door in Germany, you’re also banking offshore.

Why Should People With Limited Money be Banking Offshore?


Not surprisingly, the benefits to offshore banking are no different for rich people than they are for people with less money. 

The only real difference is that rich people will typically have a larger nominal benefit from banking offshore, simply because they’re starting with more money.

But overall, the practical benefits of offshore banking are constant whether you have an account with $5k, $50k, or $500k – so long as you have the right bank for your needs.

So, what are the benefits of offshore banking?

Banking Offshore Can Give You Access to Safe Banks

When it comes to finding safe, well-managed banks that fit your needs, chances are that the safest banking options are not located in your home country. 

In fact, if you know where and how to look, you can even find banks with low levels of debt, solid financials, and that have business models that don’t risk your money. Simply put, many offshore banks do not lend recklessly like those in the European Union or the United States.

Banking Offshore Can Give You Real Asset Protection

One of the most famous benefits of banking abroad and having an offshore bank account is asset protection. The litigious nature of our society means that you have to protect yourself and your money, no matter how much (or how little) you have.

But asset protection isn’t a given when you open an offshore bank account. In fact, it’s something that will be determined by the jurisdiction that you end up banking in.

For instance, in places like the United States, government agencies can freeze your accounts even before you’ve been convicted of a crime – cutting off access to your money at a time when you probably need it most. Not exactly innocent until proven guilty.

Traveling Abroad

One of the overlooked benefits of offshore banking is being able to access your money when you’re traveling internationally. 

Having your money in a bank outside of your home country can make a major difference when you are abroad. Being able to access your money from overseas can result in much lower transaction fees, lower fees when withdrawing your money, and even lower foreign exchange fees. 

Additionally, being able to walk into a bank and access your money in person when you are in another country can be extremely convenient.

Planning for the Future 

Opening bank accounts overseas is becoming more and more challenging, especially for non-residents who do not live in a country where they would like to bank.

But, if you know how to find banks that meet your needs, which strategy to use to open accounts, and how to keep your account open, it’s still possible to open great accounts… but that might change.

Banking regulations are increasing and account opening is only going to become more difficult in the future. For this reason, many people are choosing to set up accounts now and establish banking relationships before it’s too late.

One example of this is Hong Kong. Anyone who has applied for a personal or corporate account in Hong Kong in recent years can tell you about the difficulties. This is due to new regulatory changes and the fact that Hong Kong banks have a lot of wealthy Chinese depositors.

But, if you applied to open a bank account in Hong Kong before 2016, you would have had a much easier time opening an account. And as a result, many people that opened at that time still have their accounts today. 

Today, account opening in Hong Kong is much more difficult. For most, Hong Kong is now out of reach and inaccessible… unless you jump through the right hoops, go to the right branches, and have enough money to deposit.

By setting up accounts now, you will often be “grandfathered” into the bank due to your existing relationship and because the bank already knows you, your transaction behavior, and your business. Thus, the risk associated with your account is much lower than a new, non-resident application who is applying for the first time.

For people who do not yet have significant assets, getting grandfathered in, establishing valuable banking relationships that will be useful later in life, and accessing high-quality banks that won’t be available to you in the future are important benefits. 

How Can You Start Banking Offshore… if You Don’t Have a Lot of Money?


In order to open an offshore bank account you first need to know which banks to open with and which to avoid. 

The difference between the right bank and the wrong bank can be significant. If you don’t want to get stuck with a bank that charges absurd fees you need to follow the right steps. 

When looking for a bank, most people get stuck in the research phase and end up getting rejected. This is usually because they went to the wrong branch or dealt with the wrong banker. It’s also possible that they weren’t aware of the bank’s sensitivities and dislikes in the application phase. 

Likewise, a common mistake occurs when applicants accidentally red-flag themselves on paper, on the phone, or during the in-person meeting. 

Unfortunately, a lot of people still pay between $500 and $3,000 for a single bank introduction to service providers who claim they can open bank accounts or help you get “pre-qualified”. 

Most people that go the “introducer” route typically end up at bad banks. Such banks typically come with extremely high fees. And they’re usually located in risky jurisdictions. What’s worse is that they never actually required an introducer to open the account in the first place. So, be careful.

On the other hand, you can avoid all the problems and expensive mistakes that others make. You just need actionable information and support going into the application process.

With GlobalBanks Insider, you’ll get access to everything you need to bank offshore – identify the best banks, the personal contacts to open accounts, and the latest strategies, tips, and hacks that’ll ensure you will have the cost-effective and affordable offshore banking experience possible.

In the meantime, here are 10 questions you need to ask yourself. These questions will help you determine if the bank is affordable. And that’s an important question if you have limited money. 

  1. Is there an account opening fee? 
  2. What is the minimum initial deposit?
  3. What is the minimum monthly balance to avoid monthly maintenance fees?
  4. Are there any monthly, quarterly, annual fees charged for maintenance?
  5. What other fees does the bank charge?
  6. Are there any fees for “inactivity” or dormancy? If so, how does the bank define “inactivity”? 
  7. Is there a fee to close the account?
  8. What are the fees for credit and debit cards?
  9. Is online banking free? 
  10. Do you have to receive text/SMS messages to a local number? This can be important for online banking and outgoing transfers. 

If you would like to look at the additional considerations that you should look at in general, have a look at our article Open an International Bank Account the Smart & Easy Way With GlobalBanks where we outline additional considerations for choosing banks.

How to Start Banking Offshore When You’re Short on Cash?


If you don’t have a lot of money finding an offshore bank that you can afford can be difficult. 

Some of them are incredibly expensive.

So, you need to shop around and do your own research. You can do this by talking to bankers before opening. And you should compare fees before traveling there to open an account.

If you don’t want to travel and want to open an account remotely, you can learn about how to do this in GlobalBanks Insider and look at the banks that allow remote opening in the GlobalBanks Database.

That said, finding an affordable offshore bank doesn’t have to be complicated. This is true even if you don’t have a lot of money. With a little legwork and the right information, you’ll find that there are several options out there.

Insiders: Learn more about the best affordable banking options in the Intelligence Reports section and GlobalBanks Database.

Here are some tips to help you find an affordable offshore bank. This will work even if you don’t have a lot of  money:

Low Minimums & Fees When Banking Offshore

If you’re looking for a bank that caters to customers who don’t have loads of cash, then you’ll want to look for a bank that doesn’t charge high fees or require large initial deposits. The reason for this is pretty simple. You have limited funds, so you want to keep as much of your money in your pocket as possible. 

To find a bank that meets your requirements, you need to understand the bank’s fee structures. Ask your banker the right questions to determine if there are any additional hidden fees.

If you don’t scrutinize fee structure upfront, you might find yourself subject to expensive charges later. And that can result in you having a very expensive bank account.

For example, one Insider who had previously opened an account at a bank in Singapore didn’t realize that he was going to get charged heavily on foreign currency conversion fees. What’s worse is the bank was converting all of his foreign currency transactions to the Singapore dollar. And then back again. All of that took place before the bank finally deposited the transactions into his account. 

Another Insider previously opened an account in the Caribbean to hold cash for the long-term, only to discover that after 12-months the bank was charging him $50 per month in “inactivity fees” since he wasn’t actively using the account.

These are just two examples of the many ways that banks will make money on your account. You need to know what to ask for and how to negotiate those charges away. In both instances, had these individuals been opening accounts through GlobalBanks, they would have known to ask about these fees and been prepared before opening accounts.

New & Non-Traditional Banking Hubs

Traditional banking hubs in major financial centers can sometimes be more selective and cater to wealthier clients.

When opening an account with limited money, consider looking at newer, non-traditional banking hubs. Many still offer decent banking solutions but are far less selective, as they are not considered premier banking destinations. By banking in a non-traditional banking hub, you can still get decent service and quality. Though sometimes you can do so for a much lower price.

Some examples of new or non-traditional banking hubs include Georgia, Armenia, Mauritius, Cyprus, Central/Eastern Europe, Balkans, Caucasus, Cambodia, and even the United States – all of which are covered in the GlobalBanks Database.

Have High Standards When Banking Offshore

Just because you’re trying to open an account with less cash than others does it mean that you have to sacrifice quality or safety.

When it comes to choosing banks, you should always look for high-quality institutions. These will typically be conservative with your money, no matter what. At GlobalBanks, we talk a lot about finding the right bank and how to determine if a bank is safe.

Generally speaking, you want to avoid banks with bad financials, shady shareholders, horrible customer service, and other red-flags (you can learn more here).

Likewise, don’t get lured in by offers that are too good to be true. For example, this year, banks in Lebanon were offering 6.5% on fixed deposits in US Dollars (and 14% on the Lebanese pound). But the banks closed for 2 weeks because of protests. Now customers are restricted in how much money they can access and transfer out of the country.

Bottom line: You can still access solid banking solutions, even if you don’t have a lot of money. You just need actionable information. Which includes the know-how to get the most out of the banking options available to you.

Caution, Warnings, What to Watch Out For When Banking Offshore

Opening an offshore bank account is like anything else, you need to know what you’re doing. But you also need to understand your motivations. And, equally important, what should you watch out for. 

And, like everywhere in the financial industry, there are people to look out for. Certain service providers that offer help will not have your best interest at heart. So, with this in mind, take some time to educate yourself on the basics of offshore banking before diving in… GlobalBanks Insider is the best place to start!

There are thousands of people around the world offering “bank introduction services”. All of them say they can help you open an offshore bank account. But, they don’t and many are scams. 

Their game is pretty simple. They get innocent people to pay $500-$5,000 for an “introduction” to a bank. That fee might include filling out their company’s banking application form. But you don’t usually get much more. 

The sad part of the whole thing is that the bank doesn’t actually require an introduction. And if people do open an account, they’re banking with a risky bank. And chances are, it’s located in an undesirable jurisdiction.

What Should You Do Instead?

If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts for you or your business today.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks — home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries. 

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports, including proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more. 

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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