There are 2 types of international banking, personal and corporate. Personal offshore accounts are easy to set up. Corporate accounts are a little more tricky.
Some large banks, such as Lloyds bank and Standard Bank, provide regular banking domestically, but since they also have offices established in offshore districts can provide international banking as well. These banks are the easiest to work with as they deal with thousands of expats and international workers worldwide.
There is also another category of banks that are smaller and more local. These are the local banks of the offshore countries and are significantly smaller and charge fees differently (some higher, some lower). From my experience, I find these banks somewhat sketchy and their technology out-dated. The login systems that they use appear to be quite rudimentary and are certainly not something I feel secure using. Many of them are also quite new and are constantly changing the products they offer you, the required balance amounts to maintain, etc. as their business grows, AKA they still haven’t figured their shit out.
These local offshore banks include names like:
Choice Bank – Belize (sucks. will never again use.)
Bank of Belize – Belize
ABC Banking Corp (for lack of a better name)- Mauritius
Euro Pacific Bank – St Vincent (Never used but I have heard good things about this bank)
Valartis – Austria
and many, many, many more
On the plus side, some like working with these smaller banks because they are more flexible. It may be easier to open an account, or get financing, for instance. The only reason I would ever use those banks is if I also had a company registered in that jurisdiction (more on that later).
Trustworthy Offshore Districts
All in all, they are all the same, but if it were just a personal offshore account I was looking to open, I would do it in the Isle of Mann (Lloyds Banks or Standard Bank). The Swiss banks used to be popular at one point but they went through a period of having a bad reputation for money siphoning and now I find them to be expensive as shit (some require a minimum balance of 1 million USD to open an account).
Things to look for in a bank
Don’t worry about geographical location of the jurisdiction of the bank, as it has no impact on how you access your account. Everything is done online, and even if the bank has a local branch in the country you are in you still wouldn’t be able to get service at that branch. More importantly, you want to know the following:
Minimum account balance amounts – too high of a minimum balance requirement is a deal killer for me. This is the amount you have to keep in your account, sitting there doing nothing. The Singaporean banks, last I checked, have a really high balance requirement (30k USD – 50k USD at OCBC and RBS respectively)
Remittance Fees – The cost of sending or receiving funds. You will most likely be doing a lot of this, so keep costs low. FREE is good.
Investment Platform – (If applicable) Some small international banks pride themselves on having excellent, proprietary brokers/platforms for trading. I use Interactive Brokers so I am indifferent to this.
Debit/Credit Card – It’s nice to have so if this matters, find a bank that offers it, free. Since there is no credit check, most banks will make you have 100% of the total cost of any credit card purchase sitting in your chequings account. They might also withhold a certain amount of your balance just so you can use the credit card, and charge you a ridiculous fee on top of that to be dicks, so make sure the terms are clear beforehand.
International Health Insurance – It’s nice to have and some offer it free
On a side note, Lloyds Bank and Standard Bank check all the above.