Finance, banking & payment processing tips for a completely remote, international online business

finance, banking and payment processing tips for a remote, online and international business.png


For all my fellow digital nomads, I'm writing this post for you, because my gosh I wish it existed when I was trying to figure things out!

Figuring out the finances of your business can be tough enough when you're new to the whole business thing, let alone adding multiple countries and currencies into the mix, it's a nightmare. So if you're dealing with this, let me just say that gal you have my sympathy, I know it's not easy.

(Buttt, I do have to say, while this is a pain to figure out at first, it's also totally worth it to be able to live wherever you want, whenever you want and always have dollars rolling on in!)

I find when you start getting into international finances, transferring currencies across borders, everybody tries to take their percent.

This post will help you keep more of your hard earned money in your own pocket, and stop it from getting skimmed off with silly percents and fees here and there. 

So, let's get into some practical tips on how to deal with the finances of your business if you do business across borders and currencies!


Charge in the currency that is easiest for the majority of your clients

Imagine you went onto a site and they asked you to pay in Rubles, Rupiah or Yuan. It's not a major trust builder, right? We humans trust what we know and are afraid of change.

Not to mention, it's just one more step and possibility for confusion with your clients if they have to figure out the currency conversion. Do the work for your clients, list your prices and take payments in the currency most of your clients use and know.

Haven't had any clients yet, so you don't know where the majority of them will come from? Check out your site's Google Analytics, you could place a fair bet that if a vast majority of your site visitors are from the UK, you'll get a lot of UK customers.

While charging in a currency that's not your own isn't super convenient for you, it is for your customers, and happy customers means more buyers, and therefore happy, wealthier you. So in a round about way, it's good for everyone involved.

What this looks like in my business:

I also factored currency stability into my decision, this might be something you want to consider too. I'm Canadian, but because the price of oil (something the Canadian dollars value is deeply tied to) has been wild in the past few years, taking the Canadian dollar along for a wild ride with it, it's not the currency I want my money in. (Sorry Canadian dollar.)

If I lived in Canada for the majority of the year, the currency's wild ride wouldn't affect me all too much, but because I've been spending only 2 months there a year lately, the constant change in value would get really annoying while I'm living abroad.


Open a business bank account in the currency you choose to charge in

If you charge in USD and had a bank account in CAD, you're likely to get slapped with a percent fee every time the different currency is deposited into your account.

Maybe it's possible to find some very kind bank that doesn't do this, but every one I looked into did. So whatever currency you decide to charge in, open a business bank account in that same currency, to avoid a percent or two being taken away just to deposit your hard earned money into your bank account.

What this looks like in my business:

I opened a USD account with a bank that accepts having Canadian customers open up American accounts.


Only open a business bank account that is familiar with internationalization

I previously banked with a smaller bank that only operated in the Southern States. While the ladies who helped me on the phone were always nothing but perfectly pleasant and spoke to me in their adorable Southern accents, the second you asked any question that had anything to do with internationalization (if their bank cards would work at an ATM in Europe or Canada, if I could exchange money for another currency, if I could send money to another account abroad) they had legitimately no clue. I was asking questions they almost never had before apparently.

So, I closed that account down and opted to go for one of the big banks of the country, one that operated in both the US and abroad, knowing they'd be ever so slightly more able to help me with questions related to international matters.

What this looks like in my business: 

Again, I bank with a larger more international bank now.


Use Stripe as a payment processor

I did some pretty significant research into which of the payment processors out there made the most sense for me and my international business and came to the conclusion that some of them tack on extra fees for #allthethings that are remotely unusual.

  • Want to accept a payment from a client who's not in your same country? There's a fee for that.
  • Want to process a return? There's a fee for that.
  • Want to process an AMEX card? There's a fee for that.
  • Want to do anything other than take payments from people in your same country and currency? There'll likely be a fee or three for that.

Businesses that deal with international customers (which is likely in today's age of online business) often get into some confusing financial situations, so I went with Stripe which makes these things a lot easier then some other payment processors.

What this looks like in my business: 

Stripe is my payment processor of choice.


Always use Transferwise to send money to your personal account

Y'all this is my biggest international, online business money saver!

So once my clients have paid me, the money is deposited into my account that's in US Dollars.

Then, I still need to send it to myself, to spend day to day in my personal life. So when I 'pay' myself, I need to transfer that money to another account. What personal account and currency I'm using is always changing as I travel, but 99% of the time, it's not USD so my money I'm paying myself is changing currencies.

Banks that are operating in many countries will often tell you they don't charge any fees when moving your money from one of their accounts in one country and currency to another account at their same bank, just in another country and currency. Turns out they're lying, I learned the hard way.

They're actually really just hiding the percent they keep for themselves in their special bank currency conversion rate. There's the normal currency conversion rate of the day, and then the special bank conversion rate of the day, which is higher. It's their way of saying 'we don't charge a fee' while still basically charging a fee. Sneaky banks, very sneaky!

This gal lost hundreds if not thousands to that trick, and then I found TransferWise!

TransferWise tells you very clearly what the conversion rate of the day is, and encourages you to double check it, and then clearly states their fee.

I get it, TransferWise is offering a service and therefore takes a fee. Completely reasonable, I'm sure you'd agree. All cool with me, as long as you tell me straight, unlike the banks.

What was costing me $90 to transfer with my bank (which had 'no transfer fees') cost me $20 with TransferWise. I had been paying $90 multiple times a month to my bank for years, so as you could imagine, it adds up and therefore I'm so happy to have found a transparent and reasonable alternative.

What this looks like in my business:

TransferWise is the only method I trust to move my money across borders and currencies now.


My recommendations:

I whole heartedly recommend using Stripe & TransferWise, I've found them to be two simple and straightforward companies.

*I like making money. (Who doesn't?) You bet there's affiliate links sprinkled throughout this post! If you make a purchase through some of the links on this post, I make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks gal!


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