Citi launches new Global Currency Account
You can hold 10 different currencies in the one account, pay no international ATM fees and receive money from overseas for free.
Citi has today officially launched its new Global Currency Account, which is a combination of a transaction account, multi-currency account and travel debit card in one. The account is ideal for people who travel a lot, or who often receive money from overseas.
The account holds up to 10 foreign currencies including AUD, USD, EUR, SGD, NZD, JPY, GBP, CAD, HKD and CHF plus gives you bank account details for each of the individual currencies you're holding. This is quite a unique feature and what makes the account much more than the typical multi-currency account, because you're able to use those bank account details to receive money from overseas in that currency for free. It's just like receiving AUD from a friend here in Australia. Customers can then choose to convert the money into AUD when the exchange rate is competitive. However, they can also leave it in that currency if they'd like to.
While you can have up to 10 sets of bank account details for the account, it's all linked to the one debit card. This is what makes the account so handy for travellers. Account holders can use the debit card at home in Australia for everyday spending, as well as internationally like a local. Because the foreign currencies are already loaded and stored in the account, by setting that currency as your default you can use the debit card overseas without paying international transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees.
Similar products in the market include TransferWise's Borderless Account which launched in Australia back in October 2017 and allows customers to hold up to 27 currencies with four sets of international bank details. The HSBC Everyday Global Account, which launched in March this year, also enables customers to hold 10 foreign currencies and charges no international ATM fees of foreign transaction fees.
Citi Australia's head of consumer banking Alan Machet told finder.com.au the new account is different to others in the market in that it's not a travel debit card, but a wealth management tool.
“Unlike other products on the market, Citi’s Global Currency Account combines the capabilities of a multi-currency bank account with that of a foreign currency debit card. What this means is users can hold and transfer up to 10 international currencies and switch between them instantly, whether they are purchasing items from overseas or while travelling. Unlike international bank accounts that only allow you to hold and transfer currency, the Global Currency Account enables this while being linked to a single debit card for hassle free access on the go," said Machet.
"The account also stands out because of its narrower foreign exchange spreads than competing products in the market. Not only are our spreads narrower, but they are more transparent as customers can view live rates before conversion via the Global Currency Account – a process that is often opaque and confusing with competitor products."
"Seeing that international spend by Citi customers has grown by 31% from 2017 to 2018, we believe the Global Currency Account holds great promise for executive globetrotters and investors who demand control and convenience to manage their international banking requirements from a single digital platform,” he said.
There are some drawbacks of the account, with the $8 monthly account keeping fee the most obvious. However, if you're a Citi Gold or Citi Priority customer this fee is waived. The other thing to be mindful of is that the account doesn't automatically set your default currency to the correct one depending on where you are in the world. So if you don't remember to set the default transaction currency to GBP before using an ATM in London, for example, you'll be charged a 2.5% currency conversion fee, even though you may have GBP pre-loaded into the account.