The Best Offshore Banks 2012

Click here for The Best Offshore Banks 2013.

Perhaps more accurately, the title should be “The Best Offshore Banks 2012 that I have used“. This will be a list of the best offshore banks that I have used in 2012.

The word “used” refers to myself having an account or card or other services with the bank, or a bank which any of the companies I deal with as a director or consultant uses.

There will be no Caribbean banks here. This does not mean that banks in Belize, Dominica, Bahamas, St. Vincent, and so on are not good. It simply means I do not yet have enough experience with any of them. Maybe in next year’s edition?

Anyway, without further ado, here are the best offshore banks 2012 in no particular order.

Bank: Jyske Bank
Jurisdiction: Gibraltar
Time with bank: 3 years
Purpose: company bank account for Gibraltar company
Website: https://www.jyskebank.gi/
Motivation: Jyske Bank stands out in terms of service and has competitive fees. Their Netbank (online banking) has never been down and I have never had a card purchase declined due to problems with the bank. They have fairly good interest rates and they have helped set up a very good low to medium risk investment portfolio for the company’s savings.

For those interested in opening an account, Jyske Bank requires all the usual documents (notarized passport and company documents) and 150,000 EUR (used to be 50,000) or currency equivalent. Being in the SEPA region helps for cheap and quick transfers across Europe.

Bank: HSBC
Jurisdiction: Hong Kong
Time with bank: 2 years
Purpose: company bank account for Seychelles IBC
Website: https://www.hsbc.com.hk/1/2/home
Motivation: Very easy-going bank and excellent telephone support. Account opening and maintenance are a breeze. Low minimum balance makes this bank a good fit for this small Seychelles company. It’s worth noting they only issue UnionPay ATM cards for non-resident companies. This is not a problem to most people, unless you require a company credit card such as Visa, MasterCard, or Amex.

The internet banking has not been down a single time outside of maintenance.

Minimum balance varies depending on account type but for most smaller companies, an Integrated Account is enough with a minimum of 25,000 HKD being required. If you fall below that, they charge a rather humble 50 HKD per month. Multi-currency by default. For company accounts, a director must visit the bank in purpose. For personal accounts, you must visit the bank.

Bank: Hang Seng
Jurisdiction: Hong Kong
Time with bank: 1.5 years
Purpose: company account for Hong Kong company
Website: https://bank.hangseng.com/
Motivation: Hang Seng is effectively owned by HSBC and products are nearly identical. The reason we decided to go with Hang Seng over HSBC was that Hang Seng has slightly lower fees and is much more lenient with issuing business cards.

Bank: Crèdit Andorrà
Jurisdiction: Andorra
Time with bank: 3+ years
Purpose: personal savings
Website: http://www.creditandorra.ad/ | http://www.creditandorraprivatebankers.com/
Motivation: This bank is simply amazing. All accounts are multi-currency and they support a lot of currencies, including some smaller ones. Transfers in and out outside of Europe are faster than mainstream European banks and within Europe it’s usually as fast as SEPA despite not being a SEPA enabled bank.

Fees are higher than mainstream European banks, but chances are you will more than make up for it with the bank’s huge selection of investment opportunities. Credit Andorra gives you access to stocks, bonds, funds, and equities across the world. See http://www.borsacredit.ad/idiomas/in/ for more information.

For your own security (as well as privacy) you can generate an endless number of virtual cards (called Cybertargetas) with the bank. These cards can hold up to 2,000 EUR and at most be loaded and reloaded with 5,000 EUR.

Customer service speaks Catalan, Spanish, French, English, and a couple of more languages.

Minimum balance to open a regular personal account is zero. The requirement for private banking varies; the lowest I’ve heard was 50,000 EUR. You must visit the bank in person to open an account. Private banking is also available with the bank’s Panamanian branch.

Bank: Banque de Luxembourg (BDL)
Jurisdiction: Luxembourg
Time with bank: 20+ years
Purpose: Luxembourg trust
Website: http://www.banquedeluxembourg.com/bank/en/luxembourg
Motivation: Excellent returns on investment funds, despite a very shaky Eurozone as of late, and highly professional staff. The trust had been with this bank long before I was involved and I have found no reason to recommend another bank.

Bank: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)
Jurisdiction: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Time with bank: 4 years
Purpose: company account for UAE (RAK) company
Website: http://www.adcb.com/
Motivation: This bank has improved a lot and is now one of my preferred banks in the Middle Eastern region. There have been times when we have needed to call our account manager in the middle of the night local time and he has been happy to take the call – and solve the issue!

They offer a special credit card for smaller businesses, which is something I wish more banks did. The card is easy to get and can be invaluable to new businesses.

ADCB is also a big merchant bank with settlement in a wide range of currencies.

New accounts can be opened with as little as AED 50,000 (circa 10,000 EUR or 13,500 USD) to avoid penalty fees and all accounts are multi-currency, which in addition to the usual EUR, USD, GBP, and local AED covers some other regional currencies. Islamic banking is available.

Bank: Banque Audi
Jurisdiction: Lebanon
Time with bank: 4 years
Purpose: savings products for UAE (RAK) company
Website: http://www.banqueaudi.com/Pages/Default.aspx
Motivation: Lebanon was picked for its extremely tight banking secrecy and Banque Audi had the services best fitting for this company (cash collection, savings). The interest rates on savings accounts are phenomenal and the staff is always helpful. Rigorous application process but smooth sailing after that (very few questions asked).

Bank: United Overseas Bank (UOB)
Jurisdiction: Singapore
Time with bank:  1 year
Purpose: company account for Singapore company
Website: http://www.uob.com.sg/business/index.html
Motivation: This bank is a fairly new acquaintance but so far it’s been nothing short of excellent. Multi-currency accounts, top-notch customer service (in English), and simple account opening and credit card applications.

Contrary to its name, UOB is not particularly open to offshore companies and have recently made it even more difficult for overseas individuals to open accounts. They will and do open accounts for offshore companies (especially Hong Kong and other surrounding Asian countries) but for example European or American (including Caribbean) individuals or companies may find it difficult.

Bank: Multibank
Jurisdiction: Panama
Time with bank: 2+ years
Purpose: savings account for Panamanian holding company
Website: https://www.multibank.com.pa/en/default.html
Motivation: Anyone who has ever opened – or tried to open! – an account in Panama knows that it can feel like taking a deep dive into an ocean of paperwork. I walked out of several banks just shaking my head at the amount of paperwork required. Multibank, however, made it easy. They still required a lot of paperwork but they were very upfront about what they needed.

They have some very interesting card products and it’s all very international-friendly since the bank uses USD as standard currency. Account opening can be very difficult for non-Panamanian entities or persons. Multi-currency is available but not standard. Minimum deposit varies from 1,000 to 35,000 USD depending on service needed.

Bank: Federal Bank of Middle East (FBME)
Jurisdiction: Cyprus and Tanzania
Time with bank: 5 years
Website: http://www.fbme.com/
Purpose: merchant accounts for various offshore companies
Motivation: FBME is for many the go-to bank in Cyprus, and rightfully so. The bank traces its roots back to Lebanon and is currently one of the biggest banks in the high-risk merchant account market; not because of their rates but because of their leniency and how easy it is to get a merchant account with them. They also offer an impressive range of card products, such as prepaid cards, anonymous no-name cards, and regular credit cards, including the exclusive Visa Infinite card.

FBME in Cyprus rarely opens personal accounts. They are mostly a corporate and merchant bank. Unlike many other Cypriot banks, FBME has virtually zero exposure to Greece and even offered to help the Cypriot government pay for a bail-out in the 2011/2012 crisis.

FBME charges fairly high fees, which can be a bit daunting to small companies but I would say it’s worth it. No Cypriot bank comes close to FBME.


That rounds it up. Those are the best offshore banks I have used in 2012. To recap:

  •  Jyske Bank, Gibraltar
  • HSBC, Hong Kong
  • Hang Seng, Hong Kong
  • Crèdit Andorrà, Andorra
  • Banque de Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, UAE
  • Banque Audi, Lebanon
  • United Overseas Bank, Singapore
  • Multibank, Panama
  • FBME, Cyprus

Click here for The Best Offshore Banks 201

12 Comments on "The Best Offshore Banks 2012"

  1. Streber, your blog is one of the most professional and straight to the point on offshore banking. kudos for that 😉

    You mentioned Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) in UAE in your article. From my own research, I see that it’s a good bank to work with.

    However the main problem is that all banks in UAE offer debit/credit cards only in dirham(local) currency.

    Am I missing something?

    Is there a bank in UAE that offer cards in USD or euro currency for non-residents or Offshore RAK company?

    Maybe you can help.. thanks a lot

    • Thanks for your feedback! Highly appreciated.

      I can’t recall if I’ve ever had a UAE card denominated in another currency than AED. I’d suggest speaking to ADCB, Emirates NBD, NBAD (National Bank of Abu Dhabi), or Arab Bank. A credit card in a foreign currency shouldn’t be too hard to arrange.

      Otherwise, banks like HSBC, Standard Chartered, or Citibank can probably get you cards in USD or even EUR. They are quite a quite a pain in the neck to deal with, though, compared to the local banks.

  2. By pure chance I came across a list of fees and charges for Credit Andorra:

    http://www.grupcreditandorra.com/corp/pdf/llibre_de_tarifes_en.pdf

    I’m still baffled why the lady I have been in touch with wouldn’t give me this info via email when its freely available on their website…weird.

    All I am trying to understand is: how much will it cost me per year to keep an account open that has a) a debit card b) credit card

    • That file more or less matches the fees I’m seeing. Looks like for a regular Visa debit and Visa credit combination, you’d pay 35 plus 40 EUR per year. In addition to that there is an annual account fee of around 150 EUR. I understand the account fee tends to vary with what other services you have.

  3. Thank you, thats very helpful.

    Are there any other banks worth considering in Andorra? Or is Crédit Andorrà the best bank to start with there?

    On another note, will you be doing any articles on offshore banking in Labuan?

    • Banca Privada d’Andorra is even less talkative than Crédit Andorrà but offer good services to its clients. As the name implies, they only do private banking.

      No experience with the other banks.

      I might write about Labuan. It’s an interesting jurisdiction. Maybe in a couple of months.

  4. Thanks Streber.

    Couple more questions:

    1) Do they charge for incoming SWIFT transfers?

    2) What are the ATM fees like? Do you they give you a proper debit card (that can be used for online shopping/booking hotels/etc) or is it just a plain ATM cash card?

    3) Whats the internet banking like (in English)?

    4) Do you pay the fee per year for the account AND an annual fee for each debit/credit card you have?

    I’m still baffled why they won’t give me this (vital) info I need before travelling to Andorra!

    • 1. No. Once or twice I’ve lost funds due to intermediary bank charges but that’s not unique to Crédit Andorrà.

      2. Fees: I think around 2 – 2.5%. Cards: the debit card is a Visa Electron, never tried using it online. For credit cards they have Visa Classic, Gold, and Platinum.

      3. English, Spanish, Catalan, French. English translation can be a bit spotty here and there.

      4. Yes.

  5. Thanks for the reply! I have someones email address and name but she says I need to fly there. I will try call her.

    Can you give me an idea of bank fees?

    How easy is it to geta credit card?

    I’m loving the blog and am reading all your article s!

    • Bank fees – you’re looking at around 50 EUR for outgoing SWIFT transfers and 100 – 200 EUR per year for the account. Card fees range from 50 to 150 depending on card type.

      It’s quite easy to get a credit card. They will lock twice the credit limit in a term deposit for a few months at first. When the term expires, the funds become yours again. One thing they stressed is that they only want customers who “keep a stable balance.” I never had them complain about it, though, and I make a couple of wires a month.

  6. Great blog! I contacted credit andorra and asked what their fees are, minimum bank balances, currencies offered and a few other questions. The reply I received was quite strange! I was told they couldn’t answer ANY of my questions until I was in Andorra. Was this your experience?

    Its a catch 22 in that I want my questions answered BEFORE I go to Andorra.

    Keep up the great work with your blog!

    • Hi,

      Glad to hear you enjoy the blog!

      I have heard a lot of people have the same experience with all Andorran banks, not only Crédit Andorrà. This seems to be the way they operate. Calling them might make them ease up a little bit and answer some questions. You might have to get lucky and call at a time when someone who speaks English is available. (Once you are a customer, though, finding someone who speaks English is a lot easier.) When I called, I got someone’s email.

      Fees are comparable to Swiss private banks, which is significantly higher than onshore banks. Minimum balance is set on a case-by-case basis (when I was there, circa 100,000 EUR for private banking or 0 for personal banking). They offer all major currencies.

Leave a comment

Skip to toolbar