Offshore banking has finally shed its reputation as a haven for crooks and unscrupulous business activities, but many people are still hesitant to explore the advantages of saving money in banks located abroad. The truth is, diversifying your savings with offshore bank accounts can be more convenient and often more secure than keeping all your savings in a single place, especially if you frequently travel abroad on business or leisure.

Increasing globalisation is making offshore banking more popular than ever – so if you’ve ever made investments in foreign countries, you might already have benefited from offshore banking without knowing it.

Types of offshore banking

By definition, offshore bank accounts are any type of account held in a financial institution overseas. These may be accounts with local banks or international branches of your own bank, savings accounts or investments. Offshore bank accounts cover easy access accounts, with debit and credit cards for ease of withdrawals, and notice or no-notice accounts that may have a waiting period before withdrawals can be made.

If you live abroad or spend a significant amount of time overseas, overseas banks offer a more convenient option for managing your money than having to pay expensive fees for international cash withdrawals, bank transfers and other services. However, offshore banks closer to home may also be popular for the unique benefits they offer over UK banks, with locations such as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland hosting a number of offshore banks. These can be subsidiaries of major banks or private institutions and usually require a high minimum deposit of £5,000 to £10,000.

Tax benefits

One of the most common reasons people open offshore savings accounts is for the tax benefits these offer compared to banks in their home countries. This can be especially advantageous for people or businesses with significant assets that would be subject to a high rate of taxation, which can be reduced when relocating these assets to locations with more liberal regulatory policies.

Reduced tax doesn’t mean escaping tax altogether, of course, and UK residents and registered businesses are still required to declare all interest earned in offshore accounts when completing their Self Assessment tax returns. However, the time deferral involved often results in higher interest being earned on gross savings, helping money to grow at a faster rate than it would through conventional taxation.

Flexibility

For many people, offshore banking isn’t primarily about watching their savings grow faster, but can be a matter of convenience. There are certain situations that require individuals and businesses to hold a bank account overseas, such as when buying real estate for rental purposes in foreign countries and if you regularly receive payments in foreign currencies you could avoid expensive transaction and conversion fees with an offshore account.

Anyone who spends a large amount of time in other countries, such as frequent travelers, international students, expats or foreign workers, is generally advised to open a bank account in their chosen countries so they have more convenient access to their money and can manage their accounts more easily. With the rise of online banking, customers can open offshore accounts with certain banks without even visiting the country.

Protection

Another major reason people choose offshore accounts is for their greater financial protection and security compared to banks in their home countries, particularly during times of political or economic instability. Many offshore banks offer a greater level of privacy to investors, meaning no one else will be able to monitor the progress of your money, and these banks may not be obliged to disclose identities or provide documentation of account holders to foreign government bodies.

Are you considering the benefits of offshore banking for helping your savings grow?