Current & Saving Accounts

Everything You Need to Know About Opening a Bank Account in the UAE

If you’re planning an extensive stay within the UAE, you’ll benefit from opening an account with a local bank. Opening a bank account in the UAE doesn’t preclude you from maintaining an offshore account in your home country or elsewhere. On top of that, UAE banks offer banking services similar to those found in Western banks, such as credit card repayments, cheque clearance, and standing orders.

You’ll want to select your bank carefully before opening an account. In most cases a bank will allow a certain amount of transactions free of charge before adding in a transaction fee. These fees vary from bank to bank, so make sure you ask about this beforehand. You may also want to ask about a cash withdrawal limit and/or overdraft fee before signing up.

Click here to see our Favourite 5 Accounts

 
emirates
HSBC
ADIB
MASHREQ
NBAD
Provider
Emirates NBD
HSBC
ADIB
Mashreq
NBAD
Account Name
Special Current account
Premier Current Account
Current Account
Current Account
Current Account
Features
Free Cheque Book
Free Debit Card
Multiply Currencies
Mobile Banking




Free Cheque Book
Free Debit Card
Multiply Currencies

Free Cheque Book
Free Debit Card
Salary transfers
Free Cheque Book
Free Debit Card
Mobile Banking
Free Debit Card
Salary Transfer Required?
No- But other accounts do offer
No
Yes
No
No
Minimum Balance
5000 AED
5000 AED
3000 AED
3000 AED
3000 AED
Online Banking
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Islamic Banking
No
No
Yes
No
No
Annual Fee
No
No
No
No
No

Opening an Account

Once you’ve decided on a bank, it’s time collect all the necessary documentation you will need. In every case the banker will ask you to provide:

  • Your UAE residence visa
  • A No Objection Certification (NOC) or Letter of No Objection from your employer (note that this document should provide both your current salary as well as an per-month deposit estimate)

You may ALSO be asked to provide:

  • Proof of residence, either in the form of a tenancy agreement or letter from the leaseholder
  • A scanned photocopy of your passport
  • Two or more additional methods of identification (driver’s license in your home country, birth certificate, etc. Any identification with your picture will usually be sufficient)

Should the wife or another family member of the employed head-of-household choose to open up an account at the same bank, they will be allowed to do so. The bank will require a letter of permission by the employed individual.

What about current accounts?

Unless you’re making a monthly payment to a local service provider, you are likely to be paying in cash during your stay in the UAE. Cheques are often frowned upon and may not even be accepted in some retail locations. For this reason, current accounts see extensive use, and it’s recommended that you open a current account.

You will be issued with a debit card, or cash dispenser card, which will let you take cash out of any ATM in the country. Some UAE banks will charge a fee if you take money out of an ATM that isn’t theirs, so make sure you ask your bank about this.

Much like the Western world, these debit cards are likely to be underwritten by companies with extensive credit clout, such as Mastercard or Visa. Be sure to ask about spending restrictions, since most of these cards will have them in place.

Make sure you take advantage of these UAE Money Expert tips:

  • Group account discounts: Many banks will offer discounts or waive fees if you sign up with a large group. If you’re moving here with a team of people, or if your company already banks at one bank in particular, ask about these group discounts
  • Select the same bank as your employer: More often than not, if you’re banking with the same company that your employer uses, you’ll have faster access to your paychecks, and may even be eligible for the same aforementioned group discounts.
  • Set up both a Current AND a Savings account: You’ll accrue interest in a savings account MUCH faster than you would with a current account. In many cases a current account won’t even generate interest. Therefore, it’s prudent to have both and start generating some interest with a savings account.
  • Switching banks? Close out your old account entirely: The old bank will continue to charge you fees if you aren’t adding money into it. Best to completely ditch the old bank and start fresh at the new one.

Savings Accounts

All UAE retail banks allow for the opening of savings accounts. They’re a very popular option here in the UAE. Similarly, offshore savings accounts have become more accessible here as well. Please see the Offshore Banking page.

Firstly, savings accounts usually provide interest rates that are lower than deposit accounts. Savings accounts can be opened in a foreign currencies (most common being the GB pound (£) and the U.S. dollar ($)) and come with a passbook (or cheque book/credit card) to record any monthly transactions. One of the primary benefits of opening up a savings account is that the account holder can withdraw cash whenever needed.

Deposit accounts have interest rates that are higher than savings accounts. They may provide cheque books, although you should ask about a cheque limit as well as a maintenance charge, which can be common for these kinds of accounts. Deposit accounts come in many shapes and sizes, and accrue interest at different rates. Check in with your bank to see what the best account is for you. Note also that those deposit accounts that offer the highest interest rates usually demand large initial- and per-month deposits to take advantage of them.

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