19 December, 2005

Recommend a bank

I have been trying to open a bank account for quite some time now but I manage to find faults in each and every bank I enter. Which bank have you people used and would recommend?

My requirements for an account are fairly simple. I just need an account where I can deposit money with no intention of taking interest. A check book is required (I am not paying extra for it). A credit card is a perk by not necessary. I am looking for a bank that doesn't have lengthy procedures for opening a bank account. I also don't mind maintaining a minimum balance of up to AED5,000. Any bank that provides no-nonsense services?


kaya said...

Buy a little "HAANDI" (earthenware utensil), place money in it and bury in back yard. All the banks have their levels of being WICKED. Esp watch out for MASHREQ BANK and STANDARD CHARTERED

BD said...

I'm no expert on banks. Have used 3 in my 5 years here. I don't like ME Bank--it's gimicky and seems to trick you with unexpected fees. Habib Bank AG Zurich was a good bank if you aren't looking for frills and don't like high fees. Eg. Dhs 100 balance only, to avoid a Dh 10 service fee. Currently use Mashreq as it has a lot of branches, late hours--till 4 p.m., and although you say you don't need interest, it's easy to move money online in and out of fixed deposits so you can pick up a little interest now and then.

Funny, Kaya has doubts about Mashreq. I don't doubt the validity of that because the attitude and treatment you get varies from branch to branch and Mashreq does seem to have a lot of those tricky promotions.

Keefieboy said...

Can't recommend one (actually HSBC are quite good but they only have 3 Dubai branches - two of which -Bur Dubai & Deira - you can only get to on foot.

I have a business account with NBD and find them to be quite bad.

And do not, under any circumstances, open an account with MEBank. My wife 'banks' with them and practically every transaction gets screwed up.

secretdubai said...

The disadvantage with international banks is that often they don't offer debit/electron cards, meaning you have to use a credit card constantly, or pay with cash.

Though you can set up a credit card to auto-debit your bank account every month, which means you pay no interest on it (if you have 30-days-free-credit) so it effectively works like a debit card.

I am with National Bank of Dishdash and can't really recommend them if you need things like car loans, as they are very restrictive on them.

CG said...

I have a company account with the stinky bank on the corner next to Dubai Central jail. They are hopeless. I am still awaiting the promised calls from a few months ago..
Personal account with Mashreq bank. Nearly empty account, they keep on finding new things to charge me for.
Used to bank with BCCI a long time ago. I lost all my money then.

Slagothor said...

The checking account I have with NBAD is free of any service charges, came with free ATM and Visa Electron cards, and their Gold Mastercard is also free of charges or annual fees.

They also let you pay bills for free online.

Also, opening the account was pretty effortless. One application form and an NOC letter from my firm, and everything was done and set up in a couple of days.

Basically, I pay nothing for banking services except for when I transfer cash overseas. That's more than I can say for my bank accounts in Canada and the US.

Husain said...

Goodness gracious! It seems there isn't a decent bank in all of UAE.

I'll try NBAD -- though their branch is a good 15 minute walk from where I live.

BD said...

So what's the catch, Slagothor? I think you forgot to mention you have to keep a Dhs 50,000 minimum balance.

kaya said...

My husband banks with NBAD and they are one of the better ones in terms of service. Perhaps bd is right about Mashreq Bank, but whether it was the BUr Juman branch or the other one (whats that area called...opposite Yasmeen building in Dubai) I cant even begin to tell you the horror stories regarding them.

moryarti said...


If you maintain +5k they give you interest.. but like keefieboy said, they only have 3 branches and a smaller ATM network then the rest of the banks.

Though their charges (transfer, credit cards, interest rate ...etc) are higher than the rest of banks, almost everyone i dealt with over there was fairly competent.

CG said...

yes hsbc look after my offshore account very well.

sheikha cheryl said...

They all suck. I would go for the backyard burial. HSBC is acceptable, we haven't had any problems yet, but I agree...they are all wicked. The problems aren't when you open the account, it's when you try to close the account. Consumers are dirt here.

Slagothor said...


To the best of my knowledge, no catch. It's possible that I'm getting a "special deal" because I work for a large national oil company, but I don't think I do. I'm pretty sure the account, the chaquebook, the ATM and electron cards and the Mastercard are all free of charge, and there are no minimum balance requirements. For anybody.

BD said...

Sorry Slagothor, I feel highly skeptical when reading your post. Basically you're saying that this bank gives all this stuff to anybody for free. Banks just don't work like that. They're all about making money--for themselves. Why do you think the biggest "baddest" buildings in every city in the world--except Dubai I suppose--are banks? They use everybody else's money for their own edification. You either have a fat account with this bank or the catch is, all the service charges will be piled on after some preliminary promotional period.

Slagothor said...


I did a bit of digging. Here is the info on the NBAD chequing account:


Minimum balance: Dh. 1,000

Fees: Dh. 50, semi-annual.

That's it. I checked and I haven't been charged a fee in the past 18 months, but I think that is waived if you get your pay deposited directly to NBAD.

The Gold Mastercard is also no-fee. But there are minimal perks.

I understand how banks work, and I understand how they make profits. In the UAE, once you have committed to a bank it is inconvenient to switch. This is why the banks have these "free" accounts, so that they basically "capture" you, and charge you large fees for loans, investments, international transfers, etc. That's where they make their money - the chequing account is a loss-leader.

A friend recently switched from NBAD to Citibank, and it was a giant pain in the rump.

For contrast, the cheapest chequing account I can get at my bank in Canada costs me C$12 (almost Dh. 40) per month in fees.

Anonymous said...

We use HSBC now -- after a horrible run with Standard Crapper. God what a nightmare SC is! Anyway, so far so good with HSBC. You only have to visit one of the branches once as you can do everything else online. In fact, we pay our DEWA and Etisilshit bills that way. All around a good deal and the HSBC cards are easy to use in US and UK, whereas other local banks' cards freeze up when you leave the country.

Husain said...

I had the misfortune of going to HBAGZ (in Nasser Sq., Deira) today to encash my salary check that had been in my pocket since the 5th and deposit some checks for a friend. This was my first time depositing checks in HBAGZ (I have deposited in other banks) and the treatment I got was beyond any comprehension. I don't understand how much it costs them to speak properly to customers.

BD said...

Secret Dubai, or Hussein, why don't you put up a poll for the most detestible profession. I'd like to nominate two: bankers and lawyers.

Oh, and the sticky posts in the sidebar is a nice idea.

azucenamaryam said...

As Salaamulaikum
Why not try Dubai Islamic Bank?
or Sharjah Islamic bank?
Dubai Islamic bank I hear is the best of the two. Why not try it?

Husain said...

I finally got my account at Dubai Islamic Bank. The complete story is in my blog.

mecci said...

Nothing more dodgy than meBank!!

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hazel said...

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