Tips for Expat Bank Accounts in the UAE

Now that you’ve got your visa and your moving arrangements sorted in the UAE, you might think that in terms of bank accounts you’re all sorted. After all, with your own account at home that you can access anywhere, you might think that’s all you need. Even if you decide on a new bank account, from force of habit you may go for an international bank, rather than choosing one which meets your needs.

It may be time to reconsider.

You need a bank that has benefits such as being accessible wherever you are, offering free withdrawals and no hidden fees. You can benefit more from choosing from a local bank, all of which are regulated by the UAE Central Bank.

Consider the benefits available to you not only with opening an account for everyday use, but with opening a savings account abroad, too:You want to know that the money you put away is going to get the very best return that you can find.

This means finding an account with a great interest rate, that is safe and secure in a bank that is accessible when you need it. As a non-UAE national, not all savings accounts will be open to you, but there are still plenty of options available.

There are a few important aspects to consider when deciding which type of savings account to go for.

Below are a few aspects to consider when thinking about which type of saving account and which bank to apply with, as some may ask for different documents to what you provide at home:


➢ Have the right documents ready for your chosen bank: UAE banks will ask for a few essential documents from residents                         to open a saving account and these are:

➢ A bank statement dating back for the last two months, from an account in your home country

➢ A valid passport which shows your UAE residence visa

➢ Your Emirates ID

➢ Completed bank account application form

➢ Some bank accounts may also ask to provide a utility bill as proof of address.

Interest Rates

Interest rates are relatively low across the board, with some of the best interest rates ranging between 1.3-1.5%. Of                                 course, the more you deposit, the more you will get in  return. Do shop around for different rates before signing any                                   paperwork. There are also accounts that offer an incentive to save by increasing the rate of interest based on your activity                     level.

Some savings accounts with a higher interest rate may only offer this for a fixed period – after which the rate will reduce.


Consider how much of a deposit an account asks to open an account with, and what the minimum deposit amount is – some                   banks ask that a minimum deposit remain in the account for a period such as three months. It is important to make sure                           that  you deposit an amount that you are prepared to retain in the account for the set period.

Hidden Fees

Don’t get caught at the end of every month with fees showing on your statement because of that withdrawal or transfer                          you  made. Check the details of possible hidden charges buried in the small print of a contract.

As an expat in the UAE, you will likely want to move money between your account back home and account in the UAE, which                 will rack up fees. To name a few, some accounts have fees attached for providing more than certain number of withdrawals                     each month or for making purchases by card. Other banks may stipulate a charge  when the balance falls below a certain                         amount or for withdrawing from certain cash points.

Account Closures

            People leave the UAE for all sorts of reasons – whether deciding to return home or change jobs and they no longer need their              account. When looking at what local banks can offer it is important to check the bank’s rules around closing an account. What              you do not want is to find that you have been charged a hideous fee or that there is a lengthy procedure in place. This is                            because some banks have a minimum ‘notice’ period, which will delay transferring the balance over. Also, make sure that                          there are no charges to close your account and that there are no outstanding fees to pay.