Opening a current account (checking account)

If you want to open a current or checking account in the UAE, you will need to have a valid residence visa. To open this type ofBefore you go, check the bank’s website to see if there are any minimum salary requirements. It is not necessary to make an appointment in advance but you must take along the following: account, you will need to go to the bank in person.

  • your passport with a valid residence visa (original and copy)
  • a salary letter or certificate from your employer
  • a letter of no-objection from the employer/sponsor
  • a salary letter or certificate from your employer

If you wish to avoid paying a monthly fee of AED 50-100 for your current account, you will need to maintain a minimum balance on the account. This will be an amount between AED 1,000 and AED 5,000. Your employer may have an arrangement with a bank allowing you to go below this, providing your salary is paid to that account on a monthly basis.

Some banks may allow you to open a bank account in a foreign currency as well as in Dirhams.

Opening a savings account

If you do not have residency, some banks may allow you to open a savings account but they may levy a charge of several hundred dirhams to do this. Procedures for opening a savings account will vary from bank to bank. Some banks allow you to use the savings account as a current (checking) account, complete with ATM cash cards, check books and credit cards.

Some banks may only allow you to open a savings account if you already have a current (checking) account with them. Others may set a minimum amount of money to open an account. Check with the bank as the requirements change on a regular basis.

Savings accounts can be in dirhams or in foreign currency. Off-shore accounts are also available.

Applying for a personal loan, bank loan or credit card

Until recently, banks were very keen to lend money or give credit cards with high limits. This changed with the international credit crunch. However, it is still probably easier to get a loan here than in other countries, providing you have a regular salary being paid into the bank. When you take out a loan of any type, or apply for a credit card, you will be asked to sign a number of back-dated checks. Bouncing a check is a criminal offense in the UAE and one of the main reasons why expats find themselves whisked off to jail. For this reason, it is very important that you are able to cover payments. Maximum loan amounts are typically 10 to 20 times your monthly salary. This varies from bank to bank and is also dependent on how long you have been living in Dubai and how many more years there are on your residence visa.

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