An Ultimate Banking Guide for Expats in the UAE

By Ruchi Gohri
  | Published: 26 October 2021

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Most banks in the UAE have quickly embraced new technological developments such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, advanced payment technologies and much more. They offer various advanced banking services for expats to facilitate them in making the best possible use of banking products. 

Expats in the UAE can easily open a bank account and choose how to manage their finances in an efficient manner. Almost all the banks in the UAE offer online banking services for expats to easily make transactions anywhere across the globe.

This guide to banking for expats in the UAE will help you learn about various banking services, payment options and bank accounts in use across the country.

Banking Services for Expats in the UAE

Here are the major banking services the bank accounts in the UAE offer for expats.

1. Bank Accounts

Expats in the UAE can open two types of bank accounts – Current Account and Savings Account.

  • Current Bank Account: Banks in the UAE offer a wide range of everyday bank accounts with standard products and services for their customers. The expats can choose their preferred current bank account type and open it for a single or multiple family members based on their financial preferences.
  • Savings Bank Account: Expats can also hold a savings bank account if they meet the eligibility criteria for the same. Most banks in the UAE offer savings bank accounts that come with a minimum monthly salary and balance requirements. The applicants need to meet the financial requirements before opening a savings bank account in one of these banks.

2. Credit Cards

Most banks in the UAE offer different types of credit cards with certain bank accounts. Expats can also apply for these credit cards to easily manage their finances. Credit Cards also come with certain minimum salary and age requirements. The applicants need to meet these eligibility criteria to get their chosen credit card.

3. Loans and Overdrafts

Banks in the UAE also offer different types of loans, including personal loans, car loans and home loans for expats. They also offer short-term and long-term overdraft facilities for their customers with a remarkable monthly income. They also offer mortgages for foreigners and expats including first-time buyers who meet the eligibility criteria.

4. Investment Options

Banks in the UAE offer various investment options such as fixed deposits, bonds, shares, pension plans and much more for expats. However, they need to meet some minimum balance requirements.

Documents Required to Open a Bank Account for Expats in the UAE

Here is a list of documents expats need to provide when opening a bank account in the UAE.

  • Passport with Residency Visa – A copy with the original document
  • A reference letter from a bank originated in the home country of expat – A copy with the original document
  • Trade License (for business customers) – A copy with the original document 
  • One of these address proofs – Utility Bill or Contract of Tenancy 
  • Appointment Letter/Salary Certificate/Salary Transfer Letter (showing designation and annual income) – A copy with the original document

Account Opening Process for Expats in the UAE

Here is a simple account opening process for expats in the UAE.

1. Choose the Bank for Opening an Account

The applicants need to explore bank account options depending upon their financial preferences. To find the best possible bank account option, they can visit multiple banks’ online portals and look for the types of bank accounts with their features and benefits. 

Here are a few things they must find in their chosen bank account.

  • Simple bill payment options
  • Easy cash withdrawal processes
  • Perks like a free debit card and chequebook
  • Reasonable interest rates
  • Email and SMS Alerts
  • Online Banking/Mobile Banking
  • Attractive deals on loans or credit cards
  • Mobile cheque deposit
  • Account security

2. Visit the Chosen Bank’s Online Portal

Once the expats have chosen the bank account, they must get in touch with the bank and know the account opening process and eligibility criteria for the same. Most bank accounts come with certain requirements such as minimum monthly balance, minimum monthly income, account maintenance charges, etc. The applicant must find out about these charges and check if they can manage to pay for them.

3. Open the Bank Account

Banks in the UAE have almost similar account opening processes for expats. Some of them allow them to open one online, whereas others need them to reach out to one of the bank’s branches to open a bank account. 

For opening the bank account online, the expats need to fill out the online application form and submit it with all the essential documents for verification purposes. The applicants need to upload these documents on the bank’s online portal itself. 

Another way of opening a bank account is by using a mobile app. The applicants need to install their chosen bank’s mobile banking app and place a request to open a bank account.

Digital Banking for Expats in the UAE

Banks in the UAE offer two useful digital financing options for expats.

1. Online Banking

People owning a bank account in the UAE can access their bank account details by simply logging into their online banking portals. With this service, they can access their funds and easily manage while dealing with all their expenses. The best part about the online banking service is that it enables account holders to keep track of all their transactions and reduce unnecessary spending.

2. Mobile Banking

The account holders in the UAE can download their chosen bank’s mobile app on their smartphone and have all the banking services right at their fingertips. This helps them keep a record of their banking transactions and easily manage their finances. With this mobile app, the account holder can request a debit card, chequebook, credit card, etc. in just a few clicks.

Offshore Banking for Expats in the UAE

Most banks in the UAE offer offshore banking services for their customers. The applicants can easily open offshore bank accounts to easily import and export funds. Offshore bank accounts in the UAE come with various attractive features like stable currency rates, unlimited money remittance, online/mobile banking and much more.

Here is the list of banks that allow expats to open an offshore bank account in the UAE.

  • First Abu Dhabi Bank
  • RAK Bank
  • NOOR Bank
  • ADIB
  • Emirates NBD
  • Mashreq Bank
  • Emirates Islamic Bank

To open an offshore bank account in the UAE, the applicants can contact these banks, provide them with essential documents and open a bank account in two to three business days.

Features and Benefits of Offshore Bank Account

Here are the benefits and features of opening an offshore bank account in the UAE.

  • Convenience: Offshore bank accounts come with convenient fund transfer options. The account holders can simply log in to their online banking or mobile banking portals to make local and international transactions in just a few clicks.
  • Privacy and Security: Banks in the UAE are well known for their banking privacy and security policies. The account holders can keep their funds safe and secure in the UAE offshore bank accounts.
  • Higher Interest Rates: The offshore bank accounts in the UAE come with attractive interest rates for the account holders. With these bank accounts, the account holders can earn a reasonable amount of interest and increase their savings in no time.
  • Multiple Currencies: Offshore bank accounts in the UAE are available in multiple currencies and allow account holders to manage their finances in their preferred currency, including AED, EUR and USD
  • Financial Services: The offshore bank accounts in the UAE come with various useful financial services, including fund management, deposit-taking, corporate administration, trustee services, trade finance and much more for expats.

Different Payment Methods for Expats in the UAE

Here are different payment methods that expats in the UAE can use to deal with their daily expenses.

1. Payment Cards

The payment cards in the UAE include both debit and credit cards. The expats can get these cards with their bank accounts and use them to pay for their daily transactions such as paying at gas stations, corner stores and more.

2. Cash or Cheques

The expats in the UAE can also use cash or cheque to pay for their expenses. But before signing a cheque, they need to make sure that they have enough funds in their bank account as a bounced cheque is considered a criminal offence and is punishable by penalties and prison sentences.

3. Direct Debits

The expats can also apply for direct debits or standing orders in their bank account to pay for bills such as utility bills, credit card bills, etc. on time. This service makes sure that you make due payments on the scheduled time and saves you from late payment charges.

4. Online Payments

The expats in the UAE can also consider making online payments using Internet Banking and Mobile Banking services. All they need to do is log in to their online or mobile banking portal using their banking credentials and make the transfer in just a few clicks.

5. Digital Wallets

Various financial solutions providers in the UAE have introduced digital wallet options such as Samsung Wallet, Apple Wallet, Google Pay Wallet and more. The expats can simply get one of these wallets in their smartphones and start making easy payments.

The Bottom Line

Banking in the UAE is as convenient for expats as it is for local residents. To avail of the banking services, they need to contact different banks, explore various financing options and choose those that match their financial needs. 

The expats can access different banks’ websites and online portals to find the best-fit bank account in minutes. To make an informed decision, they need to analyse their financial needs and look for the suitable bank account features and benefits. 

They must organise the required documents in a file before opening a bank account in the UAE. With eligibility and the right set of documents, the expats can open a bank account with any bank and start enjoying banking facilities in the UAE within two working days.

Ruchi Gohri
Ruchi Gohri0 Post

Senior Content Writer | She has a penchant for writing and with over 5 years of experience, she plays around with words elegantly, crafting simple content for all to read. In her free time, she loves her couch either to read or catch on to her sleep.