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Best Banks in Dubai for Expats - Updated List for 2023

New to Dubai? Or perhaps you’re looking to move to the city shortly! One of the first things you’ll need once you get here is a Dubai Bank Account.
Best Banks in Dubai for Expats - Updated List for 2023

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It is necessary to have a bank account in Dubai to receive your salary. In addition to that it makes the payment of rent, bills, and other fees very convenient.

Setting up a personal account is fairly easy and if you are going to be employed by a company while you are here, you need to have a salary of just AED 3000 to open a no-minimum balance account.

In this article, we’ll help you choose the best bank in Dubai for expats and also provide you with some tips to make the banking process more simple.

First, let’s take a look at the documents you need to open a Bank Account in Dubai. For regular personal accounts, you will need:

  • Copy of passport (including residence visa page - yes you need to be a resident!)
  • Original passport (so that the passport copy may be validated)
  • Sponsor's letter of no objection

If you are the sole owner of a business in Dubai, you can do away with the no-objection letter. However, you might have to submit proof of residence or a business license copy to show how you earn your income.

To open a Salary Transfer Account in Dubai you will also need to provide a Salary Certificate. This can be substituted with an Appointment Letter/Contract Copy.

Best Banks in Dubai for Expats

Now that you’re aware of what it takes to open a Bank Account in Dubai, let’s take a look at the best options for you to choose from.

Emirates NBD

As one of the largest banks in Dubai, Emirates NBD is a name synonymous with trust and great service. It is a popular choice for expats with a great online and offline presence making the overall banking experience a whole lot simpler.

When a bank has a footprint in 13 countries, nearly 17 Million customers, a total of 879 branches, and 4,130 ATMs / SDMs - you know they are doing something right. The bank also offers a range of credit cards that cater to the needs of expats, such as travel rewards & cashback.

Pick this as your #1 option and you won’t be disappointed!

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank - ADCB

Technically, a bank from UAE’s Capital - Abu Dhabi, ADCB has an equally massive footprint in Dubai. It is known for its smooth and fast banking experience among expats.

It was formed in 1985 after a three-way merger and currently stands as the third-largest bank in the UAE. If you’re looking for a quick account opening process, some great offers on credit cards, and affordable loans - you can’t go wrong with ADCB.

Mashreq Bank

Established in 1967, Mashreq Bank is another popular choice for expats in Dubai. For over 5 decades, this institution has been providing personal and corporate banking services for residents of Dubai.

Not until too long ago, Mashreq Bank had several branches and ATMs across Dubai. However, due to a strong online focus, their offline presence seems to have reduced. Perhaps not as attractive an option as others on this list, but you can definitely take it into consideration!

First Abu Dhabi Bank - FAB

Another product of a merger between 2 of the country's largest banks namely First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), First Abu Dhabi Bank was born fairly recently in 2016.

FAB is the largest bank in terms of asset and market capitalization and has been ranked by Global Finance as the safest bank in the UAE.

First Abu Dhabi Bank is a FAB choice for personal bank accounts in Dubai, especially if you are focused on the best credit card offers in the UAE. It is also the leading lending book-runner for syndicated loans.

Dubai Islamic Bank

The Muslim Faith does not permit accepting or paying interest. To counter this, several Islamic Banks were created that offer products that are ’Shariah-Compliant’ and ‘Riba-Free’.

Dubai Islamic Bank or DIB is at the forefront of the revolution as the largest Islamic bank in Dubai and the third-largest in the world. Established in 1975, it serves up to 1.7 million customers and guarantees attractive profit rates based on faith-compliant investments.

Other popular Islamic Banks in the UAE include Emirates Islamic and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB).

Don’t Forget the NeoBanks

A neo-bank is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks. With the advent of technology and the rising popularity of this type of banking system, several UAE financial institutions have created their own neo-banks for quick and easy account opening.

Liv. by Emirates NBD

Launched in 2017, Liv. is a digital-only bank from banking behemoth Emirates NBD that offers all the usual banking services, including savings and current accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and loans - except all of these are managed through a mobile app.

Mashreq NEO by Mashreq

After Liv. became one of the first neo-banks in Dubai, Mashreq Bank soon launched a competing platform called Mashreq NEO in 2017 as well. It offers very similar services to other digital banks in the city and is in line with Mashreq’s focus on building a strong online presence.

As mentioned above, opening a bank account with one of these digital platforms is an extremely simple and intuitive experience. The whole process can be completed from the comfort of your home within a matter of minutes. All you need is an Emirates ID.

While you can withdraw and deposit money via ATMs, it’s important to note that neo-bank users cannot go to physical branches for any questions or concerns. Should an issue arise, you will have to contact online support, which is often slow due to the overwhelming number of support tickets they receive!

What to Look for in a Potential Bank in Dubai for Expats

Given the number of banking options available in Dubai, it’s normal to be a little confused about which one to pick. Here are some factors that might help you make a decision:

  • Bank Fees & Minimum Balance Requirements: Bank fees differ from bank to bank and certain banks will also hold you to maintaining a minimum deposit based on the type of account you have with them. It’s well worth clarifying these things in advance before you take the leap.
  • Conditions for International Transfers: As an expat and/or business owner you might be sending payments back home or across the globe quite often. Check which bank provides you with the most affordable and reliable remittance service before you finally settle on one.
  • Offline Presence & Ease of Online Banking: Having a branch close to your home and a good network of ATMs is also worth taking into consideration before picking a bank. But since you’ll most likely be conducting transactions online, a robust app and website certainly helps.

So there you have it - the best banks in Dubai for expats. When it comes to picking a bank in Dubai or the UAE, you are likely to be spoilt for choice. But remember, not all banks and bank accounts are created equal.

Based on your unique needs and requirements, you can choose a banking partner that works best. Just remember to do your due diligence so that you don’t end up paying extra fees and hidden charges. If you need something basic, an online account with a Neo bank like Liv. by Emirates or Mashreq NEO might just do the trick.

That’s it from us at Wise Move for now. Until next time and as always - choose wisely (given the fact that switching bank accounts because you aren’t happy with yours is a tedious process!)

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