Best Bank Account in UAE [Banking in the UAE]

Finding the best bank account in the UAE is not a straightforward process… at least not if you want to open a bank account as a non-resident. The reason for this is that UAE banks have strict onboarding criteria that most non-residents are unable to meet.

So, applicants need to consider a few key variables, including your client profile, your banking objectives, and whether the UAE is the best place to open accounts in the first place. Then, if the UAE is correct, the next decision is between domestic or foreign and representative financial institutions, depending on your needs.

In this article, we’ll help you navigate all of these variables and more. Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Best Bank Account in UAE
  2. Banking In the UAE 101
  3. Commercial Bank vs National Bank
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Ready to Explore Your Options?

Best Bank Account in UAE

The best bank account in the UAE depends on the individual or company looking to open an account. Careful consideration should be given to the client profile, transaction activity, financing or investing goals, and other factors. Additionally, remote account opening is extremely difficult unless you are looking to make a considerable deposit.

Importantly, when it comes to applying from a distance or online in the UAE, options are limited. So, if this is a requirement for you, you should be very intentional with your applications.

To help you narrow down your options and determine which bank account is best in the UAE for you, letโ€™s take a closer look at some of the important factors.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Banks in the Emirates

The following factors are important for individuals looking to open a personal bank account in the UAE.

  • Residency status
  • Deposit amount
  • Purpose of the account
  • Transaction activity
  • Investment appetite
  • Remote vs in-person opening

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Banking in the UAE 101

Banking in the UAE primarily caters to individuals residing in one of the emirates. This means, if you are a foreign non-resident, you typically need to have a good reason to bank here or be willing to make a sizeable deposit. In other words, you do business in the UAE, you own real estate in the UAE, you are a frequent visitor to the UAE, or you can make a qualifying deposit for private or (in some cases) premier banking.

However, itโ€™s important to note that if you are a non-resident looking to open here, you will almost certainly need to show up in person. This isnโ€™t always required, but for the vast majority of applicants, it will be.

With this in mind, if you are a foreign non-resident looking to bank in the UAE, you may want to consider one of the other expat banking jurisdictions instead. In many cases, these jurisdictions are easy to access. And, in certain instances (e.g. Singapore), many of the same banks are available.

Hereโ€™s a look at a few of the other expat banking hubs you may want to consider instead.

  • Singapore
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Guernsey
  • United States

Commercial Bank vs National Bank

The main difference between a commercial bank and a national bank in the UAE is that a commercial bank can be both foreign or domestic while national banks refer to banks that are incorporated in one of the seven emirates of the UAE. In total, there are 59 banks licensed to operate in the UAE, including both national and foreign banks. This is the most recent figure from the UAE regulator at the time of writing. The majority of these banks are headquartered in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, though there is at least one bank in each of the seven emirates.

Of course, the UAE also has a central bank, which is the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. The UAEโ€™s central bank is responsible for all banking regulations along with currency and monetary policy. Not to be confused with national banks, the central bank is not a commercial bank and does not offer banking services.

For clarity, commercial banks are those banks that offer retail services to individuals and businesses. These services include deposit accounts, payment cards, borrowing solutions, and more. In the UAE, national and foreign commercial banks can serve the needs of both domestic and expat clients. In certain instances, non-resident clients can also open accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are three of the most common questions that we receive from people looking to open the best bank account in UAE. If you have further questions you would like answered, donโ€™t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

Which Bank Account Is Free in the UAE?

Most bank accounts are free in the UAE if you are able to make a qualifying deposit. In fact, this is true everywhere in the world. The specific deposit level that needs to be met in order to avoid monthly fees depends on the bank. And, in certain cases, even if you meet the required deposit, itโ€™s possible that banks will still charge a monthly fee.

Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in the UAE?

Yes, a foreigner can open a bank account in the UAE. However, the account opening requirements, deposit, and account opening process will vary depending on your residency status, the type of account you want to open, and whether you qualify for private banking. With this in mind, many non-resident foreigners find opening accounts in other countries to be easier to navigate.

Which Is the No. 1 Bank in the UAE?

The number one bank in the UAE ultimately depends on the person trying to open accounts. This is critical because many banks in the UAE do not accept foreign non-residents, and even fewer are able to facilitate remote opening. And, when it comes to accessing specific services, UAE banks do have restrictions on the type of accounts and products that they can offer different client types.

Ready to Explore Your Options?

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And “yes!” GlobalBanks Insider is designed to help foreign and non-resident individuals and companies open bank accounts.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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