Accounts in the UAE

Banking accounts in the UAE

Deciding to open an account in the UAE is a simple decision but the difficult part is choosing the right place to open that account in. Or even to pick the right type of accounts to open. You can chose to open an account with a central bank or a commercial bank or even a foreign bank. You can even choose to open a savings account, a current account or a deposit account. Each account offers its own features and benefits which allow you to have the opportunity really pick an account that fulfils all your needs whether it be of accounts offering high interest to account meant specifically for daily transactions and remittance in multiple currencies.

Types of Accounts in the UAE

There are three types of accounts that you an open. They are the savings account, the current account and the deposit account, each of which serves a specific purpose.

Savings Accounts

The savings accounts are regular account where you can deposit money and earn an interest on the funds you hold in the account. These accounts tend to pay higher interest rates and also offer various features like ATM and debit cards, chequebooks, etc. The exact features of the savings account may differ from one bank to another for example, some banks may require that you maintain a minimum balance while other won’t. Some of these accounts even come with features that are meant to promote savings like the app offered by Emirates NBD that turns your mobile phone into a unique savings tool but suggesting tiny amounts to save every time you shake your phone.

Current Accounts

Current account are accounts that differ from savings accounts in their features. For example while current account can also have minimum balance clauses and provide chequebooks to the customers, they will offer also offer overdraft and standing instructions facilities that will allow you to spend more than the funds in the account or have regular payments made without you having to inform the bank every single time. Current accounts also come with international ATM/debit cards and many of the current accounts will allow you to hold funds in the accounts in currencies like AED, Euro, USD, GBP, etc.

Deposit Accounts

A deposit account is a fixed deposit that can be opened for a specific term. It allows you to hold funds with the bank for a fixed period of time and in that duration, your account grows at a specific rate thanks to the interest paid to you. The interest paid by these accounts tend to be higher than both savings or current accounts and these accounts too allow you to open deposits in different currencies like AED, USD, GBP etc. Investment in these accounts is open to individuals, groups of individuals and companies.

Islamic Banking Accounts in the UAE

If you are particular that the accounts you hold are compliant with the rules of Islamic banking then you can approach certain banks that provide Islamic banking facilities. These could include accounts governed by the Murdaraba or Shari’a principles.

Features and Benefits of these Accounts

Each of the account offers its own features and benefits and even then they can change from one bank to the next, however, some of the common features of these accounts are listed below:

Features of Savings Accounts

  • The accounts can be regular savings accounts or compliant with the rules of Islamic banking.
  • Savings accounts tend to offer higher interest rates on funds held with them. In some cases they may even offer up to 2% interest per annum.
  • Most of the time there is no requirement to maintain a minimum balance but that may change according to the bank and the type of account you hold.
  • Some banks will let you remit funds into these in foreign currencies like USD too.
  • The accounts come with ATM and debit cards that are accepted all over the world.
  • They also come with chequebook facilities.
  • You may also get high limits on your daily transactions and round the clock banking services through online banking.
  • You can even have your salary transferred to these accounts.

Features of Current Accounts

  • Current accounts can be used to transfer salaries.
  • Funds can be held in these accounts in various currencies like USD, GBP, Euro, AED, etc.
  • These accounts too come with international ATM and debit cards and chequebooks.
  • The account can be opened by individuals or by proprietorship firms, companies or other such groups of individuals.
  • These accounts also provide overdraft facilities that can be availed after the bank has been informed of it.
  • They will also allow you to create standing instructions to take care of transactions that need to be conducted on specific dates.
  • Some banks may require that you maintain a minimum balance in your current accounts while others may not.

Features of Deposit Accounts (Fixed Deposit Accounts)

  • These accounts offer the highest interest rates out of the three.
  • Deposit accounts or fixed deposit accounts can be opened for a specific period of time.
  • They offer flexible period for deposits that can range from 3 months to 36 months.
  • Some banks offer deposit accounts that are governed by the rules of Islamic banking and are Sharia compliant.
  • These accounts too can be opened in currencies other than AED.
  • With certain bank you may be required to open deposits that require a specified minimum amount deposited.

Eligibility Criteria for Accounts in the UAE

The eligibility criteria for these accounts is generally the same across the banks and so are the documents required. All these accounts are open to citizens of the UAE and expatriates who have a valid residency visa for the UAE. For certain accounts you may also be required to fulfil certain minimum salary clauses which define a minimum monthly salary that you must earn.

Documents Required for Accounts in the UAE

The documents required will be:

  • Account opening forms completed by you.
  • A copy of your passport or an Emirates ID for card citizens and expatriates.
  • In case of expatriates, a copy of the page in the passport with a valid visa will also be needed.
  • Salary certificates or the last 3 months bank statements.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

  1. Can expatriates open any of these accounts?
  2. Yes. As long as they have a valid visa for the UAE, they can apply to open these accounts.

  3. Will I earn an interest on the savings accounts?
  4. Yes you will earn an interest on the funds held in these accounts.

  5. Will I earn an interest on the current account?
  6. Yes. You will earn an interest but it will be subject to the bank's policies and generally less than that of the savings or deposit account.

  7. Will I earn an interest on the deposit accounts?
  8. Yes. These accounts offer the highest interest rates among the three.

  9. What if I want to open an account under the rules of Islamic banking?
  10. Many of the banks offer accounts that are completely compliant with the rules of Islamic banking and you can approach these banks to open the accounts.

  11. Do I need to submit just a copy of the documents required to open these accounts?
  12. Yes you will be required to submit just copies of your passport however you will be required to provide the originals for verifications so it’s best to carry them along.

  13. Is there any fee charged for these accounts?
  14. Yes. Some of the banks may charge account opening fee. If the account comes with a minimum balance clause then you may be charged for falling below that minimum balance.

  15. Can I open the account online?
  16. Yes, some banks will let you open the account online, provided you have other accounts with them which negate the need for submitting any documents.

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