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If you’re going to study in the UAE for more than a few months, then opening a bank account is a great idea. But it’s tough to know where to begin, so here’s everything you need to know!

Do I need a Bank Account ?

This is a very common question. It depends mostly on how long you are staying in Dubai or the UAE for. If you are a short term resident/student, who is only staying for couple of months, then the best option would be to look into a travel card or an international online based bank, such as Revolut or Monzo. However, if you are staying longer, having a local bank would be more beneficial as it will enable you to make local purchases, withdraw cash from any ATM without any external charges.

Things to keep in mind

In order to open a bank account in the UAE, you need to get your Emirates ID first. An Emirates ID is a national ID Card that you receive once your residency student visa has been processed. This is usually on a 1-year renewable contract until you finish your University education. In most cases, the only official document you need to open a digital account is an Emirates ID. Some banks might request additional documents such as Proof of Residency, which the team at the Uninest reception will happily assist students with. However, in all honesty, opening a digital bank account is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes; all you need is a smartphone and your Emirates ID.

Perks and benefits

Banks are often keen to attract students, in the hopes that once they graduate they’ll keep their accounts open.

Because of this, accounts directly aimed at students often come with various perks such as; no minimum balance requirement, a free debit card, online banking, free ATM transactions and MOST IMPORTANTLY movie ticket discounts.

Opening an account

The banks with the largest customer base in the UAE are Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), ADCB, Mashreq Bank, RakBank, Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB). There are a lot of smaller regional banks however if you are an international student there are also a wealth of international banks such as Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Great accounts for students

The digital bank sector is growing rapidly in UAE and there are some fantastic options for students to access. These bank accounts work completely remotely, making money transfers, payments and transactions so much easier.

Liv by Emirates NBD

The UAE’s first digital bank targeted at millennials, Liv, is aimed at providing a differentiated digital experience for a new generation of customers; empowering them in their daily lives, learning and adapting to their individual preferences. All whilst, providing a banking platform that is intuitive and simple to use. The Liv mobile app will allow customers to open their bank account instantly from their smartphones by simply scanning their Emirates ID card. They can then deposit funds into their accounts immediately using any bank debit card they hold. Following this, customers can carry out routine transactions like local fund transfers and paying bills, free of any fees. Customers then become eligible to receive a Liv debit card delivered to them, enabling ATM cash withdrawals and purchases at any outlet or online. All you need is your Emirates ID and your smartphone to download the app on Playstore/App Store and  BAM, you are minutes away from opening your bank account. Let’s not forget, it is completely free for students – WIN!!

Mashreq Neo by Mashreq Bank

With a similar concept to Liv, Mashreq Neo is a bank for a “brilliant new world”. A digital bank powered by Mashreq that exists entirely on your phone. With all the banking services you could need in the palm of your hand, you’ll never have to step foot into a branch again - hooray!

Other Banks

Needless to say, Emirates NBD and Mashreq bank aren’t the only ones with digital platforms, with many other local banks offering similar opportunities;

If you’re going to study in the UAE for more than a few months, then opening a bank account is a great idea. But it’s tough to know where to begin, so here’s everything you need to know!