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Best Banks in South Africa

Here’s the list of 10 best banks in South Africa.

If you want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what i specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

The Banking System in South Africa

The South African Reserve Bank, which controls South African banks, was formed and established in June 1921, under the Currency and Bank Act of 1920. The central bank is in charge of overseeing the bank’s activities in South Africa while also working to preserve and attain price stability in the country.

The South African Reserve Bank is in charge of the country’s financial sector. It collaborates with the government to assist in the formulation and implementation of economic policies. The Reserve Bank is in responsibility of maintaining the value of the South African rand (R) and keeping inflation under control.

South Africa has a wide range of financial institutions. Locally controlled banks, mutual banks, cooperative banks, multinational banks, and foreign banks are examples of this. South African banks possess roughly R6 trillion in deposits.

According to a Deloitte survey from 2019, about 80% of South Africans own a bank account, however cash is still used for the majority of daily purchases.

According to a study by Moody’s, the banking system of South Africa has been given a negative rating because the rating agency, Moody’s, believes that the creditworthiness of South African banks would likely be questioned in the near future. Weak operating circumstances, which are projected to influence overall profitability and credit quality, will be a problem for banks operating in South Africa.

Currency in South Africa

South Africa’s currency is the rand (R), with rands (R) and cents (C) available (C). Banknotes in the denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20, and R10 are produced. R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c, and 5c coins are available in various denominations.

The ‘big five’ animals of South Africa are shown on the country’s banknotes: rhinoceros, elephant, lion, buffalo, and leopard. Watermarks, raised printing, and a security thread are among the sophisticated security features that make them difficult to fabricate.

Best Banks in South Africa
The range of South African banknotes.

Banking Services of Banks in South Africa

Most major South African banks now provide loans, mortgages, and investment services in addition to current and savings accounts. Some even offer insurance for cars and homes.

  • Current Accounts: Accounts for day-to-day banking are called current accounts. They provide you the ability to withdraw money from ATMs and banks, as well as manage your account and transfer money online. Basic accounts with minimal monthly fees are available, however transactions and cash withdrawals will incur extra costs. You may apply for an overdraft after you have a bank account.
  • Savings and Investments: Banks have a variety of savings and investment accounts to choose from. The rates you’ll obtain will be determined by how much money you’re saving or investing, as well as whether you require immediate access to the funds or are prepared to lock it away for a longer length of time.
  • Loans: Personal loans are available from most major banks, with interest rates and maximum periods varying based on the amount borrowed and your circumstances. If you move your current account when applying for a loan, some banks may offer you a lower interest rate.
  • Credit Cards: The major banks provide a variety of credit cards. Most have monthly fees, and some need you to make a certain amount of money each month to be eligible.
  • Mortgages: Available from most major banks; however, expatriates require larger deposits than South Africans, and all loans must be authorized by the South African Reserve Bank. More information is available in our South African mortgage guide.

10 Best Banks in South Africa

1. Standard Bank Group Limited

In 1969, the Standard Bank Group Limited was founded. Johannesburg is the home of the bank’s headquarters. Transactional banking, borrowing, saving, investing, insurance, wealth management,  lending, risk management, and consulting services are just a few of the services provided by this bank. Around ZAR2.13 trillion in total assets have been handled by it. The income earned by Standard Bank Group Limited in 2018 was roughly ZAR59.62 billion. Standard Bank Group Limited reported a net profit of ZAR28.19 billion in the same year. Around 48,000 people work for it.

2. First Rand Ltd

The subsidiary of FirstRand Limited, First Rand Ltd, was founded in 1966. Sandton is the home of the bank’s headquarters. Commercial, retail, public-sector, and corporate clients in South Africa and throughout the world rely on the bank for investment services, banking, and insurance. For the fiscal year ending in 2018, it managed around R1.53 trillion in total assets. It has a workforce of over 45,490.


ABSA was established in 1991. This bank’s headquarters are located in Johannesburg. Absa offers corporate and investment banking, as well as asset management services. Vehicle and asset finance, personal loans, house loans, and other services are available through its retail banking section. With total assets of R1,288,744, ABSA achieved a net profit of roughly R15,259 in 2018. There are more than 30,630 people employed here.

4. Nedbank

Nedbank was founded in 1966, and its clientele include BoE Private Clients and Go Banking. Sandton is home to the bank’s headquarters. Documentary credits and collections, guarantees, foreign currency accounts, payments and receipts, treasury services, and trade finance are all available through Nedbank. The bank’s total assets are R 903,961. There are more than 32,000 people employed here.

5. Investec Bank

Investec Bank was founded in 1974. The bank’s headquarters are in Sandton. This bank provides investment, corporate, and institutional banking, as well as private banking services. In 2018, the bank handled over £57.61 billion in total assets and generated an operating income of around £607.51 million. There are more than 9,720 people employed here.

6. Capitech

Capitech was founded in 1980. The bank’s headquarters are in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Capitec’s parent firm is Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. Card machines, workplace banking, money transfers, mobile banking, financial education for corporate personnel, including pay transfers, are all services provided by the bank. In 2018, it handled Rm84,957 of total assets and had a net profit of Rm4,458. It has a workforce of more than 11,440 workers.

7. African Bank

African Bank Limited (“ABL” or “the Group”) is a South African public enterprise. In Midrand, this bank’s headquarters are located. Following the completion of the restructuring deal of the corporation formerly known as African Bank Limited, the Bank began operations on April 4, 2016. (in curatorship). Total assets were R30.28 billion in 2018, with an R303 million net profit.

Best Banks in South Africa
African Bank

8. Grindrod Bank

Grindrod Bank is a subsidiary of Grindrod Financial Holdings Limited and was founded in 2004. This bank’s headquarters are in Durban. Grindrod Asset Management and Grindrod Bank provide services such as investing, property finance, and retail services, as well as asset management. This bank employs a total of 5,880 people. The bank reported total assets of R34.95 billion in 2018 and a net loss of R507 million.

9. Mercantile Bank

Mercantile Bank was founded and incorporated in South Africa in 1965. It is owned by CGD, Portugal’s largest bank with over 140 years of experience and a global financial services business. Sandown houses the Bank’s headquarters. This group offers commercial banking and specialist business services that are distinguished by excellent service and a thorough grasp of the financial needs of South African businesspeople, or entrepreneurs. It managed over R12.83 billion in total assets, with a net profit of R194 million recorded in 2017.

10. Bidvest Bank

Bidvest Bank, founded in 1946, is a completely-owned subsidiary of the Bidvest Group Limited, an international commercial group with headquarters in Johannesburg. This bank is a foreign exchange (FX) specialist that also provides retail banking, car insurance, and lending. With total assets of R9.22 billion and a net profit of R302.33 million in 2018, the company had a profit of R302.33 million. It has a workforce of around 117,000 people.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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