This article will look at some of the best savings accounts for expats in Saudi Arabia.
It continues our analysis at savings solutions after I looked at options in numerous countries.
The article will look at the best options available in Saudi, although it remains our position to in an era of 0% interest rates, saving money in the bank doesn’t make sense.
For any questions, or if you are looking to invest, you can contact me using this form.
Savings Account is a type of bank account that offers profits to the people who make a deposit in them. Usually offered by Banks and other Financial Institutions, Savings Accounts are known to be the most secure form of investment.
However, as an investment option, savings accounts provide very low profits when compared to other traditional forms of investment such as stocks and bonds.
The money deposited in a savings account will be utilized by a bank to provide loans to the people who borrow money from the bank. The interest rate applicable to the borrowers is more than the interest provided to the depositors. The banks earn profits from the difference in interest.
In general words, banks act as a middleman between the depositors and the borrowers.
Officially known as the ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, Saudi Arabia is the largest sovereign state as well as a wealthy country in Western Asia. It consists of most of the Arabian Peninsula and is the second-largest in the Arab world, first being Algeria.
The capital of Saudi Arabia is ‘Riyadh’ and the official language as well as the widely spoken language in Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The largest religion of Saudi Arabia is ‘Sunni Islam’, which is the major part of Islam and followed by 87% to 90% Muslims in the world.
The government of Saudi Arabia is ‘Unitary Islamic Absolute Monarchy’, which means, the power resides within the monarch ultimately and he is not restricted to any of the Laws, Legislature, or Customs.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded on 23rd September 1932, was admitted to the United Nations on 24th October 1945 and the current constitution was formed on 31st January 1992.
The estimated population of Saudi Arabia as of 2019 used to be around 34.2 million. The currency of Saudi Arabia is Saudi Riyal, which is represented as ‘SAR’. By the time of writing this article, 1 SAR = 0.27 USD/0.21 GBP.
Banking in Saudi Arabia:
Most local and international banks in Saudi Arabia offer a seamless, easy and hassle-free process of opening a bank account. Let us have a brief yet detailed look at banking in Saudi Arabia.
Based on the stats provided by KPMG, the banks of Saudi Arabia are the source of assets worth around $604.9 billion. The banking sector in Saudi Arabia is known for its strong fundamentals, high liquidity and assuring profits.
The banking industry in Saudi Arabia is considered to be stable as Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country. However, there have been some structural changes made to the banking in Saudi Arabia, when compared to its early days.
The crucial changes have taken place due to the new entries of various banks as well as digital fintech start-ups in the market.
The banking system in Saudi Arabia – Based on the stats of 2020, there are 30 banks in Saudi Arabia. Out of these 30 banks, 12 banks are local, whereas, 17 banks are international. All these banks are supervised by the ‘SAMA (Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority)’.
SAMA was established as the Kingdom’s central bank in the year 1952 in order to oversee the banks & financial institutions, handle the monetary policy and supervise the Finance & Insurance systems. The main objective, in simple words, is to manage the banking system.
When it comes to GDP, the banking sector becomes responsible for 53.2% of Saudi’s economy. Four of the domestic banks account for 57% of total assets within the banking sector. The National Commercial Bank (NCB) being the largest (20.5%), Al Rajhi Bank (16.1%), Samba Bank (10.1%) and Riyad Bank (10.1%).
To provide accurate details, in the first half of 2019, there were 2,062 bank branches all over the Kingdom. Riyadh Bank has the highest number of branches, accounting for up to 627 branches.
ATM services are also easily accessible in Saudi Arabia as more than 18,000 ATM machines can be found all over the Kingdom. These ATM machines are distributed across bank branches, shopping malls, street stores, etc.
Expat people can easily be able to open an account with any of the 30 banks available. It is not mandatory, but some banks might require an appointment to be made.
The banks are modern and up-to-date almost everywhere in the Kingdom. People can choose how to manage their funds, whether it be by approaching a branch manually or accessing the services via the internet.
Being an Islamic country, Saudi Arabia provides dedicated services to women clients as well. Some banks might provide ‘ladies-only branches’, whereas, most other banks have specialized sections in the bank for women.
Consisting of Islam’s holiest shrines ‘Mecca’ and ‘Medina’, Saudi Arabia has to cope with the social norms and work accordingly of the Islamic Precepts. This is usually handled by providing Sharia-compliant or Islamic Banking Institutions.
Saudi Arabia contains the world’s largest Islamic banks’ financing base of any country at 78% of the entire sector. Almost 30% of all the Islamic banking activity that is conducted within the GCC happens in the Kingdom.
Based on the law, most banks operate on the basis of Islamic principles. For example, the account holders earn a ‘profit rate’ instead of interest as the concept of interest is against the rules of Islam.
Recently, Saudi Arabia became the digital banking platform for the Middle East and North Africa. Based on some thorough research, more than 76% of banking customers depend on online banking or mobile applications.
Because of the encouragement from SAMA, almost all the banks have an online presence. Residents of Saudi Arabia can make use of an electronic payment system known as Mada.
Almost all the banks in Saudi Arabia operate according to the Islamic principles, whereas, some banks are dedicated Islamic banks.
The topmost banks in Saudi Arabia are:
- ‘The National Commercial Bank’-
- ‘Al Rajhi Bank’
- ‘Samba Bank’
- ‘Riyad Bank’
- ‘The Saudi British Bank’.
The international banks in Saudi Arabia are:
- ‘Emirates NBD’, ‘Deutsche Bank’
- ‘BNP Paribas’
- ‘J.P. Morgan Chase NA’
- ‘Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’
- ‘First Abu Dhabi Bank’
- ‘Standard Chartered Bank’.
Dedicated Islamic Banks in Saudi Arabia are:
- Al-Rajhi Bank Saudi Arabia
- Al Jazeera Bank
- Al-Bilad Bank
- Alinma Bank
Current Accounts – Most banks in Saudi Arabia offer a wide range of accounts, especially for an individual’s everyday use. Current accounts usually include standard accounts, joint accounts for families, accounts for students & young people, etc.
There might be some minimum balance requirements for the checking/current accounts depending on the bank. Checkbooks are also provided with current accounts and there might even be some added benefits as well.
Investments – People can get access to various types of financial instruments such as bonds, shares and insurance-linked pension plans. There is also an availability of a wide range of investment banks in Saudi Arabia, which are governed by the Capital Markets Authority along with BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, UBS and Societe Generale.
On opting for accessing investments with the help of banking services, customers are required to qualify for a certain type of minimum balance eligibility criteria.
Best Savings Accounts in Saudi Arabia:
Savings Accounts in Saudi Arabia – A large number of banks in Saudi Arabia provide Savings Accounts, which are easily accessible with the help of online banking.
While having a minimum balance requirement as low as zero, many banks grant access to savings accounts, which have a higher profit rate when compared to the regular checking accounts.
- SABB (Saudi Arabia British Bank) – Al Ruwaad Account:
The minimum balance required to open an Al Ruwaad account at SABB is SAR 30,000. There is no minimum salary requirement to open this type of account and the annual returns are 0%.
- The Al Ruwaad account provides special offers and promotions with SABB retail partners, which are exclusively intended for the Al Ruwaad customers.
- Customers also get access to an automated priority branch service and a specially designed Al Ruwaad ATM card for free.
- They are also provided with a free SABB Titanium MasterCard Credit Card with no annual fees applicable for the first year.
- Free supplementary credit cards can also be obtained for the customer’s family.
- Ability to access Wealth Management services offered by the bank.
- Access to 24-hour SABB Direct (customer service centre of SABB) and SABB NET (dedicated Internet Banking service of SABB).
- Remittances can be made to the HSBC India beneficiary account for free. However, a first-time one-off charge should be paid by the customer, which is SAR 50 per each beneficiary account.
- Account statements, Monthly statements and Cheque books provided for free.
- A special discount is applicable to safe deposit lockers as well.
- BSF (Banque Saudi Fransi) – Saving Account:
The Saving Account at Banque Saudi Fransi allows the customers to put their money aside and give it the ability to grow gradually in the long run. The withdrawals can be made flexibly without any penalties applicable to making a withdrawal.
No minimum balance requirements or minimum salary requirements for opening a savings account at Banque Saudi Fransi and the annual return is 0%.
There is a requirement of certain documents for opening the Saving Account at Banque Saudi Fransi, which is given below:
- The customer must be a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi National ID
- Family registration Card or a certified family record along with personal identifier companion (in case of ladies).
GCC citizens are required to submit a Passport and National ID, whereas, Expatriates require Iqama ID and a copy of passport.
- No minimum balance required to open this account, which makes it a very prominent feature.
- Guaranteed rate of return and the profits are added to the account quarterly, however, these profits depend on the treasury.
- Availability of Electronic Banking such as Online Banking, Mobile Application and Phone Banking for the convenience of the customers.
- This type of account is available in Saudi Riyals and multiple foreign currencies.
- Account statements for this Saving Account are provided quarterly for free.
- Availability of SMS Notifications, Cheque Deposit Facility, Withdrawals and Deposits.
- Alawwal Bank – Saving Account:
The Saving Account at Alawwal bank helps the individuals get access to their funds in their account, whenever they need it. Customers can also be able to earn profits on their existing funds as well.
It is similar to a current account while having the ability to provide profits and statements. Customers can also opt for Shariah Compliant Savings Account.
There is no minimum salary requirement for opening this account and the annual return is 0%, however, the minimum balance required to open this account is SAR 5,000.
- Along with all the services provided with a current account, the customer also gets profit rates added to their account.
- Ability to open a savings account in many foreign currencies, after meeting with the minimum balance requirement of SAR 5,000 or equivalent to that in foreign currencies.
- Customers can create and manage savings programs for minors, for which the accounts must be held in guardianship.
- ANB (Arab National Bank) – Savings Account:
The Savings Account at ANB allows customers to enjoy anytime access to their funds in their account regardless of their location along with earning profits on their savings.
There are no minimum balance and minimum salary requirements to open a savings account at ANB and the annual return is 0%.
- No minimum balance or minimum salary requirement is the best feature and needs to be taken into consideration.
- The funds in an ANB account can be accessed by customers with the help of an ANB ATM card.
- Customers are able to conveniently conduct transactions anytime and anywhere with the help of ANB Phone Banking services and ANB Net Banking services.
- Utility bills can be paid with the help of an ANB savings account.
- Periodical/monthly statement in Arabic or English depending on the customer’s language preference.
- Profit is calculated on a daily basis and the calculated profit is credited into the account of the customer every six months.
- Customers can open savings account for their children in order to make savings as a habit to them (under guardianship).
- Riyad Bank – Savings Account:
The Savings Account at Riyad Bank offers substantial returns on their savings and gives them access to their funds (whenever they want). The main objective of the savings account at Riyad Bank is to offer a secure option for future planning.
There is no minimum salary required or minimum balance to be maintained for opening a Savings Account at Riyad Bank and the annual return is 0%.
In order to open a Savings Account at Riyad Bank,
- Residents are required to provide National ID and Clear Postal Address.
- Non-Residents are required to provide Iqama, Clear Postal Address and Additional Home Address.
- Customers get access to swift transfers between bank accounts.
- A free ATM card and bank statements are provided for free.
- The services can be accessed with the help of free Internet Banking services.
- Competitive profit rates, which are computed depending on the daily balance.
- Customers can open a Savings Account either in Saudi Riyals or USD.
- The funds can be transferred from the account as well as to the account easily.
- The money in this type of account can be instantly accessible.
- Increased Savings provide higher purchasing power.
- Customers can access other types of accounts, products & services with the help of electronic banking.
- Alinma Bank – Savings Account:
Alinma Savings Account is designed in such a way that it meets with the specific needs of the client. People can plan for the future and fulfill their financial goals in a shariah-compliant way.
There are no minimum salary and minimum balance requirements, and the annual return is 0.27%.
All the Alinma Bank Partners are eligible to open this Savings Account and the requirements are,
- The customer should have a Current Account with Alinma Bank
- The customer should be able to provide a valid ID card.
- The customer should sign the savings account agreement.
- The customers can open the savings account for free.
- Flexible deposits as well as withdrawals.
- Transactions can be made by the customers easily and conveniently.
- The individuals can get to know about their account details with the help of an account statement or approaching a branch or through Alinma Internet Banking, or Alinma Phone Banking.
- Monthly Dividends are secure.
- Funds can be withdrawn by the customer during the period of investment depending on the package terms.
- Funds added to the account during an investment period will be moved on as the funds for the following investment period.
- A minimum balance is required to be maintained until the end of the investment period. This minimum balance amount can be added to the investment fund and to obtain dividends based on the package terms.
- SABB (Saudi Arabia British Bank) Mudaraba Saving Account:
This is an account based on the Mudaraba concept in Islam and is known for generating profits.
There is no requirement for minimum balance to open or maintain the Mudaraba savings account at SABB.
- This is an Islamic account and is based on the Mudarabah concept in Islam. `
- The rates paid to the customers are computed based on the everyday balance.
- This type of account can be opened in the Saudi Riyal and other types of major currencies.
- Accessibility through Phone Banking and Internet Banking.
- No monthly fees applicable to this type of account and no rewards as well.
- ATM is provided, with the help of which, a customer can be able to access their account whenever they want.
- SABB (Saudi Arabia British Bank) Premier Account:
This is a Shariah compliant and customers get access to the Premier centers of the bank along with prioritized services.
The minimum balance required to be maintained in order to open this account is SAR 375,000 and the annual return rate is 0%. No monthly fee applicable and it is a currency account.
- This account is shariah compliant.
- Customers get access to priority services at the premier centers in the bank and are provided with gifts that represent the premier status.
- Wealth Management services are accessible on a 24-hour dedicated Premier Hotline and the services of a Relationship Manager are also provided.
- Customers also get a free SABB Premier MasterCard, Visa Platinum Credit Card and free Credit Card Insurance.
- Free SMS alerts, monthly statements, checkbooks and free local & international telex transfers.
- NCB Ashbal AlAhli Program:
This is an Islamic account and not a currency account. The minimum balance that needs to maintained is SAR 250 in order to open this account. No monthly fees are applicable, anyhow, no profit paid to the customer with this account.
- Saving Passbook made available for the child to get familiar with the transactions.
- Savings can be made regularly with a minimum of SAR 250 monthly and along with this, there are a wide range of investment options.
- SAMBA Samba Stars:
This is an account available for kids and teenagers below 18 years of age and no profit is paid out on this type of account. The Annual Percentage Rate is 0% and it is not a currency account.
- An ATM card with a special design is provided for boys and girls having more than 10 years and have the approval of their guardian.
- The withdrawal limit of the ATM card is SAR 100 per each day.
- This account can only be opened in Saudi Riyals and there are no rewards applicable to this account.
- SAIB Savings Account:
This is an interest-bearing account, which can be opened in multiple currencies. The minimum balance required to open this account is SAR 1,000 and there are no monthly charges applicable to this.
People having an age of at least 15 years can open this account, 18 years in the case of Non-Saudi people.
- A free Debit card is provided to the customers who opt for this savings account.
- Accessibility of multiple channels like Flexx Click, Flexx Call, SMS Banking, ATMs, and Branches.
- Statement is provided for every 6 months and the interest is computed on a daily basis and is credited into the accounts every 6 months.
- The Savings Account at SAIB can be opened in Saudi Riyals, USD, Pound Sterling, or Euros.
- SABB (Saudi Arabia British Bank) Advance Account:
It is a Shariah Compliant account that provides priority banking services. The minimum balance needed to be maintained to open this account is SAR 100,000.
People should notice that the minimum balance requirement is very high when compared to the other savings accounts in this account.
- Priority Banking Services, Wealth Management Services, Dedicated Relationship Manager, Free Credit Card Insurance, etc.
- Customers can access the services by Phone Banking and online services as well. Free SMS alerts for the transactions made in the account.
- A Free SABB Visa Advance Credit Card is also provided.
- Free checkbooks and monthly statements are also offered to the individuals having this account.
These are the top savings accounts available in Saudi Arabia and people can choose the type of savings account that is perfectly suitable for them depending on this banking needs.
If you require further information on this topic or require guidance, you can make use of the professional banking services offered by us and get the most of it. That being said, we hope that you found whatever you were looking for in the article.
We wish that you might have a successful career with maximum profits from all your investments. Happy banking!!!