How many times have we walked out of our bank distraught by their quality of service? Unfortunately many of us make the decision of selecting our banks in haste and realize later that they lack the quality of services we need. If you are one of those unhappy customers, why not switch your bank? It may not be the easiest process but the guide below can help you get started.
You can select from 12 licensed banks in Saudi Arabia which have numerous branches all over the country.
However, before switching make sure you file a complaint with your current bank, giving feedback on why you have opted to shift. This may help the bank raise its standards or even encourage them to fight for you as a customer. And if you’re still unhappy with their response, you can leave a complaint with SAMA under the Consumer Protection section.
If you have made the final decision of changing your bank, consider the following steps:
What do you want from your new bank?
Before making the move to a new bank, check if they will help solve your financial worries. One way is to compare accounts and services of banks in Saudi Arabia which can be done through Souqalmal.com. While comparing, consider the quality of their online services, fees on their accounts, if you want Islamic or conventional accounts, benefits and minimum balance requirements.
A good idea is to take a trip down to the nearest branch of your desired bank. It will help you judge the banks proximity to your home or work and give you a chance to evaluate customer service, efficiency, waiting time and effectiveness of their services.
Do you have existing loans with your existing bank?
If you owe your current bank in the form of a mortgage, credit card payments, car or a personal loan then they need to be settled before switching. Paying off any outstanding balance with your current bank will make the switch easier. However if you are unable to pay off your debt, find a new bank which will accept to refinance your debt. This would also mean looking into the personal loans available at your new bank. Compare loans from banks in Saudi Arabia and select one which isn’t more expensive than your old loan and also keep in mind early settlement fees you might have to pay to your old bank.
Debts with other banks
When settling your debt with the bank, consider any cheques you many have written usually to cover monthly repayments to the bank. Consequently, before switching accounts, inform the bank and issue them a new set of cheques. Being honest about the switch with your bank is probably the best way to go and ensure that you are given the correct information on all the procedures, paperwork and requirements to close accounts.
Make sure you are eligible for your new bank
Moving banks in Saudi Arabia is a two way process, therefore if you have selected one you now have to confirm if you match their criteria. Some banks have a salary requirement while others may have issues with your nationality. For example Americans residing in Saudi Arabia may have difficulty opening accounts due to the US tax regulations which force banks to report any accounts held by US citizens. This prevents them from evading taxes on income earned in Saudi Arabia. It also means banks are hesitant because of added costs of reporting and retaining accounts of Americans.
Certain banks may also refuse to bank with you based on your place of work. Banks generally have a list of companies whose employees get preference when opening accounts. As a result it is best to check if your company is listed with your new bank first.
Get your paperwork in order
Once you have selected your new bank and checked if you fit their criteria, get in order all the paperwork needed to make the switch. To open a standard account in Saudi Arabia you will need your iqama, passport copy, probably a no objection letter from your employer and a salary certificate. Your new bank may also ask you to provide additional documents such as previous bank statements or a liability letter from your old bank.
However keep in mind that if your iqama or any official document is expired after you have opened an account, it will be frozen until all documents are renewed. This is a hassle especially if you get your salary transferred directly to your bank and because renewals can take time in Saudi Arabia. The rule is applicable to both Saudi nationals and expats living in the country.
A helpful tip before switching is taking a look at SAMA who have launched a website which provides information to consumers on their rights and responsibilities when it comes to dealing with banks in Saudi Arabia. The SAMA Consumer Protection outline provides good way to start your search for a new bank or even a way to deal with your old bank.
Just remember be patient as changing banks isn’t quick and easy as it requires a lot of paperwork and time.