Guide to Banking in Kuwait for Expats

Banking in Kuwait is one of the most impressive experiences in the Middle East. The country has a highly developed financial sector and offers some of the best banking services in the world. There are many banks that operate in Kuwait, including local, regional and international banks. When planning to make an investment or purchase something such as real estate, it’s important to know your options so as not to miss out on any opportunity.

It’s difficult enough to open a bank account in your home country, let alone overseas. It can be tricky to find a bank that accepts expat customers and gets the rules of living abroad just right. With banking so important for people working abroad it can make planning a lot trickier. Many banks in Kuwait require proof of residence when opening an account so it may take a while to get anything done. The banking systems in other countries may be different from those in your home country, and Kuwait is not an exception. Read on to learn more.

An Expat’s Guide to Banking in Kuwait

Guide to Banking in Kuwait

Spend a few minutes looking at the banking options in Kuwait and you’ll realize that it can be a great deal for expats. Want to make the most out of your time in the country? Read on to learn about some of the best options for banking!


Kuwait has a well-developed banking sector, with several international banks operating branches in the country.

Kuwaitis have a reputation for being very conservative when it comes to money matters, so it may take some time before you get used to banking in Kuwait.

Banks are open between 8am and 2pm on weekdays and until noon on Saturdays, although many branches will close at 3pm on Fridays as well. If you need after-hours service, most banks offer this but it can be expensive. American Express has branches open 24 hours a day in Kuwait City and Salmiya. Banks are also closed on public holidays and Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

The currency used in Kuwait is the Kuwaiti dinar (KD). It is pegged at 1 KD = $3.71 USD (as of June 2016). The currency is available in notes of 1, 5 and 10 dinars, as well as coins denominated at 1, 5 and 10 fils. The official exchange rate is set by the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK).

Banking hours

The banking hours in Kuwait are 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 AM – 1:15 PM on Friday. The weekend is reserved for prayer time, so most banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Savings account (Sukuk Al-Tawfeek)

A savings account is a deposit account that allows you to save money in local currency or foreign currency. Savings accounts can be opened in the name of companies or natural persons, and can be opened as single accounts or joint accounts. The interest rate on these accounts is fixed, so there are no surprises when it comes to the amount of interest you will earn on your deposits.

Current Account (Sukuk Al-Bilayee)

The Current Account (Sukuk Al-Bilayee) is a personal bank account with daily transactions. It’s an account you can use to deposit money or withdraw cash from your ATM card, and it’s suitable for those who don’t need a credit line or want to maintain a minimal balance. This type of account doesn’t require any minimum deposit amount or monthly service charge.

Fixed Deposit Account (Sukuk Al-Ma’oodeh)

  • Fixed Deposit Account (Sukuk Al-Ma’oodeh)
  • Minimum deposit amount: KD 5,000 or the equivalent in foreign currency.
  • Interest rate: 1% per annum on deposits in Kuwaiti dinars, 2% per annum on deposits in foreign currencies and 3.5% per annum on sukuk investments.
  • Duration of deposit: Minimum period is six months and maximum period is five years with an annual renewal option for another two years upon maturity.
  • Withdrawal rules: You can make one withdrawal per calendar year with no penalty but you should note that any outstanding principal balance shall be paid from your bank account. The balance will be calculated at the end of each month following your first withdrawal and it will be paid from your bank account within 15 days from receipt of such calculation by our bank to ensure smooth payment service delivery to you at your address provided during registration process; otherwise we reserve right to pay it by check at our own cost if necessary (service charge may apply). This also applies when a partial withdrawal request issued by you does not cover all funds deposited into this account or where there was an outstanding balance prior to issuing such request(s).

Joint Account (Sukuk Al-Mushtaraka)

A joint account is a bank account that is held jointly by two or more people. The bank account is opened in the name of all the account holders and it is their responsibility to manage it together. This type of banking arrangement can be beneficial if you want to share expenses with someone else, such as paying for rent or grocery bills. In addition, if one person wants to purchase something expensive but cannot afford it alone, having a joint account will allow them to make purchases through this shared financial resource.

There are some key points about opening a joint bank account:

  • All parties must sign for opening this type of banking arrangement;
  • Each party needs their own signature card for each separate debit card linked with the main account;
  • Each party must have their own PIN number (personal identification number).

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA)

The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a type of investment vehicle that allows you to save money for retirement. The benefit of an IRA is that it can offer tax-deferred growth, meaning that the taxes on your investments are not paid until you make a withdrawal. There are two types: Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

The traditional IRA allows investors to deduct up to $2,000 from their taxable income ($4,000 if filing jointly). These deductions reduce the amount of income subject to taxation, therefore reducing your tax liability for the year in which you contribute. You must be under 70½ years old with earned income from work or self-employment in order for contributions into a Traditional IRA or 401(k) plan to be eligible as a tax deduction against current year’s taxes – any earnings on those contributions will still be taxed when withdrawn later on (unless it is within five years). If you’re over 70½ years old when you make withdrawals from these accounts after having made all required minimum distributions prior thereto (RMD), this money will be taxed at ordinary income rates rather than capital gains rates; however if medical expenses exceed 7% of adjusted gross income (AGI), then those costs may still qualify as deductible medical expenses under certain circumstances even though they might otherwise have fallen into another category such as “miscellaneous itemized deductions” where only 2% AGI threshold applies before itemization becomes less advantageous than taking standard deduction amount instead.”

Money Market Account (Sukuk Al-Aswaq Al-Moneeya)

Money market accounts (Sukuk Al-Aswaq Al-Moneeya) are savings accounts offered by banks and other financial institutions. These are similar to regular savings accounts, but they pay a higher interest rate than regular savings. Money market accounts also have lower minimum balance requirements than regular savings accounts.

Term Deposit Certificates Accounts (Qard Hasaneh)

Qard hasaneh is a time deposit, which means that the money is deposited for a specific period. The term of the deposit can be from 1 month to 5 years. In Kuwait there are two types of Qard hasaneh accounts:

  • Fixed Rate Certificates (FRC) – This option allows you to fix your return rate by committing your funds for 3 or 5 years. You can withdraw your capital after one year at any time but will not get additional interest on your investment if you choose this option.
  • Variable Rate Certificates (VRC) – A VRC account works like an FRC account but with one difference; it offers clients more flexibility since they have access to their money anytime they want it without losing interest earned so far on their investment as long as they can prove that they need them urgently like in case of medical treatment or paying off debts etc..

Certificate of Deposit (CDs) (Wadehah Ta’meedeyyah Qard Hasaneh)

Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are savings accounts offered by banks and other financial institutions. CDs have a fixed term, the length of time your money will be tied up in the account. The interest rate on CDs can be higher than that of regular savings accounts because the bank can use your money for longer periods before it has to pay you back. As with any type of investment, there are risks involved with CDs as well; although they offer higher yields, they may not necessarily provide returns as high as some other investments if held over long periods.

CDs can be great options for individuals who want to set aside some extra funds but don’t have room in their budget to do so right now. They’re also good choices for people who want their money protected against inflation or other fluctuations in the economy without having too many risks associated with them

Real Estate/Mortgage Loans

The main difference between a mortgage loan and an unsecured loan is that the borrower needs to provide collateral for the former. This means that if they fail to repay their debt, the lender has rights to repossess your home or property.

Mortgage loans are generally easier to get approved for than unsecured loans since they’re backed by collateral. If you don’t have enough down payment money for your purchase price, you may consider getting a mortgage loan because this type of financing allows you more flexibility with terms such as interest rates and repayment schedules.

Car Loans / Auto Loans (Qard Hasanah fi Asr Sooragheb or Qard Hasanah fi Asr Motarabiya or Qard Hasanah fi Asr Motaraseb or Qard Hasanah fi Asr Da’m Wared) – Secured Loans / Collateral Loans / Consumer Finance Loans / Personal Finance Loans / Motor Finance Loans

Car loans are a great way to finance a car. They are secured by the car, so your lender can repossess your vehicle if you stop making your payments. That’s why they are often referred to as “collateral loans,” meaning that they’re backed up by something of value in case the borrower can’t make their payments (in this case, it’s the car).

Car loans are available both in Kuwait and abroad; however, there is no standard application form or process for these types of financing. Some companies will require you to call them first before submitting any paperwork. In contrast, others may ask that you go into their office immediately after submitting an online application form without even giving them a phone call first.

There is no real difference between unsecured consumer financing/credit cards (e.g., Visa or American Express) or collateralized consumer financing/mortgages (e.g., Fannie Mae). The only difference lies in what type of asset is being used as collateral against default – it could be anything from jewellery up to cars/vacation homes/etc.

Tips When Opening a Bank Account in Kuwait

Make sure your work status is clear.

You will need to have a work permit in order to open a Kuwait bank account. If you are not working, then you can open an account with a family member who has a work permit and is earning money in the country.

Protect yourself from identity theft by carrying a copy of your passport or ID, not the original.

When opening an account, get a copy of the bank’s anti-fraud policy. This will help you understand how the bank deals with fraud and identity theft.

If you have any questions about your account or banking needs, ask them before you open an account. You should also be able to ask these questions in English or another language that you are fluent in.

Different banks operate in different ways and have different banking policies.

Before opening a bank account, ask about the fees and interest rates that will apply. You may be able to open an account that has no fees or interest rates until you make a deposit. If you are opening a savings account, ask how much interest they pay on deposits. Some banks offer very high-interest rates.

You may suffer a financial loss if you don’t inform the bank about changes to your family or employment status.

Ask if you need to notify the bank of any changes in your family status or employment. This is a common requirement for opening a checking account, but it may not apply to savings.

Always keep documentation of anything that you do at the bank.

You can use this information to help you if there is a problem with your account or if you have to close it. Keep all documents in a safe place.

Withholding any information could have major consequences later on.

If you have a problem with your bank, talk to the manager. If the issue isn’t resolved at that level, ask to speak with someone higher up in the company. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone and call customer service; sometimes talking directly with someone can help clear up confusion or misunderstandings.

It’s important to check that your bank account has been closed once you leave Kuwait.

If you are leaving Kuwait, it’s important to close your bank account. If you don’t, there is a risk that someone else could take over the account and use it for their own purposes.

Be vigilant and keep track of what’s happening with your money.

If you suspect that there is an issue with your bank account, contact the bank immediately. Banks are required to close accounts with a zero balance and will do so within 24 hours of receiving your request.

You should be aware of all the tax implications in Kuwait and know how they affect you as an expat.

The tax system in Kuwait is complicated, and the rules change regularly. If you are an expat, make sure that you understand how taxes work so that you don’t get caught off guard by a sudden tax bill. You should also be aware of the different types of visas available in Kuwait and what they mean for your taxes.

Banking in Kuwait is different from banking in other countries, so expats need to be smart when banking here.

As an expat in Kuwait, you need to know what is expected of you when it comes to banking. The rules are strict and can be confusing, so make sure that you understand how banks work in Kuwait before opening an account.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a bank account, there are some important things you need to keep in mind. The first thing is that different types of accounts are available at different banks, so it’s important to know what kind of account will suit your needs best before choosing one. If possible, visit various banks in person or online before deciding on an account type; this will allow you to see all the options on offer and any fees involved with each type of account.

READ NEXT: How to Manage Your Bank Accounts Effectively