How to open a bank account in Malaysia

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how to open a bank account in malaysia

How to open a bank account in Malaysia

Malaysia has been drawing people to its borders for a long time as it lures people with its powerful economic backbone, a high standard of living, great weather and friendly people. Multiple strong economic sectors, good schools and a highly livable city infrastructure attract people in droves to the land that is home to the highest twin towers in the world.

How to open bank account in Malaysia

If you are looking to move there as a student, worker, investor or retiree, you will need a bank account. Here is your guide on how to open a bank account in Malaysia. Tip: you will need a friend to help out.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Malaysia

Because of the large influx of expats, Malaysia has policies in place to make people's lives as easy as possible. For example, because of the existence of the MM2H visa program, if a foreign national holds a fixed amount of money in a bank account in Malaysia, they are entitled to renew their visa. These and other relatively easy requirements make it easy to open a bank account in Malaysia.

Here are the requirements you need, generally speaking:

  • Resident permit or MM2H visa docs
  • Employment details, such as a letter from the employer or other proof of business activity
  • Acceptance Letter from your Malaysian university or college (if you’re moving to Malaysia to study)
  • Photo ID (e.g. passport)
  • A minimum deposit which is set by the bank depending on the type of account
  • Your fingerprint (some banks may require this for identification)

Check with the bank for particular requirements. The visa requirements may be broader in some cases, for example. One particular note: if you aren't carrying all the typical documents, have a talk with the bank manager and have a Malaysian friend go along especially if this friend has an account at the bank. This may facilitate the process as it accounts as a referral.

Can I open a bank account in Malaysia as a non-resident?

Yes, it is possible to open a bank account in Malaysia as a non-resident. You just need to provide the necessary paperwork, which as you see, does not require proof of address in Malaysia. If you choose a foreign bank, you can even start the process from abroad. As a non-resident, you have these account type options to choose from:

  • Personal Savings Account
  • Personal Current Account
  • Combination Account

Best banks in Malaysia

There are hundreds of banks in the country and altogether will give you plenty of ATM coverage and a full spectrum of products and services, from basic accounts to investment products. It is important to pick a bank that will have both conveniently located ATMs according to your lifestyle and a pricing structure that matches your financial situation.

  • Maybank: Malayan Banking is the largest bank in the country. As such, it offers a full range of retail products including basic current accounts, savings accounts and even products for children. It has all the amenities you grew to expect such as debit cards, internet banking and quality phone customer service. Their branch and ATM networks are extensive.
  • CIMB: This is a very popular bank in the ASEAN region with over three thousand branches and thousands of ATMs and millions of customers. It offers the CIMB Bank Regional ATM Service, a cross-border ATM facility linking Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand. This will come in handy for you if you travel to these neighboring countries. Their offers include ATM cards, debit cards, online banking and this is always included in packages that may be customized.
  • Public Bank Berhad: PBE is a large retail bank that operates across the country with special offers such as cashback and interest in deposits. Their selection of basic accounts include debit and optional credit cards. They also have multi-currency accounts which can be handy if you do a lot of international business. Here are their ATMs and branch locations.
  • RHB Bank: With an impressive range of financial offers such as savings products and mortgages, they are quite a popular bank in the country. With that said, their best offers are for citizens of Malaysia and for those who have achieved permanent resident status, leaving expats out of the picture. Still, accounts come with cards, can be multicurrency if you prefer them, and there are plenty of loan options for individuals and businesses. Here is their ATM and branch network.

It should be simple to open a bank account in Malaysia as there are English websites and friendly, well-trained English-speaking staff. Once you complete the account activation, you should be able to walk out of the branch with a working basic ATM card.

Best banks in Malaysia

It is important to read the contract as fine print can hide surprises especially in terms of odd charges and the like. There could be charges to keep accounts open, to use ATMs off your bank's network and some banks may even charge you when your balance drops below a certain amount or if you do not use the account often enough.

Also, perhaps it is wise to visit international banking giants such as HSBC and Citi as these may be easier to work with and may offer simpler packages especially if you rarely use the account.

Can I open a bank account online in Malaysia?

Yes, you can open a bank account online with a Malaysian bank, BUT there’s a prerequisite. Malaysian banks like CIMB and Maybank offer limited products that can be set up online without the need to personally go to the branch. However, this is only applicable to existing clients of the bank. Meaning to say you need to have an existing account with them. Depending on the circumstances, it could be a business account, or in the case of younger clients, a parent’s account.

This may not be useful for most expats who have no existing relationship with a Malaysian bank yet. The alternative would be going with an international bank with Malaysian operations, such as HSBC, or the Virtual Bank Account Alternative.

The virtual bank account alternative

It is expensive to do international money transfers from Malaysia

Sending money overseas can be expensive if you use a bank. This happens because banks charge a lot above the mid market rate which is the rate they use to transfer money to each other. For example, if you transfer 10 thousand dollars to India, you get only about 9000 dollars worth of rupees in India, if you use your bank.

The virtual bank account with B2B Pay is a better alternative. If you send the same 10 thousand dollars to India, you get 9900 dollars worth of rupees instead. You save 900 dollars then, a good deal. You also get a European IBAN number you can use to send and receive money all over Europe for free and send money to over 200 countries in 32 currencies.


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