The Saudi banking industry hasn’t changed much in recent decades. Yes, they all offer online and mobile banking, but everything else has stayed pretty much the same.
Still, there are some good choices on the market for your next KSA bank account. Whether you’re new to the country or have lived there for decades, choosing a suitable bank isn’t an easy process.
There are a total of 36 banks in Saudi Arabia. 11 of them are local banks, and 16 are foreign banks. But there are also 6 foreign banks that are licensed by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) but have not yet started the business. Additional three are foreign digital banks.
For that reason, I’ve set out to make this list to make life at least a little bit easier for you.
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia Overall – SNB
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Expats – QNB
- Best Digital Bank in KSA – meem
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Business – Al Rajhi Bank
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Savings – Bank Albilad
- Best International Bank in KSA – QNB
- Best Private Bank in KSA – SABB
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Investing – The Saudi Investment Bank
- Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Credit Cards – Alinma
- Other Notable Banks in KSA
Best Bank in Saudi Arabia Overall – SNB
- Founded in 1953 as the National Commercial Bank “NCB”
- A product of the merger between the National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group
- Overwhelmingly owned by the Saudi Government
- Total assets under management $243.8 billion
- 11 million customers, 500+ branches, 476 self-service kiosks
KSA’s biggest bank is also its best bank. The Saudi National Bank (SNB) has a relatively short history (as far as banks go) and has recently gone through one of the biggest mergers in the region between the National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group, making it the biggest by assets under management and second-biggest by market cap.
But although it’s basically this super-bank now, SNB still offers the best banking services across the board.
You can open an account online or go into any of their branches. You can open a personal or business account, apply for various debit and credit cards, as well as open an investment and savings account.
Investing in gold is really popular right now, and SNB offers just that. They’re the first in KSA to offer such an account.
Although the bank has a state-of-the-art mobile app, it has its share of issues that will hopefully be fixed in an update.
Best Banks in Saudi Arabia for Expats – QNB
- Founded in 1964 in Doha
- Qatar’s first domestically-owned commercial bank
- The biggest financial organization in the Middle East and Africa
- Total assets under management QAR1,135 billion (USD312 billion)
- 27,000 employees at 1,000 locations worldwide
- A network of 4,700+ ATMs
If you’re a foreigner, opening a bank account could take weeks as the process has to be done in person at any bank branch and includes extensive documentation.
Standard things that are asked of you are the following, but not limited to:
- Original passport
- A copy of the passport biometric data
- A copy of the Iqama visa page
- A letter of no-objection (NOC) from your employer or sponsor
- Two to six passport-sized photographs
- Bank account application form
By having a local bank account, it will be easier for you to get credit cards, as well as mortgages or car loans, in the future.
Saudi banks are used to foreigners as they make up a large percentage of their population and have systems in place to facilitate account opening. Still, KSA is a highly conservative country.
Opening a bank account in any of the banks is free, and you can choose from many accounts. I find that the best bank account for you is often the bank account your employer uses. If you choose the same bank, you will get your salary without delay on the same day.
However, all Saudi banks have phone, internet, and mobile banking, and offer, more or less, the same services.
As an alternative, I recommend meem – a fully digital bank. Read more about it below.
Best Digital Bank in KSA – meem
- Launched in 2014
- Retail banking arm of Gulf International Bank (GIB)
- The first digital shariah bank in the world
- Credit cards, mortgages, and more
- No opening and maintenance fees
meem is notable for a couple of things. It’s one of the first digital banks in KSA and the first digital shariah bank in the world. It’s a completely mobile experience and doesn’t have physical branches like the rest of the banks on this list.
Its main product is the OnePack Account which combines current, multi-currency, and savings accounts in one package and card. This comes without any maintenance or opening fees, mind you.
To open an account, I simply downloaded the meem app from an app store and tapped Apply Now.
You will have to enter all sorts of information about you, your employer, and your salary, as well as authenticate with the Nafath app.
meem also offers term deposits, credit cards, personal finance, and even home finance. As you can see, it’s a capable bank overall that is a good choice for anyone living in the Kingdom.
Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Business – Al Rajhi Bank
- Founded in 1957
- One of the largest banks in Saudi Arabia
- World’s largest Islamic bank that offers sharia-compliant products and services
- Market capitalization of $84 billion
- Total assets under management $128 billion
Al Rajhi is the largest Islamic bank in the world and the second-largest bank in Saudi Arabia. When we’re talking about the number of customers, it’s the first bank in the country with 13 million clients.
And although it’s the largest retail bank in the Middle East, I prefer it for its business accounts as I noticed it treats small and big businesses alike – with great care.
The bank has so-called Business Solutions offices across the country, but you can also utilize digital banking.
You’ll find that Al Rajhi will help you automate your salary transfers and day-to-day operations, as well as help you boost your business with up to SAR 7.5 million.
And lastly, I’d like to emphasize the many forms of insurance the bank has on offer, so everything can stay in-house, and you don’t have to find insurance elsewhere.
Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Savings – Bank Albilad
- Founded in 2004
- Islamic bank that offers sharia-compliant products and services
- A Saudi joint stock company
- Headquartered in Riyadh
- $3.7 billion in assets under management
Bank Albilad is an Islamic retail bank that offers all sorts of personal finance products and services. It’s also one of the newest banks in KSA, only established in 2004.
Maybe that’s why it offers some of the highest savings rates, or profit rates, as they’re also called, in Saudi Arabia.
Its savings accounts have one and two-year terms with one and two transfers each year, respectively. The profit rates are also much higher now than they were in 2022.
To open a savings account online or in a branch, you have to have a current account with Albilad. There’s also a minimum initial deposit of SAR 1,000.
You can transfer funds into the savings account via the current account online or in-app.
Best International Bank in Saudi Arabia – QNB
Qatar’s biggest bank QNB is also present in KSA, and I find that it’s the best foreign bank present in the Saudi market. In fact, the bank is present in more than 30 countries on three continents.
It offers many accounts that are offered in Qatar as well, with the current account staying fee-free, without a minimum balance required, and available in SAR, GBP, USD, QAR, and EUR.
Apart from current accounts, you will also find fixed deposit accounts with a steep minimum balance (SAR 350,000) and a minimum term of three months.
Businesses can open corporate accounts, get term loans, working capital lines of credit, as well as trade and supply chain financing.
Best Private Bank in KSA – SABB
- Created in 1978
- HSBC owns a minority stake
- Over 80 branches in Saudi Arabia
- Total assets under management $80 billion
Saudi British Bank (SABB) is a commercial bank that offers a full range of financial products and services. However, I prefer it for its private banking facilities and wealth management solutions.
As their client, you naturally get a relationship manager that will offer you tailor-made products to help you manage and grow your wealth in the future.
A whole world of investment products is at your disposal, including IPOs, international and local equities, managed funds, custom portfolios, and more. Of course, everything is shariah-compliant.
Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Investing – The Saudi Investment Bank
- Founded in 1976
- Total assets under management $28 billion
- More than 50 branches
- Personal, SME, and corporate banking
The Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB) started operating in 1977, and although it’s not one of the biggest, it is one of the best banks in KSA.
It’s a one-stop shop for all your financial needs in KSA with personal, SME, and corporate accounts and products. However, I found it to be the best for my investing purposes.
Yes, it offers more traditional investment products, but for more up-to-date investing products, you aren’t going to a bank anyway.
At SAIB, you’ll find:
- Treasury and Investment products
- Time and Murabaha deposits
- Asalah Accounts
- Tailor-made hedging solutions
- Interest-Rate Derivatives
- Foreign Exchange Derivatives
- Commodity Derivative
- Structured Deposits
Best Bank in Saudi Arabia for Credit Cards – Alinma
- Founded in 2006
- Total assets under management $53 billion
- Over 2,600 employees
- Islamic bank
- More than 3 million customers
Alinma Bank offers a full range of services to personal and business customers. It also has a highly functional website and an excellent app, and it’s ahead of other banks in this regard.
It’s no wonder, as the bank was founded only around 16 years ago and is a product of modern times and not legacy systems from the 1970s.
I prefer Alinma for its choice of cards. They offer prepaid, debit, credit, charge, business, and private banking cards.
All credit cards are fully Sharia-compliant cards and have no annual fees for life. They also offer free entrance to airport lounges in more than 1000 airports worldwide, instant approval via the Alinma app, and the lowest profit margin of 1.9% in KSA.
Other Notable Banks in KSA
As I mentioned in the introduction, there are more than 30 banks in total in KSA. I’ll just briefly mention local banks that I didn’t cover in the main text. They are more than a valid choice too for anyone looking for a Saudi bank account.
Although I never used these banks personally, I have friends, family, and some business associates that have used them. From talking with them, I think I have a grasp of their products.
Arab National Bank
ANB was founded all the way back in 1979 and is still going strong today, being one of the top banks in the country. It offers retail, private, and commercial banking, as well as investments and insurance.
It’s your typical KSA bank with plenty of credit cards, savings, and time deposits, as well as real estate personal and auto loans and leases on offer.
BAJ was also founded in the 1970s as a joint-stock company. It started out by acquiring the branches of the National Bank of Pakistan.
It’s a full-service bank with personal and corporate accounts, finance, investments, treasury, credit cards, and much more.
Banque Saudi Fransi
Another bank that was founded in the 70s, Banque Saudi Fransi is associated with Credit Agricole CIB of the CA Group, the second-largest bank in France.
With total assets of $61 billion, it’s among the top 5 banks in KSA. It also boasts 84 branches, 4 ladies’ branches, and more than 560 ATMs across the country.
Riyad Bank was founded in 1957, making it one of the oldest banks. It manages assets worth $92 billion, and the Saudi government still owns most of this bank.
It offers automated savings accounts, personal loans, current accounts, and a solid mobile banking app.
Gulf International Bank Saudi Arabia (GIB-SA)
Founded during the first oil boom in 1976, Gulf International Bank Saudi Arabia (GIB-SA) became the first foreign domiciled bank in 2019 to establish a local commercial bank in the Kingdom.
This happened with the conversion of GIB’s existing branches into Gulf International Bank Saudi Arabia (GIB Saudi Arabia).
What Are Islamic Banks?
Expats often have no clue what Islamic banks or Islamic finance entails. In short, Islamic banks have to comply with Islamic law, also called Sharia, and its practical applications.
For instance, sharia forbids interest paid on all money, as well as investing in companies that sell goods and services that are contrary to Islamic principles.
Of course, banks have found workarounds for some of these issues.
Sharia-compliant financial establishments represented around 1% of total world assets. In Saudi Arabia, there are four such banks – Al Jazeera Bank, Al-Rajhi Bank, Alinma Bank, and
List of All Banks in Saudi Arabia
Here’s a complete list of all banks that are licensed by SAMA in Saudi Arabia.
11 local licensed banks in Saudi Arabia:
- Alinma bank
- Al Rajhi Bank
- Arab National Bank
- Bank AlBilad
- Bank AlJazira
- Banque Saudi Fransi
- Gulf International Bank Saudi Arabia
- Riyad Bank
- Saudi Investment Bank
- Saudi National Bank
- The Saudi British Bank (SABB)
22 foreign licensed banks:
- Bank of China Limited (Licensed, but not started yet)
- Bank of Jordan (Licensed, but not started yet)
- Banque Misr (Licensed, but not started yet)
- BNP Paribas
- Credit Suisse Bank
- Deutsche Bank
- Emirates NBD
- First Abu Dhabi Bank
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
- J.P. Morgan Chase N.A
- MUFG Bank, Ltd.
- Muscat Bank
- National Bank of Bahrain (NBB)
- National Bank of Iraq
- National Bank of Egypt (Licensed, but not started yet)
- National Bank of Kuwait (NBK)
- National Bank Of Pakistan (NBP)
- Qatar National Bank
- Sohar International Bank (Licensed, but not started yet)
- Standard Chartered Bank
- T.C.ZIRAAT BANKASI A.S.
- Trade bank of Iraq (Licensed, but not started yet)
3 foreign digital banks:
- D360 Bank (Licensed, but not started yet)
- Saudi Digital Bank (Licensed, but not started yet)
- STC bank (Licensed, but not started yet)
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