How to open a fee free bank account in Malaysia 2023

**Banking fees can be expensive. Wouldn’t you love to have a bank account that charges no fees? Some banks offer no-fee accounts, but this can be misleading as these accounts may not be completely free. 

Many banks waive monthly maintenance and/or certain transaction fees on their so-called fee-free accounts. Unfortunately, some include hidden charges like balance inquiries, inactivity, if the balance drops below a certain limit, and more. 

These fees can quickly add up and result in an account that is far from free. 

If  you’re looking for an account that has a wide variety of features and low fees, you should consider switching to a specialist provider like Wise.

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In this article, we explore no-fee bank accounts in Malaysia. We will touch on the different types of no-fee accounts, look at their advantages and disadvantages, and what to consider when choosing a no-fee bank account.

Fee free account options in Malaysia:

  • Accounts from fintech companies

  • Bank checking accounts 

Best fee-free account offers in Malaysia

Fee-free bank accounts are rarely completely free and many banks charge hidden fees on fee-free accounts. We have used the following fees and limits in our analysis of fee-free accounts. 

  • Opening fee

  • Fall below fee

  • Early closing fee

  • Dormant account fee

  • Transaction limits

  • Maintenance fees

  • Processing fees

  • Transfer fees

  • Stop payment instructions

Fee-free accounts from fintech companies 

Opening and maintaining a fee-free bank account can be difficult and costly. Modern fintech companies, also known as neobanks offer alternatives to traditional fee-free banking accounts. Providers like Wise and Revolut have accounts that are easy to set up and effortless to maintain.

Fees / ProviderWiseRevolut
Opening feeNo feeNo fee
Fall below feeNo feeNo fee
Early closing fee*No feeNo fee
Dormant account feeNo feeNo fee
Transaction limitsNo limitsNo limits
Half-yearly maintenance feeNo feeNo fee
Check processing feeN/AN/A
Debit card fee13.70 MYRDelivery fee
Transfer fees (domestic)No fee

0.07 USD - 17.50 (inside EU region)

Stop payment instructionsN/AN/A

* Early closing refers to closing of an account within 3 months after opening it.

* Fees and rates correct at time of research - 16 September 2022

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Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Low and transparent fees: Most fintech companies offer low fees and are very transparent about what they charge for what types of transactions.

  • Use almost anywhere: You can use fee-free accounts from providers like Wise and Revolut almost anywhere.

  • Hold and transact in multiple currencies: Some providers, like Wise, allow you to hold and transact in multiple currencies.

  • Easy to set up: Setting up and verifying an account with fintech companies is quick and easy.

Cons: 

  • Not available in all countries: Fee-free account services may not be available in all countries.

  • No branch network: Fintech companies usually operate online and thus have no branch network for in-person transactions.

  • Debit card and transaction fees: Some providers may levy a charge to issue a debit card, and also charge for certain transaction types.

Fee free bank checking accounts

Some of Malaysia’s top banks offer fee-free bank account options on their basic checking accounts. All of the banks listed below include limited free transactions with no-fee accounts.

Bank / FeesMaybank Basic Current AccountCIMB Basic Current AccountPublic Bank Berhad Basic Current Account
Opening fee500 MYR minimum deposit500 MYR minimum deposit500 MYR minimum deposit
Fall below feeMYR 10No feeNo fee
Early closing fee*MYR 20MYR 20MYR 20
Dormant account feeMYR 10MYR 10MYR 10
Transaction limits

6 0ver-the-counter visits

8 ATM withdrawals

No limits

6 0ver-the-counter visits

8 ATM withdrawals

Half-yearly maintenance feeMYR 10MYR 10MYR 10
Check processing fee0.50 MYR0.50 MYRNo fee
Debit card feeNo FeeNo feeNo fee
Transfer fees (domestic)0.50 MYR to 2 MYR
0.50 MYR to 2 MYR
Stop payment instructions15 RYM10 RYMNo fee

* Early closing refers to closing of an account within 3 months after opening it. 

** One over-the-counter visit may include multiple transactions. 

Pros and cons of bank checking accounts

Accounts at traditional banks have several advantages and disadvantages

Pros

  • Safety: Backed by an established financial institution

  • Personal touch: Transact in person at branches

  • Build credit score: You can schedule payments with a checking account to ensure payments are made on time.

  • Earn interest: Some checking accounts accrue interest on positive balances

Cons

  • Charges can add up: Even if you choose a fee-free checking account, the charges can quickly add up once you go over the free transaction limits.

  • Requires a minimum deposit: Most checking accounts require a minimum deposit, usually starting at 500 MYR

  • Not interest-bearing: While some checking accounts accrue interest on positive balances, many basic checking accounts do not pay interest.

To sum up: Checking accounts at banks are popular because they are backed by the relative stability of established financial institutions and allow customers to transact in person at branches. They are great for basic day-to-day banking and most banks offer a variety of options. 

Many banks also offer fee-free basic checking accounts, however most charge additional fees for things like exceeding certain transaction limits or dropping below certain minimum balances. These charges can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

Since most checking accounts allow you to schedule payments, they are a great option for those looking to establish or improve their credit score. What’s more, many checking accounts accrue interest on positive balances, however fee-free checking accounts are usually non-interest bearing.

How to choose a fee-free bank account?

Fee-free accounts are great for saving money, but there are a few things you should consider when choosing the best fee-free account for you.

The ideal fee-free account should be easy to open and have no monthly maintenance fees, opening deposit or monthly minimum balance. There should be no transaction limits on free transactions, and offer low rates on overseas money transfers.

Providers like Wise and Revolut can be great choices when choosing a fee-free account. Accounts with providers like these are often easy to open and they also offer linked debit cards. Many of these cards are free with few or no monthly transaction limits. They usually don’t charge for dormant or early closing of accounts, and they offer low cost overseas money transfers.

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Documents and eligibility

To open a fee-free bank account in Malaysia at traditional banks, you usually have to be a Malaysian citizen or permanent resident. However, providers like Wise and Revolut allow you to open a fee-free account if you are a resident of one of the countries where they offer fee-free account services.

  • Proof of identity: Most banks and providers require you to provide your Original Identity Card (IC)/Police or Armed Forces ID Card.

  • Proof of address: as well as proof of address, such as a copy of a utility bill. 

  • Proof of income: Some banks may require you to provide proof of income.

  • Minimum deposit: Some banks and providers may require a minimum deposit to open the account.

When you might need a fee-free basic bank account

Fee-free basic bank accounts are great for many reasons:

Save money: It’s not just about saving on fees. 

Receive salary or wages: Some employers and clients may require you to have a bank account to enable them to pay you. 

Receive money from overseas: A fee-free basic bank account is also perfect if you are receiving money from overseas. 

Options when we can't get a fee-free with your bank

Sometimes you don’t meet the requirements to open a fee-free account at a traditional bank or you simply can’t afford the extra fees. Providers like Wise and Revolut are great alternatives to traditional banks. 

Their fee-free accounts are easy to set up and maintain, and many transactions are free. They also include debit cards that can be used almost anywhere. What’s more, you can set up your account to receive payments just like a traditional bank account.

Fee-free accounts with providers like Wise and Revolut can be used to transfer money overseas at low rates, quickly and easily. Some accounts even allow you to hold multiple currencies.

Conclusion

Fee-free bank accounts are great for those looking for simple, affordable banking, however, these accounts are rarely completely free. Most fee-free accounts at traditional banks have hidden fees like half-yearly maintenance, limited free transactions, check processing fees, and more. 

Modern fintech companies like Wise and Revolut offer alternatives to those who are looking for features like low-cost services, low international transfer fees, easy currency conversion, and more. want to break free from traditional banking. Their fee-free accounts feature many free transactions, and are easy to open without charging maintenance fees. You can also use a fee-free account to make international transfers quickly and easily, at relatively low fees.

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FAQs on Fee-free accounts in Malaysia

Which banks have no monthly fees?

Most banks charge monthly fees on the majority of their accounts, however, banks like Maybank, CIMB Bank, and Public Bank Berhad offer no-fee account options. Online financial services providers like Wise offer accounts without monthly fees.

How to keep a checking account fee free?

Many fee-free checking accounts have fee-free transaction limits. Staying within these limits will keep your account fee-free. Familiarize yourself with your account’s relevant pricing structure to avoid surprise fees and charges.

Do checking accounts pay interest?

Checking accounts at many banks pay interest, however fee-free checking accounts are usually non-interest bearing.

Seyma Mektepli
By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 30 December 2022