How to Open a Bank Account in Malaysia
If you’re a new arrival in Malaysia, a frequent visitor, or planning a move there, you might be wondering how to open a bank account to hold and handle MYR payments for day to day use. Opening a bank account with a traditional bank in Malaysia can be a complex process, depending on your situation and residency. This guide can help.
We’ll look at the options available, the documents you need, and compare them to less complicated solutions, such as Wise or Revolut. More on that later, read on.
What documents do I need?
To open an account with a traditional bank in Malaysia you’ll usually need to visit in person, taking along your identification documents for verification. You may also need to have your minimum account opening deposit. While the exact requirements vary by bank and account product, here are some commonly requests:
Proof of identity for Malaysian citizens and PRs - NRIC/MyKad/MyPR, Police or Armed Forces ID card or Malaysian birth certificate
Proof of identity for foreigners - valid passport and visa or residence documents
Proof of address - local utility bill or phone bill
Proof of income - employer letter or payslips
Minimum opening deposit amount
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
Traditional banks in Malaysia don’t make it easy to open an account if you’re new to the country or still planning a move. Many new arrivals won’t have a local proof of address in Malaysia, which may be a requirement - and of course you’ll also often have to appear in person at a bank, making it near impossible for non-residents.
Modern alternative providers like Wise or Revolut can usually offer an easier and more flexible online account opening experience. You’ll be able to choose a range of different ways to get verified, and use your proof of your address from your home country, to open your account before you even arrive.
Pick a provider which offers MYR account details and you’ll be able to manage your money easily in MYR, as well as a broad range of other currencies - often with lower fees compared to a normal bank.
It’s worth noting upfront that Revolut accounts aren’t available for people resident in Malaysia, so you’ll need to open your account before you travel.
Wise on the other hand can offer accounts to Malaysian residents, as well as serving a range of other countries. More on both providers coming up later.
How to open a bank account in Malaysia
It’s pretty much impossible to open a bank account in Malaysia without personally attending a branch, even though Malaysian banks do commonly state they offer online account opening.
To give an example, HSBC Malaysia advertises online account opening. However, in reality you can apply online quite easily for an account - but still need to visit a branch to verify your identity at a self service machine or regular branch counter. CIMB works similarly.
Standard Chartered Malaysia does genuinely offer online account opening - but to be eligible you must already have an account in your name with another Malaysian bank - ruling this option out if you’re new to the country.
Unfortunately, for most foreign new arrivals in Malaysia you’ll have no option but to visit a branch in person and take along the documents listed above, if you want to open an account with a traditional bank.
Plus, as a foreigner, there are a few additional steps involved compared to locals. Firstly, you’ll require a valid passport as proof of identity and documents confirming your legal status in Malaysia. These include a work permit, an employer’s letter or an acceptance letter from a Malaysian institution if you’re a student.
Proof of Malaysian residence is also required, usually in the form of a utility bill or bank statement. Depending on the bank, you might also need additional support documents like a Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa. Certain banks also require an introducer - a current customer who can vouch for you. But despite the extra requirements, with enough preparation, the account opening process can be easily navigated.
What do I need to know before opening a bank account in Malaysia?
Before proceeding with opening a bank account in Malaysia, there are several key factors to consider. Firstly, selecting the right bank is crucial, and you should take location, ATM availability, and the range of services on offer into account.
Next, you'll need to gather all the necessary documents. These will typically include your passport or other government-issued ID for identification, a letter from your employer or a Malaysian work permit for employment verification, and a utility bill, bank statement, or MM2H resident permit as proof of residence. If you jointly own a business in Malaysia with a local partner, you'll also need a letter acknowledging your partnership.
It's also important to understand the varying banking procedures. Some banks may require you to make an in-person appointment for account opening, even if they offer online applications, such as Maybank. However, after completing an online application, you may still be asked to visit a branch in person for document verification.
Most banks require a minimum deposit for account opening, which can be around 1,000 RM or as low as 500 RM for basic accounts. You might also need to maintain this minimum balance to avoid or reduce service fees.
If you're planning to open a joint account with your spouse, you should be prepared to provide their documentation as well. Also, having proof of an existing account with another bank can be beneficial, as it allows the new bank to assess your banking history.
Finally, given that banking processes can vary for new and existing customers and residents and non-residents, you should check with your chosen bank about their specific requirements. Understanding these steps, as well as the expected timeline and required documents, will make the account opening process that much quicker.
Can I open a bank account in Malaysia with only my passport?
When opening a traditional bank account in Malaysia, it's important to note that ID is essential, making your passport a vital requirement. However, as a foreign visitor, you'll also need other documents like a residence permit or visa, as well as proof of address.
Can I open a bank account in Malaysia before arrival?
It’s pretty tricky to open a Malaysian bank account before arriving there. One option is to check if your own bank has a presence in Malaysia - in which case they may be able to support you switching your account to the Malaysian part of the company. If not, online alternative providers, such as Wise and Revolut, which can offer a more flexible account opening process, are probably your best bet.
Which account is best in Malaysia for foreigners?
|Eligibility||Available to customers in many different regions||Legal residents of the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the UK and US||Legal residents of Malaysia||Legal residents of Malaysia|
|GBP and USD account options||Yes||Yes||Only for limited purposes such as trade and investment||Only for limited purposes such as trade and investment|
|Open before you arrive in Malaysia||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||Minimum opening deposits vary by account - usually 500 to 1,000 MYR||Minimum opening deposits vary by account - usually 500 to 1,000 MYR|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||Varies by account - some accounts have no minimum balance||Varies by account|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Varies by account tier||Varies by account - often 10 MYR every 6 months||Varies by account - often 10 MYR every 6 months|
|Online international money transfers||Low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate||Costs vary by region - some account plans offer free international transfers and currency exchange|
Online - 10 MYR
In branch - 10 MYR - 30 MYR based on currency and send location
Exchange rate markup + third party charges also apply
Online - 10 MYR
In branch - 10 MYR - 30 MYR based on currency
Exchange rate markup + third party charges also apply
|Close account fee||No fee||No fee||20 MYR||10 - 20 MYR|
Wise is a specialist in currency exchange and multi-currency accounts, which are available to residents of Malaysia and a broad range of other countries. Accounts can
hold and exchange 50+ currencies, with a linked debit card for easy spending. You’ll also be able to send payments to 80+ countries, and get local bank details for up to 10 foreign currencies including MYR.
Best of all, Wise currency exchange always uses the real mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees making it up to 6x cheaper than a regular bank.
Account types: Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll be able to open personal and business accounts with no minimum balance or monthly fees
Eligibility: Wise accounts are available to customers in a broad range of countries - although the exact account services available may vary based on your location. Simply use your home proof of address to get your account open and access a MYR balance.
Is it safe? Wise is registered with a broad range of global regulatory bodies, including the Central Bank of Malaysia, the FCA in the UK and more. Read Is Wise Safe? to learn more.
How to open an account with Wise
Begin by downloading the Wise app on your mobile device or by visiting the Wise desktop site.
Register an account using your preferred email address, Facebook, Google, or Apple ID.
To verify your account, upload the required documents: your MyKad or passport and visa.
If you need a linked debit card, you can order one for a one-time fee of 13.7 MYR.
Add funds to your newly created account in your choice of MYR, USD, or SGD.
Open your MYR account details at no additional cost.
You're all set! You can start using your Wise account straight away.
Go to Wise
It’s helpful to note straight up that Revolut accounts are not currently offered to customers resident in Malaysia. However, you may still choose to open an account before you go, if you’re looking for a broad multi-currency account with linked payment card.
Revolut accounts include a personal account for free or you can choose to upgrade to a paid plan to unlock more features. All accounts can hold and handle 28 currencies, and some with options to budget, invest, save and exchange, plus Junior accounts for family members.
Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid plan - fees vary based on your region
Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.
Is it safe? Revolut is registered with regulatory bodies wherever it trades, and is a trustworthy provider to choose
How to open an account with Revolut
1. Download the Revolut app from Google Play or App Store. Alternatively, input your mobile phone number on the Revolut website, and they'll send you a link to download the app.
2. Open the app, type in your phone number, and set a 4-digit passcode for secure access to your account.
3. Revolut will send a PIN to your phone via text message. Input this PIN into the app for account verification.
4. Enter your personal details, such as your name, birth date, address, and email address.
5. Make your initial deposit to the account from another bank account.
6. To verify your identity, go to the 'Profile' icon in the app, choose 'personal details', and then 'verify your identity'. You'll need to take and upload a photo of a valid ID, like your passport, and a picture of your face.
7. Lastly, select your preferred account plan. You can choose between a free or premium account with a monthly fee that offers additional features.
Maybank is the largest bank in Malaysia, making it a good pick if you’re looking for an account from a traditional brick and mortar provider. There are plenty of account types on offer, including Islamic accounts, business accounts and products for saving and investing. However, most products require customers to be resident in Malaysia and attend a bank in person to sign up.
Account types: Current accounts, saving accounts, options for investing, loans and foreign currency trading.
Eligibility: Typically only available to customers aged over 18, with addresses in Malaysia.
Is it safe? Yes. Maybank is regulated by the Central Bank of Malaysia and is a safe option for your money.
Read our Maybank International Transfers article to learn more about overseas transfers with Maybank.
How to open an account with Maybank
Setting up a Maybank2u.Premier current account is a breeze. Here's the simple process:
1. Start by logging into the Maybank2u website.
2. Click on the 'APPLY' option located in the top menu.
3. Find 'M2U Premier' and click 'APPLY NOW'.
4. Fill out and submit the application form with the required details.
5. Finally, confirm the details of your application.
As the second biggest bank in Malaysia, CIMB is another solid pick with a full suite of financial service solutions for customers. Accounts include business and Islamic account products, as well as conventional accounts for spending, saving, trading currencies and earning cash back and rewards. As with most traditional banks in Malaysia you’ll normally need a local proof of address, and a visit to the bank to get your account set up.
Account types: Broad range of conventional, Islamic and business accounts for all customer needs.
Eligibility: Available to customers aged over 18, with addresses in Malaysia.
Is it safe? CIMB is registered and regulated by the Central Bank of Malaysia making it a safe pick.
How to open an account with CIMB
Opening a current account with CIMB is an efficient process you can do anywhere, anytime. Here are the steps:
1. Visit the CIMB website and select the current account product that you're interested in.
2. Click the 'Open Now' button.
3. Fill out your personal contact details in the online form provided.
4. Wait for a callback from CIMB. They’ll guide you through the account options and opening process based on your eligibility.
What is a bank account in Malaysia needed for?
If you're heading to Malaysia for work or study or are a frequent visitor, securing a local bank account is a necessity. Financial management becomes much simpler with an account that can hold Malaysian currency. But it's not just about convenience - having a local account can also significantly reduce your costs when you spend in MYR.
Benefits of opening a bank account in Malaysia
1. Convenience: Having a local account makes daily financial transactions easier, especially if you're living, working, or studying in Malaysia. 2. Cost-Effective: It can significantly reduce foreign transaction fees and unfavourable currency exchange rates when dealing in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). 3. Ease of Salary Receipt: If you're employed in Malaysia, receiving your salary directly into a local bank account can simplify the payment process. 4. Access to Additional Services: A local bank account often comes with additional services such as debit cards, online banking, and easier access to loans and credit. 5. Money Management: Tracking and controlling your financial activities becomes more straightforward with a local account, helping you budget and plan effectively.
Can I open a bank account online
Opening a bank account online in Malaysia can be more challenging than anticipated and largely depends on individual circumstances, the type of account, and the chosen banking institution. This is where online solutions like Wise and Revolut come into play.
Wise offers a seamless online process for Malaysian customers to open a multi-currency account. Just a few clicks on their app or website, and you've got an account that holds and exchanges over 50 currencies, a linked debit card, and a ticket to fee-free payments from 30+ countries.
Revolut, on the other hand, caters mainly to residents of specific regions, such as the EEA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, the UK, and the US. If you're a Malaysian citizen who opened an account while living overseas or a foreigner travelling in Malaysia, your Revolut card will still work perfectly fine. However, it's worth noting that MYR isn't supported for holding and exchange, but it's accepted for card spending.
How long does it take to open a bank account in Malaysia?
The duration to open a bank account in Malaysia varies with the financial institution, but it's often a swift process. For many conventional banks, you can expect to have your account up and running on the same day of application, provided you're present in person. As digital services have advanced, it's not uncommon for customers to complete the process within 45 minutes. If speed is crucial, consider the online route with providers such as Wise, where an account setup can be achieved in mere minutes.
What are the types of bank accounts in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, banking opportunities are available for both residents and non-residents, each catering to unique financial needs. Here are the commonly offered account types:
Current Account: Ideal for daily transactions, such as bill payments and purchases. Hong Leong Bank, for instance, offers a current account accessible through their nationwide branches, ATMs, and mobile app. Be mindful of the fees, such as monthly maintenance or transaction charges.
Savings Account: A savings account serves as a safe spot for funds that aren’t immediately needed, accumulating interest over time. Hong Leong Bank provides a savings account that calculates interest daily, pays it half-yearly, and is accessible through their online and mobile banking.
Fixed Deposit Account: These accounts yield higher interest rates for funds deposited for a fixed term, providing an excellent long-term savings strategy.
Foreign Currency Account: A multi-currency account is suitable for frequent international transactions, offering protection against fluctuating exchange rates. Hong Leong Bank allows saving in up to 10 major currencies, facilitating overseas transactions.
Remember to choose the account type that best suits your financial needs and habits.
How much does it cost to open a bank account in Malaysia?
Generally, opening a bank account in Malaysia is free of charge, with online banking services such as Wise and Revolut being prime examples. However, certain fees might be involved depending on the type of account and services you need. For instance, a premium account with overdraft facilities or a credit card might come with specific fees. Also, it's important to note that an initial deposit is usually required to open an account. This deposit typically hovers around 1,000 RM but can be as low as 500 RM for some basic accounts. Keeping this balance can help you avoid or minimise regular service fees, helping to manage your money efficiently.
Opening a Wise account is free. Read our detailed guide on Wise fees to learn more.
Is it possible to open a fee-free account in Malaysia?
Yes, it's possible to open a fee-free account in Malaysia. While many traditional banks impose monthly fees on their accounts, there are exceptions. For instance, Maybank, CIMB Bank, and Public Bank Berhad offer account options with no monthly fees. On the other hand, online financial services providers like Wise have gained popularity for their fee-free account services, giving users another practical, digital option.
What are the additional costs?
While you might be able to open an account without any charges, there can be additional costs to consider when maintaining a bank account in Malaysia:
Maintenance Costs: These are regular fees, often monthly, that the bank charges to keep your account open. They can vary depending on the type of account you have.
Withdrawal Fees: Depending on the bank and the type of account, you could be charged a fee for withdrawing money, particularly at ATMs that aren't part of your bank's network.
Interest Charges: If your account includes a line of credit or overdraft facility, you'll be charged interest on any amount you borrow.
Closing Fee: Some banks might charge a fee to close your account, especially if it's within a certain period after opening.
International Transfer Fees: Most banks charge a fee when sending money overseas. This can be a flat fee, a percentage of the amount sent, or a combination of both.
It's worth noting these costs as they can add up over time, impacting the overall benefits of having the account. Always review the terms and conditions of any account before opening carefully.
Tips for sending money between Malaysia and the USA
When it comes to sending money between Malaysia and the USA, several secure, fast, and affordable options are available:
Online Money Transfer Services: Providers like Wise and PayPal make international transfers quick and affordable. Wise, for instance, offers low fees and real exchange rates. PayPal, while not always the cheapest, is widely used and good for peer-to-peer transactions.
Traditional Bank Transfers: You can send funds from your Malaysian bank account directly to a recipient's US bank account. Although convenient, this method can involve higher fees and less favourable exchange rates.
Money Transfer Companies: Western Union is a long-standing choice due to its wide-reaching availability. However, be mindful of varying fees.
Multi-Currency Bank Accounts: If you frequently send money overseas, consider opening a multi-currency account with banks like Wise or Revolut. These digital banks allow you to hold, manage, and send multiple currencies with minimal fees.
Remember these essential tips:
Choose Wisely: Opt for the service that best suits your needs, taking into consideration factors like cost, speed, and convenience.
Check Exchange Rates and Fees: Ensure you're getting a fair deal by comparing rates and fees across different services.
Prepare Necessary Information: Have all the details, including the recipient's bank account information, at hand to expedite the process.
Stay Alert: Always be on the lookout for potential transfer scams. Only use trusted services and never share sensitive information with unverified sources.
Tips for transferring money
Transacting internationally with traditional banks can be an expensive affair. Spending overseas or with international retailers can come with foreign transaction fees, and sending payments abroad can have a few extra costs which are not always obvious.
Bank international transfer fees can vary based on whether you arrange the payment online or in person - they may even vary based on the branch you choose
Bank foreign payments can use a marked up exchange rate - check for extra fees added into the exchange rate you’re offered
Banks usually use the SWIFT payment network which can mean third party costs creep in, pushing up the overall costs and meaning your recipient gets less than you expect
Compare the overall costs, including exchange rate markups and third party costs, of sending money with your normal bank, against using a specialist online service. You may find you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Malaysia has plenty of traditional banks to choose from - but getting an account up and running as a non-resident or before you arrive may be tricky. It’s normal to need to visit a branch in person and provide a local proof of address, which is hard if you’re new to the country.
Instead, for an easier onboarding process, and lower overall fees, take a look at online specialist services available in your region. Companies like Wise and Revolut can often offer a more flexible approach to managing your money across borders, with lower costs to match.
Foreigners resident in Malaysia will be able to open accounts with traditional banks, as long as they have legal residency and a proof of address. Otherwise you may be better off with an online alternative.
You’ll normally need to place a minimum opening deposit to open your account - 500 MYR to 1,000 MYR is common for standard accounts.
Traditional banks don’t normally offer online opening processes. Instead, have a look at specialist services available in your region, like Wise or Revolut, which can offer a fully online onboarding and verification.
To open an account before you arrive in Malaysia you’ll probably have to use a specialist service - Malaysian banks usually need you to show your paperwork in person at a local branch before you can use your account.