How to Open a Bank Account Online

Do you want to skip the queues at the bank and open a bank account online? Opening a bank account online may seem complicated, but with so many options available from traditional banks and online alternatives like Wise, it’s easier than ever. What’s more, it’s often free.

This article will help you to understand how to open a bank account online, including what you need and what to look for when choosing an online bank account. We will also compare the features of different online bank accounts and explore alternatives. But more on that later, so read on.

Learn more about Wise

Can you open a bank account online for free?

Yes, several banks and financial services providers allow you to open bank accounts online. Many are free, while some banks may require minimum deposits, depending on the type of account you want to open.

To open an online account you have two main options: traditional banks and digital banks like Maybank and Public Bank or online service providers, also known as neobanks, like Wise.

Traditional banks usually have physical branches where you can go and perform transactions in person. These banks also offer other services like investment accounts and personal loans. Some traditional banks charge high transaction fees and may require minimum deposits when opening an account.

Neobanks like Wise and BigPay operate completely online and have no physical branches. They usually don’t offer services like personal loans or interest-bearing accounts. The fee structures of neobanks are often simpler and cheaper than traditional banks.

What do I need to open a bank account online?

While each provider requires different documents, there are standard documents that providers may require, including: 

  • A valid Malaysian ID.

  • Residence permit or visa, and passport for non-Malaysian applicants.

  • Some providers may ask for proof of residence in the form of a utility bill or proof of a Malaysian phone number. 

  • Proof of employment such as a letter from your employer.

  • Minimum opening deposit, if the bank requires. This varies by bank.

For security purposes, banks may require biometric information like a fingerprint or facial scan. 

How to open a bank account Online in Malaysia

Many major banks in Malaysia allow you to open accounts online, however, these may be restricted to certain accounts. Some banks require you to visit a branch or ATM to open an account.  

For security purposes, banks may require biometric information like a fingerprint or facial scan. Some biometric data can be collected online via the bank’s smartphone app.

While it may differ slightly between banks, the steps to open an account online are usually very similar:

  1. Download the bank’s smartphone app, or access the application online.

  2. Prepare your documents: Check with the bank or provider what information and/or documents you need to open a bank account online and keep it handy.

  3. Fill in and verify your details: This may include documents like your ID number, physical address, employment details, tax information, referral letters, and proof of residence.

  4. 4. Verify your details: Some banks may require you to confirm your phone number or email by sending an OTP or code to that specific number or email address. In some instances, you may need to submit a selfie to confirm your identity. 

  5. Register an online profile: Many banks and service providers require you to register an online profile in order to use the online account services. This is usually an extra security measure to make sure your account is safe.

  6. Make your first deposit: Some accounts may require a minimum amount to be deposited before the account can be used. These may differ by bank and account type. 

Which provider is best for online accounts? 

ServiceWiseBigPayPublic BankHong LeongMaybankRHB
Opening feeFreeFree250 MYR20 MYR20 MYR200 MYR
Monthly maintenance feeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Close account feeFreeFree20 MYR20 MYR *20 MYR*20 MYR
Debit CardYes, Wise debit cardYesYesYesYesYes
Foreign Currency AccountsYesNoYesYesYesYes
International money transfersYesYesYesYesYesYes
Business accounts OnlineYesNoYesYesYesYes

* If closed within 3 months of opening

** If closed within 6 months of opening

Information is correct at time of writing, 1 December 2022

You can open accounts online with most traditional banks. They all offer similar services like linked debit cards, foreign currency accounts, international money transfers, and more. 

Fee structures are very similar among these banks, and most charge a fee to open an account, as well as early closing fees. Some charge annual maintenance fees on debit cards.

Alternative providers like Wise and BigPay, while not banks, offer similar services, but without closing fees. However, BigPay does not offer 

multi-currency or business accounts.

Wise

Trusted by more than 15 million people worldwide, Wise offers an account that provides local bank details in 10 currencies, and lets you hold and exchange more than 50 currencies, and move money to more than 70 countries. Wise also offers low-cost international money transfers based on a mid-market exchange rate, with transparent fee structure.  

  • Wise debit card can be used around the world.

  • Wise Multi-currency account allows users to keep more than 50 different currencies in one account.

  • Offers both personal and business accounts, with a range of business services.

Go to WiseWise Account Review

BigPay

BigPay is a mobile-only financial services provider that specializes in international money transfers. The company was founded in 2017 and is present in Malaysia and Singapore.

  • Offers a prepaid debit card

  • Features a range of personal financial management tools

  • Transfer money to 11 countries

Learn more about BigPay

Public Bank

Established in 1966, Public Bank Berhad offers a comprehensive range of personal and business banking services. The bank has more than 250 branches and 2,000 ATMs situated around Malaysia.

  • Linked debit and credit cards to certain accounts

  • Personal and business account options.

  • Offers a multi-currency that lets customers keep more than 10 different currencies in one account.

Hong Leong

Hong Leong Bank is one of the oldest banks in Malaysia and has been operating for almost 120 years. It has a major presence all over South East Asia where it offers customers a wide variety of banking services.

  • Offers online banking services through the HLBConnect portal.

  • Linked debit or credit cards on many accounts.

  • Caters to both individuals and businesses.

Maybank

Maybank is one of the largest financial services providers in South East Asia. They offer a wide variety of services and account types that cater to specific needs of customers. Maybank2u is the bank’s online banking portal.

  • Apply online for a linked debit or credit card

  • Many accounts features are accessible via their online or mobile banking app

  • No maintenance fees on certain accounts

RHB

Founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1994, RHB Bank Berhad is one of the largest banks in Malaysia. RHB has more than 180 branches all over Malaysia.

  • Offers personal and business accounts and services

  • Accounts can be linked to debit cards and/or various credit cards

  • Some accounts offer loyalty points on certain transactions

Types of Accounts

Most traditional banks give you a choice between savings accounts, checking accounts or digital accounts. Online providers like Wise and BigPay offer digital accounts instead of savings or checking accounts. Let’s look at the different types of accounts and what they are most suited to: 

Savings accounts: These are the most basic accounts and are often cheap to maintain. Many savings accounts are interest-bearing but are usually low compared to dedicated investment savings accounts. Most savings accounts offer debit cards, some at an additional cost. 

Savings accounts are best for: Savings accounts are for those who want simple banking for low fees and don’t necessarily intend to use the money for day-to-day spending.

Checking accounts: Checking accounts are predominantly used for day-to-day expenses, and while many are interest-bearing, the rates are usually low. Checking accounts often have linked debit and/or credit cards, and offer features like overdraft facilities. 

Checking accounts are best for: Checking accounts are perfect for everyday use like shopping and online bill payments.

Multi-currency accounts: Multi-currency accounts are mainly used for online foreign currency transactions, however, some services like Wise and BigPay offer linked debit cards for use at physical retailers. Some banks allow you to pay via their mobile app. Multi-currency accounts are usually not interest-bearing and don’t offer services like overdrafts, but their fees are often lower than savings or checking accounts. 

Multi-currency accounts are best for: Multi-currency accounts are preferred by people who travel often, get payments from overseas or make payments to foreign contractors. 

Best Multi-currency accounts in MalaysiaWise Multi-currency Account Review

Opening a Business Account Online

If you are a freelancer or business owner you may want to open a business account to separate your personal and business finances. Many banks and online financial services providers allow you to open business bank accounts online. Some online business accounts may be free.

Wise Business

Online international money transfer provider Wise offers low-cost international business accounts that include features like bulk international payments to employees and vendors. 

Go to Wise Business

What are the costs

Opening an online bank account is usually free, however, some banks may charge fees for things like debit or credit cards. Many online bank accounts require minimum deposits. Some common costs include:

  • Annual card fees

  • Early account closing fees

  • Monthly management fees

  • Dormant account fees

  • Fall-below fees

How do I fund my account?

You may find your online bank account via direct deposit from a bank account or via debit or credit cards. The available funding options may differ between banks, providers and types of accounts.

Can I open an online bank account in Malaysia from abroad?

Some traditional banks and online providers allow you to open online bank accounts in Malaysia from other countries, however, you may need a Malaysian phone number to complete the process. Online specialist providers like Wise allow Malaysians to open multi-currency accounts from anywhere in the world.

Conclusion: What is the best way to open an account online?

The internet has made banking more convenient and it is possible to open a bank account online without having to go to a branch. Many traditional banks, as well as alternative providers, allow you to open bank accounts online. These accounts are often free and some require small opening deposits. Online financial services providers like Wise specialise in digital banking and make it quick and easy to open an account online.

Learn more about Wise

FAQs on Opening a Bank Account Online

Which banks allow you to open an account online?

Many major Malaysian banks allow you to open bank accounts online, including Maybank, RHB and Hong Leong. However, Public Bank requires you to visit a branch to open an account.

Can I open a bank account online without going to the bank?

Yes, you can open accounts at many traditional banks online without ever going to a branch.

What is the easiest bank account to open online?

RHB and Hong Leong offer the quickest and simplest steps to open a bank account online.

Can I open an account with no money?

In Malaysia, most banks and providers require a minimum deposit to open a bank account. Some banks may require proof of funds.

What bank does not have a monthly fee?

Most major traditional banks in Malaysia offer online bank accounts at no monthly fee, however, they may charge an annual fee for linked debit or credit cards.

Seyma Mektepli
By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 30 December 2022