Basics of banking in Malaysia



Currency in Malaysia

The Malaysian currency is called Malaysian Ringgit (RM); one Ringgit consist of 100 Sen. Notes in circulation are in denominations of RM 1, RM 2, RM 5, RM 10, RM 50 and RM 100 and coins in use are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and RM 1. 


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Opening a Bank Account in Malaysia 

Foreigners are permitted to open bank accounts in Malaysia, subject to a meeting a few requirements. It is usually required that applicants for bank accounts hold a work permit under the MM2H program. If you do not hold a residency permit, then you will have to provide a reference from either a Malaysian contact or your company. However, since regulations are not that firmly in place, there are some banks that will also accept your application without such a visa. 

Documents required to open an account include your passport with a statement from your employer (if applicable). If your Malaysian contact has an account with the same bank, it is indeed an added advantage. Most Malaysian merchant and commercial banks will allow you to open a foreign currency account. Banking in Malaysia can be slow which is why the use of internet and phone banking is highly recommended. 

There is a wide network of banks in Malaysia including Malaysian local banks like Maybank, CIMB Bank, Affin Bank and Alliance Bank Berhad, Islamic banks like Bank Islam Bhd. and Bank Mualamat Bhd and leading foreign banks like Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, HSBC and JP Morgan Chase Bank. Banking hours in Malaysia differ across states. Normal banking hours in the States of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m (Sundays to Thursdays) and from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m (Saturdays). (Certain banks work from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.). All other states have relatively similar working hours and are also open on Fridays and Saturdays. Business hours on Saturdays are from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (in case of certain banks 11 a.m to 2 p.m.), usually only on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.  

Debit & Credit Cards in Malaysia

Credit and debit cards like Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus are widely accepted by larger retailers in the country. When opening your Malaysian bank account, you can also apply for a credit card for which you will be billed in Malaysian Ringgit. To apply for a credit card, you will have to submit your passport, work permit, pay slips and income tax returns. Banks issuing credit cards in the country include Maybank, HSBC, AmBank, CIMB, Alliance Bank and Citibank. Remember that some banks are very reluctant to issue credit cards to expatriates. 

ATM's in Malaysia

Most banks in Malaysia have ATM facilities, some of which accept foreign credit and debit cards. However, many ATMs are shut down after midnight for security reasons. Simply look for a respective label at the cash point machine. There are many ATMs that not only permit withdrawals, but they also provide premium banking facilities and the option to transfer or deposit money. 

Money Transfer in Malaysia 

Money transfers in Malaysia are usually very convenient; however international transfers tend to be very expensive. To transfer RM 10,000 overseas in one transaction, approval from Malaysia's central bank is required. A commission of 2% is applicable to national money transfers, from one Malaysian account to another. 

International transfers usually take 5-7 working days and you have to provide details relating to the account number and the account holder, name of the receiving bank, the SWIFT code and the IBAN number of the receiving bank.

Currency specialists will transfer the money for free and give you a better exchange rate on the transaction. 


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Banking Guide