Malta: Moving On, Up & Away

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta

There are a number of different banks available in Malta and I will detail the main banks below, plus with information of how to open a bank account in Malta so you know exactly where to go, what to do and what you’ll need! I’ve rated the banks out of FIVE STARS based on my personal experiences.

Some things to know about banking in general in Malta;

Cash Machines

There is a serious lack of ATM cash machines. In general you only really find them on the outside of banks, meaning they’re mainly in busy, popular areas. You’re not guaranteed to have a cash point within walking distance, so try to be organised about always having enough cash on you (if needed).

Using the Banks

Actually going in to your bank and seeing a cashier or personal banker is an absolute nightmare. I can speak only for Gzira, Sliema and St Julians, but the banks in these areas are always so busy they’re almost unusable. On many occasions I’ve spent over an hour waiting in line and still not had a chance to see a cashier and ended up having to leave as I just didn’t have time. This can be very frustrating, so avoid going in to the bank unless absolutely necessary. These are very busy parts of the island though, so if you’re living elsewhere, perhaps you wont have this issue.

Bank Credit Cards in Malta

Ok, so credit cards are something very different over here. A credit card, when issued by a standard bank in Malta (such as HSBC, BOV etc) is not the same as you might expect- if you have a €500 credit card, the bank will freeze €500 of your own money in order to issue you the card. Therefore, you’re not actually given €500 in credit, so I’ve no idea what the point of this ‘credit card’ is, why it exists or how they can call it a ‘credit card’. Even once your card is paid off and you want to close the card and stop using it, it can be a real headache to try and get your frozen €500 cash back. DO NOT DO THIS. Go with a proper dedicated credit card company such as Yes Money– they know what they’re doing.

 

Choosing Banks

A bank is a hugely personal thing and not everyone will have the same experiences. I personally use BOV and would recommend them to anyone looking to open a bank account in Malta. HSBC is the next biggest on the island, and a popular choice. Other options include Banif and APS, neither of which I would recommend, but read on and make up your own mind on opening a bank account in Malta.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta BOV

BOV in Malta (Bank of Valletta) ****

Things to Know

This is the bank I currently use and the bank I would absolutely recommend if you’re opening a bank account in Malta. They’re not perfect, but leaps and bounds ahead of the other banks on the island. All gaming companies on the island will use BOV, so if you work in gaming especially they’re ideal as you’ll get your wages faster and it’s probably the most used bank on the island.

Their online banking works well and their mobile app is great, you can always check things on the go. With BOV it does cost if you withdraw cash from an ATM in Malta that is not a BOV ATM. At the last try, it cos me €3.50, which is absolutely atrocious in my opinion.

Opening a Bank Account at BOV in Malta

Opening an account at BOV sounds easy, but due to a cultural slowness and lack of common sense within companies, it can end up taking quite a while. I had to provide a reference for some colleagues and you wouldn’t believe how long they took to process it. After claiming they never received it in the post, and refusing to accept a scanned copy via email I went and physically handed it in to the right person who still claimed she never got it. But this kind of thing is pretty common in Malta, as long as you do all you can, it’s a pretty simple process.

  1. Your ID– they will accept either a Maltese ID card or a passport. If you have a Maltese ID card, always use this as it makes the reference process easier. You have to have one to live here anyway, so I’d recommend just waiting to open the account until your ID card is sorted.
  2. A general reference– if you have an ID card then the reference can be from a bank, your employer, a lawyer and so on. Easiest way is your employer, on company headed paper they simply have to complete a form that BOV will be happy to send you via email. It asks for things like name, address and salary (not sure why this is necessary). If you don’t have an ID card then you’ll need a reference from your bank, which you cannot provide- BOV will contact your bank directly. Due to slowness with banks in general, on both sides, this can take a while.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta HSBC

HSBC in Malta ***

Things to Know

When opening a bank account in Malta, you should consider that HSBC in Malta are hugely anti gaming, which I find absolutely ridiculous. They’re an international brand so really should be more open minded and accepting, rather than utter idiots. If you own a gaming company then you cannot have a HSBC account and if they find out your account is being used as a gaming companies corporate account they will shut you down.

As a normal customer this doesn’t really affect you- even if you work for a gaming company you wont have any problems, it’s more on a corporate level they don’t like it. However, you cannot process payments to gaming websites if you have a HSBC credit card. They keep threatening to do the same for debit cards, but as of yet, you’re still able to deposit into online gaming sites with your HSBC debit card.

Opening a Bank Account at HSBC in Malta

If you have a HSBC account already, in another country then it’s fairly simply to transfer over your details. In the past I know this has been a troublesome and drawn out process but from more recent reports, it’s clearly been streamlined and is a simple case of letting your bank know you want to transfer to Malta and they’ll do the rest.

If you don’t have an account yet, it’ll take a little more work. To open the account you will need;

  1. Your ID– passport or Maltese ID card.
  2. A banker’s reference HSBC will need contact details for a bank you’ve had an account with most recently so they can contact them for a reference. The reference is just to say that you’re a customer and don’t have any kind of bad debt. I’d suggest contacting your bank before meeting with HSBC so you can find the name/contact details of this department and have them on you. This is the bit that can take time.

Once HSBC receive the reference from your previous bank they’ll send you the debit card and your PIN. They offer two types of card;

  1. a basic cashlink VISA where you can shop freely in Malta and get cash out of the ATM’s but you cannot use it abroad or online (totally pointless so make sure this isn’t the one they’re giving you.
  2. a VISA debit, as available in most countries. Works in store, online and abroad.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta Banif Bank

Banif Bank in Malta *

Things to Know

Ugh, I do not recommend Banif bank at all. I went with them when I first moved here, as the account opening is much easier than any other bank, but it was not worth it- the problems I had with them were such that you wouldn’t believe. My company used BOV and did a simple bank transfer with my wages each month. It regularly took up to 10 days to be received in my account (this kind of thing should be 1-3 days MAX) and on two occasions they actually ‘lost’ my wages. Yup, lost them. The money left the sending bank and was received by Banif but they claimed they hadn’t received them, and couldn’t find them. After about 10 days of complaining and going as high up as I could, both times it was found to be a fault at Banif’s side.

Opening a Bank Account at Banif in Malta

Banif Bank is probably the easiest bank to open an account with in Malta, as they don’t require any kind of reference. Beware though, they also refuse to give references so if you decide to change banks then you wont be able to get a reference for the time you were banking with Banif.

Most accounts in Malta you can open with just €10/€20 in cash, however Banif require a €50 deposit in order to open an account.

  1. Your ID- All you need to open an account with Banif is ID, however it has to be a Maltese ID card. As long as you live in Malta, then this is very simple to sort out and once it arrives, just pop along to Banif and open the account.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta APS Bank

APS Bank in Malta **

Things to Know

APS is a ‘church bank’, which immediately makes me quite wary. I don’t know anyone who uses them and I’ve never used them myself. When I first moved here I did try to open an account with them, but I was in there for 30 minutes and the woman couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Opening a Bank Account at APS in Malta

They have a fairly standard (in Malta) account opening process, much the same as HSBC.

  1. Your ID– you must show a Maltese ID card in order to open an account.
  2. A banker’s reference– go along with the contact details of your current bank, as APS will have to contact them for a reference before opening an account for you. This process can take a long time, as banks in general (all over the world) are slow, so when you have two of them communicating, you have double the delays!

12 Comments

  1. R

    hsbc… I worked as a casino dealer in Edinburgh, and tried to open a bank account with Hsbc. After 3 delays due to ” you need this form and this piece from your employer…blabla” I came back with all the required forms ( and a letter from my big boss himself)only to hear
    – for how long do you want this account?
    – euh… For as long as I am alive. ( Ithought that was a clever answer)
    – yes but you know we are very cautious with new people opening a bank account, you know because of money laudering…
    – i have full police clearence in France, where I am from and in the U.K, you know and I work as a dealer it’s not like I make a fortune, as you know tips are not allowed.
    After few seconds the lady looked at me and said ” Sorry but you cannot open a bank account here”
    So I am pretty sure I will never recommand Hsbc to anyone and go to B.o.V when I come to Malta!

    Reply
    1. Rhi (Post author)

      Wow thats incredible, I’ve never used them myself but never heard of that! They’re really conservative considering they’re the international bank on this island, I’m surprised at their attitude, but I think it’s for the best- BOV all the way :)

      Reply
  2. Scott Lee Holloway

    This is really interesting thank you. One of my pet hates is paying to withdraw my own money so sounds like the only real drawback with BOV. Do you know if HSBC Malta charges customers to use non HSBC ATM’s?

    Reply
    1. Rhi (Post author)

      HSBC doesn’t as far as I know. Most cash points on the island are BOV so its not so bad, i use BOV & have never had to suffer the charge :) but at least with hsbc you never need to worry

      Reply
      1. Scott Lee Holloway

        Great info! Super helpful as always thanks! :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a great week.

        Reply
  3. Jean

    Hey Rhi,

    Does BOV charges you for direct debits?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Rhi (Post author)

      They don’t charge for DD’s no :) they do charge for manual bank transfers to other banks but direct debits are free!

      Reply
      1. Jean

        Well, I discovered that HSBC do charges for direct debits and i found that outrageous!

        I also found a nightmare story from an american in Malta using an HSBC credit card: http://www.an-american-in-malta.com/2011/02/why-you-shouldnt-get-a-credit-card-in-malta.html

        BOV is the safest choice.

        Reply
        1. Rhi (Post author)

          Ah credit cards- thats a good point, i added those to the guide now. Same story with BOV, very odd credit cards here but there are companies that do them properly :)

          Reply
  4. Tom Allan

    hsbc.

    I currently have an hsbc account here on Malta and a Credit Card account. I find them excellent as I can transfer monies from the UK in a split second from the UK. Using there facility Global pay.

    banif

    Superb. My partner and I opened an account on Gozo. The Manager is superb. We have a joint account and are just opening our business account with them.

    Bov

    I went into the Gozo branch some four weeks ago as I am wanting to transfer my Amex card from UK. I am still waiting four weeks on. No account open. The lady on the desk was exceptionally hostil. Unlike Victoria Attard at HSBC and Marie Joset at Banif the latter two were superb.

    Reply
    1. Rhi (Post author)

      Glad to hear you had some good experiences!

      Reply
  5. Rachel

    Hey! I just moved to Malta from the Uk… and opened up a bank account with HSBC a couple weeks ago. What a nightmare. But, I went through a similar process trying to open up a bank account in the UK last year (originally from Canada).
    Do you transfer money back to the UK ever? Any advice on that?

    Reply

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