Banking In Israel
In order to begin receiving various government benefits, olim will need to open a bank account shortly after arrival. You will need to bring your Teudat Oleh & Teudat Zehut. Some banks may allow you to open an account before you have your actual Teudat Zehut in hand and present it later, but it is best not to count on this.
Because Israeli banks view payment against foreign checks, both personal and bankers’ drafts, as a form of giving credit, it is not recommended to rely on checks to transfer funds to Israel quickly. Your better options would be:
- Bring cash. However, be aware that the banking norm in Israel is to charge a sizeable fee to deposit foreign currency. You might want to change your money to Shekels before making a deposit. The banks charge a much higher fee if you deposit more than 10,000 NIS of cash.
- Arrange with your bank to have an initial deposit transferred immediately after your arrival on aliyah. This can later serve as security against small checks that you may wish to deposit, and qualify you to have a local debit/credit card issued. The amounts involved would depend on what banking services you require.
Arranging a mechanism for transfer of funds in advance
You may set up a system with your bank in North America before you come to Israel, whereby they will accept faxed, telephoned or internet instructions from you. Not all banks are willing to do this. Once you have established a relationship with a bank branch in Israel, they will be able to accept your personal checks drawn on your account with your bank outside of Israel. Foreign checks will normally take 2 weeks/ 10 business days to clear and the balance made available to you.
Other banking services
Israeli banking is sophisticated, and some or all of these services are available from the various banks – it is worthwhile to check and compare:
- Private-banking style service services to customers with a minimum balance
- Statements in English
- Services by Internet/fax/personal modem/phone
- Special benefits for olim
- Explanatory material in English
Banking for Senior Citizens
Under the new regulations of the Bank of Israel, the regular service charge in shekel accounts is approximately 2 shekels for each transaction (minimum of about 13 shekels a month). The exact numbers vary from bank to bank. In other words, a senior citizen will automatically pay half of this i.e. 1 shekel per transaction with a minimum monthly charge of 6.50 shekels.
In addition, there are discounts for certain foreign currency transactions as well as for trading insecurities,stocks etc
AACI wishes to thank financial consultant Rifka Lebowitz who assisted in providing the above information. Her website is www.rifkalebowitz.com.
updated: june 2013