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This is what you need to know before you open your first bank account

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This is what you need to know before you open your first bank account


Having a bank account is essential these days. Gone are the days when people would exclusively use cash, or hide their savings under mattresses and in locked cabinets. With economic globalisation and the advent of e-commerce everyone needs a bank account, as often the most convenient way to pay for services is through your bank. Bank accounts also offer a fuss free way to keep track of all your money, and help you save if you are so inclined. But the process of opening a bank account can seem daunting for those who have never done it before, due to the financial jargon attached to it. So, here’s what you need to know, in simple terms, before you open a bank account.

Documents required:

  • An ID card and its verified copy (SNIC/CNIC)
  • A NICOP or POC card for dual nationality holders or non-resident Pakistanis
  • Proof of residence ( for example, in the form of a utility bill with your address on it)
  • Proof of income (attested salary slip, employer certificate, pension book etc)

For minors and students:

  • B-form or birth certificate if under 18
  • ID card (SNIC/CNIC)
  • Proof of income of guardian
  • University or school ID card
  • Proof of residence

Opening process:

  • Make an appointment at your chosen bank
  • Fill out the application form
  • Undergo biometric scan (fingerprint scanning)
  • Submit documents to bank teller
  • Sign application form and its attached documents
  • Deposit minimum amount

After completing this process, your bank will contact you to let you know that your account is is being processed. In the span of 1-2 days most banks will notify you that your account has been opened. A further 2 weeks will be required to receive your cheque book. The minimum amount required to open an account varies from bank to bank, but per the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is Rs. 1, 000. And, for low income individuals, in order to be financially inclusive the SBP has mandated that banks offer ‘Asaan’ accounts which can be opened with a minimal deposit of Rs. 100. However, ‘Asaan’ accounts do not provide the all same amenities as a current account, for instance, they do not provide a cheque book and it has to be separately requested.

Types of bank accounts:

Basic Bank Account:

  • No account maintenance fee
  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • Unlimited ATM service from banks own ATMS
  • Only two deposits into account allowed per month
  • Only two transactions can be made from account per month

This type of account is easy to open, even though it comes with some limitations. It does not require users to have a large sum as a minimum balance, only a minimum deposit to open the account. However, per the SBP, if the account balance remains zero for six months consecutively then the account is liable to be closed. And, later in time if someone’s financial situation allows it they can convert this type of account into a different account like a current or saving account by requesting their bank.

Current Account:

  • Unlimited transactions can be made with debit card
  • Withdrawals from ATM may be subject to a daily limit
  • Free phone banking service available
  • Mobile and internet banking available
  • No restriction on number of deposits into account
  • No limit on the amount of money that can be transferred out of account
  • Minimum balance required

Current accounts are extremely useful because they are not subject to the same restrictions as a basic bank account. They provide all the necessary amenities like internet banking, no deposit restrictions etc. However, current accounts have a minimum balance requirement, and the bank will charge you a fee if your balance falls below that amount. The amount varies from bank to bank but the minimum balance can range from Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 25, 000. Unless, the current account is an ‘Asaan’ account, in which case the minimum balance requirement is waived.

Savings Account:

  • Profit bearing account
  • Profit usually calculated monthly
  • Profit credited to account by bank periodically
  • Zakat and withholding tax deducted
  • Unlimited transactions through debit card
  • Mobile and online banking available
  • Free of charge phone banking service
  • No minimum balance requirement

Savings accounts are great for those on a fixed income who want to maximise the value of their money. Most banks offer at least one type of savings account, without a minimum balance requirement. And, unlike a fixed term investment account the funds in a savings account are liquid (they can be accessed at any time). However, banks usually pay the profit every 6 months, and the rate at which you profit is much lower than that of an investment account.

Foreign Currency Account:

  • Deposits only to be made in chosen foreign currency
  • Funds can be transferred abroad
  • Can earn interest if savings account
  • Withholding tax and Zakat deducted
  • Availability of Traveler’s checks and other remittance services

This type of account is used mostly by foreign/dual nationals, companies, charities or those who regularly have to transfer money abroad.

Term Deposit Accounts:

  • Profit bearing
  • High rate of return
  • Fixed interest rate
  • Profit can be collected on monthly or quarterly basis
  • Money cannot be withdrawn until the term is over
  • Minimum balance required

Fixed /term deposit accounts are for those who have a certain amount of capital that they are looking to profit from. However, because the money cannot be withdrawn until the term is over it is not flexible like a savings account, hence it is only for those individuals who can afford to park a certain amount of money in this amount without needing to make use of it. The rate of return for this type of amount is much higher than that of a savings account.

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