A bank account is essential if you are living and working in Barbados. Opening an account with one of the many banks available is relatively easy. Expats will need to take along two different types of ID and one of these must be a passport. The other can be a driver’s license or copy of visa documentation. There is always a small amount that must be deposited in the account when it is opened, but this amount will vary from bank to bank and it is worth shopping around to find out the differences between the accounts.This applies to both current accounts and savings accounts. Current account holders will be issued with a debit card and a cheque book. Debit cards can be used in most ATMs, although it is worth checking to find out if your bank charges for using the ATM of another bank. Most machines will also take cards that have been issued in your home country, but you are likely to be charged for this too. It is also possible for a person with a foreign issued card to withdraw money inside the bank.
Savings account holders will be issued with a book and a card. There are several different savings options available and the most popular is a basic savings account which offers a lot more interest than a current account. These allow users to withdraw funds as they need, but there are also fixed term accounts which limit withdrawals but may offer a little more interest. Other financial services that banks can offer include advice on pensions and investments if you are looking to deposit your money long term or remain in the country for at least several years. Most branches will have advisors that can assist with these and all other enquiries.
Credit facilities can be made available if needed, though if you have not been in the country very long you may have to have a face to face meeting with your bank manager to request the facility and if you have no proof of income it is likely to be declined. Taking the time to build a good credit rating and a good relationship with your bank is likely to work in your favour.
Banks in Barbados are generally open between 8 am and 3 pm from Monday to Thursday, although are open 8 am to 5 pm on a Friday. Some banks do have longer opening hours on different days and different branches of the same bank may have different hours. This will depend greatly on their exact location and the local demand. There are two branches of the Mutual Bank of the Caribbean that open until 7 pm in the evening and are open until 2 pm on a Saturday. Most banks will also have a customer service department that can be contacted by telephone and these may have additional working hours to the branch’s opening times.
Online banking facilities are offered by most banks and these are ideal for those who cannot regularly get to the branch. Bills can be paid by cheque, direct debit or standing orders and deposits to the account can be made by cheque, cash or bank transfer. Most banks are able to handle international transfers of funds although these will incur charges for the transfer and the currency conversion. These charges will vary from bank to bank.
ATM machines can be found outside most banks and in the main shopping areas, although some parts of the island will have fewer machines due to the lower population and lack of demand. ATM machines do have withdrawal limits and your own limit will be set by the bank and based on your own personal circumstances.
Foreign banks such as Citibank have a presence in the country and it is always worth checking with your current bank to see if they can help you to set up an account in the country before you arrive. You are still subject to the same procedures, but this can save you time when you first get there. Not all banks will be able to do this for you but at the very least they can offer advice.
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