±A - Join Our Community

Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups

±A - Cigna

±A - Read Our Guide

The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free

±A - Compare Quotes and Save

Insurance, FX and international movers

±A - Listen to the Podcast

The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!

±A - Expert Financial

From our tax, investment and FX partners

±A - ExpatFocus Partners

Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.


Malaysia - Banking

Local Banks of Malaysia

The local banks of Malaysia are governed by the Central Bank, which operates out of Kuala Lumpur. Examples of local banks include Affin Bank, AmBank Malaysia, Alliance Bank Malaysia, CIMB Bank, CitiBank, Hong Leong Bank, Maybank2u, RHB Bank and United Overseas Bank Malaysia.

Some banks, such as CIMB, has recently started targeting expats and tailoring services specifically to make foreigners more comfortable and confident in the banking system of Malaysia. Many banks offer a low, flat fee for wiring money back to your home country. There is also a deposit insurance act in place that protects up to 250,000 Malaysian Ringgit per bank customer.

Of all the local banks previously mentioned, the three below are rated as being the most expat-friendly and easy to work with. Provided that you have all of the necessary documentation, you should be able to open an account in a single visit, and walk out with a debit card if you choose to get one.

CIMB Malaysia
https://www.cimbclicks.com.my/ Head Office
5th Floor Bangunan CIMB Jalan Semantan Damansara Heights 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Phone 1300 880 900, +603 22956100
Fax +603 2093 9688

Technology Park Malaysia, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone +60 3-8996 1070

Hong Leong
Level 2 Wisma Hong Leong, 18 Jalan Perak, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone +60 3 2164 2828
Fax +60 3 2715 8623

Many expats would prefer to stay with their original bank, but that may not always be possible overseas. It is possible to retain your accounts in the United States while opening a checking account in Malaysia for expenses. If you are running a business in Malaysia, a checking account may not be sufficient. If this is the case, you can either consult one of the banks listed above, or there is one other option. Bank of America has a big presence in Malaysia, and has several services aimed at helping expats make a success out of their stay in the country. These services mainly include business related guidance, such as trade finance, investment banking advisory services, and products for cash management and international debt and equity capital markets.

Bank of America Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Level 18, Wisma Goldhill 67 Jalan Raja Chulan 50200
Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah
Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone: +60 3-2034 3900

Banking hours

Typical banking hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. Some branches are open in the morning on Saturdays, but they are few and far between. You can also expect the bank to be closed on public holidays.

What kinds of bank accounts are available?

Expats are eligible for three kinds of bank accounts. These are savings accounts, checking accounts, and a combination of the two. Joint accounts are also possible so long as the other account holder has the appropriate documents and can provide proof of visa.

Interesting tip: All students are permitted to open a savings account at Malaysian local banks. A student visa is required, as well as an enrollment certificate from the university that includes the intended bank of business. These banks will issue an ATM card for the account. Many universities have local bank branches on campus.

There are certain limitations to opening a bank account in Malaysia. The account holder must have the right type of visa or work permit for the account. This is where it gets confusing. It is not possible to open company accounts with student visas, guardian visas, MM2H visas, or professional visas that were not issued by the company. There can also be problems if your visa is set to expire within 6 months of you applying for a bank account. It is best to consult several banks beforehand and ask them specifically what the requirements are before applying.

What do I need to bring to open an account?

To open a bank account in Malaysia, expats must present these documents:

• Valid work permit, must not expire within the next 6 months
• Proof of address
• Partnership certificate (joint accounts)
• Passport
• Statement of employment from employer

Expats who intend to live in Malaysia beyond the tourist limit must provide:

• Malaysia My Second Home Visa (MM2H)
• Original passport and copy
• Work permit
• Employment certificate
• Proof of address

Is it safe to use credit cards?

The use of credit and debit cards is not as common in Malaysia as it is in the United States and United Kingdom. Small shops, street vendors, taxi cabs, and rural businesses may not accept cards at all. It is best to have cash on hand just in case this happens. Credit and debit card holders should be cautious with their use of credit cards, as credit card fraud is common in Malaysia. In fact, Malaysia ranks in the top 10 countries for credit card fraud. ATMs are available, but only dispense Malaysian Ringgit, and many machines close at midnight. Be sure to safeguard your credit card information because many online purchases only require the card number, expiration date, and security number. A quick photo or scan can get all of this information quickly and easily.

It is also possible to apply for a credit card from a Malaysian institution. Many local banks offer credit cards. To apply for a credit card, the following documents are required:

• Passport
• Paycheck stubs from the previous 3 months
• Latest tax return form
• Work permit

How about a loan?

With a valid visa and a decent credit rating, most expats are able to get loans from a Malaysian bank. The requirements are similar to those of a loan from an American institution. For an expat to apply for a loan, they should make sure they have these documents:

• Photocopy of passport
• Paycheck stubs from the previous 3 months
• Latest tax return form (less than one year old)
• For salaried employees: letter of appointment or confirmation letter stating salary and other income
• Letter of Offer, Sale and Purchase Agreement, or Deposit or booking receipt from housing developer or private seller
• Copy of land title
• Bank statements going back six months

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.