Services offered are very similar to those found in Europe and North America. For example, banks offer checks, credit cards, ATM cards, wire transfers and even consumer loans. Internet banking is widely used in Kuwait.
Kuwaiti currency is called the Kuwaiti Dinar and commonly referred to as KD. There are 1000 fils in 1KD.
ATMs are just about everywhere and can be found in every mall, grocery store, near pharmacies and even hospitals. Most ATMs machines accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Cirrus, Plus and Maestro cards. Cash withdrawals from most ATMs WILL incur a charge from your bank (if outside Kuwait). Fees vary, depending on your banking institution. There may be a limit on the amount of cash you're able to withdraw per day.
Currency exchange offices are widely available throughout Kuwait, and can be found in most malls, major shopping centers and on some main streets. Exchange services are available at Kuwait International Airport and even at your local bank.
Rates vary and additional fees may be applied. Please ask before committing. Western Union is a very popular exchange portal in Kuwait. You will need to bring your Civil ID or Passport in order to exchange any currency. Many exchange services only accept Civil Ids.
Many banking institutions in Kuwait offer free overseas transfers to a person's home country. However, international transfers of money to other countries are a little more labor intensive and can be expensive with all the fees involved, including the currency exchange rate.
The easiest way to complete an international transfer is if you have a dual-currency account, such as the connection between Deutsche bank and Bank of America. Kuwait HSBC and Gulf Bank in Kuwait offer the option of having a foreign currency account. Additional fees may be charged for this service.
In order to open a simple banking account in Kuwait, you MUST have a residency permit and a Civil ID. There is no exception. Banks won't even talk to you about opening an account before you have all the necessary documentation in your possession.
Once you've obtained your residency and Civil ID, opening a bank account can be done in a matter of minutes. All banks offer ATM cards and credit cards. Foreigner and receive a debit card and even credit cards.
Within Kuwait, you will find international, regional and local banks. All are well financed and government regulated. As a working expatriate, you're likely to open a traditional banking account. Banking in Kuwait is highly automated, and compares favorably with banking in other advanced countries, both in the region, Europe and the rest of the world.
In general, banks are open to the public from 8am to 1pm, Sunday to Thursday. Some banks reopen during the late afternoon from 4.30 to 6.30pm. Banks are closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
A unique aspect of Middle Eastern banking is Islamic banking. Islam bans interest or usury, and Islamic banking involves the centralization of funds within a bank. These assets are then used, for instance, to fund a major construction project or other similar works, which in turn produces returns, and are shared out in proportion to input.
Major Banks in Kuwait: