Money and Banking

Currency, Cash, and Cards

In Jordan the currency is called Jordanian Dinar, often shorted to JD and even Arabic speaking people often say “JayDee”. The official currency abbreviation is JOD. The currency is broken down into 1000 fils with coins of 50, 100, 250 and 500 fils, while 50 fils is also 5 piaster and 250 fils is a quarter JD and 500 fils half a JD. The half JD coin consists of two metals and has 7 corners. The quarter also has 7 corners, is just one type of material and a bit smaller than the half JD coin. There are bills of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 JD. For smaller items and taxi use, it is recommended to always have some cash and especially 1 JD bills, in case “the driver has no change”, see my explanation on Taxis.

While credit cards and the ATM cards provided by Jordanian banks are widely accepted in malls, restaurants and such, it is good advice to always have cash with you, in case the digital payment options are not available or not functioning. Downtown or in smaller restaurants as well as in taxis you will not get far with plastic money.

Banking

There are plenty of banks in Jordan. Most of them also operate in other (Arab) countries. The biggest one among them is Arab Bank, which is what I use, also because my company has their main accounts there and money transfer is quick. There is also:

  • The Bank of Jordan
  • Jordan Kuwaiti Bank
  • Jordan Ahli Bank
  • Bank Audi
  • Housing Bank
  • Cairo Amman Bank
  • Capital Bank…

and plenty of others. There are also some international banks such as Citi Bank or Société Générale. We did not have too good experience with Jordan Kuwaiti Bank and Cairo Amman Bank. They are all safe institutions I assume. However, customer service might differ a lot, setting up an account is painful and you end up waiting and things don’t work, they might ask you to come again or the internet banking is not set up correctly and so on. To avoid these experiences, I suggest you go to Arab Bank at the branch next to the 5th circle, since it is much bigger than in the malls and they can serve you with all kinds of requests. The experience was good. For me and my wife, it took around 2-3 hours to open an account. However, when you are prepared and have all the necessary papers you walk out with a bank account, a working ATM card plus your internet banking set up and SMS or E-mail notifications to your phone activated.

In order to open a bank account, you need several documents. It is better to have all this together to avoid coming more than once because everything goes a bit slower in Jordan than you might be used to. Here is what you should bring:

  • Passport
  • Residency (Iqama) – when you work in Amman your employer will make sure you get a residency card. That might take a while but is mandatory in order to open a bank account, at least at most of the banks
  • Copy of contract of employment – to show that you work and how much you earn
  • Rental contract – to proof where you live and that you reside in Jordan
  • 3 months electricity bill – I do not know why it is requested

Also be prepared that one of the first questions will be, how much money you earn. Depending on your monthly income you will be treated differently, by different staff and offered a different type of bank account ranging somewhere from standard/normal over a premium to VIP/platinum customer. The benefits might be something totally irrelevant to you and the only important thing is that you have a functional bank account with a working ATM card.

Update April 2018 – If you want to transfer money to other accounts, even within Arab Bank, be sure to ask right from the beginning for that service to be enabled as you have to fill and sign several forms first in order to do so. That way, a second password will be set up so you can verify transaction online.

You can setup EUR and USD accounts as well free of charge instantly via online banking. It is also possible to withdraw USD at some ATMs (Safeway 7th Circle, Airport, Dead Sea) or at the branches. You can transfer money between your accounts (of different currencies) at any time through online banking and the app.

Transferring money internationally

If you are from Europe or the US, look into TransferWise. It is a UK based company cooperating with banks in Europe and is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011. It is trustworthy and I used it to send money from Europe to the states. The offer a borderless account. You can have accounts in different currencies, send money overseas and also offer a Debit Card depending on where you have your residency. The exchange rate is based on the mid-market rate which is normally accessible to private customers. Of course, they are a fee for exchanging money, but it is lower than what banks usually offer. Fees of course also depend on how much money you transfer.

I transferred EUR from my German bank account to TransferWise then exchanged it to USD for a low fee and transferred it to the US, which only cost then 1.35 USD since the money came from a USD account then. Also, the money arrived within two days which is pretty fast for an international bank transfer.

It is also an interesting option if you get paid from the UK or Europe since they offer free receiving of funds into the account.

They also have an App of course. Feel free to explore.

 

Advertisements

7 Replies to “Money and Banking”

  1. Hello.
    Thanks for the article. This would really be of help.
    I’m a Nigerian, and I’m planning to move to Jordan soon. My major concerns are accommodation, getting a job and sending money to my parents here in Nigeria.
    Is there any advice you can give on this?

    Like

    1. Hi Segun,
      you seem to have quite a lot of concerns. And this is right to think about this. Jordan is a pretty expensive country. I suggest you try finding a job from your home country first. It is possible to come to Jordan an a tourist visa and when you do have a job to chance that and acquire a work permit but you need to rethink your chances on the job market. Jordan has already a high unemployment rate and currently lots of difficulties to deal with (increased number of refugees, closed borders, cut of foreign financial aid). On the other hand if you have some funds and wanna give it try, go a head. Sending money via bank transfer, western union or alike should not be the problem.

      Like

  2. Arab bank had banking connections to terrorist organizations.
    It was found liable in 2 US court cases for it.
    They got out of paying for one of the rulings by a judgment of the US supreme court to not want to deal with cases for foreign banks operating in the US with cases from plaintiffs who are foreign individuals also (likely more due to potential political fallout and $ for US banks reasons).
    However, for the case brought against Arab bank by US citizens they supposedly made a confidential $1 billion dollar settlement to family members (due to confidentiality it’s unconfirmed the exact amount).
    Either way probably shouldn’t be promoting them as an Expat bank, just saying.

    https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/arab-bank-lawsuit-re-terrorist-attacks-in-israel?page=3

    https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/US-Supreme-Court-ends-second-Arab-Bank-case-552643

    Like

    1. Let me accept your comment. It seems the decisions were not even made, because the could not be sued under these laws. Either way, it is very difficult to judge for me if that is true or not and I leave it of course to anybody choose the bank of choice. I am definitively not endorsed by them. However I we had bad experience with two other banks, so we made our choice.

      Like

  3. Hello Bastian and thank you for your article. You have provided really valuable information regarding banking in Jordan. I would just like to note that this time I am a Jordanian citizens in the UK who will be coming back to Jordan in a couple of days. But I would prefer to ask an expat rather than asking friends or relatives as they are sometimes not aware of the downsides of things because they are used to it being downsided if I may say so. From your experience, is the process of opening a bank account very bureaucratic and hard? Second of all, I have a business and I regularly use PayPal, will I be able to link my PayPal account to an account with the Arab Bank? And generally when you shop or go around, do you use contactless payment with your card?

    Like

    1. Hi Faris,
      all good and valid points. Opening a bank account can be pain in the ass, but since you are Jordanian and know how it goes, just be well prepared and bring copies of your passport or ID, work contract, electricity bill, maybe other proof. I guess it differs a bit for locals than for foreigners. Anyway, call them and make sure they tell you exactly, then bring it all already copied. I suggest 5th circle at it is a large branch. When you done you will walk out with everything complete.
      Connecting PayPal I am not sure, I have a Jordanian friend who is with Arab bank as well and they told him multiple times it is not possible, but then one of the customer service representatives said it is possible but difficult. So I suggest you address that topic straightaway when you are there in person.
      Regarding contact less payment, I haven’t seen it in action. I think the payment terminals are ready for it, but the card is not prepared. And either way most of the people at check out would not know…

      Like

Leave a Reply to Mike Miller Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.