In order to begin receiving various government benefits, olim will need to open a bank account shortly after arrival. You will need to bring your Teudat Oleh & Teudat Zehut. Some banks may allow you to open an account before you have your actual Teudat Zehut in hand and present it later but it is best not to count on this.
Because Israeli banks view payment against foreign checks, both personal and bankers drafts, as a form of giving credit, it is not recommended to rely on checks to transfer funds to Israel quickly. Your better options would be:
- Bring cash. However, be aware that the banking norm in Israel is to charge a sizeable fee to deposit foreign currency.
- Bring travelers checks. This should be in large denominations, as there is ordinarily a per-check handling fee.
- Arrange with your bank to have an initial deposit transferred before or immediately after arrival on aliyah. This can later serve as security against small checks that you may wish to deposit, and qualify you to have a local debit/credit card issued. The amounts involved would depend on what banking services you require.
Arranging a mechanism for transfer of funds in advance
You may set up a system with your bank in North America before you come to Israel, whereby they will accept faxed, telephoned or internet instructions from you. Not all banks are willing to do this. Once you have established a relationship with a bank branch in Israel, under certain conditions they will be able to accept your personal checks drawn on your account with your bank outside of Israel.
Other banking services
Israeli banking is sophisticated, and some or all of these services are available from the various banks – it is worthwhile to check and compare:
- Private-banking style service services to customers with a minimum balance
- Statements in English
- Services by Internet/fax/personal modem/phone
- Special benefits for olim
- Explanatory material in English
Banking for Senior Citizens
Senior citizens benefit from a 50% discount on the basic transaction fee in the currentaccount.
Under the new regulations of the Bank of Israel, the regular service charge in shekel accounts is approximately 1.24 shekelsfor each transaction (min. around 13 shekels a month). The exact numbers vary from bank to bank. In other words, a seniorcitizen will automatically pay half of this i.e 62 agorot per transaction with aminimum monthly charge of 6.50 shekels.
In addition, there are discounts for certain foreign currency transactions as well as for trading insecurities/stocks etc