Home Finance Banking Banks in South Africa
Last update on August 21, 2020

Here’s a guide to banks in South Africa, including the monetary authority, locally controlled banks, branches of international banks, and banking-related organizations in South Africa.

Foreigners looking to bank in South Africa will find a varied selection of regional, national and international banks in South Africa and a sophisticated banking system. To open a bank account, you’ll need to complete a form confirming your employment at a South African company and declare any funds or assets you’ve brought into the country.

The majority of South African banks charge account fees, and transaction and withdrawal fees also apply in many cases. If you choose an international bank in South Africa, it might be possible to get an account in your home country that you can also use in South Africa.

This listing of banking institutions in South Africa includes information on:

Main banks in South Africa

You can choose the best bank for your needs by comparing the services offered by national, local and international banks.

The five largest banks, with each boasting assets of around ZAR 1 million or more, include:

These commercial banks in South Africa are also members of the Banking Association South Africa, which provides a collective voice for banks when interacting with the government.

In addition to current and savings bank accounts, most major South African banks also offer loans, mortgages and investment services.

South African banks

Banks in South Africa are generally open from 9am to 3:30pm from Monday to Friday (sometimes up to 4–5pm), and 8:30am to 11am on Saturdays (or noon). Some banks located in the airport adjust their hours to accommodate international flights. You will be able to find branches of the major South African banks and international banks in South Africa in large towns and major cities in the country.

South African bank charges

Most South African banks charge fees to open a bank account, although some bank accounts offer incentives to switch accounts, such as waiving fees if you pay in a specific amount of money each month.

How fees are charged varies between banks. Some accounts are charged at a fixed fee, which covers a certain number of transactions each month. For example, accounts with Standard Bank vary in cost from ZAR 60–425 per month. Alternatively, you can choose to ‘pay as you transact’, where you pay set fees for each transaction you make. If you have significant savings in your account (ZAR 10,000 in the case of Standard Bank) you could be eligible to receive a rebate of some charges.

You can cut down on fees by checking the terms and conditions of your chosen South African bank account. For example, some banks offer cheaper fees if you withdraw cash using their branded ATMs rather than those of their competitors.

For international money transfers, there are alternative solutions to banks which could prove cheaper and more convenient, such as:

You can also use Monito’s online comparison tool to save on fees, obtain the best exchange rates and find the cheapest option for your international money transfers.

See our guide to international money transfers for more information.

Taxes on bank savings

Since mid-2015, South African citizens have been able to invest up to ZAR 30,000 a year (up to a lifetime total of ZAR 500,000) into tax-free savings bank accounts, as part of a government policy designed to encourage South Africans to save for the future. The accounts are individual, so they can be opened for children, too.

Any contributions above the yearly limit are taxed at 40 percent. Interest rates on savings accounts vary depending on size of deposit, access terms and transfer options.

Read more about taxes in South Africa.

Banking in South Africa

VISA and Mastercard are among the most common card types in South Africa. When withdrawing money using your debit card at an ATM, you won’t usually be charged a flat fee at the ATM, but will instead pay the standard withdrawal fees associated with your account. These fees vary significantly depending on the terms of your account, with stats from 2015 showing banks charged from ZAR 13–16 for a withdrawal of ZAR 1,000 at their own ATMs.

Cheques, meanwhile, are commonly considered an outdated form of payment in South Africa, and aren’t accepted in many places.

If you lose your South African bank card

If you South African bank card is lost or stolen, you’ll need to report this to the your bank’s call centre, which should be open 24 hours a day. Once reported, you can order a replacement card or request emergency cash, although with most accounts you’ll need to pay a charge for this service.

Some South African banks offer Lost Card Protection to insure customers for non-PIN based transactions if they lose their card.

Offshore banking

Expats living in South Africa may find that opening an international offshore account is the best way to manage their finances. South African citizens can take a maximum of ZAR 10m a year offshore subject to tax clearance, or a maximum of ZAR 1m without tax clearance, although you will need to register this with the reserve bank. If you decide to move money offshore, you’ll need to use an authorized bank to make the transaction. Once you’ve transferred your money, you can convert it into your currency of choice and leave it in an account or invest it.

List of banks in South Africa

Alternatively, it’s possible to deposit your savings in an offshore fund, although your cash will remain in South African currency as it won’t physically leave South Africa. The minimum deposits for these funds are a lot lower than directly banking offshore and you won’t need tax clearance. If you’re considering investing your cash offshore, you should speak to a financial adviser to ensure you’re making the best use of your savings. You can read more about offshore banking in our detailed guide.

List of banks in South Africa

Monetary authority

Locally-controlled banks

(registered in terms of the Banks Act)

Foreign-controlled banks in South Africa

(registered in terms of the Banks Act)

Branches of international banks in South Africa

(registered in terms of the Banks Act)

Mutual banks

(registered in terms of the Mutual Banks Act)

Investment banks

Other banks in South Africa

Savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs)

  • Find a list via the Savings and Credit Cooperative League of SA (SACCOL): www.saccol.org.za

South African bank-related organizations