For many people, opening a bank account is a tough decision, especially because banking stumps people in general – there are so many options to choose from, and each bank offers a multitude of services as well. Opening the best account needs considerable thinking particularly if it is your first bank account.
Little more than a decade ago there were few state-owned banks with minimal services. Moving on, banks have privatized, and some have merged, bringing in a new plethora of services as well as a better name to customer servicing within banking. Banks that were earlier nationalized have been privatized ushering a new era of competition in services; lending and resource mobilization.
State Bank of Pakistan issued new licenses and supported international banking network to open their branches as well across Pakistan. There are several local and international banks operating across Pakistan with diverse services and incentives for their customers. It is indeed difficult to pass on a verdict as to which is the best bank. This largely depends on your requirements and your service needs.
Therefore, there is a need to glance through the list and understand the types of services and products that some of the banks offer, and this will perhaps make choice easier for any prospective customer. There are five top banks and a detailed description is provided in the following paragraphs regarding the services being offered to the customer.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)
It is a fact that Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Ltd is one of the oldest International Bank in Pakistan. It is also the largest bank having its operations in Pakistan. Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) has a strong distinction that it was the first International Bank that had received Islamic Banking Licence. It is also recognised to be the first bank to open an Islamic Banking Branch.
In 2013, Standard Chartered celebrated its 150th anniversary in Pakistan. The first branch of Standard Chartered was opened in Karachi in March 1863. SCB provides its services to the customers in three banking avenues consisting of both Retail, Corporate and Institutional Banking customers.
The Retail Banking comprises of services such as the issuance of credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, deposit taking and wealth management services to the individuals and also to the small to medium sized enterprises. Corporate and Institutional Banking is mainly concerned with areas of services such as in Trade Finance, Cash Management, Lending, Securities Services, Foreign Exchange, Debt Capital Markets and Corporate Finance.
The entire Islamic Banking services are provided under the title of Standard Chartered Saadiq brand. Standard Chartered had also been able to achieve a rating of AAA/ A1+ by PACRA. SCB was even able to won the award for Best Bank in Pakistan by the Asset Triple for two consecutive years that includes 2012 and 2013. The total number of employees working in SCB branches in Pakistan is 4,500 people. The bank has a network of 101 branches amongst which 10 are recognised as Standard Chartered Saadiq branches. There are even 189 ATMs as well. There are several banking services being offered by SCB to its customers that are discussed below in the following paragraphs:
- Savings Account
- Basic Savings Account
For this account, the initial deposit amount that is needed is PRK 100. The customer can easily save money without having a need of minimum balance requirements with this particular banking account.
- Pensioners Savings Account
On this particular account, an attractive interest rate is being offered to the customers. They can easily earn 3.75% APR without having any minimum balance requirements.
- Easy Savers/Regular Savings Account
Easy Saver is recognized as a simple banking solution for the customers, on which they can earn 3.75%v APR.
- Special Savings Account
- Supersave Account
In the Supersave Account, the customers are able to achieve full access to the funds at any particular time, along with all other necessary services.
- High Yield Account
This particular account is ideal for high transaction volumes; it consists of a combination of current account flexibility along with profits of savings account.
- Bonus Savers Account
In this account, customers are able to earn a high rate of return.
- Current Account
- Basic Banking Account
In this particular account, customers can easily enjoy unrivalled combination of both high returns and liquidity.
- Rupee Current Account
With this particular account, customers are able to receive wide range of benefits and an easy access can be earned on their money.
- XtraMile Current Account
This account is recognized as a unique online Current Account that provides cash back to employees every time they spend money on fuel and groceries.
- Foreign Current Account
This account is considered to be a special facility for the customers. Standard Chartered has the facility of offering current, savings and term deposit accounts in foreign currency.
- Employee Banking
- Employee Banking and Employee Banking Premium
Employee Banking makes it easier for the customers in streamlining their salary payments and world-class banking facilities are being offered to the customers without having to pay a single penny. The users of Employee Banking Account can easily access this account from anywhere.
- Visa Debit Card
The Standard Chartered VISA Debit Card provides an unrivalled convenience to customers, making it easier for the customers to withdraw this amount at any particular time.
- Personal Loan
Standard Chartered’s hassle free Personal Loan provides a good opportunity for people in fulfilling their needs. Further useful aspects of loan comprise of exciting schemes, easy repayment options and competitive interest rates.
- Ready Cash Loans
With the facility of Revolving Credit, liquidity can be managed with the help of withdrawing funds along with the usage of ATM/debit card, cheque book, pay or even Internet banking can be a useful source in this regard.
- Swift Finance
This option is an efficient, accessible and a very easy way as well for customers in meeting their short-term liquidity needs. Under this option, there is no need to use long-term savings or investments set aside for the future.
- Saadiq Home Finance
Saadiq Home Finance consists of the facility recognised as Shariah compliant solution in building new home.
Standard Chartered SCB is certainly leading the banking industry by providing excellent services to the customers. The bank is making utmost effort in maintaining its historical tradition of meeting the needs of the customers in the best possible manner.
The idea of Bank Islami was conceptualised by Jahangir Siddiqui & Company Limited along with Randeree family in late 2003.Mr. Hasan A. Bilgrami had been appointed as Adviser to the sponsors on March 16, 2004 for formalizing the idea. On 18th October 2004, BankIslami Pakistan Limited became the full-fledge Islamic Commercial Bank in Pakistan. On 26th September 2005, Dubai Bank became the part of the Sponsors and it became one of the founding shareholders of BankIslami by having an investment of 18.75% in the total Capital.
A public offering of Rs.400 million had been made for BankIslami at par between 6th and 8th March, 2006. By year end 2014, the numbers of branches that BankIslami had throughout the country were 213 branches. The major services offered by BankIslami includes are:-
- Islami Sahulat Account
BankIslami is providing a service that is very convenient for all customers. It is totally based on Shariah compliant mode of Mudarabah. These are the following free services provided to the customers consisting of:
- Free Cheque Book
- Free Pay Order
- Free Inward Clearing
- Free Online Banking
- Free Internet Banking
- Free E-Statement
- Islami Bachat Account
The Islami Bachat account consists of several benefits. It makes it easier for the consumer to keep up with tradition of savings with a lot of convenience. The customers can even earn highly attractive profits on their savings with the flexibility of conducting maximum number of transactions. Islami Bachat Account is certainly suitable for the customers who would need to withdraw money for monthly expenses.
- Islami Current Account
With Islami Current Account, the customers need to be in complete peace of mind that funds are not just safe but will be utilised in Halal avenues only. Islami Current Account is certainly suitable for customers who conduct frequent transactions and they need unlimited access to their account in order to be able to meet their personal or business expenses. The customers even have access to entire online network of both instant and secure intercity transactions.
- Islami Asaan Account
Islami Asaan Account is an account where there is no need to have minimum balance account available in the following variants:
- Consumer Banking
The consumer banking services consists of:-
- Muskun Home Financing
- Islami Auto Finance
- BankIslami Takaful
- Home Remittance
- Alternate Distribution Channels
The convenient, secure and personalized services offered by BankIslami at fingersteps consist of:
- Checks Account Balance
- Bills Payment
- Facility of Transfer of Funds
- Locating both ATMs and Branches
- Viewing Statement
- Purchase of Mobile Talk-In
Bank Islami makes sure that there must not be any kind of shortcoming while focusing on providing world-class services and financial solutions to the customers. Bank Islami provides all the basic banking services in meeting routine needs of the employees. The three main services are Accounts, Trade Services and Financing. The three core services offered by BankIslami for its corporate clients are:-
- Investment Banking
- SME Financing
- Agri Financing
Therefore, BankIslami has a long way to go and with continued best services, it can surely reach its maximum potential of becoming the leading Islamic Bank of Pakistan.
Bank Al Falah
The journey of Bank Al Falah started in 1997 with a handful number of branches. As of today, Bank Al Falah is engaged in providing creative and customized financial solutions to around one million consumers, companies, institutions and governments. The highest priority given by the Bank is to meet the financial needs of the customers and it keeps on changing with time.
However, the Bank is strongly dedicated in fulfilling the needs of the customer. The success of the Bank is strongly dependent on the customer satisfaction level. Bank Al Falah is the 6th largest bank in Pakistan and is having 648 branches throughout the country. The bank is certainly very much eager to meet the needs of the customers in the best possible manner. There are several numbers of services being offered by Bank Al Falah mentioned below:-
- Personal Banking
- Deposit Accounts
The deposit suite has been prepared by considering the diverse needs of the customers. The deposit account ranges from basic banking accounts, term deposits, foreign currency to structured savings products. Customer can select the best option based on their financial needs.
The loan products are prepared by considering the needs of the customers. There are affordable tailor-made financing options available in order to make it possible for the customers to meet their needs.
- Credit Cards
Bank Al Falah’s chip based credit cards provides a good opportunity for the people in order to meet their lifestyle privileges and financial freedom. In this way, they get a chance to enjoy their life in the best possible manner. The current credit card has a newly designed chip based credit card which consists of the enhanced security features for the customers.
- Corporate and Investment Banking
- Transaction Banking/Cash Management
Transaction Banking/Cash Management makes it very easier for the corporate clients to assess the bank’s vast network consisting of several numbers of online branches. With the support of real-time Management Information System, a structured and optimised product makes it easier for the customers to carry on with their sales proceeds without facing any major issue or problem.
- Working Capital Finance
Usually, successful businesses experience significant amount of pressure on the options available related to finances. This mainly occurs because of the timing difference between cash inflows and cash outflows. The team at Bank Al Falah has all the expertise in providing the tailor-made credit issues to help customers in meeting their short-term or long-term funding requirements.
- Trade Finance
Bank Al Falah provides a wide range of trade services in order to meet the needs of corporate clients. The team consists of the experienced professionals that have dealt with services such as Letter of Credit, Import Finance, Export Finance and Bank Guarantee.
- Self Service Banking
Self-Service Banking is a core feature of Bank Al Falah. Though, the services related to Self-Service Banking have been prepared in such a manner which has certainly made it very easier for the customer in using this particular service. Self Service Banking consists of:
- Alfalah VISA Debit/ATM Card
- SMS Alert Service
- Mobile Banking
- Online (Internet Banking)
- Contact Centre
Therefore, Bank Al Falah is certainly one of the major private banks of Pakistan and is certainly having strong potential for meeting the needs of the customers in the best possible manner.
If a person is looking for a halal, Riba-free Islamic mode of banking the ultimate choice would be Meezan Bank. It is one of the fastest growing Islamic bank having 571 branches in 140 cities and was the first Islamic Bank in Pakistan to introduce Riba Free Banking.
With such a large network, there is one branch likely to be near your residence or office. The bank offers multiple choices of Current Account, Savings Account, Special Savings Account or Meezan Asaan Account. In addition to this, Meezan Bank also caters to small and medium businesses, and corporate businesses like any other conventional bank.
- SME Banking: The bank offers shariah compliant banking services to SMEs. Assistance such as financing, trade and deposit are available. In addition, working capital, import and export finance, long term finance, and project finance, all are available to small and medium enterprises.
- Corporate Banking: A wide range of financial services are offered to multinationals and public sector organizations. All products are in guidance with Shariah Supervisory Board that the bank consults with, to facilitate services such as, import and export finance, long term finance, and project financing. Corporate team diligently work with Cash Management, Commercial Banking, Treasury and Investment Banking to give international standard banking services to corporate clients within Shariah Laws. Besides the bank accounts that are alternative to conventional banking, Meezan also offers long term Shariah-Compliant investment opportunities to suit needs of its discerning customers. Some of the options you can invest in, includes:
- Certificate of Islamic Investment: It is Mudarabah based deposit where investments can be made from 3 months to 5 years.
- Meezan Amdan Certificate: MAC is also Mudarabah based long term investment offering expected high rate of return for corporate and individual customers looking for regular income each month.
- Monthly Mudarabah Certificate: it is a short term deposit scheme whose profits are shared with the investors each month.
- Meezan Car Ijarah: It is interest free car financing based on rental agreement for period of 1-7 years. Once the Ijarah period ends, the car will be sold to the customer on a token amount.
- Meezan Premium: Shariah compliant premium Islamic conventional banking with host of features.
If you are looking for a bank that conforms to Islamic standards of financing and banking, Meezan Bank should be your primary choice. We obviously cannot endorse whether their Islamic standards of financing and banking follow Shariah Law to the letter, but the popular vote indicates that many people believe in Meezan Bank as the Islamic alternative to conventional banking.
United Bank Limited (UBL)
Choosing the best bank amongst conventional banks is definitely a daunting task. There are a ton of choices when it comes to choosing a bank, and there are minor differences in what each bank offers. Lending rates for banks are predefined by State Bank of Pakistan and mark ups shared by banks to its customers vary in the same range.
Hence, comparison can only be drawn by extent of service and line of products available for the customers. Large local banks such as MCB, Habib, Allied Bank and UBL are in competition with each other and with international Banks because each bank offers exceptional customer servicing, product and service portfolios. UBL has an edge over local large banks because of its network across Pakistan which is roughly 1,385 branches and 19 branches overseas in UAE, Switzerland, Bahrain, China, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, USA, Tanzania, Iran and the UK.
Being one of the largest and the oldest bank in the country, its product portfolio is not only extensive but caters to every type of individual and corporate need. Though it may not be possible to discuss each of its financial products available some of the important ones that you could look into include:
SME Products: UBL has 5 financial products dedicated to SMEs, amongst which two are designed specifically for agriculture based businesses.
- UBL Karobar Loan: This loan is primarily designed to give support for the growth and expansion of SMEs. It is easily accessible by mortgaging residential and commercial property.
- UBL Sahulat Loan: A person can borrow money for his business against personal savings as well as against government securities such as special savings certificates, defence savings certificates, etc.
- UBL Smart Cash Loan: A small business owner can avail up to 85% of his investments against savings in UBL mutual fund to finance his business need.
- UBL Rice Husking Loan: As the name of the loan implies, this loan is available to SMEs involved in rice businesses only to buy fresh paddy crop.
- UBL Cotton Ginning Loan: Like the above, this loan is available to cotton ginning factories only to buy fresh crop of phutti or raw cotton from the growers and the open market.
Personal Loans: Currently three categories are available under personal loan financings.
- UBL CashPlus: Whatever the need be, the loan is available for employees whose companies maintain payroll with UBL.
- UBL Address: This home loan is for people who are willing to either buy or construct their home. The bank’s financial assistance is up to 70% of the cost.
- UBL Drive: One of the best auto loans available in the market with minimum of hassle particularly for existing UBL customers. Car financing is up to 80% of the total cost. For UBL customers, it is 6% plus KYBOR and for non-customers 7% plus KYBOR.
UBL Omni: This is a cutting-edge product by UBL to customers from all walks of life, be a labourer, high-end executive or a business person. Bank has more than 900 vendors across Pakistan helping customers with this service. Customers can open basic Omni bank account with any Omni Dukaannearest to them. A person is required to have a valid CNIC and cell phone number. With this facility, withdrawals and deposits can be made, money transfers can be done within Pakistan, and utility bills can be paid while sitting in office or home are most convenient.
UBL Card Products: United Bank offers multiple plastic card choices. An account holder is at liberty to choose one that suits best his requirements.
- UBL Wiz: UBL was the first bank to introduce prepaid debit cards, giving security while being in command of what you spend. While having the convenience of any debit/credit card, this card can be swiped locally and internationally wherever Visa and MasterCard’s are accepted.
- UBL Visa Mega Wallet: This Visa debit card allows you to withdraw cash up to Rs. 40,000 (the limit is kept for your security) from any ATM locally and internationally, while the shopping limit is enhanced to Rs. 100,000.
- UBL Premium Debit MasterCard: Sheer convenience and prestige for discerning customers, this card allows you to withdraw cash and shopping up to Rs. 200,000. If you are a frequent flyer this is the card that you must carry in your wallet. It offers free access to CIP Lounges at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports, huge discounts at vendor merchants and host of other facilities.
Banks have a lot to offer, but it primarily depends on what your needs are for opening an account and for banking services. If you’re looking for a personal loan or a credit card, you will have to run a comparison between different card and bank options to see which one fits your needs best.