We get a lot of posts in the group about unexpected charges from banks and other utility providers in Israel. For the sake of transparency, here is some information we have pulled together.
Banks in Israel charge for pretty much everything – depositing money, withdrawing money, making payments etc. There’s not much that we can do about it – but we can minimise it…
1. Find the banks with the cheapest rates.
Banks are obligated to clearly display their charges on their websites, however most of the time this is in Hebrew. Here is a link to ּBank of Israel’s website, which in turn links to all the banks websites. We have also built a quick summary below (please be aware, this is from May 2015 and has not been updated since).
2. Make sure you ask for Olim discounts.
Most banks have special rates for Olim Chadashim (and soldiers, students etc). Make sure you ask about them when you open your bank account – they won’t always tell you! For example, Bank Hapoalim have 50% off performing actions and penalty charges (I think this is limited to one year).
3. Use the machines to deposit checks and cash as much as possible.
Most cash machines in your bank branch will allow you to deposit cheques and cash. This is cheaper than making the transactions with the bank teller directly.
However, there is a problem – in most cases the machines don’t support English. Sometimes you can ask a friendly bank worker to help you – this way you can save a bit of cash and learn a few more words.
4. Check the difference between Debit Cards and Credit Cards.
For some reason, in Israel debit cards are often more expensive than credit cards. This is because each time you make a payment on a debit card, you are charged a bank transaction fee (see ‘Performing actions with direct channel’ in the table above). When you use a credit card, the money is taken from your account only once a month instead of each time you use it – meaning you are only charged the same bank transaction fee once.
Secret Tel Aviv have secured some great benefits from Bank Hapoalim, including a branch with English speaking reps who have experience of setting up accounts for Olim Chadashim. For more information check out