Banking Options for University Students in the UAE

Banks in the United Arab Emirates have yet to develop suitable options for university students, especially in terms of credit cards, education finance and auto loans.  This is especially problematic for university students who have come from overseas and live in the country without their parents.

Emirates NBD has offered a student only bank account for a number of years now. This account, unlike other bank account services from Emirates NBD, does not require a minimum monthly balance. To open this account, the student has to provide a valid UAE visa, their Emirates ID card and a no objection letter from their university or college. However, Emirates NBD does very little marketing of this service, and as a result, very few students take advantage of it.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi also offers the Student Savings Account for university students. To apply, the student must be aged 21 to 24 years old and deposit an initial amount of AED 250 to activate the account. Below are the services offered with the student account from NBAD:

  1. No minimum balance required, thus no minimum balance charges.
  2. A free MasterCard debit card.
  3. A free check book with account opening.
  4. Free online banking.

Another bank offering services for university students is Mashreq Bank. They have recently partnered with Murdoch University in Dubai to offer a Mashreq education loan that is available to working students or parents who hold a residency visa. This personal loan can be used to cover either all or part of a student’s tuition expense. Mashreq Bank requires a minimum income of AED 7,000 to apply and the bank provides flexible repayment options. Applicants who apply for a loan greater than AED 25,000 are automatically given a zero balance current account with Mashreq in addition to a free check book and debit card.

Commenting on the new initiative, Niranjan Mendonca, Head of Retail Assets with Mashreq Bank, had this to say, “Higher education should be accessible to everyone. Today’s work places are extremely competitive with companies increasingly looking at academic qualifications as a prerequisite for job applicants. As a result of this, and in an effort to assist students achieve a degree in their chosen field, we partnered with Murdoch University to provide a convenient banking solution that caters directly to student requirements.”

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) also offers student loans to a wide range of universities not only in the UAE but also across the globe. It is a great sign to see banks finally taking small steps to begin helping university students with their financial and banking needs. The British Council estimates there are approximately 100,000 college and university students in the UAE, however, the banking space for this segment is still underdeveloped and provides many opportunities for financial institutions in the UAE.

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