Your guide to banks in South Africa

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South African banks

Choices, choices, choices. The banking industry in South Africa continues to grow every year. Home to a small number of major banks, along with smaller ones, South Africa offers citizens an excellent choice of banks. 

Both personal and business banking has evolved over the years, with cellphone and online banking further adding to the convenience and innovation taking place. 

The primary banks in SA include Absa, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank. Although these players have traditionally taken the bulk of the market, Capitec has emerged as a major contender in recent years.

Banking basics 🏦

Every bank promises to be the best, with plenty of offers that seem like a great deal. With things such as fees and terms and conditions to consider, it’s not always easy to know which type of account to choose, let alone know which bank to choose. 

Comparing service fees, interest rates and other fine print can take a fair amount of time and effort. A bank that has high fees may not always be the worst option if they’re able to provide you with the services that genuinely need. 

On a similar note, a bank that has low or zero fees may not always be the best bank from a service standpoint. 

Banking fees and rates

Remember – banks are businesses. They offer a service, at a cost. Banks make their profit by charging account holders bank charges or service fees. Every bank charges differently. 

Banking tech

It’s also a good idea to consider the features that are on offer. It’s hard to find a bank in South Africa that doesn’t have an online banking or mobile banking option. 

If you’re hoping to be able to do the majority of transactions from your phone (we’ve got no time to stand in queues), or you hate going into the bank, look for banks that have a flawless online and mobile platform. 

Banking accessibility

Another thing that you can think about is the location of bank branches and ATMs in your area. What will you do if you need to go into the branch at some point? Will you have to drive a great distance, or can you easily find a branch at your local shopping centre? What about ATMs? Are these readily available in shopping centres, main roads and other parts of your town? 

Put on your thinking cap and make sure the bank that’s right for you, has a presence in your area.

The bank account for you 💰

Once you have some idea of which bank is right for you, you’ll need to think about what type of bank account to open. There are many different personal and business accounts to choose from – each offering its own benefits and features. 

Business account

Within the broader category of business accounts, there are numerous types of accounts. The type of account you choose for your business will depend on your business structure. Each business type will also have various requirements for paperwork, too. 

The best way to find out what you’ll need (and what account would be best for your needs) is to speak to a few banks and get a full list of requirements.

Personal account

Personal current and savings accounts are a lot simpler than corporate accounts, as they’re geared towards individuals rather than corporations. It can still get confusing if you’re not sure what type of account you want to open. 

Each bank typically has its own list of accounts for personal use, with different benefits and fees for each type. Some include a standard debit account while others could include current account plans, such as the FNB gold cheque account, for instance. 

It’s best to think about how you’ll typically use your account to give you an idea of the type of account that would be the right fit. You could go into your bank of choice and speak to a consultant face-to-face, or you could do some online research to compare plans.

Time to choose? 💸

Here at Hellopeter, we help you make the decision a little easier with our no-frills consumer reviews that highlight the good and bad of the banking industry. Reading reviews from real-life consumers is the best way to find out what to avoid, what to look out for and what to expect. 

Armed with all the information you need, this will help you open your bank account that is just right for your budget and requirements!

Reviews on Hellopeter have helped over one million consumers make better choices. Had an experience you’d like to tell us about? Leave us a review here.


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