Monday, May 12, 2014

Banking In Israel - my experiences

Banking in Israel seems to be one of the major things that confounds olim from Western countries. I get banking questions a LOT.

I've banked in Israel at several banks. I've used Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, and Bank Yahav.

By far, the one I have paid the least to hold my money for me is Bank Yahav.

When we first returned to Israel in 2010, we had planned to open a Bank HaDoar account for our sal klitah money to go into. It seemed the most portable and inexpensive option, but I was tired and worn out and I let the merkaz klitah social worker tell me I was wrong. I listened to her and we opened a Bank Hapoalim account upon her insistence (makes me wonder if she was actually getting some sort of kickback from them, but I digress). Which turned into a BIG mistake, since we ended up being charged up and down with all manner of fees, despite being told we'd gotten special olim rates, and we could not change dollars efficiently if need be, and it was in a different city than we'd ended up living in, so it was a REAL pain in the neck.

We found out about Bank Yahav from our then-landlord, opened an account, and went through the half-day arduous, wrist-exhausting ("sign on this line" about a thousand times) process of closing our Bank Hapoalim account. If only I hadn't let the social worker convince me in my post-flight traumatic state that I didn't know what I was talking about! At least if we'd opened a Bank Hadoar account we would have been able to close the account at any post office in the country!

Moral of the story: don't let social workers convince you that all your hard work researching options was futile and THEY know best (and yes, by the way, I'm a social worker so I can complain about other social workers). Oh, and open a bank account at Bank Yahav. Free checking. Almost no fees. Very good service (at least we've had a decent experience with the Tiberias branch). 

The one major issue we've encountered is the Bank Yahav website has some technical problems for people using any browser other than IE. In our house, we use Firefox or Chrome, so we've had to learn how to read the banking menus backwards. I've spoken to a nice tech named Josh over at Bank Yahav, who told me the problem really belongs to Bank Hapoalim, since Yahav uses Hapoalim's internet banking interface. See - I told you to stay away from Bank Hapoalim!

But to tell you the truth, it's kind of useful to read Hebrew backwards. Or I will get my kid to make a patch for my computer so I don't have to. If he does, I'll try to get him to publish it somewhere so all of you can have it too!

Check out the list of branches to see where there's one near you! And switch and start to save money on banking!

(This post was not a sponsored post, but if you do go to open an account at Yahav, you are most certainly encouraged to mention my website when they ask who referred you! Thanks!)

Update: Bank Yahav has fixed the backwards Hebrew problem! I first saw this on motsaei shabbat of May 17. Not sure exactly when it was fixed, but it was such a nice surprise to see it back to normal again.

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