Less than $10,000 in savings? Citibank doesn't want you

Published November 12th, 2015 - 12:18 GMT

A bank in the UAE confirmed on Thursday that it will no longer entertain new customers who can’t maintain a minimum balance of Dh35,000 in their accounts.

Citibank, the consumer banking arm of Citi, which has been in the Middle East for nearly 50 years, has informed customers in the country that they are required to maintain the minimum balance to avoid having their accounts closed.

The new policy affects new customers who have opened accounts starting June this year. Bank account holders who started transacting with the bank before June 2015 are exempted from the new rule.

“A minimum balance of Dh35,000 must be maintained at all times. This amendment is included in the updated schedule of fees and charges on our website, and clearly displayed in our branches,” the bank said in a statement sent to Gulf News.

The bank refused to elaborate on the reason for the policy except to say that it “falls in line” with their “business model”.  The move, however, is seen as a step towards making the bank a premium-focused financial institution.

“A reason for Citi to raise minimum balance requirement could be that they want to focus on premium banking customers only,” Preeti Bhambri, founder of MoneyCamel.com, told Gulf News.

“Citi has always been a premium bank. Other banks in UAE including international banks like HSBC still have basic accounts that require a minimum balance of Dh3,000,” she added.

Citi UAE officially communicated to the Central Bank last April the amendments to the terms and conditions of its schedule of charges pertaining to minimum monthly average balance requirements per account.

The bank clarified that the new policy does not impact existing clients, regardless of how much money they have left in their accounts. The amendment is also applicable only in the UAE.

“Therefore, all existing banking relationships stand uninterrupted, and customer accounts will not be subject to closure,” the bank said.

By Cleofe Maceda

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