Going to the bank is a generally frustrating and time consuming activity. Most people wait for long periods of time and get cranky. In most banks, you go in, go to a machine, decide which service you need, get a number and wait. Sometime people don’t abide by their numbers and try to cut in line. You will probably also witness a lot of yelling as people get cranky and impatient. Moral of the story is bring a book, but make sure you watch the screen with numbers and jump up as soon as yours pops up because otherwise you might miss your turn, be yelled at and/or need to start all over.
Banks don’t really understand joint accounts. When opening an account be firm and don’t let them say no. If they don’t let you do what you want tell them you are going to close your account and move to a different bank. That usually gets their attention. You will also get different answers from different tellers, so find one you like, introduce yourself, make friends and insist on talking to that teller anytime you need anything.
Bank branches: When you open a bank account you are beholden to that branch. That is the branch where all of your transactions take place and that need approve anything you want to do. You can do some things at other branches but you need to wait for approval from your home branch.
If you want to add anyone to the account/take someone off everyone on the account must be present and bring their teudat zehut.
Fees: You will pay a fee for everything. There is a fee for withdrawing and depositing money. It is generally lower if you do it at an ATM machine as opposed to with a teller. You will pay to receive a card, as well as a monthly fee for having the card. You will pay for your checkbooks. On some cards you pay a fee every time you use the card.
There is not much difference between banks in Israel. Most habonim kvutzot have Bank Hapoalim accounts.
At hapoalim they are generally wary of giving you anything that will help you use your bank account more easily and will most likely try to convince you not to do the things you want. So be firm and tell them you understand the risks and are ready to move forward.
Things to ask for when opening your account:
Internet transfers (without restrictions)
maximum amount of internet transfer (usually 4000)
maximum withdrawal amount (usually 4000)
international credit card (not just debit)
Bank card (bankat): can only withdraw money
debit card (direct) – isracard: can be used in stores within Israel, mastercard/visa debit can be used on international websites
credit card (ashrai) – isracard: can only be used in Israel, visa/mastercard can be used internationally
At hapoalim they were hesitant to give Israeli credit cards and even more so international credit cards. Leumi seems to be more lenient. You can also get credit cards through the supermarket, though many require you to already have an existing credit card.
Experience at the Bank Hapoalim Kikar Paris snif
There are never enough people working there for the amount of traffic it gets so be prepared to wait. When dealing with the regular tellers it is pretty orderly and people wait their turns. When dealing with anyone who needs to do something for your account they do not have an order because their screen with the numbers generally doesn’t work so you need to be vigilant about your spot in line. This generally means hovering. I think the best time to go is early in the morning, there are less people and you don’t have to be as pushy.