[Ultimate Guide] Best Banks in Malaysia

Yumiko Kijima
18.08.20
6 minute read

This guide to the best banks in Malaysia for 2020 will walk through some key points about the major bank brands. We’ll look at important criteria for choosing the right bank for you, including the account types available, bank size and number of branches.

To help you save money when banking across borders, we will also touch on a smart way to cut international payment fees, using Wise.


Sending money abroad from Malaysia? Wise is up to 4x cheaper than Malaysian banks

If you're an expat in Malaysia, you might need to send money abroad regularly.

A crucial thing to remember when sending money abroad is to always check exchange rates. The true cost of an international transaction isn’t just the upfront transfer fees.

Example: Sending 10,000 MYR to a EUR account in Europe¹

Banks/providers Transfer time Transfer fee Exchange rate (1 MYR → EUR) Recipient gets
maybank-logo-myMaybank in 1-3 days 10.00 MYR Exchange rate with a markup (0.198349) 1,981.51 EUR
public-bank-logo-my Public Bank in 2 days 32.00 MYR Exchange rate with a markup (0.198076) 1,974.42 EUR
tw-logo-my Wise in 3 hours 54.56 MYR Real exchange rate (0.201291) 2,001.93 EUR Send money

(August 17, 15:14(GMT+3))

Maybank may look like the cheapest option in the example above. But when you factor in exchange rates, you’ll see that your recipient actually receives more when using Wise even when sending the same amount. So, in this case, the total cost is actually cheaper with Wise. You can check more banks’ telegraphic transfer fees here.

Send money abroad with the real exchange rate💡


Best banks in Malaysia 2020

If you’re looking for a bank in Malaysia, you have plenty of choice. There are some strong local banks, banks with a regional presence, and global banking giants all operating in Malaysia. Each has its own features and benefits - so choosing the right one for you will require some research. Here are some key pointers to get you started.

1. Maybank

Maybank is Malaysia’s largest bank, operating throughout the country and broader region.²

  • RM8.2 billion net profit in 2019
  • 2,629 retail branches worldwide
  • Represented in 18 countries
  • 8.68 billion transactions were made through online banking Maybank2u in 2019

Maybank2u is Maybank’s online banking system, which provides a convenient and reliable way for customers to engage and manage their money. With Maybank you can also open accounts - including savings accounts - online. You can budget, make cashless payments, access Shariah compliant features and more, through Maybanks’ MAE.

Maybank also has some great specialist accounts including a range of saving accounts.

Check out more about the best savings accounts in Malaysia in 2020📖

2. CIMB

CIMB is one of the largest investment banks in Asia and one of the largest Islamic banks in the world.³

  • RM573.2 billion total assets in 2019, with a net profit of RM4.56 billion
  • 702 retail branches
  • Represented in 15 countries
  • Strong focus on social responsibility

CIMB Clicks is the online banking service from CIMB. In Malaysia alone, there are 3.3 million customers using CIMB Clicks accounts.

3. Public Bank Berhad

Public Bank is Malaysia’s 3rd largest bank with 19,000 staff and a representation across South East Asia and beyond.⁴

  • RM432.83 in total assets in 2019
  • 435 branches across the region
  • Broad range of services including personal and business banking, Islamic banking, investments and insurance products

Public Bank has a full range of products and services including accounts, loans and insurance. In fact, Public Bank has a market share of close to 20% of all residential property financing, and nearly 30% in the passenger vehicle financing market.⁵ 

4. RHB Bank

RHB operates for both private and commercial customers, with a full range of banking and investment products.⁶ 

  • RM257.6 billion in assets in 2019
  • 348 branches or offices across the South East Asia region
  • 14,345 employees in 10 different countries
  • Increase in brand value by 45% in 2019

RHB is the 4th largest financial services group in Malaysia, with strong online and mobile banking options to make life more convenient for customers. You can apply for some accounts online, and manage your money on the move through your preferred device.

5. Hong Leong Bank

Hong Leong has an existing - and ever growing - footprint in the Asian region, with global services and Islamic banking products also available.⁷

  • First established in 1905, Hong Leong is now Malaysia’s 5th largest banking group
  • RM200 billion in assets in 2019
  • Banking services delivered through branches, online, an app, self service terminals and call centres

Hong Leong has a strong regional presence and has been recognised with awards including Best Domestic Bank and Best Digital Bank at 2018’s Asiamoney awards. You’ll find a full range of banking products and services available, and a range of smart ways to manage your money online or using your mobile devices.


💡Send money abroad with the real exchange rate: Wise

Looking for a better way to send money overseas? With Wise, you can send money to 70+ countries with low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate. Compared to Malaysian banks, it can be up to 4 x cheaper to send money abroad with Wise. Most likely much faster as well.

transferwise-app-phone-my

If you receive money from overseas regularly, it’s good to know that with a Wise multi-currency account, you can get paid from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and any Eurozone country, just as if you had a local bank account in those countries. Hold your money in 50+ different currencies, and switch it using the mid-market rate whenever you want to.

To send money with Wise,

  1. Create a free account
  2. Choose an amount to send
  3. Add recipient’s bank details
  4. Verify your identity
  5. Pay for your transfer by bank transfer or debit/credit card

And that is it! You can track your transfer in your account and your recipient will also be notified when a transfer reaches them.

Join 8 million customers and enjoy a cheaper, faster and transparent way to send money abroad with the “real” exchange rate.

Send money to 70+ countries with Wise🚀


6. AmBank

The AmBank group includes brands which focus on retail and business banking, Islamic banking, insurance and investment. This means a wide range of products and services for AmBank customers.⁸

  • 170 branches and 759 ATMs for customers to use
  • Assets of RM158.8 billion in 2019
  • AmBank has specific branches for Islamic banking or business banking, weekend opening branches and more

AmBank has a good range of services for customers, and online and mobile banking which is growing in use and functionality. In fact, between 2017 and 2019, the number of transactions carried out online went up 250%, with an increase of 150 times for mobile transactions.

7. UOB Malaysia Bank

UOB - United Overseas Bank - has over 500 branches in 19 countries, and has been in Malaysia since 1951. You can access banking and Islamic banking products through a network of local branches, and online.⁹

  • UOB is the largest foreign bank operating in Malaysia, with 45 branches
  • Total operating income in 2019 of RM3,095.6 million
  • AAA rated by Malaysia’s credit rating agency

UOB started out in 1935, mainly serving the Fujian community. These days, UOB is represented in 19 countries and is one of the largest banks in the region. As you would expect of a large and well established bank, you can get a broad range of products suited to different customer needs.

8. Bank Rakyat

Bank Rayat is the biggest Islamic Cooperative Bank in Malaysia, and the 2nd largest Islamic financial institution in the country offering personal and business banking based on Islamic principles.¹º

  • 147 branches across the country and over 5,750 staff
  • RM109.6 billion in assets in 2019
  • One of the top 10 Islamic banks in the world by size

Bank Rakyat offers a comprehensive range of products and essential services including basic banking in underserved rural areas. You can manage your money via a branch, online and mobile banking, call centre and more.

9. OCBC Bank Malaysia

OCBC is a long established bank with a significant presence in Malaysia and around the region. As you’d expect, you can get a good range of products and services with strong online and mobile banking options.¹¹

  • Established in 1932, OCBC now has over 600 branches in 18 countries
  • OCBC offers Islamic banking under a subsidiary, OCBC Al-Amin Bank Berhad

OCBC in Malaysia offers consumer, business and investment banking, as well as Islamic banking services under its dedicated subsidiary.

10. HSBC Bank Malaysia

HSBC is one of the best known global banking brands, with a strong presence in Malaysia and around the South East Asia region. In fact, HSBC has had a footprint in Malaysia since 1884.¹²⁺¹³

  • Globally HSBC serves over 40 million customers in 64 countries and territories
  • HSBC has 60 branches in Malaysia which includes 20 branches of HSBC’s Islamic banking subsidiary HSBC Amanah Malaysia Berhad
  • HSBC was Malaysia’s first foreign owned financial institution to be localised

HSBC has a long history in Malaysia. Back in the early 1980s, it was HSBC which introduced the first ATM to the country, and HSBC was a front runner in bringing electronic banking to Malaysia too. These days, you can access a broad range of products and services for personal and business customers, online, in branches and via your mobile.

Finding a bank in Malaysia won’t prove difficult. But getting the right bank and account for your needs requires a little research. Take this guide as a starting point to help you find the bank that best suits you - and don’t forget to check out Wise for low cost international payments.

Join over 8 million people who get the real exchange rate🌏

Wise for sending money


Sources

  1. Wise | Compare exchange rates (August 17, 15:14(GMT+3))
  2. Maybank | Annual Reports
  3. CIMB | 2019 Annual Report
  4. Public Bank | Annual Reports
  5. Public Bank | Corporate Profile
  6. RHB group | 2019 Annual Report
  7. Hong Leong Bank Berhad | Annual Report 2019
  8. Ambank | Annual Report 2019
  9. United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd | Annual Report 2019
  10. Bank Rakyat | Annual Report
  11. OCBC | Who we are
  12. HSBC | HSBC in Malaysia
  13. HSBC | About HSBC

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