There is so much that I love about Israel: drinking laws that allow you to walk on the streets with open containers, bars that are open all night, the safety of the streets. However, banks in Israel are the absolute worst of any modern country as far as I can tell. In fact, Israeli banks remind me that Israeli for all their claims of being a startup nation and technological prowess is far more similar to a developing country in the Middle East, and not even the most developed in the Middle East.
I have tried to get an account with every bank and settled on Discount Bank because it’s the only one that does accounts for international speakers, and the only one in Tel Aviv where staff acknowledged and actually talked to me once I began speaking in English. Discount is one of the nicer banks as far as Israeli banks, but that doesn’t make it nice.
Israeli banks make you realize that Israel is still a developing nation. Their hours are terrible, often closing at 1pm and never open on Friday and Saturday (Israeli Weekends). You are lucky if they employ people who speak English, in fact, most don’t speak English and I even walked out of a bank because a banker was sitting on her phones checking facebook for fifteen minutes instead of helping. You can’t just go into a bank to get help, you have to go to the specific branch where you opened your account for everything as if your banker was primary care doctor.
You can simply change an account, they have to close it and then open it again, making you have to change all of your payment options like your rent checks and bills. This is a big issue because usually, you give your landlord checks for the year. So if anything is modified, you have to give them a new set of checks. Worse, once you do go to your branch, assuming you are lucky that they are open, they cannot do something as simple as changing your debit card pin. They have to send the new code to your house, meanwhile, you have to go the branch to get cash which means they charge you fees. They charge fees for using your debit card, they charge fees for getting cash from the bank, they charge fees for talking to your teller and transferring money between your accounts.
Israel’s bank system makes me wonder how anything works in Israel and made me realize why Israel is an older country than a place like Dubai and Singapore but is so far behind. There are a lot of things I dislike about the US but after Israeli banks, I really appreciate the American banking system. Israeli banks made me realize how ridiculous the concept is of Jews controlling the banks, and boy is the world lucky that we don’t.
There are many things that are amazing about Israel, but the banking system is not one of them. Get it together Israel! Your banks are not funny.