Best Bank in Kuwait 2015

Post by Mark



I bank with two banks in Kuwait personally. I use another 3 or 4 for work. I bitch about them all. People will often tell me, “hey why don’t switch to this bank or that bank?”, not knowing that I probably already use that bank. And that bank sucks. The best thing about banks in Kuwait is that they all smell nice, universally across the board. We have the best smelling banks in the world. But being asked to choose the best bank is like being asked to select a favourite fart. Eye-watering and offensive.

Sometimes people will tell me, and even I’ll find myself thinking, “man banks in London or the US or in Canada blah blah blah…” No no no. Those banks are garbage. Banks everywhere in the world are garbage. American and Canadian banks barely understand there are other countries. And once you explain that there is a place called ‘the rest of the world’ then you have to start explaining to them why their useless 1-800 number is useless.

As far as banks go, the best you can hope for is bukhur at the door and that they don’t block your card when you travel. After that, it doesn’t really matter. Be happy they’re not American banks. Or Greek banks (too soon?).


I use both NBK and Burgan Bank, and I have issues with both. The reason I have two in the first place is so that one covers the other when I travel. I’ve had so many strange issues when traveling I now need to have three different sources of debit and credit cards, the third one being American Express. How badly do my banks suck?

With NBK I’m a Thahabi customer which means I should get “better” service. A few weeks back I get called into my branch and into my personal banking officers room. He starts basically interrogating me, supposedly I transferred a large sum of money abroad to a company called Pershing LLC and it raised a flag with them. He passed me a form to fill which included a ton of personal questions, I told him I wasn’t going to fill it because they already have all my information. My banker told me this was not related to the money transfer and they’re just updating all their customers data. I told him thats bullshit and this was directly related to the money transfer. So he told me to go tell the manager I wasn’t going to fill it, so I did. I went to the manager and told him you guys are interrogating me over a transfer I made and now you want me to fill out this form with all this personal information which you should have already since I’ve been banking with you guys for 15 years. So the manager starts flipping through my files and asks me if I transferred an X amount of money a couple of months back. I right away recognized what that transfer was. I looked at him dumbfounded. Yes I did, I used my NBK brokerage account to transfer more money into it. I told him I don’t know who Pershing LLC is but my guess its a company you guys deal with (I later found out with a quick google it’s their clearing firm). I told him the transfer you’ve been interrogating me about was a transfer to you guys, NBK. I transferred my money to YOU. The manager was like give me five me minutes just to make a few calls and confirm. I told him I’ve already been here for 30 minutes and I’m not going to sit here any longer and they need to get their shit together because this was embarrassing and I walked out.

Burgan Bank on the other hand I had the weirdest issue last month. I launched the Burgan Bank app on my phone and forgot what my password was. Why? Because when they force you to change your password it has to be different than the last 6 passwords I’ve used with them. WTF. That actually makes it less secure not more secure because if I started using my level A password, the second time I’m going to use my level B, then C etc.. until I turn into a complete idiot and start using my name as my password. So I have to keep creating new difficult level A passwords which I’ve never used anywhere else in my life just for Burgan Bank. It’s hard enough to remember the all the passwords I already have so its natural I’m going to forget the special one I had to create just for Burgan Bank. So I clicked on the forget password link and it asked me my secret question and I put in my answer. It was wrong, so I put in another answer. Suddenly the app tells me I’ve put my answer wrong too many times and my account is now blocked and I need to go to their website, printout a form and then take it to a local branch. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I answered my secret question wrong twice (not three times)(and it’s my secret question not even password) and I could no longer access my account from the app, nor can I access it from the website (even though I know my password there) or anywhere else. And then to make it worse, I had to print out a form, fill it up and take it to their branch. I tried to unlock it over the phone by calling the call center which is what I can do with NBK but I was told I needed to print that form and take it to the branch physically. I was surprised they didn’t want me to fax anything or mail them a postcard.

So yeah, these are just two of the most recent problems, I’ve had A LOT more. I hate banks so there will be no winner nor even a runner up for this award.

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33 comments, add your own...

  1. Acerboy says:

    any day NBK !! from service to technology the best !

  2. Riba says:

    All of the above is true for telecoms, worldwide. No surprise about the banks, as we are bullied into using their “services”.

  3. V says:

    Mark, What they asked you to fill is a “KYC” Know Your Customer Form.

    Although unfortunate, it’s a requirement of Anti Money Laundering requirement put out by Central Bank and is followed by all banks to update customer information regularly regardless of how long you have been banking with them.

    Many private banking customers say the same thing and tell the banks to get lost and refuse to give information more than what’s required.

    • Mohammed says:

      I refused to fill their form, stating that they already have a copy of my (recent) civil id with my address, any other information is not their fucken buisness to know.


    #FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS in a 3rd world country

  5. JMA245 says:

    Whenever I use my card for an overseas online transaction my card’s blocked. I need to call them up to get it unblocked (when I’m abroad, the 10 minutes spent on hold hurt). When I had a sum deposited into the account, I was effectively barred from using my account for a week unless I went to the branch to answer a few questions (‘interrogation’). Signing into the account online requires this device they give you (if there’s a tiny bit of dust in it, won’t work). Barclays is the bank’s name. I get annoyed, but I’m glad my account was never compromised.

    Also, the security issues might have had something to do with the regional conflicts? Banks want to make sure it’s legit?

    But sucks not being able to use your card abroad.

    • Mark says:

      I had an issue with Burgan Bank where they blocked my card because I used it in two different countries in 24 hours. Like yeah, I bought breakfast at the Kuwait airport and then when I landed in London I needed to buy a fucking train ticket.

      • Mathew says:

        My experience with banks such as NBK and Chase react the same way. I have made it a habit to call and notify them before I travel

      • JMA245 says:

        Annoying part would be needing to get it sorted. Always need a backup nowadays. And a back up to the back up. I also have a back up for that too.

  6. Abood says:

    Burgan is by far the worst bank in Kuwait. I went and opened an account there and was told the card would be ready in a week. I went back a week later to be told they had forgot to order the card and since there was an upcoming eid holiday, it would take over a week. Go back again and I was finally given the card, but the spelling of my first and last name was completey wrong. I say to the lady that isn’t how you spell my name, she actually said what’s the problem with that. As someone who studies in Australia, I said what happens if they ask me for ID. She said it was my fault! Other than that, their ATMS took forever to accept the new currency for deposits and the staff were clueless. Customer service called me to survey me on experience with Burgan and when I told her my problems she didn’t even apologise. Their application is outdated. Their website is even very outdated and I couldn’t even transfer to an account outside Burgan.

    • Mark says:

      well I went with Burgan Bank because:

      a) they’re my neighborhood bank, like literally in the building right next to mine
      b) their location next to my house is probably the nicest looking bank in Kuwait
      c) because of their draw
      d) because majority of their customers are expats (at least at the location next to my house), everyone is treated very equally and fairly. I feel more comfortable when I visit a Burgan Bank branch than a NBK one.

      For day to day use, NBK is my primary bank. Their app and online banking is way better…

      • Mel says:

        Does the situation get any better by now?

        I’m a CBK customer and tired of the same issues as above pretty much, thinking of going all NBK on them.

        Also, is there any app that might be able to give you google map locations of drive thru ATMS?

        Thanks :)

  7. Dima says:

    The combination of Mark and Nima writing together is just too awesome!!! Thanks guys, entertaining and informative. Sorry you had to go through all the problems. Travelling tonight, after reading your previous post on Banking issues while traveling made sure that I call the NBK just in case and inform them about my travels so I don’t run into any problems.

  8. Khaled says:

    I live outside Kuwait and don’t have the ability to call Kuwaiti phone numbers unless I go through the hassle of long-distance calling, a feature I’m not subscribed to on any platform. I had an issue with NBK banking where for some reason, they decided to erase and block all of my previous international transfer accounts and the only way I could reopen them was to talk to the bank directly. I logged into my online account after jumping through the hoops they set [card number, password, secret question, do-you-recognize-this-image, etc.] and sent them a direct message from my online account telling them I could NOT call them but if it were possible to release the block so I could make international transfers again… To which they responded that I need to call them. After their spurious security tests? Did you just not read my message?

    Frustrating, but customer service is clearly not their forte… Nor common sense.

  9. Maz says:

    I will vouch for NBK for one thing… Their credit card division called me after they saw suspicious offshore transactions. Though i check my statement regularly online and in the app, these never appeared until days later. So i told the guy no i didn’t buy from a vietnamese webiste, and no i haven’t purchased badminton gear from a US website ! The fu@@ers turned out they used almost all the limit by doing trial and error on several amounts and got rejected many times because they exceeded the limit ! Which sparked a red flag with the guys in NBK and called me but only after they milked my credit limit dry with online purchases in currencies i never heard of !
    To make things short they asked me to file a form of the value that was used by the hackers and in 20 days they reimbursed all even with the currency differences.
    Although like all of you i had many issues with this bank in the past and they drove me crazy with their security policies, but after this experience my hats goes off for their prompt alert and their quick and full reimbursement ! Add to that their easy online transfer with few clicks that i use regularly and a decent IOS app, i would give them the award easily over the other banks !
    Oh and for those wondering, i didn’t have the sms alert back then, learned my lesson and activated it after that whole shebacle !

    • Burhan says:

      This is not something special to NBK, this is something that is mandated by the Central Bank (the fraud monitoring), and it is required by the card networks (MasterCard,VISA, etc.)

      So its not like a special service with NBK.

      If you want to experience some serious credit card serviec, get an American Express card.

  10. Mala says:

    So I have nice story with Gulf Bank. Once I received a msg on WhatsApp which included a picture of my account details + statement (so the guy could prove that he is working at GB) + invitation for a date since “i’m young eastern lady”. Funny (damn! Sick?) thing is that he pointed also his possition and highlighted a “respectful” place of his work so why whould i refused his invitation (yes, because he is such a good deal for me)?!
    So never ever again dealing with Gulf Bank and their no-security and no-privacy-rules.

    • karan says:

      what the fuck!?!?

      that is by far the craziest story i have ever heard. i hope you reported that twerp. people who send pictures of account details over whatsapp or any other form of messaging aren’t deserving of a “respectable position” in the bank.

      like what the fuck is privacy, right?

  11. Dave says:

    That was a really fun read. Both had me laughing. Banks are balls!

  12. Solomon says:

    I was a mystery shopper for Burgan. And after visiting most of the branches in Kuwait.
    I’ve come to a conclusion, they have a shitty customer service.
    They make you wait for more than 20 minutes and are freaking rude.
    Like WTF !!!

  13. yousefq8 says:

    I have an account with NBK and Burgan Bank.

    NBK: I opened an Al Shabab account when I was 18 and used my card in both Kuwait and America without any account locks or issues. When I had to renew my card after I already graduated university, they let me keep the no-fee Al Shabab account.

    Burgan Bank: The employer of my first job opened a Burgan Bank account for me to deposit my salary. On three separate occasions I went to a Burgan Bank ATM and all three times there was an ATM error and it wouldn’t give me any cash. The third time really pissed me off because I had to stand in line for 10 minutes before I could use the ATM and it wouldn’t give me any $$$.
    A couple months ago I did a wire transfer to an account in the US. A week goes by and it doesn’t reach the account. Another week goes by and still nothing. On the third week I get a message on my phone that Burgan Bank tried to contact me. I call Kuwait via the Internet and ask why they called, the attendant replies that they have no idea why and they checked my records and there’s nothing on file, and I was ticked off about that because that cost me 3-5 KD just for that call. A relative in Kuwait had to go to the bank and inquire and guess what, the money transfer didn’t go through. I’ve done at least 10 money transfers in my life and this was the first time that it didn’t go through and I was already in the US so it was a major issue. I took care of it thankfully but it was seriously aggravating.

    TL;DR NBK has been good to me, Burgan Bank has sucked.

    Side note: A nice US bank if Ally. They give you 0.4% interest just for having a checking account and you can get cash out of any ATM and if there’s a fee they’ll give you the money back for it. Drawback is that it’s internet only, so no branch or no depositing money.

  14. Alphanso says:

    NBK any day

  15. Hamza Cool says:

    I had a bad experience with CBK. I opened a Labor Account with them 3 Months ago, because my employer needed to deposit my salary. I needed to transfer money from my salary account to my Visa Prepaid Card; with their online website. But unfortunately i couldn’t register online with them. It kept giving an error message “ATM IS NOT VALID”. So i called them up, they said issue will be resolved in 1 week. 2 Months have passed by and nothing. Also no one other than employer can deposit money in my account, i mean what the fuck. Whats the use of the account if only employer can deposit cash. Shitty service.
    P.S. CBK A.K.A Al-Tijari Sucks

  16. Renato Laranja says:

    Online banks FTW!

  17. Gulf Bank says:

    Dear Mala,

    Gulf Bank takes such matters very seriously. Please contact us at so we can get the full information and investigate accordingly.

  18. TL says:

    My experience with Gulf Bank has been AWFUL. You’re obliged to pay for an SMS service, without which you can’t use online banking properly. Once you’re in their online banking portal, God help you. It is the most ridiculously counter-intuitive online banking service I’ve ever seen. It shows me a grizzly bear every time I sign in, for no apparent reason.

    Trying to add a beneficiary with an account outside of Kuwait is hell. Half the time your login details won’t work. You enter your PIN as a part of signing in.


  19. Sami says:

    I have had no issues with my bank, but I would like to point out that I dislike the local bank’s emphasis on draws and “winning”, instead of providing a more modern banking experience.

    I want my bank to act like a bank, and not like a lottery.

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