Open a Nigerian Bank account

The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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I opened a Savings account with a bank in Jos, have an ATM card and internet banking including using a mobile app. Choose a bank near to your most common locations.

  • Which to choose?
  • I have heard good experiences from friends using Diamond/Access, Zenith.
  • First Bank has longer queues but may be best for outlying areas.
  • GTBank has been often very reliable, supports lots of convenient USSD banking but sometimes recently has been suffering from downtime and other problems. I’ve heard discouraging things about Unity bank.

Take your NIN, phone, passport, CERPAC/ID card, 2 passport photos & about ₦2000 to a bank and ask to open a Savings account.

  • (Why Savings? Less ID is required and Savings accounts are cheaper to run than Current accounts. I don’t need a cheque book, but if you’re writing cheques for people to withdraw money elsewhere then you could get a current account.)

You’ll need to give an address, email and phone contact details, also next-of-kin details (Date of Birth, address in Nigeria). You get an ATM card and internet banking with a Savings account. You pay for the ATM card, hence the ₦2000 initial deposit. You may need to return to collect it a couple of weeks after opening the account. You’ll also need to come back when called up to register for BVN (Bank Verification Number). You attend the bank and they take your photo and record fingerprints. This can then be used to more easily verify identity and open accounts with other banks. From 2021 you’ll link your NIN I think too.

Then you’ll be able to get money to your account.

Phone banking

Many banks allow you to do some banking with special USSD codes. For example GTBank use *737*… for some services, including recharging your mobile phone from your bank account, checking your balance etc. Very convenient.

ATMs / Cash Machines

You are normally allowed a few (3?) free withdrawals from other banks (eg I have used UBA or FirstBank) each month, after that there’s a ₦30-50 charge. You can typically withdraw money in ₦20-30,000 amounts from ATMs, so several transactions at one time might be needed.

Transfer types

Instant Payments (NIPSS) are faster (and possibly cheaper) than NEFT.