In Jamaica, the “Jamaican bank” is typically used to refer to financial institutions in general. Historically,Jamaican banks have efficiently catered to locals and visitors alike. In reality, the commercial banks are: The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited, CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank, National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited, RBC Royal Bank Jamaica, Pan Caribbean Bank Limited, Citibank, N.A., and First Global Bank Limited. There are two merchant banks which are Capital & Credit Merchant Bank Limited and MF&G Trust & Finance Limited. Also, there are building societies which are: Jamaica National Building Society, FirstCaribbean International Building Society, The Scotia Jamaica Building Society, and Victoria Mutual Building Society. Oops, mention must also be made about the reputable Credit Unions in Jamaica, and these are quite a few.
Also, of all the commercial banks in Jamaica, First Global Bank has launched its new online banking service Global Access. It has convenient features not currently offered by any other online banking service in Jamaica. Customers of First Global are able to initiate and complete funds transfer transactions to other local and foreign banks using their own internet facilities. All other Jamaican banks allow cuatomers to transfer money between their own accounts usibg the ATMs, Telephone or internet, however, customers would be required to visit the bank location to do ‘bank to bank’ money transfers.
Here’s a little more information on ‘our top five’ financial institutions in Jamaica. This list is based on our experience and knowledge as Jamaicans, as well as the performance and popularity of these financial institutions:
- Scotia Bank Jamaica (BNS): Scotia bank Jamaica is a Canadian owned bank which began operating in Jamaica since 1889. Scotia bank has undergone several transformations from colonialism to independence. Through it all, Scotiabank has established its reputation as a strong, stable, and reliable participant in Jamaica’s continuing growth and development. Scotia Bank has offices and ATMs in all major cities, and offers a wide range of financial services to individuals and businesses.
- National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCB): NCB is the first bank to ever open doors in Jamaica in 1837. With roots linking to England, NCB has undergone several changes including name changes, acquisitions and mergers. Over the years, NCB has remained very competitive in offering financial services to people from all walks of life.
- Jamaica National Building Society: From as early as 1867, the concept of the Building Society was introduced to Jamaica to assist working and middle class people in realizing their dream to own their own home. The Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) is the product of a series of mergers pioneered by the Westmoreland Building Society. Today, Jamaica National is ranked among Jamaica’s largest financial institutions offering a blend of financial services and mortgage plans to customers living in Jamaica, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and The Cayman Islands.
- CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank: CIBC FirstCaribbean formerly CIBC is a merger between CIBC and Barclays Bank. After the merger, CIBC has maintained a strong presence in the financial market and has managed to survive strong competition from the top performing Jamaican banks.
- RBC Royal Bank Jamaica: RBC has been re-branded from the former Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago RBTT. The arrival of name RBTT in the Jamaica dates back to 2000 when there were challenges with the financial sector. RBTT came on board as a result of their acquisition of the former Union Bank. Since then, RBTT has performed well within their league, however, they have not been able to keep up with their two strongest rivals (BNS and NCB).
The major difference among the banks in Jamaica are their fees, interest rates and services. Most offer similar products and services and are able to process banking services to visitors.
Did you know?………..
It is best to inform your bank whenever you are traveling outside of your country. You should find out if there are any international restrictions regarding the use of your debit or credit card.
Banking facts every visitor should know
These banking tips are particularly useful to visitors, however, others may also find them interesting.
- Even though, the currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar, US dollars are widely accepted by merchants, banks, and currency exchange centers “cambios” at varying rates. It is best to exchange Great Britain Pounds, Canadian and other foreign currencies inside the banks or cambios.
- Jamaican dollar notes are in denominations of J$ 5000, 1,000, 500, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of J$20, 10, 5 and 1, and 25 and 10cents.
- Currently, Australian dollars can only be exchanged at the Bank of Jamaica (Jamaica’s central bank)which is located in Kingston. It is advisable that Australians convert their currency to US dollars before traveling.
- Most banking transactions require at least one valid piece of government issued photo identification. As a matter of fact, transactions involving cash advance and traveler’s cheques may require two pieces of identification.
- Most banks have specialized lines labeled “foreign currency transaction” which deals with most tourist transactions.
- Major credit cards including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are accepted at various locations in every town.
- Most Jamaican ATMs can process transactions with debit and credit cards with MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus and Plus logos.
- Some cards (debit or credit) that has the chip located on the front of the card (particularly those from the UK) hardly ever works at ABM locations.
- All ATMs have daily withdrawal limits for international cards, usually not exceeding US$500 or its equivalent in other currencies.
- Some local banks may charge a credit or debit card processing fee in addition to the charge that may be applied by the card issuing foreign bank.
- Most major banks accept travelers cheques, however these cheques must be countersigned in the presence of the bank teller and may require two valid government issued photo identification.
- Jamaicans can be very helpful, however, if you are being assisted with an ATM transaction it is best to ensure that you are being assisted by a fully disclosed bank official or representative.
- Jamaica has only a few ATMs that issues US Dollars. There are ATMs that issues US Dollars that are located in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Kingston. Please note that the only issuable ATM currencies are Jamaican dollars and US dollars. If you would like Jamaican dollars from the ATM, you must enter the Jamaican conversion equivalent of your bank account currency.
- The regular banking hours are usually 8:30am to 2:30pm (Jamaican Time) on Monday to Friday. All banks are closed on weekends and public holidays. In case you need some assistance, all banks have customer call center representatives to deal with queries during closed hours.
- The cambios or currency exchange centers usually offer the best foreign currency exchange rates. If you prefer, you can also check the banks. Please note, the airport cambios usually offer the worst exchange rates.