Their services are all similar, and you will have to get used to the fact that they will all charge you fees for just about everything. It's possible to open your bank account from abroad, I think, but I'm sure it'll be easier to do in person as soon as you've arrived.
I know other expats who manage to live here without one, but transferring money all the time is a huge hassle and not worth it, in my mind. I personally think it's a good idea to pick a bank that has a branch fairly close to your home, and ATMs in places that are safe and that you frequent often, like your closest shopping centre.A lot of the other things you will want to get, like a mobile phone contract, an internet connection, and yes, a car, will require you to have a bank account, or at least it will make things easier.'s four largest banks are ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank, and Nedbank. A reader of mine recommended Investec for their excellent customer service and reasonable monthly fees, so that's also worth a try.Remember, you are now on African time and things don't get simply checked off your list just because you're willing it to be so.The best way to avoid numerous trips is to come armed with, well, everything you can think of.There is nothing exciting about having to open a bank account in a new country.
Neither is there much humor in it, though I always find it rewarding to go look for it anyway. Anyway, a reader asked if it's possible to open a South African bank account as a foreigner (yes it is!