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Egyptian Banks Suspend Debit Card Use in Foreign Currency, Set New Limits for Cash Withdrawals

October 9, 2023

Several Egyptian banks have announced new restrictions on spending abroad, including suspending the use of debit cards in foreign currency, as well as setting new limits on withdrawals and purchases by credit cards abroad.

This move was done in effort to halt the drain on foreign currency as Egypt’s foreign exchange currency shortage continues to deteriorate.

“The decision aims to prevent abusive use of debit cards outside Egypt to benefit from the difference in the exchange rate between the official and the parallel markets, thus draining the foreign currency reserves at the Egyptian banking system,” a source told Ahram Online on 8 October.

“Travelers can secure their needs of foreign currency through the bank branches before departing, as per the directives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE),” the source added.

The Commercial International Bank (CIB) has suspended foreign currency purchases and withdrawals using debit cards from abroad, effective Tuesday, 10 October.

The Arab International Bank has also suspended all transactions on debit cards abroad.

The Arab African International Bank (AAIB) suspended the use of debit cards outside of Egypt for purchases, and set new cash withdrawal limits abroad that range from EGP 11,000 (USD 355) and EGP 33,000 (USD 1,067) per month, according to the different tiers of cards.

Multiple banks, including Banque Misr, the National Bank of Egypt, and HSBC set withdrawal and purchase limits abroad, ranging from EGP 3,092 (USD 100) to EGP 30,944 (USD 1000) for the lowest tier and EGP 12,000 (USD 400) to EGP 46,416 (USD 1500) for the highest tier.

“These fees or charges may include but are not limited to cash withdrawal fees and foreign currency fees applied by HSBC Bank Egypt or charges applied by ATM operators for using their ATMs – if any,” HSBC explained to Ahram Online.

In December 2022, a number of banks in Egypt announced new restrictions on spending abroad, as well as limitations on cash withdrawals. This was not the first time banks in Egypt announced restrictions; in October 2022, Egyptian banks announced and implemented new regulatory measures on foreign currency withdrawals from local currency accounts.

The restrictions, which differ from one bank to another, aim to deter people from the exploitation of US dollar withdrawals abroad, which comes as part of the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) measures to preserve hard currency as the exchange rate of the Egyptian pound continues to decline.

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