Top retail banks in South Africa all offer a top-tier account, reserved exclusively for the country’s wealthiest individuals.
Each account carries a minimum annual salary requirement – ranging from R750,000 to R2.5 million – or requires a substantial amount of investible assets.
While South Africa’s banking sector has become a battleground for low-cost or zero-fee accounts, aiming to rope in the country’s unbanked, the high-income bracket is a lucrative pool.
New entrant Discovery Bank does not offer a low-income or entry-level account, but it stands by offering an exclusive ‘Purple’ account, which has the highest salary requirements among all the retail accounts advertised by the big banks.
To qualify for a Discovery Purple account, a prospective cardholder needs to earn at least R2.5 million annually (over R200,000 a month) to take advantage of the major discounts and “bespoke account structure” on offer.
Private banking group Investec has previously been mum on its salary requirements to qualify for an account but has now invited people who earn over R800,000 annually to apply.
The bank almost exclusively targets professionals and high net worth individuals – even crediting its very selective client base as the reason it has managed to weather the country’s volatile economic environment in recent years.
Investec’s base places it above Absa (a minimum of R750,000) and below Standard Bank (a minimum of R1.1 million).
Both Nedbank and FNB have Private Wealth offerings which require an annual salary of R1.5 million, or investable assets of R5 million for Nedbank, or a net asset value of R15 million for FNB.
RMB Private Banking – closely tied to FNB as part of the FirstRand Group – has the same entry requirements as FNB Private Wealth, requiring an annual salary of at least R1.5 million, or the same net asset value of R15 million.
|Bank||Annual salary needed||Monthly salary needed|
|Discovery Purple||R2 500 000||R208 000|
|FNB Private Wealth||R1 500 000||R125 000|
|RMB Private Banking||R1 500 000||R125 000|
|Nedbank Private Wealth||R1 500 000||R125 000|
|Standard Bank Signature||R1 100 000||R92 000|
|Investec Private Bank||R800 000||R66 000|
|Absa Private Banking||R750 000||R62 500|
|Average||R1 380 000||R115 000|
What they cost and what you get
These exclusive accounts carry high monthly fees to account for the various services and benefits offered. While the accounts carry their own degree of prestige, they’re specifically designed around customers who need these kinds of tailored perks.
Many of the perks tied to high-income bank accounts centre around lifestyle and investment, with banks offering the best benefits for travel and leisure, while also providing easier access to international markets and dedicated financial advisors.
Things like access to airport lounges and concierge services are common, as are linked accounts for family members. Because of the higher monthly fees, most of the more common banking transactions are bundled into the price.
This is what the different banks offer, and how much they charge each month for the privilege.
Discovery Purple carries a monthly account fee of R550 and requires an annual card fee of R2,500.
The account plays big into Discovery’s behavioural banking philosophy and offers huge discounts as rewards.
FNB/RMB Private Wealth
Both FNB and RMB’s private wealth accounts charge R470 per month, going up to R499 for an account with a single facility.
Some of the benefits for customers include:
- Private banking advice from dedicated bankers;
- Consolidated transactional banking;
- Advice-led investments and wealth management;
- Specialised lending;
- Integrated fiduciary and risk advice;
- Benefits beyond wealth, with access to eBucks rewards, including travel discounts and access to airport lounges and lifestyle experiences;
- Special access to a philanthropy centre.
Nedbank Private Wealth
Nedbank’s Private Wealth account carries a monthly fee of R425 for the bundled account and R200 a month for a pay-as-you-use account.
The account focuses on playing a central financial advisory role for wealthy clients, with access to rewards and benefits through the Greenbacks programme.
Standard Bank Signature
The Signature account carries a monthly fee of R469, with an additional R75 charged for the family banking option.
Investec charges R535 per month for its private bank account, with a host of benefits:
Absa Private Banking
Absa’s Private Banking option carries the lowest barrier to entry, and carries a fee of R460 per month.