Money ExchangeThere are several money exchange boots in Beer-Sheva, one of them located opposite to the Central Bus Station and few others on KKL street in the Old City. You can also change foreign currencies in a bank, for example in HaPoalim branch at the campus (Student Centre, building 70, see campus map), but take into account that
- you will pay a fixed fee (10NIS+), non-existing in other exchange places,
- exchange rate will not necessarily be most attractive,
- you will have to wait in a queue in order to face a bank clerk,
- when you sit in front of the clerk, most likely he will have many other interesting things to do, such as sipping coffee, chatting with other bank employees, calling his wife and dealing with other customers. Probably all of it will happen at the same time. So reserve plenty of time and take a book, an article or a laptop with you.
Exchange rates of Euro, USD, Yen you can find at the left hand side of the main webpage of HaAretz daily.
The three largest Israeli banks are Bank HaPoalim ("The Workers' Bank"), Bank Le'umi ("National Bank") and Bank Discount (pronounced "diskont" – don't be fooled by the name, though), followed by Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot and HaBank HaBenle'umi ("The International Bank").
Competition between the banks is very limited, and they will all offer similar services for similar prices. The quality of service will depend more on the local branch employees than on the bank itself. Unless you are involved in unusually large financial transactions for a postdoc, the gains to be made from shopping around are likely to be negligible – it would most likely be best to just find a convenient branch next to where you live, or next to campus.
- HaPoalim Bank has a branch in the Student Centre (building 70, see campus map). You can open a bank account (it costs approximatelly 10 NIS/month), get a free ATM card and for approximatelly 20 NIS get a cheque book. Currently it seems to be impossible for a foreigner to arrange a credit or a debit card. Taking this into account and the fact, that some companies will expect to pay certain bills via your credit card (e.g. HOT - an internet and cable TV provider), if you plan to open an account in HaPoalim Bank, you may consider to arrange a credit card from a bank abroad and make sure that it will remain valid throughout your stay in Israel. Customer service at HaPoalim is terrible, see Money Exchange section for details. However, there is a chance that you will face them only twice, at the time of your arrival and and at the time of your departure.
- There is a branch of Bank Le'umi in the small Merkaz HaNegev commercial complex, about one block southwest of campus (an ugly and run-down concrete structure, which looks a bit like an abandoned factory), on Metzada street. Unfortunately, foreigners are not allowed to open an account in this branch of Bank Leumi. The closest branch of Bank Leumi which accepts foreigners is located in Ashdod at Rogozin street. The distance between Beer-Sheva and Ashdod is about 60km.
- Reportedly, it is also possible to open a bank account in the Postal bank, via the Post office. The postal bank offers some of the services a regular bank offers, at lower fees (e.g. no monthly fee). Assuming you are mainly using the bank to get your stipend, it could be worth investigating further.
ATMsYou can use an ATM card of any major Israeli bank in the ATM machine of any other Israeli bank, with no extra charge (beyond what your bank may already charge you for using your ATM card anyway). Convenient location of your particular bank's ATMs is therefore not an important consideration when choosing a bank.
ATM's are called "caspomat" or "bankat" in Hebrew.
There are three ATMs on campus, all of them close to the HaPoalim branch in the Student Centre (building 70, see campus map). Two ATMs are located in front of the building and one inside, in the basement, next to the entrance to Dyonun Bookshop. Those ATMs accept ATM cards of all major Israeli banks as well as Maestro, Visa and Mastercard cards from abroad.