Saudi Arabia: Beware of the ATM


Overall the banking system and networks in Saudi are very good and reliable.  But sometimes there can be problems with the ATM machines.   For example, during the Ramadan shopping frenzy leading up to Eid al Fitr, it is not unusual for ATM machines to quickly run out of available cash.

And citing a second example, one of my own family members had an unusual ATM experience about three years ago.  He was making a withdrawal for 500 SAR.  Instead of 500 SAR he received five 500 Riyal notes (2500 SAR).  Naturally he notified the bank of this error and returned the extra 2000 SAR.  It appears that when the ATM machine was loaded on that day the 100 SAR and 500 SAR notes had been switched and inserted into the wrong withdrawal slots.

I am also aware of others at times who have used the ATM to make a withdrawal and not receive any money from the machine and yet their account was debited.

So when I read this article in Arab news about two bank employees being held accountable for a large sum of money, I find myself sympathizing with them.

Has anyone else had experiences with Saudi ATM machines they wish to share?

24 Responses

  1. two years ago, i went to a shopping mall , and i don’t carry mony in my purse coz i always use the ATM , and there was a long line so i decided to just buy the stuff from the shop using the card, and it didn’t save time by the way i had to wait also for a long time in the shop because it kept saying that the deal wasn’t approved so i tried again( it was two days before eid doing last minute shopping ) , and when it didn’t work i just left the stuff and decided to get home, but when i checked my bank account online i found that my balance was reduced by 1200 SR , i tried to squeeze my my head but i was sure that i didn’t buy anything , at the end i remebered that the stuff i wanted to buy cost was 600 SR . but when i called my bank , the money was returned in 48 hours .

  2. Ah yes…..I think many of us who have been in KSA for awhile and particularly during Eid shopping have experienced the same kind of frustration with ATM’s taking double charges. Fortunately the banks are pretty good at correcting such problems.

  3. Last month, I withdrew 1500 SAR from SABB ATM in jeddah.
    I have put in my phone alert services with the bank for any transaction of 500 SAR or above… interestingly I received 2 SMS immediately after withdrawal, next day while checking my bank account online, I realised that 1500 SAR was deducted twice !!!
    I went to SABB and gave a written complain, the money was returned with in 48 hours.
    Bust since then I maintain my bank transaction records in a simple excel, just to be on the safer side:)


  4. Im wondering if your family member is the ONLY one that returned the extra money they got that day from the ATM…lol.:mrgreen:

  5. coolred38, If you are given too much money in the states, when they correct it, you are liable to return the money or they will take the additional deduction on your account. I’m sure that the same is true in KSA.

    The ATM here has ‘eaten’ my card a few times, but not recently. The main problem I have had is that the instructions are all in Arabic at many of the machines, and I don’t have a clue what it says. I just know to push certain buttons to make the money pop out!

  6. That title and then that photograph, fascinating: it immediately looks like a very sinister machine!
    Good everybody got their problems resolved so well!

  7. Will never forget when I only wanted 100sr from an account my husband orderd me not to touch,there I went telling myself it’s only 100sr it won’t hurt.Well I don’t know what happened up until today,but I ended up with 10000sr on my hands,that was the day.I don’t go to that atm machine up until today.

  8. I never use ATMs during the eid rush. If you’re lucky the machine will be out of cash or can’t connect to the network, if your having a bad karma day then double charging isn’t unheard of.

  9. Simple, i never use ATM Machines in Saudi Arabia, like most Indian expats, i keep cash in hand:)

  10. Simple, i never use ATM Machines in Saudi Arabia, like most Indian expats, I keep cash in hand:)

    That way you save a lot of money trust me, studies have shown that when you use your cards for shopping or withdrawing money you end up spending much more.

    Actually i don’t operate a bank account in Saudi Arabia!!!

  11. Ive hardly ever had a bank account or used an ATM in my lifetime…just for a short time while I worked…so Im not too sauvy about the pros and cons and the hiccups…lol.

  12. lol i have really bad history with ATM machines, i can write a book and non of them is the fault of the poor machine it is me ,lol , i opened an account on my first year of college , so when it was my first time to use the ATM i pushed the card somwhere in the machine and i waited for it to ask me for the password but it didn’t, after a while i realized that i pushed the card into the wrong slot -the reciet slot- i still don’t know what the heck i was thinking of doing that! so i gave my friends who were with me a good laugh , but to prove that karma bites one of my friends-who was with me that day- did the same thing two weeks from my incident lol

  13. Stay tuned…I have another Saudi banking post coming up…

  14. My mom once got an extra $600 from an ATM in Houston. She returned it, of course.
    We got 2 lollipops (me and my little brother). :)

  15. I’ve not heard of as many ATM “blips” happening in the States…Thanks for sharing TXGal!

  16. Come on Carol….half the Disney movies out there have an ATM glitch resulting in piles of money spewing out…..and if its on Disney…it has to be REAL!!! lol:)

  17. I once needed to go to 5 different ATMs until I found one willing to withdraw some cash.😡

  18. @Mohamed – Ouch! Hope they weren’t too far apart from each other.

  19. Coolred: hehehe too funny.

  20. Once when making a purchase at a mall that had only Riyadh bank atms (I’d not noticed before) the store said i didn’t have available credit. So I went to the atm and it said I had 200 SR (a week after payday). I had to call a taxi, drive to a SABB atm, withdraw cash and go back to the mall. Apparently the banks aren’t on the same system to check balances? I found that alarming..

  21. That does seem odd….I have used different ATM’s in Riyadh to withdraw and to my knowledge the ATM system seemed to be ‘interacting’ fine.

  22. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem or noticed a discrepancy outside of this specific instance, and often go to different ATMs. I couldn’t figure out how Riyadh had such an odd balance, that didn’t match what my account had ever been. But that’s ok. I was happy to see SABB had the correct amount, and I got my (impulse purchase) clothing eventually, so no harm I guess! :o)

  23. Dear Sir

    I have been working in a construction company in Saudi Arabia for more than 3 years. I have experience that the ATM machines used in Saudi Arabia are out of date. In other ground I appreciate the advance technologies used by this country. But the banking systems are not so developed. My company workers have suffered a lot due to this old type of machine. More than 200 workers’ ATM cards are blocked inside the machine caused monetary problems. I also suffered this problem some days ago. The ATM mahchines used by other countries are so advance. I use ATM machines in India without any fear of blocking of card or money lost. But hear I afraid of this type of matters every months. So, I request the banking personnels, the ATM machines must be updated and install advance typed machines.

  24. I with draw 500 SR after that I tried to with draw 4000 SR immediately, but the ATM showed that transaction not possible, but i receieved statement of balance amount less 4000 SR, I talk to customer service person, he told me that it will be automatically done with in 48 hours if not they ask me to call back customer service again for claim. I red the some messages they got back their amount after 48 hours i am also waiting to happen to me also.

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