Banking In Spain

Spain has a completely modern banking system and you can carry out any transaction that you would in your home country. Find out more about Spanish banking below.

There are two main types of bank in Spain: clearing banks and savings banks.

Savings Accounts

In the latter category Spain has over 80 savings institutions called "cajas", which were originally charitable organizations granting loans for public interest and agricultural policies. Savings banks are similar to building societies in Britain and savings and loans in the USA and hold over a third of all deposits. Today these savings banks offer the same services as the clearing banks, often at more favourable rates.

Cheque Accounts

To open a Spanish checking account you will need to show your passport, your address in Spain and your NIE number from your residence card. Charges vary according to whether you open a resident or non-resident account. You should obtain a list of charges for services such as writing schedules and standing orders as Spanish banks levy some of the highest charges in Europe. Some banks, in particular the cajas have a monthly flat rate charge, which includes basic services such as direct debits. For as little as €2.00 per month for residents and €3.00 for non-residents, all your banking needs can be catered for (these figures apply to “La Caixa” in 2006).

Banking has become highly automated, and with regard electronic banking Spanish institutions compare favourably with other European countries and their ATMs are among the world's best. Credit and debit cards are widely used. Sometimes funds wired from overseas can take an extraordinarily long time to be available in your bank account in Spain, and even funds transferred within the same bank can float within the Spanish bank for many days before being accessible.

Bank opening hours in Spain are from 8.30 am or 9.00 am until between 13.30 and 14.30, Monday to Friday and from 8.30 and 9.30 until 12.00 or 13.00 on Saturdays in winter (banks are closed on Saturdays from June to September or October).

Some issues to consider when choosing which bank to choose in Spain:

  • Ability to speak English (if you do not speak Spanish). Today most banks in tourist areas insist their staff speak more than one language.
  • Facilities to send and receive money from overseas
  • Whether they have a branch near your home or workplace

Spanish banks, including the cajas offer online banking, which is useful if you are going to be away from your property any length of time.

Bank Statements:

At most banks you can request that these are sent to you in English. Statements are sent to customers monthly or quarterly, but you can request one at any time.

Some questions to ask when opening your bank account in Spain:

  • When you receive bank statements?
  • When can you get an overdraft facility?
  • How soon can you get your bankcard, credit card and cheque book?

If you receive regular payments from abroad, it is certainly worth shopping around for the best deal. EU state pensions paid into a Spanish Bank should not attract any charge.

List of some of the most popular Spanish banks:

  • Santander Central Hispano
  • Solbank
  • Bankinter
  • Banesto
  • Grupo Banco Popular
  • BBVA
  • Banco Atlántico
  • La Caixa
  • Unicaja
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