Banking system in Spain

Currencies Direct November 1st 2009 - 2 minute read

If you are planning for a long stay in Spain or taking up residence, opening a bank account is essential to manage your day-to-day expenses. Both local and foreign banks operate in Spain and the Banco de España (Bank of Spain) controls all banking activities. You can find branches of all large banks in almost all towns and cities for your daily operations.

There are two types of bank accounts for foreigners: savings and current. To open any of these, you will be required to present your passport or some other proof of identification along with proof of address and your tax identification number (NIE). You can even open an account before leaving for Spain with any major foreign bank which has branches in Spain.

If you are a resident, you can easily open an account in Euros or in any foreign currency by submitting all the required documents. But a non-resident who doesn’t have an NIE card only has the option to open a current or savings accounts available to foreigners. However, you have to submit details of your non-resident status. Remember, the fees for non-resident accounts are higher; so it’s better to inform the bank as soon as you get your NIE.

Locally known as Cajas de Ahorro, saving banks are very common with a wide reach in all most all rural areas. Like American savings and British building societies, saving banks in Spain act as charitable institutions and invest parts of their profit in social development causes. They operate the same way as any other private bank and offer electronic debit and credit cards for money transactions at all their cash points or cajero automático (automated teller machines – ATMs).

Considering the presence of many private, public and international banks the charges vary from one another in competition to attract more and more customers. Always request a clear breakdown of all charges, including charges made for transactions, cheque payments and transferring money. The modern day internet banking has also made customer service more effective. Mortgage, loans and overdrafts are available on request by different banks at different rates.

This apart, there are many other services such as insurance, investment banking, short-term savings, and long-term saving accounts available as per your need. Interest rates vary between different accounts; a long term saving account or fixed deposit account attracts more interest in comparison to short-term savings, as in the case of the former the money has to be left in the account for a longer period giving the bank the option to invest it in many areas.

These days, almost all banks have at least few English speaking staff with friendly services, so it won’t be that difficult while dealing in your usual banking activities. It’s also easy to change banks, you show the bank statement of your first bank and the second bank will make a new one without much hindrance. You can then transfer the money to the new one and close the account with the first bank.

Normal Spanish bank hours are from 9 am – 2 pm on Monday to Friday and 9am- 1pm on Saturdays, although it may vary in some banks. However, ATM machines remain open all the year round, unless of course there is any technical issue or shortage of funds.

Information courtesy of Craig Edmonds

Marbella Guide is your personal and business guide to Marbella.

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