Why open a Spanish bank account?
If the bailout of “Spanish banks” from Brussels is a topical and popular subject, it is necessary to know that before the global recession of 2009, there were a very large number of banks in Spain and that not all of them have experienced the same difficulties. On the contrary, those banks that were well-managed have had remarkable profitability and financial soundness. Since 2009, a merger process has drastically reduced the number of them and the least efficient banks are now destined to disappear. Furthermore, the liquidation of non-viable banking entities is a condition imposed by Brussels in its consideration of the bailout plan.
Opening a Spanish bank account offers many benefits:
- Traditionally, Spain has a welcoming attitude towards global investment and business opportunities. Hence, Spanish banking culture is internationally oriented.
- Spain is a very well connected country with many airlines operating to and from.
- Opportunity to deal with English speaking bank staff.
- Banks treat their customers as genuine customers and welcome new business.
- Internet banking and commercial documents, such as account agreements are written in English.
- Many banks have a no fee policy if the account is funded on a regular basis.
- Ability to make international transfers via Internet banking, with no additional charges for EU destinations.
- Weather conditions offer the opportunity to do some tourism and mix business with pleasure.
For illustration, below are the Internet banking interfaces in English of Banco de Sabadell and La Caixa:
What type of bank accounts are offered by Spanish banks?
Spanish bank accounts are the same as in any other countries:
- current accounts (sight deposit).
- savings accounts.
- business accounts.
They all have an IBAN, so account holders are able to receive transfers from any country. Payment methods are also the same, with the exception of cheques which are virtually non-existent. The type of bank card generally proposed when opening the account is normally a debit card. That is to say, the account balance is consulted with each request for payment. If the balance is less than the amount of the transaction, the latter cannot take place and payment will be refused. After a certain period, it is possible to obtain a credit card. Customers who urgently need a credit card can get one by depositing an amount equal to the credit line desired, by funding the account regularly or by being introduced by an existing customer. Deposits are guaranteed up to 100,000€ by the Spanish Government.
How to open a Spanish bank account?
It is not possible to open a bank account in Spain remotely. Therefore, it is necessary to travel and meet the bank staff in person. It could be useful to hire a professional interpreter. Compulsory documents to be provided are an ID card or passport and proof of residence, such as a household bill. Some banks may ask for a certificate of fiscal residence. In this case, you may choose another branch or bank. In the event where the customer becomes a Spanish resident, it is necessary to inform the bank.
How much does it cost? What is the initial deposit?
Traditionally, Spanish banks do not require a large deposit, a few hundred Euros are sufficient. Account openings are free. Be aware that non-residents who travel to Spain must declare all amounts in cash over 6,010€.
How to fund the bank account?
Cheques are not recommended, you may prefer to fund your bank account with a bank transfer or a cash deposit.
In which city can I open my account?
It depends on your place of residence. If you come by car from the south west of France, you will find a significant number of bank branches in Irun, near Hendaye and San Sebastian. If you come from the southeast, you may pay attention to Figueres. Finally, if you travel from a big city with an airport, consider Barcelona or Madrid for joining the useful and the pleasant and making some tourism.
What is the best bank to open an account with?
In Spain we find universal banks (bancos) and savings banks (cajas). The services offered by each other are very similar.
Give preference to banks whose Internet Banking is in English such as Banco de Sabadell, La Caixa or Banco Santander.
In terms of management fees, Banco de Sabadell is very well positioned. La Caixa has, however, higher fees because of their huge branch network, but this may also be an advantage.
List of Spanish banks
Here are the 11 acclaimed banks in 2011 by Spanish consumers in the “Merco Marcas Financieras” annual survey:
2> LA CAIXA
4> CAJA MADRID (merged with BANKIA)
6> ING DIRECT
7> BANCO SABADELL
8> BANCAJA (merged with BANKIA)
9> BANCO POPULAR
11> BANCA CIVICA (became part of CAIXABANK in 2012)
May you need assistance to open your Spanish bank account, please contact us.