For those who move to Spain for a long period of time, it is extremely important to decide with whom to trust finances and where to open a banking account, as well as to learn about the main features of the Spanish banking system. In spite of the fact that some non-residents do not want to open a banking account with one of the local banks and prefer to keep their savings in a reliable bank abroad, you might need to present data from an account in Spain in the case of gaining employment in Spain, telephone purchase, or transfers of utility bills in your name, among other reasons.
The banking system in Spain for non-residents – general description
Before embarking on an assessment of the services provided by the best international banks in Spain and the best private banks in Spain, it is helpful to have an understanding of the current state of the credit and financial system of the country.
The Spanish banking system underwent serious reorganization after its entrance to the European Union in 1986 and when it experienced incorporation into the eurozone in 1999. The financial crisis that struck the country in 2007 provoked the almost complete collapse of the system that, in its turn, was triggered by the crisis of mortgage lending. After the onset of the crisis it was revealed that for the 7-8 years preceding, many Spanish citizens had been living in debt.
Rapid post-crisis recovery, unprecedented in scale in the European Union, also has impacted the systems of banks and financial institutions positively. Although the credit-financial system of Spain still has many shortcomings, each year measures are taken for its improvement (e.g., online bank development, simplification of money transfer operations for certain categories of citizens, etc.). Thus, it can be said that this sphere is actively developing and building new prospects for growth and improvement.
When discussing the best Spanish banks for expats and the overall work of the banking system in relation to non-residents, one can highlight the following peculiar features:
- If you do not have the NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) and you are an official resident of another country, the order and logistics for providing you with services in Spain will demonstrate some differences. Based on the regulation of the Central Bank of Spain, immigrants may open banking accounts in euros or a foreign currency. However, one should bear in mind that it is not very likely for many Spanish ATMs to withdraw money from an account that was opened in another currency.
- One must have an identification document: a valid passport or ID.
- When opening an account, non-residents must prove their status (within 15 days). The reason is that the Spanish banks do not deduct the accrued interest income for the accounts of non-residents. As a rule, every six months, a bank sends a request on the subject of one’s status change. Should you acquire a resident’s status any time after opening an account, it is important to inform the bank about the changes and present your NIE.
- The account transactions commission for residents is significantly lower than that for non-residents. Moreover, there are many different types of commissions for immigrants.
- The employees of many banks, even the best banks in Spain for non-residents, do not speak English.
- The best and the most convenient option, both for immigrants and residents, is to take advantage of the best online banks in Spain. This will also save you a lot of time.
List of the best Spanish banks for expats
Below, you can find a list of the best banks in Spain for non-residents that was compiled by taking into account such factors as size of commission, technical support quality, amount required for opening an account, and online-banking development.
Bank Sabadell is considered one of the preferred banks for opening an account and the best bank from which to withdraw money. The process itself is not complicated, as with most banks. Sabadell offers a 24/7 technical support service that is available in English. The only problem immigrants might face is opening an account for long-term money savings with an interest rate. One of the latest innovations is the termination of the code use on the reverse side of the banking card for online-shopping. Now, one can obtain the code only via a special mobile application.
This is one of the best international banks in Spain. The main advantage of ING is a sufficiently developed system of online banking that allows one to open an account online. In addition, ING Bank is famous for its minimal commissions and fees, although there is no service available in English. It is possible to open three types of accounts at this bank: Cuenta Naranja (a savings account), Cuenta Nomina (an account to which all revenues will be transferred), and Cuenta Sin Nomina (useful for resident businesspeople and those who are self-employed).
This bank is one of the best Spanish banks for expats who have obtained a residence card already; non-residents are not allowed to open accounts with this bank. Not long ago, the Evo Banco website excluded all the languages from its service menu except for Spanish. Among this bank’s advantages, one can highlight the possibility for young people under 28 years to open an account (Cuenta Joven) without any commissions. The bank also does not charge any commission for foreign money transfers. Plus, commission is not charged for converting the currency in case of withdrawing money at an ATM abroad (in this case, there is a limit of 4 withdrawal operations per month).
Santander bank is one of the largest Spanish banks with a reliable reputation. Yet, one should remember that in order to use its services, it is necessary to obtain at least a temporary residence permit. In this case, you will be able to transfer funds from one account to another one, as well as withdraw money from the ATMs of other banks with a relatively small commission. The documents required to open a banking account with Santander include: passport or NIE, rent contract, address, and a reference letter.
The specialists of INEEDSpain service center can help you with any questions related to opening an account at a Spanish bank, both for non-residents and immigrants with a residence permit. Also, you can schedule a consultation concerning the Spanish credit-financial system at any time.