A simple guide to setting up a bank account in Spain
If you are planning to stay in Spain for a prolonged period of time, it might be wise to set up a Spanish bank account. There is a wide range of banks that offer reasonable and easily accessible accounts. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about opening your first account in Spain, from the documents you need to the account that may be right for you.
What documents do I need to open a Spanish bank account?
Each bank might have its own requirements, so it’s best to check the websites before you go in. To open a bank account, you’ll most likely need the following documents:
- Valid passport, or national identity card (for EU citizens)
- A document proving your address in Spain (lease contract, utility bill, or a recent bank statement that included your address)
- Your NIE or TIE (both would be for residents)
- Proof of employment or study (payslip, student card, employee contract, letter from school or university confirming you are a student)
If you are a student with Speakeasy and have signed up for a long-term course, you’ll have registered and received your TIE (tarjeta de indentidad de extranjero) – for non-European citizens – or your NIE (número de identidad de extranjero) – for European citizens. This identification number or card is one of the most important items for opening a Spanish bank account.
Cuenta corriente or nómina?
There are usually two types of bank accounts that are offered by Spanish banks: the cuenta corriente and the cuenta nómina.
A cuenta corriente translates to a simple chequing account. They are quite easy to open, but usually charge a monthly fee of up to 6€, depending on the bank. A cuenta nómina requires that you have your salary deposited monthly (sometimes it can be a certain amount per quarter depending on the bank). These accounts usually offer free services because it ensures that they will be handling more of your money on a regular basis.
What else should I know?
- You need to be over 18 years of age to open a bank account on your own (without a parent or guardian)
- Banks close early in Spain – their opening hours are typically between 8am and 2pm. They are usually closed on weekends (some will open Saturdays)
- Some bank charge fees if you withdraw from ATMs that are not associated with them, so it might be best to choose a bank you see often in the Spanish city you’re in
- Not everyone in the banks speaks English, so if you are not confident in your Spanish skills, it’s a good idea to ask a fluent friend to accompany you
What are the main Spanish banks?
Residents will be able to open accounts at these banks:
- CaixaBank “la Caixa”
- BBVA has many accounts including a free online account and Joven Blue Account (free for people between 18-29)
- Santander and this account to open and run completely online
- Banco Sabadell
Spanish digital banks for residents:
- ING Direct offers easy to sign up online banking but requires a nómina account
- EVO has a youth account for people under 25
- CaixaBank “la Caixa” (HolaBank) which specializes in services for non-residnents
- Sabadell key account for non-residents
What about online banking?
Increasingly, people are setting aside brick-and-mortar banks for easier, more convenient online banking. If you’re a Spanish (or European) resident, you’ll be able to sign up for both:
For each bank, you can sign up online and they will send out a bank card to you within a few days and most of their basic services are free!
If you’re an avid traveller and are often irritated by currency exchange fees, Revolut has a great feature where you can have multiple accounts in different currencies. You can exchange amounts between these accounts, or send money to other accounts, for no fee at all. When travelling, you can also use your debit card to make purchases without being charged a percentage of your purchase. If you are travelling in Czechia where they don’t use the Euro, for example, you can pay with your bank card and the amount in Czech Crowns will simply be converted to the exact Euro amount equal to the exchange rate at the time of purchase.
We hope this guide has answered the questions you may have had (or may not have even considered). Best of luck on opening your account here in Spain. If you’d like to work up the courage and confidence to walk into a bank and open an account en español, check out our Spanish classes in the heart of Barcelona.