Which are the best banks for foreigners in Spain? 

If you are buying a property in Spain, one of the first things you need to do before purchasing the property is open a bank account in Spain. Even if you do not intend to live in Spain full time, you will require a Spanish bank account in order for you to make day-to-day payments in Spain and to set up payments for utilities etc. Before you can set up a bank account, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got an NIE Number.

Finding the best bank to suit your needs can be difficult enough in your home country, let alone abroad. Setting up a bank account in Spain doesn’t have to be complicated though. Most banks in resort areas and large cities in Spain have English-speaking staff and some have websites in other languages too, which helps.

As with choosing a bank in the UK we recommend shopping around to compare services and commission rates. Once you’ve decided which is best for you, it’s best to open a bank account in person at the bank of your choice in Spain, however some offer online options too.

Here are our top choices for best banks for foreigners in Spain…

Sabadell

Headquartered in Alicante, Spain, Sabadell is the fourth-largest Spanish banking group. The bank provides a good service for foreign clients, with English-speaking staff at most branches. It’s website and customer service line are also available in English.

As well as offering banking services in English, Sabadell can assist in German and French, and in certain areas its branch team also does business in Norwegian, Dutch, Danish and Swedish.

ING Direct 

Dutch bank, ING Direct needs little introduction given its strong presence in the UK. Opening an account online is a simple process, however, you’ll need to verify your identity at a branch or by post. Considered to be one of the most responsible banks worldwide and in Europe according to results of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), the Amsterdam-headquartered bank offers a telephone customer service line in English.

The bank has more than 44,000 ATMs and Twyp – an app with which you can pay and withdraw money with your mobile phone – points across Spain, which can be used to withdraw money without commissions.

Holabank 

Holabank is part of Caixa Bank, one of the largest banks in Spain, and provides full banking services in English, both online and by telephone. Caixa Bank also has a wide network of branches and ATMs around Spain. In addition, it offers relocation services providing translation services, helping clients set up utilities and assisting with home emergencies.

Don’t confuse setting up a bank account in Spain with registering with a currency exchange specialist.

You need to do both! If you’re transferring funds from a UK account overseas we strongly recommend using a currency exchange specialist, as exchange rates are one of the ways in which high street banks make enormous profits at the expense of their customers.

Bank exchange rates in both the UK and Spain tend to be very uncompetitive and may also be accompanied by commission charges just to transfer the money overseas. Transferring money from the UK in pounds sterling to a euros bank account in Spain is therefore an unnecessarily costly way of exchanging your currency.  Using a currency exchange specialist will mean that you receive more euros for your pounds. Typically, a currency exchange specialist will offer rates that are 3-5 per cent better than high street banks, which means that 3-5 per cent more of the money you transfer will remain in your pocket as opposed to the bank’s!

You will need to set up a bank account in Spain but should also register with a currency specialist to help make any payments from the UK to your Spanish account (or any other account in Spain for that matter) as cost effective as possible. Especially if you will be transferring large sums (i.e. for a property purchase) or will be making regular payments, such as mortgage payments or sending pension payments to your account.

For details of a recommended currency exchange specialist and to discuss how they can assist you, please get in touch with Total Buying Abroad on 01244 478 911 or email us at info@totalbuyingabroad.com.  

All currency exchange specialists recommended by Total Buying Abroad are registered and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority as well as fully regulated by HMRC.

Total Buying Abroad can also assist should you require details of a recommended foreign lawyer to assist you in dealing with any international legal matters.

Article published: April 18, 2018