Upon moving to Spain one of the first things you need to do is open a bank account. You will need it for several things, most importantly for paying your monthly rent. A foreign bank account is not that useful in Spain as many institutions rely on direct debits to a local account. For example, if you make a gym subscription, they will also need your bank details, and it has to be a local bank. Same thing if you have an iPhone and want to use the Spanish app store; you need a Spanish debit or credit card.
When I arrived in Spain, I had a list of criteria that I used to search for the best bank here. Let me share them with you:
- Commission-free. I’m giving money to the bank and they will use it to gain money, I shouldn’t be paying them. If anything they should be compensating me for providing the capital.
- Straightforward to open and operate. I didn’t want to jump through too many hoops to open a bank account, and I expect a modern web and mobile interface to operate on a daily basis.
- English-speaking staff and multilingual website and contracts. Not so much of a deal-breaker as I’m fluent in Spanish, but it’s always a plus.
- Stable and highly-regarded bank. I don’t want nasty surprises in the future, so let’s keep to the top banks and avoid going with the lesser known ones.
After spending many hours in online research, speaking to people and visiting bank branches, these were my shortlisted banks:
My top pick: ING Direct
My favorite Spanish bank is ING Direct. Everything is in Spanish but they have nearly identical websites in other markets such as Ireland, where you’ll find all the information in English if you need it. They have the most straightforward process for opening an account. You basically apply for an account online and immediately get an account open with an IBAN number.
Next, a courier will come to your house within a few days to give you your debit card, and you will need to give him a copy of your identification documents (passport and NIE usually). Then you will need to make a transfer to your new account, and within 5 days the account will be active and ready for us.
This was the easiest bank opening process I’ve ever been through, and I appreciate the convenience of it all. The ING Direct web and mobile interface is great, and they have a good portfolio of related services such as Broker Naranja for investing in the stock market internationally.
They’re of course a well established Dutch multinational bank and they have subsidiaries in many countries. You can use the ING Direct mobile app to make payments without your debit/credit card in shops, and you can also send and receive money to/from friends with the Twyp Cash app, up to 1,000 Euro per year. Whenever you have any query, you can access their chat support online, and someone will attend you within seconds. Of course, they also have the traditional methods available (phone, email, post).
The current account SIN NOMINA is commission-free provided you keep a minimum balance of 2,000 Euro in the account. If you have a job in Spain, there is also the option of a CON NOMINA account, which means that you’ll have to deposit your monthly paycheck into the account for it to remain commission free. Personally, I think SIN NOMINA is more straightforward provided you keep those 2,000 Euros in it. I don’t link restrictions like domiciling my paycheck.
You can withdraw cash commission-free from more than 44,000 ATMs around the country:
- BANCO POPULAR, BANCO PASTOR, BANCA MARCH and ING DIRECT: Any amount.
- BANKIA y BANKINTER: From 90€.
- Rest of banks outside Madrid: From 200€.
Finally, another great plus is that they charge no commissions for Euro transfers. They will also give you special discounts at certain shops and 3% discount on gas top ups from specified fuel stops. All in all a great experience with this bank so far.