If you chose to move to Spain then you’re going to need a Spanish bank account. However, you should be aware that many of the biggest banks in Spain have recently changed their conditions and charges, with many charging more to access their most popular bank accounts than ever before. Spain’s main banks are making it harder to access their ‘free accounts’ and also adding extra fees for account holders who are no longer eligible for these accounts.
There is good news though: knowledge is power! And by understanding what the new charges and conditions are, you may be able to avoid any extra fees, and paying out unnecessarily. With that in mind, here is a list of the biggest banks in Spain, and what they are now charging for their most widely accessed bank accounts:
Santander is the biggest bank in Spain, and one of the most popular choices for ex pats looking to secure Spanish bank accounts. They have made the decision to stop their 123, Zero and Día a Día accounts and replace them with the Santander One account instead. If you wish to hold a Santander One account without paying extra banking fees then you will have to meet the following terms:
- Have your salary or pension set up to be paid into the account as a direct deposit (domiciliado)
- Have three direct debits set up to the account
- Have an additional financial product with Santander, such as a mortgage, loan or insurance policy.
If you don’t meet any of these requirements then you will be pay an account fee of €20 a month (or €240 a year). If you meet one of these requirements then you will pay an account fee of €10 a month.
Caixabank has attracted media attention recently for all the wrong reasons, after announcing they would start charging their less active customers €60 every three months in maintenance costs, just to hold an account with them. The only way to avoid this charge is to meet the criteria of a ‘loyal’ and active customer. This means that you should:
- Have a salary of pension of at least €600 a month deposited into your account OR
- have at least €20,000 in investment funds, pension plans or other financial products secured with the bank
- Have at least three direct debits OR
- Use your Caixabank bank card at least three times a month
If you fullfill the deposit criteria, but not the activity criteria then your account charge will be reduced to €15 every three months rather than €60. If you fulfill the activity criteria but not eh deposit criteria then you will be charge €36 every three months.
In 2021, Bankia and Caixabank will merge. That means that Bankia customers will now have to meet the same requirements as the Caixabank criteria detailed above.
Currently, customers of Bankia's Por Ser Tú accounts that don’t meet the requirements pay €168 a year in maintenance costs and €28 annually for their debit card. But you can avoid paying these charges by:
- Having your salary, pension or benefit deposited into the account
- Make a couple of purchases per month with your Bankia credit card OR
- Have an insurance policy with the bank OR
- Have €30,000 euros in investment products with the bank.
If you want to bank with theBanco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) but you don’t want to pay €100 a year in bank fees, then you will have to meet a series of requirements, depending on your age:
If you are between the age of 21 and 25:
-You must move to an online-only account offering no in-person customer service
-Take out a bank card with no limits
-Provide your phone number and email address to the bank.
If you are between the ages of 26 and 29:
-You must meet all the requirements of a under 25 account AND
- Add a credit card to your account that you use at least seven times during a four-month period
If you are over the age of 29:
-You must have a minimum salary of €800 a month paid into your BBVA account
-You need to have five bills set up as direct debits into the account OR
- Use a BBVA credit card at least seven times within a four-month period
If you have an account with a bankbook that you have used in the last year, and that you want to continue to use in 2021, then you will have to pay a fee of €10 euros a year. What’s more, In 2021, BBVA will also start charging €2 for every withdrawal under €2,000 at the bank counter and increase its fees for getting a bank teller to carry out a money transfer too. This is a decision that has been criticized by Spanish consumer watchdog OCU as it is discriminatory towards the elderly and vulnerable who may struggle with online banking or cash-machine transactions.
Catalonia’s other big bank currently charges €15 every three months for Cuenta Expansión users who pay in €700 a month into the account, whereas those who don’t pay €30 every quarter (these charges don’t apply to under-29s).
For Sabadell’s special interest-bearing Plus account, the customer now has to have more than €30,000 in savings or investments in order to receive the interest attached to the account.
It is possible to get a fee-free account with Bankinter, but the Madrid-headquartered bank requires customers who have a Cuenta Nómina (Salary Account) to pay in a salary of at least €800 monthly and to set up direct debit payment of bills with them or use their Combo credit card three times in three months.
Those who don’t meet these requirements have to pay €45 a year in maintenance costs and €60 for the credit card. The only positive to draw is that the minimum salary to avoid extra fees has been reduced by €200 from the previous €1,000 requirement, meaning that the account is now more accessible to those with modest incomes.
Unicaja is a convenient choice if you live in Malaga, as they are a Malaga based bank. The bank is currently in negotiations with Liberbank and currently has a 'Zero Commission Plan' account for customers over the age of 28 who don’t want to pay €84 a year in maintenance costs. In order to qualify for one of these accounts, you need to:
- Have a salary of at least €600 directly deposited into your account every month
- Spend at least €1,200 a year with Unicaja cards.
The fee is also scrapped for those who have an insurance policy or other products with the bank worth more than €30,000, and can be reduced to €60 a year for those who have more than €20,000 in Unicaja products.
Abanca have recently changed their bank fees, with many customers holding ‘zero commissions’ accounts now having to pay a quarterly € 50 bank fee. The new conditions to avoid paying these fees are:
- To have a salary or pension set up as a direct deposit into the account and to maintain an average monthly balance of at least €500 in savings accounts with Abanca.
- To meet one of the following criteria - make annual purchases worth €2,000 with an Abanca credit card OR spend €1,200 with the credit card and have an insurance policy, OR have two insurances through the bank, OR maintain a monthly balance of at least € 30,000 in savings OR maintain an average monthly balance in investment funds, savings, insurance or pension plans worth at least €8,000.
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