Open a bank account in Spain 2021 – Simple guide

Open a Spanish bank account guide cover

You are moving to Spain and all of a sudden you have a lot of things to figure out. Odds are you’ll need to open a Spanish bank account to get paid, make payments, etc.

All the paperwork might sound overwhelming at first, especially if you are not confident with your Spanish.

Well, I don’t blame you, it’s stressful to deal with these things. So I have created this simple guide to help you open a bank account in Spain in 2021.


What documents do I need to open a bank account in Spain?

It all comes down to one thing, are you a resident (you have a NIE) or are you a non-resident?

Let’s assume that you are in Spain for a few months and you are a non-resident. Residents are people who are registered and have been living in Spain for over six months.

In this case, you only need a few documents to open your Spanish bank account:

– Your passport.

– Proof of address (a bill works)

– Employment contract

– Certificate of non-residency, you can go to your closest police station and ask for certificado de no residencia, it’s 7€. The bank can take care of that for you, however, they usually charge about 15€ for the process.

They might require some documents translated into Spanish.

Once you have your non-resident bank account, you can change it to a resident Spanish bank account. You only need to take your NIE to the bank. The NIE is the card that proves you are allowed to remain in Spain for more than six months.

If you already have a NIE you can skip the non-resident part and open a Spanish resident bank account right away.

Spanish bank notes


How to open a bank account in Spain.

There are a few different types of bank accounts you can open in Spain. However, since this is a simple guide on banking in Spain, we’ll stick to how to open a Spanish checking account (cuenta corriente).

Do some research on which Spanish bank matches your needs best, gather all the documents and go to a branch of your chosen bank.

Tip: go to a branch in the city center, they are used to dealing with foreigners, so that’ll make it a little easier. Just in case, make sure to make an appointment and request an English speaker in advance.


Open the right Spanish bank account for you

I’ll cover 4+1 banks in Spain. The first four are good options if you are going to use cash on a regular basis. These banks have many ATMs around Spain where you can withdraw money for free.


Santander

Spanish bank Santander logo

Santander offers two accounts worth mentioning:

Cuenta mundo: if you are a non-resident this is the one to get. You’ll get free transfers and there’s no need for you to have a paycheck. The only qualm is the 10€ monthly fee.

Cuenta Smart: you can open this Spanish bank account if you are under 31. It’s free and they don’t charge any fees. You need to have your NIE to open this bank account, though.


BBVA

Spanish bank BBVA logo

Among the options that BBVA has to offer these are the best two:

Young Person’s Online Account: if you are under 30 you can open the Young Person’s Online Account which is similar to Cuenta Smart but you won’t need to have a recurring income.

BBVA – Cuenta online sin comisiones: this Spanish bank account has no fees and you can open it online and skip going to the branch. BBVA gives you three options to open this account:

  1. Transfer your entire account. (paycheck + bills)
  2. Bring your paycheck and income.
  3. Bring your bills.


What if I have a paycheck (nómina)?

BBVA Va Contigo Salary account: no fees if your paycheck is over 800€. Once again, if you are under 30 you should open a Young person’s Va Contigo Salary account.

BANKIA

Spanish bank Bankia logo

Bankia has two interesting accounts:

Cuenta Joven: if you are under 26 years old, with this Spanish bank account, you won’t have to worry about fees.

Cuenta fácil: this is the one I have. It charges 14€ per month. However, you can avoid fees if you get a credit card and make two payments a month using that card.


Banco Sabadell

Spanish bank Sabadell logo

Key account this product is meant for international customers. They charge 10€ a month as a maintenance fee.   

Cuenta Expansion: you need a salary over 700€ a month. In addition to that, they charge 15€ every three months.


ING

Spanish bank ING logo

ING Cuenta nómina. You need to have a paycheck of at least 700€.  If you come from outside the European Union, you’ll need your NIE.

You can do all the paperwork online. It only takes a few minutes, and there are no hidden fees.

Quick recap

BankSpanish AccountFeesRequirements
SantanderCuenta Mundo10€ a monthNon-resident
SantanderCuenta SmartNoUnder 31
BBVAYoung Person’s Online AccountNoUnder 30
BBVAOnline AccountNoPaycheck
BBVAVa ContigoNoPaycheck
BANKIACuenta JovenNoUnder 26
BANKIACuenta Fácil14€ a month*Paycheck
SabadellCuenta Expansión15€ trimesterPaycheck
SabadellKey Account10€ a monthNon-resident
INGCuenta nóminaNoPaycheck


Things to consider when opening a bank account in Spain: fees, ease of access, app, and more

It’s a fact, most banks charge fees for their services. These are the most common bank fees:

International banking fees: transferring money through your Spanish bank account is expensive. If you want to transfer money internationally do it through some other service like Transferwise. You can read more about it at the end of this post.

Account maintenance: this is a recurring fee in almost every bank in Spain. However, sometimes you may avoid this fee if you do a few things right like using your credit card*.

ATM: banks usually charge a small fee if you withdraw money from an ATM. The good news is withdrawing money is usually free when using an ATM on your bank’s network.

Taking money from a Spanish ATM

If you are a teaching assistant in Madrid, you might get paid by check, instead of a wire transfer. It really depends on your school.  It’s inconvenient, but there’s no much you can do about it… You’ll need to cash it out at the bank and then deposit the money in your Spanish bank account. That is the way to avoid extra fees.


I lost my debit card, what can I do?

Don’t panic! You’ll be fine. You may be able to cancel your card on the bank’s app. After that, your money should be safe.

If your Spanish bank app doesn’t have that feature, you’ll have to make a call. Regardless of the time of the day, call your Spanish bank to cancel your debit card. Banks usually have a 24h phone number. Here are the phone numbers for the banks covered in this guide:

– Santander 900 811 381

– BBVA 900 102 801

– Bankia 900 103 050

– Sabadell 900 712 356

– ING 91 206 66 66

Extra –While living in Spain you may want to make the most out of your time traveling around Europe. Euros is the currency in most European countries, however, for those that don’t use the Euro system, have a look at Revolut.

Revolut offers a card that allows you to pay in any currency without incurring exchange fees.


Change your dollars to Euros –Transferwise

At some point, you may need to exchange some money or make an international transfer.

I wouldn’t use your Spanish bank account for that. There are plenty of options out there that can save you a few bucks, have a look at Transferwise for example.

Do you have any questions on how to open a bank account in Spain? Let me know in the comments, I would be happy to help.


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