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Spanish banks guide
Spanish Banks and English Banks with branches in Spain

Written by stevenhall@navegalia.com
Steven Hall has given permission for this article to be published here, for which I thank him very much. The article is copyright to Steven Hall, and his permission should be sought before it is reproduced elsewhere

The Spanish banking system has progressed massively over the past few years. A system which was, to be kind, over-staffed and inefficient is a now slick and modern,
In the main tourist towns and villages you will find staff who speak excellent English and almost everywhere you will find staff who can conduct all standard banking tasks in English.

UK residents can open an account with a Spanish bank very easily and will quickly be offered credit and debit cards, deposit accounts and everything else that a major UK High Street bank offers. Please be aware that cheque books are not widely used in Spain and cash (even for large amounts) and transfers are by far the norm. Bank transfers are relatively inexpensive in Spain and funds are treated as cleared funds. On the other hand paying a UK cheque in to your Spanish bank is STILL a long and tedious business.

Several of the English banks have got Spanish operations BUT – a word of warning – the Spanish banks are completely separate and you will need to open a new account
in Spain. Additionally, several of the Spanish banking groups have specifically targeted ex-pat customers and offer a full range of services in a variety of languages. CAM and Solbank, in particular, have worked extremely hard to attract international customers. Most banks now have internet and telephone banking facilities and often you can choose which language you wish to work in. Another massive change is the amount of credit that is offered to non-Spaniards. Historically, mortgages were difficult to get and were generally for a maximum of 10/15 years and/or for a maximum of 70%. This has all changed – even 100% mortgages are available and all the payment terms and conditions are MUCH more flexible. Now, in 2004, they WANT your business. Ensure that you have a mortgage solution that suits you. If you are not happy ask again and/or somewhere else

Despite improvements in banking services, transferring money from the UK to Spain can be slow and extremely expensive. Certainly if you are looking to transfer a substantial amount, you should get several quotes. A recent survey (Financial Mail on Sunday 30 May 2004) proved that on the transfer of 100,000 GBP you could save or gain more than 1,000 GBP depending on with whom you chose to transfer this money. Recently several major currency transfer organisations have opened and these can offer very attractive rates on larger amounts. They do not offer full banking facilities but for house purchases etc you could easily save several hundred euros. Currencies Direct www.currenciesdirect.com on 0034 96 570 7971 or 0044 207 813 0332 have consistently offered some of the very best rates available.

A word of warning. Estate agents in Spain may tell you that you “should” bank with “x” or “y”. Treat this information with extreme caution. To start off with, it might be convenient to bank with the agent’s recommendation. Thereafter, I would strongly suggest that you ensure that you have the best deal in town. Bank managers in Spain have much more autonomy than in the UK. The branch that you are with is probably more important than the actual banking group you choose. You would normally want one close to your home where they speak English and which offers internet and telephone banking facilities.

Recommendations - Banco de Valencia, Doña Pepa
Sol Bank, Punta Prima


 


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