Banks in Spian

By | April 28, 2011

Banks

Geoffrey Donoghue of Always Marbella property sales and rentals, reports on the latest news and events. For more information please visit Always Marbella’s website at www.alwaysmarbella.com

General
Types of Bank
Types of Account
Opening an Account
International Bank Code
Transfers of Funds
Standing Orders
Bank Statements
Cheques
Bank Cards
Cash Machines
Online Banking
Mortgages/Loans
Investment Advice
Bank Charges
Choosing a Bank
United Kingdom in Spain
Vocabulary

General
The banking system is well established and modern and compares favourably with those of northern European countries in terms of facilities offered. The variety of different banking organisation is staggering, including some familiar international names, but all banking activity is controlled by the Bank of Spain (Banco de España), which has its central office in Madrid and branches in all provincial capitals.

Choosing a bank can be difficult. New members of a community would be wise to ask the advice of local residents before making a choice. Also talk to the Manager, (most speak good English), and ask detailed questions about the facilities available and the bank charges. Another important factor for Internet users is the quality of online services provided by the bank.

Types of Bank
Clearing Banks
There were once numerous different clearing banks. This has changed considerably in recent years as many banks have merged or been bought out by a larger bank. At present the two banking giants in Spain are the BSCH (Banco de Santander y Central Hispano), which resulted from the merger of the Santander, Central and Hispano banks, and the BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria), which is again the product of two major banks including the originally state-owned Argentaria.
Other important banks in Spain include the Banco de Andalucía, Banco Atlántico and Banco Zaragozano. Most large towns have at least one branch of the main banks and in cities there are several branches. Smaller towns usually have a very limited number of banks (perhaps just one) and villages sometimes have none at all.
Foreign Banks
There are foreign banks that operate in Spain, although they tend to be concentrated mainly in coastal resort areas and in the large cities. British banking is represented by Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland (affiliated to the Santander bank) and Solbank, owned by Banco Sabadel. The American banks, Citibank and Chase Manhattan, are also present. Other foreign banks include Deutsch Bank (which has an agreement with the Spanish Post Office) and several Arab and Scandinavian banks. But remember they still operate under the control of the Bank of Spain.
Savings Banks
Savings banks (known as cajas de ahorro) are very common in Spain and apart from the Catalan La Caixa and Caja Madrid that are both present in most of the country, tend to be regional or provincial. Savings banks also act as charitable institutions and invest part of their profits in social and cultural associations. In Andalucia the main savings banks are Caja Rural, Caja Mar, Caja Sur and UniCaja (originally from Malaga province), La General (from Granada), Caja San Fernando (from Cadiz) and El Monte (from Seville and Cordoba). Savings banks usually offer a very high level of service and tend to charge less than the clearing banks.
Offshore Banks
Many ex-patriots living on the Costa del Sol have found it convenient to open accounts at banks in nearby Gibraltar, for many varied reasons. Be aware that from 1st July 2005 a European Union directive came in to force which requires banks within the EU, (of which UK, Spain and Gibraltar are members), to share information about interest earned on deposits.
In a bid to combat illegal money laundering, Gibraltar banks are required to ask account holders to provide some detailed questions concerning there identification, permanent address and account movements.

Types of Account
Current Account
A current account (cuenta corriente) usually carries a very low interest rate, if any. You can ask for a cheque book.
Fixed Deposit Account
A fix deposit account (cuenta de imposición a plazo) will give you interest depending on the time period of the deposit and the amount deposited. Banks can be bargained with about these conditions!
Savings Book Account
A savings book account (libreta de ahorro) usually carries a very low interest rate (if any), but does give you a continuous written record of your account, and in some cases can be used in cash machines for withdrawing money.

Opening an Account
Both residents and non-residents can open a bank account in Spain. You need to be over 18 and provide proof of identity such as a passport. If you’re a resident you’ll need to provide your residence card details. If you own property in Spain, the bank will probably also require your NIE (número de identificación de extranjeros), which all foreign property owners must have. You can open the account in person or by postal application, although this is probably only advisable as a last resort.

International Bank Code
The identifying number of your account is the same on the statement and chequebook. It is recommended that the entire number be used in all correspondence to avoid any confusion.
· Bank number,( Entidad) – first 4 digits
· Branch number, (Sucursal) – next 4 digits
· Control number, (Control) – next 2 digits
· Account number, (Cuenta) – last 10 digits

Transfers of Funds
No Restrictions – EU and EES
There are now practically no restrictions or formalities to transferring funds to and from Spain from other countries of the European Union and the EES.
Transfers Outside The EU
If you want to make transfers to or from countries outside the Community area, consult your Spanish bank.
Transfer of Pensions – Varying Rates of Commission
Some banks are still charging heavy commissions on transfers of pensions from abroad. Other banks do not charge on such transfer. It pays to find out the conditions offered by the different financial institutions.
Via Internet
Most banks have a facility for transferring funds easily via the internet.
Standing Orders
You can order the bank to regularly pay certain bills when they come due – local taxes, refuse collection, electricity, water, phone, etc – by filling in a form supplied by the bank or the business billing you. Both the bank and the billing business must be informed of this standing order.
You must make sure that you have sufficient funds to pay such standing orders or you may arrive at your home to find essential services shut off for lack of payment (often requiring a reconnection fee!). Banks have been known to make mistakes resulting in the same unpleasantness!
Bank Statements
These can be requested from all Spanish banks. The format and period covered by the statement will vary. Online banking systems can provide statements directly from your personal computer for variable periods, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Cheques
Use A Ball Point Pen
Write cheques only in ball point pen or ink (never in pencil or typewriter with erasable ribbon!).
Do Not Make Cheques Out to the Bearer, (“al Portador”)
Write (or accept) a cheque to the person/business that is to receive payment, and not to “al Portador”, (bearer).
Restricting The Cheque To Named Person Or Business
To ensure that a cheque can only be deposited to the account of the person or business to which it is made, write “a abonar en cuenta” (to be credited to the account of) before the name of the recipient, or cross the front of the cheque with two parallel lines.
Precautions
Do not leave spaces which may be used for increasing the amount. Guard blank cheques, destroy excess cheques, and never leave a blank signed cheque with anyone.

Writing a cheque without funds in the bank is illegal.
Bank Cards
Foreign Credit Cards
As an expatriate or tourist you may have brought credit cards with you to Spain and found that you were able to use these cards to withdraw money from Spanish cash machines without a problem. You should be aware, however, that hidden commissions can be involved in these transactions.

It so happens that all banks in Spain belong to banking networks. The largest of these networks are known as ‘4B’ and ‘Servired’. Local bank consumers know which network their bank belongs to and usually try to only use the Cash Machines associated with their network – in order to avoid paying extra fees.

The bank that issued your credit card in your home country probably belongs to an international banking network. And this network could very well be networked with one of the Spanish networks. This would then entitle you to use either 4B or Servired machines without additional fees.

However, to take advantage of this option, you need to work with your home bank in order to find out which network you belong to. On the contrary, you will be subject to fees that vary from bank to bank – and which are often difficult to uncover, even via direct query.
Spanish Bank Cards
Spanish residents or non resident home owners who have a Spanish bank account will consider applying for a Spanish Credit Card. They are effectively managed by the host credit company – i.e. Visa or Master Card. They can be used to purchase goods and services, (including online shopping), or withdraw money from a cash machine.
Very often a one line summary of your credit card purchases will appear on your bank statement, whilst a separate detailed credit card statement will be posted to you.
Note: not all credit cards are accepted for online purchases. Cards issued by the bank backed by Visa and Master Card will almost certainly be accepted by most online companies.
Spanish Debit Cards
These operate very much as in the UK, in that transactions will be accepted as long as your current account balance is sufficient to cover the amount required.
Using Your Card in Shops, Restaurants & Petrol Stations
Be aware that many shops and supermarkets will ask for formal identification, or request your PIN no. via online terminals, when making purchases by cards. Most restaurants accept credit or debit cards without identification, or PIN no.. Most petrol stations will accept credit cards, but will ask you to type in your PIN no.
Lost or stolen cards should be reported immediately to your bank or credit company, so that they can be annulled. This can often be performed online. Normally, a new card will be issued within a short period.

Cash Machines
There are numerous Cash Machines in Spain and you can even find them in larger villages, although you shouldn’t count on this, especially in rural Spain. Spanish Cash Machines are very sophisticated and start by offering you a choice of language (usually English, French, German or Spanish). Instructions are easy to follow and self-explanatory.
Three ATM networks operate in Spain –4B (the most common), ServiRed and 6000. You can generally use any ATM to access money from your account, although if the ATM you use isn’t one linked to your bank there may be a charge. Some banks allow you to make three withdrawals a month from ‘foreign’ Cash Machines before they charge you. Others are not so generous. Because of this, you may wish to consider opening a bank account with the bank owning your nearest or most convenient ATM.
As well as straight-forward cash withdrawals, some Cash Machines allow you to carry out a wealth of other transactions including paying cash into your account, consulting your balance or most recent movements, renewing your mobile phone card or making theatre, cinema and sporting events reservations.
Online Banking
Vast Improvements
In recent years the Spanish banks have made great strides in enabling clients to manage their accounts from the comfort of their own homes, by providing access via the Internet. In conjunction with the wide use of cash machines, the necessity of physically visiting your branch has been reduced to a minimum. The current situation compares very favourably to that of 20 odd years ago when the simple task of withdrawing funds from your account, was complicated and very time consuming.
Facilities Offered
Here is a summary of some of the online banking facilities offered by many of the banks:-
· Statement of Accounts by variable periods
· Bank Card information
· Various types of national and international transfer of funds
· Bank loan information
· Standing Orders information
· Mobile phone charging.
Going Online
Contact your bank for an application to go online. As a security measure, the bank will normally post to your User Code and Password. (You can normally modify one or both of these at your will). Ensure that your password is kept secure. In addition, you will be provided with an extra security password, used for transactions that result in withdrawal from your account, (also modifiable at any time by yourself).
Each time you wish to access your account you need to enter your User Code and Password. From then on you can perform “passive” tasks, such as checking the account movements and printing statements. Each time you wish to transfer funds or charge your mobile, you must provide the extra security password, (sometimes via some very convoluted security procedures!).
Many banks provide multi-lingual screens for ease of operation by the non-Spanish speakers.

Mortgages/Loans
The building society concept, traditionally popular in the UK, does not exist in Spain. (The nearest equivalent is the Spanish Savings Bank, “Caja de Ahorro”). Thus the mortgage and general loan role are taken up by the banks.
The mortgage market in Spain has opened up considerably in recent years and now all banks generally offer mortgage facilities to both clients and non-clients, although obviously clients receive more favourable terms. In order to obtain a mortgage from a bank in Spain you must be over 25 and have a fixed employment contract or have been self-employed for at least 3 years. Residents can theoretically borrow up to 90% of the value of the property, although the amount is usually nearer 70 or 80% and the actual amount lent will depend on your income. Non-residents can usually only borrow up to 60% and 50% maximums are also common. Note that not all banks will lend to non-residents. Mortgages are available for up to 25 years, although 10 or 15-year mortgages are the most common.

Investment Advice
Most banks offer some type of investment advice service. However, expatriates living in Spain tend to consult one of the many private investment companies.
Bank Charges
Bank charges vary considerably from bank to bank and even from branch to branch. Before opening an account, enquire in detail on this subject. It is a very important factor in choosing a bank.
Choosing a Bank
If you have read and digested all the above sections, you will have ascertained that choosing a bank and branch in Spain can be complicated and in any case will depend on individual requirements. Good advice if you move to a new area is to start by asking for recommendations from the local ex-patriots.
Here is a summary of the factors involved:-
· Location
· Ease and cost of transferring funds
· Interest rates on Saving Accounts
· Bank Charges
· Bank Card facilities
· Cash Machine Charges
· Online facilities
· Mortgage/Loan facilities
· Helpfulness of staff
· English spoken
Final piece of advice – visit the branch a few times to see how busy it gets – periodic long waits in queues are a pain!

Vocabulary

Spanish

English

aceptar

to accept, ok (computers)

ahorrar

to save money

ahorros

savings

alta

commence a contract or service

amortización

paying up a loan

año

year

apertura

opening, commencement

archivo

file, record

atención al cliente

customer service

aviso

advice

baja

finish a contract or service

banco

bank

bolsa

bag, stock exchange

caja

box, bank, safe

cajas de ahorro

savings bank

cajero automatico

cash machine

cambio

change, currency exchange

carta

letter

casa

house

clave

password

cliente

client

cliente particular

personal client

cola

queue

comercio

business

compra

purchase

comprar

to purchase

concepto

transaction code or description

contratar

to make a contract

contrato

contract

contravalor

converted value

correo

post, mail

correr riesgo

to run a risk

correspondencia

correspondence

cotizaciones

quotes

cuenta

account

cuenta corriente

current account

cuenta/tarjeta de cargo

the account or card from which money will be withdrawn

saldo actual

current balance

valor

date when a deposit starts to accrue interest

datos

data, information

depósito, entrada

deposit, down payment

descargar

download

descuento

discount

desde

from, since

dia

day

dinero

money

director

manager

disponible

available

domicilio, direccion

address

empresa

business, company

empresa

company, firm

empresario

business man

en casa

at home

entidad

bank no.

fecha

date

financiación

finance

firma

signature

fiscalidad

fiscal

fondo

fund

forma de pago

payment plan

gasto

expense

gestion

manage

hasta

until

hipoteca

mortgage

horario

opening hours

iban no.

international bank account number

importe

amount

imprimir

print

impuesto

tax

interes

interest

inversion

investment

mes

month

modalidad de pago

payment method

movil

mobile (phone)

movimientos

transactions, movements

mundialmente

internationally

operador

operator, operating company

ordenar

sort

pago

payment

pais

country (e.g. France)

plazo fijo

fixed rate

por escrito

in writing

pregunta

question

prestamo

loan

prima

premium

realizada

performed correctly

recarga de móvil

recharge mobile

recibo

receipt

renta

rent, tax return, profit

rentabilidad

profitable

saldo

balance

se vende

for sale

seguro/a

safe (ie safe investment)

seguros

insurance

semana

week

servicios

services, toilets

solicitud

application

statement

extracto de cuenta

sucursal

branch

suscripción

subscription

tarjeta

card

tarjeta de credito

credit card

tarjeta de debito

debit card

titular

account holder

transferencias

transfer

usuario

user

vencimiento

expiry date

vender

to sell

venta

sale

ventaja

advantage

English

Spanish

account

cuenta

account holder

titular

address

domicilio, direccion

advantage

ventaja

advice

aviso

amount

importe

application

solicitud

at home

en casa

available

disponible

bag, stock exchange

bolsa

balance

saldo

bank

banco

bank no.

entidad

box, bank, safe

caja

branch

sucursal

business

comercio

business man

empresario

business, company

empresa

card

tarjeta

cash machine

cajero automatico

change, currency exchange

cambio

client

cliente

commence a contract or service

alta

company, firm

empresa

contract

contrato

converted value

contravalor

correspondence

correspondencia

country (e.g. France)

pais

credit card

tarjeta de credito

current account

cuenta corriente

current balance

saldo actual

customer service

atención al cliente

data, information

datos

date

fecha

date when a deposit starts to accrue interest

valor

day

dia

debit card

tarjeta de debito

deposit, down payment

depósito, entrada

discount

descuento

download

descargar

expense

gasto

expiry date

vencimiento

extracto de cuenta

statement

file, record

archivo

finance

financiación

finish a contract or service

baja

fiscal

fiscalidad

fixed rate

plazo fijo

for sale

se vende

from, since

desde

fund

fondo

house

casa

in writing

por escrito

insurance

seguros

interest

interes

international bank account number

iban no.

internationally

mundialmente

investment

inversion

letter

carta

loan

prestamo

manage

gestion

manager

director

mobile (phone)

movil

money

dinero

month

mes

mortgage

hipoteca

opening hours

horario

opening, commencement

apertura

operator, operating company

operador

password

clave

paying up a loan

amortización

payment

pago

payment method

modalidad de pago

payment plan

forma de pago

performed correctly

realizada

personal client

cliente particular

post, mail

correo

premium

prima

print

imprimir

profitable

rentabilidad

purchase

compra

question

pregunta

queue

cola

quotes

cotizaciones

receipt

recibo

recharge mobile

recarga de móvil

rent, tax return, profit

renta

safe (ie safe investment)

seguro/a

sale

venta

savings

ahorros

savings bank

cajas de ahorro

services, toilets

servicios

signature

firma

sort

ordenar

subscription

suscripción

tax

impuesto

the account or card from which money will be withdrawn

cuenta/tarjeta de cargo

to accept, ok (computers)

aceptar

to make a contract

contratar

to purchase

comprar

to run a risk

correr riesgo

to save money

ahorrar

to sell

vender

transaction code or description

concepto

transactions, movements

movimientos

transfer

transferencias

until

hasta

user

usuario

week

semana

year

año

For the best properties directly from the bank with 100% mortgages in place, please contact Geoffrey Donoghue office: 0034 952 814144 mobile: 0034 670 637 025

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