by Victor Sesma
Victor Sesma is an Alicantinian living in London. He is a Software Engineer who likes writing about the city he was born.
All banks around Europe and the western world are very similar but it is a sector where different countries have different brands and each city has a different amount of branches for each bank. In addition, each bank has a different personality. If you are about to move it is good for you that you know the characteristics of banks in Alicante, Spain.
One of the first things to point out is that some banks will ask you to have
In Alicante, there is a total of 171 traditional bank branches across the city. All big banks try to have, at least, a branch in each important city so it might be useful to open an account in one of the most popular entities.
It is important to mention that many banks in Spain usually charge a fee for taking out money from the cash machine from different banks’ ATMs. If getting cash out is essential to you you might double-check that before opening a bank account in traditional entities. Probably ING is the one on the list with the most flexible conditions to access cash for free. This is a typical characteristic of Banks in Alicante, Spain
Traditional banks in Spain have most of the market. The Spanish tend to be more conservative than other nationalities when we speak about financial products and banks. That means that everybody will recommend you and propose to you to open an account in one of the most traditional banks as this is what they use and know. That will give you some advantages:
The biggest Spanish banks have teamed up to offer a service called
Incredibly, the transactions in Spain between different entities can take up to 3 days to complete. This situation has been changing in the last few years thanks to the introduction of a new transfer banking system called TIPS. This has been speeding up the transfers for the entities that have adopted the program. Traditional banks are more prepared and many times the money will arrive at the other account instantly… if both banks support the system. Small banks or
Traditional banks in Spain tend to be clunky. They all have an app for Android and iPhone but many times you still need to visit branches to open an account or get a new card. They are as well expensive.
The Spanish banks are very well known for having high commissions. It is very important that you triple-check the conditions and know if they will charge you money for having the account open, having a debit card or any other rule they might come with.
As well, it is very important that you understand where and where not you can take out money for free. They love competing between them by not allowing customers from other entities to take money out for free… and it can change overnight.
The other side of the coin is profitability. No bank in the world will do a good job out of your many in commissions but the Spanish are below average on it. The way they usually offer the better commissions is when buying a financial product, that might be risky or not, and you compromise your money for the fixed term… and they will try to sell you the financial products using the branches employees or their apps. Always double-check before buying any of this.
If you are from Europe you might know that transfers between the Eurozone are free of charge. Theoretically, the law is set to allow you to, for example, receive a salary in any euro bank even if it is not Spanish. The reality in Spain is that many systems are not adapted to this regulation and chances are that you might find issues using a bank with a foreign IBAN. Be sure that your bank (no issues if it is a traditional one) offers a Spanish IBAN starting with the international code “ES”.
Neobanks are small to mid-size companies that are irrupting into the financial sector all around Europe. They usually offer way better conditions than big banks. For example, in order to attract clients, they might waive for you the commission big banks take for taking your money out at the cash machine. Or you will be able to pay in a different currency for free. They are secure because all financial institutions must follow the rules for bank deposit guarantees that might apply in their countries of origin. That’s the quickest way to get yourself sorted almost hassle-free.
This is probably your best option. N26 is a bank and they offer Spanish IBAN. It is free to use. If you leave Spain after some time you can keep your account open as no fees are charged. In addition, the card is free to get, to use, and you can pay in different currencies for free as well. It is mailed to your post.
Any fee they might charge is communicated openly and transparently to you. They have an app and a website for accessing the online banking platform. Your money is guaranteed by the Compensation Scheme of German Banks. Up to €100.000. You can click here to open an account. Just so you know, I might do a bit of money if you use that link.
There are a few more digital banks that might look appealing. Revolut operates in Spain also. There are other Spanish start-ups such as Bnext.
Be aware of the differences these new banks have with traditional financial institutions such as Sabadell or Santander. They have IBAN numbers for their customers but Revolut and Bnext are not banks but electronic money services.
The settle difference means that they can not offer credits, loans or mortgages and the founds guarantees are slightly different. Your money is safe but they are not compatible with all payees, such as with government-transferred funds.
You are better set with a full bank such as N26, Openbank (Santander’s fully online brand) or ING as your main bank and then use the electronic money new banks as your secondary bank account.
Also, in Spain is very popular the usage of Bizzum. So when integrating with locals it is easier to have one account in one traditional bank to get access to the service.
I hope you have now a better idea of what are the characteristics of banks in Alicante, Spain. If you have any experience