Use this guide to find out how to save money and do finance in Spain in 2023, if you are thinking about becoming an expat, or are living in Spain.
Sterling. The Great British Pound. Whatever you want to call it, it’s quite a magical thing, really. It’s often quite hard to come by, it seems to get frittered away all too easily, and most people wish that they could always have more of it.
But what if you were thinking of becoming an expat?
What if you wanted to settle down in Spain?
How do you move money across to pay for that fabulous new property?
For day to day expenses, do you use an International account, Spanish account or an online account?
How do you open a Spanish bank account?
How do you go about transitioning yourself from using the Sterling you grew up with to the Euro you’ve only ever spent whilst on holiday?
Should you keep your British bank account open?
Can you get by quite easily with just using your UK-based debit card?
And is it really necessary to constantly work out how much the shopping would have come to in Pounds?
These and other questions are very important to ask, as all too often expats don’t consider the best way to move their money abroad, so save money and do finance for expats in Spain in 2022 by reading this guide.
Because maintaining your finances is so crucial, this in-depth post covers all about finances in Spain. This includes info on international bank accounts and how to open a Spanish bank account. Additionally, it shows you how to save money using professional money exchange services. Finally, you can learn about the revolutionary new money exchange apps now available on smartphones.
So read on to learn how to beat the bankers at their game, and save money when you are an expat in Spain.
Important : Whilst we have lived in Spain many years and may use some of the services outlined in this article, we are not, and never have been, financial advisors. You must always get independant financial advice from trained experts, and discuss your personal situation with a professional, before entering into any contract involving your money.
Keep Your UK Bank Account Open
First things first, it’s always worth keeping your existing bank account open back in the UK. Obviously, this makes sense if you intend to keep assets back home, like property. Or if you’ll be receiving regular payments into that account from a pension, or from a tenant. However, it also makes sense even if you won’t be keeping any links with the old country.
Keeping your UK bank account open means that if you return to Britain, you have an account already in place. For trips back to see family you can access Sterling without needing to exchange any currency. This is a good way to save money and do finance when you are an expat in Spain in 2023
Additionally, it’s also worth mentioning that any expat who who has lived outside the UK for more than a year will find it very difficult to open a new account if they come back.
It’s always a good idea to keep a bank account open for as long as you can anyway because it makes a positive impact on your credit rating and it helps build trust with the bank itself.
Before you leave for your new home, make sure you inform them of your new address abroad, for any important correspondence. Then set up internet banking, stop the paper statements, and use your internet to access the account easily in Spain.
Good To Know – Using Your UK-based Debit/Credit Card Abroad Incurs Fees
If you’re still going to be receiving income into your UK bank account, then it is possible for you to continue using your British debit or credit card whilst in Spain.
This can be quite handy because all you have to do is head to the nearest Cash Machine to get access to Euros. But remember, every time you use your UK-based debit or credit card you will be charged a fee. To see how much your bank will charge you, check out WeSwap’s list of card charges.
A Good Idea Before You Leave Is To Open An International Bank Account
As an expat settling in Spain, you will quickly realise how difficult it is to manage your money from a single currency bank account which is based about 2,000 km away from you, back in Britain. So the best thing to do, before you leave, is to open an international bank account, either with your current bank, or a new one if it has great introductory offers for you to benefit from.
An international bank account will enable you to access your money in whichever currency you need it in. These Euro accounts are provided by offshore divisions of UK high street banks. They typically come with the usual perks associated with a normal, British-based current account. They’re also great because they allow you to withdraw Euros at local cash machines, so avoiding the high currency conversion charges when using Sterling cards.
With these accounts though, it’s important to remember that you will likely have to pay a monthly or yearly fee to keep the account and its benefits open.
It’s worth noting that some international bank accounts are free if you keep a minimum amount of Sterling or Euros in the account.
If you are accepted, you will have the peace of mind which comes from being a customer of an established British bank. This usually comes with access to 24/7 online and telephone banking with English-speaking customer service).
The two main banks for Euro International Current Accounts, and which allow you to apply online, are Lloyds Bank and Barclays.
A European Online Bank Account in Euros – Why Not Try N26
N26 is a German-based online bank available in Spain, and is a good way to help you save money.
You can only apply for this bank account once you’ve got a permanent address in Spain. You can apply from your smart phone or tablet and the process is incredibly quick and easy.
After you’ve applied online, be prepared for a video call with an agent who will confirm your identity. You’ll need your passport to hand, proof of address and a smartphone with a decent camera.
The identification process is like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. You have a video call with a representative who instructs you to hold up your documents and then they take control of your phone, use it to capture a photo (as proof), which then gets uploaded to the computer they’re using.
After doing this and answering a few questions, your N26 MasterCard will be on its way. Unlike other international bank accounts, N26 offers fee-free banking and because you’ve got a European bank account, complete with IBAN, you can withdraw Euros from any Cash Machine, free of charge. Perfect!
How To Open a Spanish Bank Account
Once you’ve decided to become an expat in Spain, it’s a good idea to open a local bank account. As well as paying for regular services like water and electricity (through direct debits or ‘domiciados’), you’ll find that some companies will only deal with you if you have a bank account in Spain. The Banks in Spain are no different to any other country, and must abide by Spanish and European financial regulations.
It takes a couple of weeks to get your bank account sorted and for you to receive your bank card(s). The main difference between the Spanish banks and British ones is that they’re only open in the morning, usually 8.30am – 2pm.
Step One – Book an Appointment and Check Whether You’ll Need To Bring a “Certificado De No residente”
There are many banks in Spain, the main ones are:
Once you have chosen which bank you’re going to visit, it’s important to remember that you’re going to need a good understanding of Spanish to be able to talk to the advisor. However alot of the Spanish banks have staff members who speak English.
If you don’t know much Spanish, see if there is someone who does who can go with you. If you don’t, you may miss out on some really good deals.
Unless you are already a Spanish resident, you will have to open a Spanish bank account as a non-resident. Make sure the first question you ask when making an appointment at your chosen bank is ¿Tengo que presentar un certificado de no residente?” which means, “Do I have to present a non-resident letter?” If they say no, that will save you loads of hassle.
(This certifciate is basically a letter from the local Police Station which states that they have seen your passport, that it’s valid and that you’re not currently a resident. However, because the Spanish system is a little flawed, the responsibilities of the local police vary, seemingly at random. So don’t be surprised if you’re told to go to another station to get your letter. Oh and it’ll take 10 to 12 days to receive, too. So best avoided altogether if you can.)
Step Two – Attend Your Appointment and Bring ID With You
When it’s time to go to the bank, make sure that you take the following items with you, as sometimes Spanish banks require different documents:
- Photographic proof of identity (passport or National Identity Card from the country of origin for each of the applicants)
- Proof of occupation or status (employment contract/payslip, letter from accountant/lawyer, pension or disability payment confirmation, student card). This is an extra requirement introduced in 2007 by the Bank of Spain as a measure to combat money-laundering
- Residents also need to produce their Foreigner Identification Number ‘Residencia’ certificate (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros or NIE)
- Confirmation of address (utility bill, driving licence or council tax bill; proof of address must have been issued within the last 3 months)
Step Three – Choose Your Account
There are two basic types of account:
- Checking account aka Current account
- Passbook aka Savings account
It’s important to remember that Spanish banks love their fees. To open an account you must make a small deposit and you should be aware that there may be commissions for deposits, withdrawals and a maintenance fee.
Some banks will also require you to maintain a minimum balance, usually of at least 500 Euros, at all times.
Most Spanish banks charge an annual or quarterly fee for administration of a current account (cuenta corriente) and is typically 15–30 Euros. There are often additional charges for credit (tarjeta de crédito) and debit cards (tarjeta de débito) too.
Money Exchange Specialists
If you’re looking to make a large, one-off payment, as most will do to buy an apartment or villa, it may be worth considering using a trusted Money Exchange specialist. These professionals do finance as their job, and they will save you money by giving you fantastic exchange rates which are better than the banks.
Through our links with Move Assured, the professional trade association, Indalo Transport has partnered with RationalFX, to help you save money when moving your funds abroad. As well as being the UK’s largest specialist foreign currency provider, they’ve been around for over 35 years and now exchange £22bn for 2.4m customers per year.
RationalFX can help you to send money to Spain at much better rates than normal banks. If moving to or from Spain, they will help make sure it’s as pain-free as possible. If you want to find out more about the money exchange specialists that we trust, click here
New apps to save money
If you’re already an expat and looking for ways to really save money on your exchanges, the new apps from Transferwise (no simply ‘Wise’) or Revolut are fast & incredibly easy to use. Their bank-beating rates and low fees mean that you’ll be saving money every time you make a transfer,. It’s all done online rather than through a bank.
Revolut goes even further, as you can order a mastercard from within the app, and all the security and verification checks are also carried out using the camera on your smartphone – all you have to do is follow the instructions. Truly amazing!
Understandably, some people may find using an online financial service a tad risky. So, to help you save money and do finance for expats in Spain in 2023, we’ve put together a mini-guide on how to help tell whether the website you’re about to use is legitimate or not:-
1.Check the domain name
Every online store should have an SSL, a Secure Sockets Layer. This means that any information sent between you and the site becomes encrypted so hackers can’t intercept any of the data. Just look for the little padlock, and you’ll know the site is safe, secure and does what it says. Indalo Transport and Indalo Storage are both fully secure websites.
2. Look for spelling and grammar mistakes
Many sleek and professional looking websites can be created in one day. This is why so many bogus websites have sprung up, seemingly overnight. If English isn’t your first language the content you write never reads well to those whose native language it is. Also, if a site has been rushed there may be spelling and grammar mistakes.
3. Check the site for a privacy statement, blog, and in-depth information about the company and their products.
This information is usually found in the website’s footer or “About Page”, “Contact Us” page, or could come under “Terms and Conditions”. Reputable sites will tell you how they protect your personal information and secure your Credit or Debit card data – and whether they sell information about their customers to other companies. This is a disclosure statement and you should consider whether you feel comfortable with a site’s policy before using their services.
4. Check the images and the logos.
Are they low quality and hazy? If they are then the images may have been lifted from somewhere else. It is true that to keep http requests to a minimum and to increase site performance, online services shouldn’t be filled with huge, slow loading, HD-quality images. However, there are ways around this without having to impair the quality of the photographs.
5. Check to see if the money exchange site has an established date and contact details.
All legitimate companies will provide contact details and, in particular, a phone number and e-mail address. They will often urge you to get in touch if you have any questions or queries. The calls will always be answered, never diverted, and your e-mails will never get bounced back. So you can test this if you wish, first.
6. Check for genuine customer reviews.
Great online money exchanges which are trustworthy and deliver great service aren’t afraid to display reviews. Alternatively, type in the company name in a search engine and see if other customers have reviewed them.
Forget Your Own Currency Conversions
It’s always nice to feel like you’re saving money, or are getting a good deal, but in the end, Spain is your home now and the Euro is no longer just holiday money. You don’t need to compare prices to get by, you’ve just got to look at the 8L bottle of water and say, that’s 0.79cents, nothing more, nothing less, no other currency.
We hope that you have found our suggestions and guides useful and we wish you all the best with opening the bank account of your choice, and dealing with money exchange on a day to day basis.
We hope you enjoyed reading our guide – how to save money and do finance for expats in Spain in 2023.
If you’re thinking of moving to Spain, let us quote you for a stress free and professional removal of your lifelong possessions. Super fast quote form here
Important Note – Please Read: While we may love some of the resources mentioned in this blog post, none of the information in this blog post constitutes, nor should be construed as, financial advice. You must always satisfy yourself that the products and services you use are adequate, legal and do what you want them to do. Thanks for your understanding.
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