Need help opening a bank account in Spain? You can start with this guide to banking in Spain for international students.
Should You Open a Bank Account in Spain?
Before you open a bank account, it would be wise to ask yourself first: do you need one? The answer will depend largely on how long you will be staying in Spain. If, for example, you are only staying in Spain for a short-term study program, such as a language program, summer program, or exchange program, which may last for two to eight weeks, then a bank account won’t be necessary. Bringing some cash (in Euro) and credit or debit cards, would be enough.
On the other hand, if you are staying in Spain for one year and more, then opening a bank account is necessary. In case you are planning to stay much longer in Spain to work after graduating, opening a bank account while studying is a good way to start saving your money early and earn higher interest rates in the future.
In case you are still thinking about it, here are other things you can do with a Spanish bank account:
- Pay less when purchasing in Spain, or when withdrawing money (no need to convert the currency, and no need to pay extra for foreign fees)
- Access your wage through the bank if you’re a working student
- Conveniently pay your tuition fees, housing fees, and utility bills
- Easily ask for assistance in case of a problem
- Easier transactions, such as buying food or reserving a ticket
Bank Accounts in Spain
If you’re planning to open a bank account in Spain, you can choose between these three: a current account, a savings account, or a digital account.
Current accounts, also known as checking accounts, are usually the cheapest type of account you can open in Spain. Through a current account, some of the daily banking activities you can do are the following:
- Receive your wages
- Make a purchase
- Pay for food
- Pay your rent and utilities, and so on
Savings account in Spain lets you save money that you don’t have plans of using immediately. This is good for students who have plans to stay in Spain for more than one year, to ensure they get enough time to earn interest.
Digital banking has become quite common in Spain these days. Digital banks make it easier for international students to access all their bank needs through their smartphones. Also, digital banks tend to be cheaper, in terms of the services it offers compared to traditional banks. The only difference is that they don’t have a physical office you can go to, and may only have to call their customer service in case of an issue. The three popular online banks in Spain are the following:
How to Open a Bank Account
To open a bank account in Spain, you only need the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Proof of housing (e.g. utility bill)
- Letter from your institutions
- Foreigner identification number or NIE (numero de identificacion de extranjeros)
- Proof of employment (if applicable)
- Cash for your initial deposit (if applicable)
Banks in Spain
There are a lot of banks in Spain and looking at all of them may be overwhelming for international students. Below are some of the banks in Spain that are expat- or international student-friendly.
- Santander Bank
- BBVA Bank Spain
- Bankia Spain
- La Caixa Bank
Aside from banking in Spain, students can also check other tips about living abroad here at MSM Unify. To start, check out our article on Must-Do Things in Spain for International Students to start.