If you want to live in Malaga for long-term, you will need a bank account and a bank card. Of course, you can keep using your foreign account and card but that is usually more expensive and less comfortable than having a Spanish account. However…
Opening a bank account in Malaga can be straight pain in the ass if you don’t know where to go and what to do. Of course, there people who tell that X bank is the best, and Y bank is the cheapest, but most of these people are living here for a long time already, they are registered residents, they have all the bureaucratic struggle behind us, that makes it easy for them to do anything in Spain. After you’ve been living in Malaga for a year, you have a job, a NIE and residency, opening a bank account is indeed a piece of cake. But for someone who just arrived, it can be straight impossible.
When I wanted to open my bank account, I visited 14 banks! All of them turned me down or their requirements were so out of this world that at the time it was impossible for me to deal with them. Strangely, requirements differ from branch to branch even if the belong to the same bank. I will tell you in a moment how to get your bank account, but before check this out…
How stupid Spanish bank tellers can be in Malaga?
I opened a bank account 2 years ago, I have money on it, I use the account and the bank card regularly. I even opened a second account because I started going business here as a sole-entrepreneur (autonomo) so I have a second business account for that. Everything was fine, until one day I decided to go not to my usual branch, but to another branch of the same bank:
– Hello, could you please give me a “proof of address” document, I need it to register on a website. I have an account in this bank, so please print me a bank statement or something with my address on it. Here is my bank card, my ID and my residency card with my NIE. Thank you!
– Can I have your passport?
– No, I don’t have a passport.
– But I need your passport.
– It’s a requirement.
– No it’s not.I am already your customer and I opened not one, but both of my accounts with my national ID. If it was a requirement, then I would not have the accounts in the first place.
– If you are abroad you need your passport.
– Not in the EU.
– Yes, in the EU you need your passport too.
– In which century? Sorry, but if you didn’t notice it yet, we are in 2018 and we have something called the European Union. As a citizen of the EU, I can go and do whatever I want with my national ID, without a passport, since we don’t have internal borders. Moreover, as you can see, I am a registered resident in Spain. At the police station when I applied for the residency they were perfectly fine with my ID. I am also a registered sole-entrepreneur in Spain, again, using my ID. I pay social security and I have a Spanish social security number, again… with my national ID. But most importantly, if you needed my passport, how the hell did I open the accounts in another branch of your bank in the first place? They have different rules?
– I don’t know, we have this rules here.
– Then, have a good day… I go to the other branch, where they are more helpful to customers.
In the other branch I got the bank statement printed immediately without any objection. As you can see, it does matter which branch you go. At some places they don’t really speak English, while at other places they are simply stupid or lazy to help you. And this is true to all banks in my experience. For example, I wanted to open a bank account for a foreign company that is registered in another EU country. In a branch they told me it’s not possible, while in another branch they told me that everything is fine, just bring the corporate documents, not even Spanish translation is required if the documents are in English.
Now, that you understand what is going on in Malaga, it’s time to…
Get a free bank account in Malaga, quick and easy!
Many banks offer free accounts, without monthly maintenance fees without transaction or bank card fees if you have your monthly salary coming to your account. Most of them are very strict about this, they don’t allow just any kind of income for this purpose, they require salary from an official company. So if you do translations online for example and you earn money on PayPal or something, they simply won’t accept the money from there as the obligatory monthly income, which is necessary to keep the account free. There is one bank however, that accepts any kind of incoming funds, even your personal cash deposits.
Their policy is simple: If you have at least monthly 700 euros landing on your account as a bank transfer or cash deposit from anywhere, by anyone, then your account if free, including the free bank card, free web bank access, free euro transfers within the EU, free cash withdrawal or deposit in any branch, free cash withdrawal in many ATMs around Spain. Also, you can close your bank account any time without any fees involved.
However! If you don’t have at least monthly 700 euros coming in to your bank account, they will charge a quarterly maintenance fee of 30 something euros, which is let’s face it, very expensive. But if you can keep 700 euros coming in, then you don’t have to worry about that.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, I visited 14 different banks in Malaga and this is the only bank where you can open a bank account even if you don’t have a NIE number. Also, they don’t have any crazy requirements, they are not interested in your taxes, your residency, nothing. They only need two things from you: Your passport or national ID if you are from the EU and proof of address in your country. Let’s say you are from Italy, in that case you will need your Passport because your paper national ID is a joke, and your driving license because that has your address on it. And that’s it! You are ready to open a bank account without any hassle!
When you open a bank account, you get IBAN number and the web-bank access immediately, and you receive the Bank card in mail to your Spanish address within a few days. The web-bank is available in 7 languages, including English. There customer service is also available in English on the phone, email and web-chat.
The bank card is a Mastercard with PayPass function. It’s a debit card by default but it’s embossed and it doesn’t say “debit card” on it, so they accept it better than the flat printed debit cards.
In Spain there are three ATM networks: Servired, 4B and Euro6000.
You can withdraw money without any commission from the ATMs of the banks in the Euro6000, the only requirements is that you need to withdraw more than 60 euros. In that case even if the ATM says that the bank will charge X amount for the transaction, you don’t have to worry about that, because your bank will pay the free instead of you, you won’t get charged any commission, your money withdrawal is free.
These banks use the Euro6000 network, therefore you can withdraw money at their ATMs without commission, if you withdraw more than 60 euros: Abanca, BMN, Ibercaja, KutxaBank, Unicaja, Liberbank, Caja España-Duero, CajaSur, Caixa Ontinyent, Colonya Caixa Pollença, Bankia.
So this is the offer of my bank. I am not saying that they are the best bank, personally I believe that all banks are just leeching on us, they are the necessary bad in life, since without a bank account you can’t do pretty much anything. So if you like what I described above about the free account, the free bank card with the required 700 monthly incoming funds, then I can recommend Bank Sabadell, but not every Branch of them. As you read in my story above, they can be plain stupid if you go to the wrong place.
If you want to open a bank account smoothly, without any hassle, without crazy requirements and presenting a ton of documents, then go to this branch: Calle Hilera, 2, 29007 Málaga.
Ask for Javier Martos Ojeda, because he speaks English well and tell him that you are from the Surviving Malaga website so you will get VIP attention. You are not the first going there to open a bank account, he has experience with Expats, he understand our struggle and he doesn’t try to chase you away like other bank tellers do in other banks.
As you can see, having a NIE is not necessary to open your bank account, but it can come handy in many cases. If you don’t know what a NIE is, please check out our article that explains: what is a NIE and what is it good for, and if you would like to get one, then here is our step-by-step guide to get a NIE in Malaga for you.