THE BANKING SYSTEM IN SPAIN

October 16, 2020
Spain has a large English-speaking expat community and there are many banks in Spain that accommodate to the needs of foreigners, with processes for opening and managing an account easier than in many other European countries.

The Spanish banking system offers a selection of banks to choose from, including private, state-owned, international, cooperative, and mobile banks in Spain. The banking industry in Spain, which had expanded significantly early in the 21st century, has shrunk since the 2008 crisis, with many regional savings banks either closing or merging with other banks.

The Spanish central monetary authority is Banco de España, which operates as the national supervisor of banks in Spain within the framework of the Eurozone‘s Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). Established in Madrid in 1782, Spain’s central bank is currently a member of the European System of Central Banks.

The Spanish banking system is fully incorporated with international financial markets and includes credit, stock and money markets, as well as markets for derivatives.

Spain has several big national high street banks (“bancos”), including banks that operate in other countries. The bigger banks in expat-populated cities are likely to have English-speaking services designed towards the needs of foreign nationals. The usual opening hours for banks in Spain is from 08:30-14:30.

The main Spanish banks are:
  • Banco Santander
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA)
  • Caixabank
  • Bankia
  • Banco de Sabadell

There are also many smaller regional banks (“cajas”) in Spain. These are mostly state-owned or cooperatives and run mainly as savings banks. These banks do not normally offer the same range of services as “bancos” and other types of banks in Spain, and are less prone to have English-speaking services, although you could find it easier in more touristic areas.

You can find several big-name multinational banks in Spain which have branches in major cities and towns. These banks have similar opening hours as Spanish banks and will normally offer a range of expat-friendly services. Some of the biggest international banks in Spain are:
  • Barclays
  • Citibank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
  • ING

Regarding online banks, Spanish residents can also choose to open an account with an online or mobile provider that gives them greater access to their account and access to services at a low cost. Available online banks in Spain include:
  • N26
  • Revolut
  • Transferwise

You can have a look at our guides and comparison for different financial products offered by the biggest brands here.

 

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