Newest Review: ... MY SON HAD MOVED. SO I OFFER THEM 1K IN FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT JUST TO MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR MY SON. I HEAR NOTHING FOR THREE WEEKS... more
Foreign Banking - a pleasure, not a chore:)
Other Banks and Building Societies
Member Name: spangle359
Other Banks and Building Societies
Advantages: lower charges, very accessible, very efficient
Disadvantages: shorter opening hours. masses of public holidays
Firstly, so many people are now moving over here, either to retire or simply just for a different way of life.
Secondly, many people have holiday homes in Spain and visit several times a year...often using their UK banks or credit cards and paying additional fees on exchange.
Thirdly, to highlight the difference between Uk and most Spanish banks.
Until fairly recently there were not many banks in Spain. There were a few main clearing banks and quite a lot of cashing banks (those ones couldn't organise loans, mortgages etc..in fact they weren't much use unless you wanted to operate a cashing account or a cheque book or exchange foreign currency). However, since becoming part of the EC and more recently, inclusion into the Euromarket, Spanish banking has changed beyond all recognition. I live in a large holiday resort and the number of banks is quite astonishing, every empty building seems to be turned into a bank. I cannot comment on all Spanish banks but I use Cajamar for my personal and business banking and have ocassion to use another two banks, Solbank and Banesto when needs must. Of all three banks, I prefer Cajamar but the basic principals of banking are the same in all banks.
The first thing that you notice upon entering a bank in Spain is that they are very well air-conditioned (in fact you often want there to be a long queue), then you notice the layout....no grills, windows or any other obtrusion between yourself and the cashier...usually a desk with a comfortable seat where you can rest and take your time with the transaction. Due to the large number of banks, there is never a big queue so that means that you receive a very personal service. When I opened the account in Cajamar, I was introduced to all of the staff including the manager, who invited me into his office for a coffee. We had a chat about our reasons for being in Spain and he gave me so much helpful information, things like where to register for schools, census etc. I was not opening the account with vast sums of money either...I was opening an account with the basic requirement of 300Euros.
Anyone can open a bank account in Spain as long as you have a passport and enough money to meet the banks account opening amount (usually 250-300 Euros) apart from children who can usually open an account with 1Euro.
I was issued with the forms and within 10 minutes of completing them, I had the new bank account, debit card (which is incidentally VISA and therefore can be used where other debit cards cannot), my pin number and had the cash machine set up for me so that no matter where in the world I used my card, the cash machine would default to English language. I was also issued with my secret login to their online bank and a statement wallet, card wallet, pens, keyrings and security codes. All very efficient and impressive.
Although you do need to have residential status to open a bank account (proof of accepted application is fine) you do need residential status if you wish to take out a loan, overdraft facility, mortgage or credit card..... it just means that when your money has gone, it has gone....kinda makes you think differently and certainly forces you to budget when there is no financial cushion of a bank loan or overdraft facility.
All the bank documents are offered in Spanish, English, French, Arabic, German, Italian and a host of other languages. Each branch has at least one very fluent English speaker who is familiar with British banking terminology. Most branches have a small number of staff but due to their being so many banks around, and with the vast usage of cash machines, branches are very rarely busy.
Paying in or withdrawing cash is very straightforward as with most banks.
Ordering new cheque books, cards etc., likewise. However there are two main differences between my bank and my old UK bank.
1. If I need to send money to the UK (family birthdays, christmas etc.) I am charged a flat rate of 3Euros..regardless of the amount. When the relative in the UK collects the money, they DO have to pay their bank commission. However, if I have money sent here, Cajamar just charge me 3 euros, regardless of the amount. I think this is an excellent way to encourage people to use the service.
2. If I forget to pay money in to cover a direct debit or a standing order and the order arrives, the bank just don't pay it..they return it, but, they don't charge me....I have no bank charges on a refused DD...(compare that to the UK when I used to get charged £33 per transaction if my salary went in late and some DD's were due.) The company that requested the failed payment then contacts you within 48 hours and you go to the bank and pay in person with no additional charges. I find the whole operation of handling cash very efficient. Online banking is very simple to operate and I can order all the usual services such as house/car insurance/life assurance etc. either online or in person. My account costs me €15 per annum per person in service fees and I don't get charged for withdrawals, DD's or SO's. we pay €30 per year between us and that covers everything including our cards.
All very positive, however, there are a few little niggles.....this is Spain and if you go into the bank expecting to be out in two minutes then you are in for a surprise. The cashiers want to speak to you, ask you about business, the family, your trips home etc. and if the phone rings, they answer it, yes, even the cashier does that..if one of their friends comes into the bank, they have a short break, quick cuddle with the friend, few minutes chat and then they get back to you....has never bothered me, but then I don't have the same need for speed that I had in the UK...actually I find the whole thing quite pleasant but I do see people (mostly UK'ers) getting quite frustrated with the whole thing.
Another little niggle is the opening hours...banks are open between 8.30 -2pm...very few open later than that and none are open on a Saturday. There is a strange system in a lot of the banks (although not mine) that you can only pay bills on a Tuesday and Thurday between 8-10am...after that, it is just tough, nothing will allow you to pay outwith those times. Another strange system in some banks is that they will only change coins on Mondays and Fridays 10-12noon. I think it is just to keep queues to a minimum. There are several "Saints" days in Spain and banks close on every one of them, so well worth checking in advance that they are open.
I would certainly recommend my bank, Cajamar, if you live in Spain, there are branches all over the country. If you intend coming here on a regular basis then I would open an account and transfer holiday money whenever you can...thereby building up a little holiday fund or, if you intend moving here...open an account and start building up the fund before you make the final move. You will find the bank very helpful and full of useful advice. I was very surprised and delighted when I found that I could operate a foreign bank account so much easier than my old UK one. Now I can speak Spanish and will prob have everything changed back to Spanish language but when you are new to a country, having an English speaking bank is a must and Cajamar more than fits the bill.
Thanks for reading
Summary: very eifficient banking system with very pleasant and approachable staff