banks in spain

Spanish Mortgages

For those looking to purchase a property outside the United Kingdom, Spain is still a firm favourite. A huge volume of holidaymakers head for Spain every year and it is generally considered to be a safe and well-trodden route.

Banks in Spain

Get a Free Quote Introduction to Spanish Banking
There really is no shortage of Spanish banks prepared to offer mortgages to foreigners buying property in Spain. Broadly speaking, mortgages are available from banks and savings banks (referred to as Cajas) and can be obtained directly from the banks or through mortgage brokers.

Types of Banks in Spain
All banks are regulated by the Bank of Spain, located in Madrid, in a similar way to the Bank of England in the UK. In Spain, banks are split into two separate categories, .clearing・ and .savings・ banks, with branches located throughout the country.

In terms of clearing banks, Spain is dominated by two main banks, BSCH (Banco de Santander y Central Hispano) and the BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria), which are the result of several different mergers, over the years. Today, it is possible to find branches of one or both of these two banks in all major cities and in most provincial towns.

Savings banks, referred to as Cajas de Ahorro, are operated on a more regional basis with the exception of Catalan La Caixa and Caja Madrid, both of which are national chains. Clearing banks often offer a savings facility meaning that pure savings banks tend to be less popular than clearing banks. Often, savings banks incorporate a charitable side and have a social or cultural association which can appeal to local residents and customers.

Of considerable interest to foreign investors is the large number of foreign banks that operate throughout Spain. Although the names are extremely familiar, such as Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Abbey and Halifax, they are generally not run directly by their British parent companies and, therefore, may not offer the exact same services and standards. So, make sure you consider each bank independently before signing up!

Bank Charges
Bank charges in Spain are considered to be extremely high and most clients are charged for basic services such as paying in cheques and transferring money. Make sure that you always request a breakdown of the fees you have been charged and don・t be afraid to negotiate with the appropriated bank manager as they usually have much more discretion than their UK counterparts.

Other Considerations
In order to open a bank account in Spain, you must be over 18 years old and will need proof of identity. You will also need to prove residency. Or, if you already own property in Spain, you will be required to provide them with your NIE (numero de identificacion de extranjeros), which you will have to obtain as part of the property purchasing process.

Summary
Bullet Point Banks in Spain fall roughly into two categories: clearing and savings; clearing being the more popular and nationally based. Savings banks tend to be more regional and have charitable associations.
Bullet Point bear in mind that bank charges in Spain may be higher than you are used to in the UK and these charges should be monitored carefully; feel free to negotiate with the bank manager!
Bullet Point opening an account is reasonably easy and can often be done remotely.

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