Luxembourg is a powerhouse where banking is concerned. It is the world's 8th largest banking center. The city is home to more than 200 international and local banking institutions and 10 percent of the population is employed by a bank.
Banks are generally open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 16:00. Some banks may close for lunch. Cash machines located in the wall can be found everywhere in the city and are available 24 hours.
Banks offer a variety of services including personal and commercial banking, investment and insurance services, and personal, commercial and mortgage loans. Most banks have websites with useful information and the ability to do electronic banking. Credit and debit cards are widely available and accepted.
Personal accounts are generally more expensive in Luxembourg than in the UK or USA. A standard account costs between 50 and 100 euros a year depending on the bank. This would include a debit and credit card, ATM access and internet banking. Each service is charged separately. To cut down on costs to the customer, you may be offered a "package program" which would combine some of the fees at a discounted price.
Luxembourg uses the currency of the EU, the euro. One euro is divided into 100 cents. Each official euro member issues its own coin design, which are good in any of the EU states. Luxembourg has three coin designs, all with the image of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. The bills appear the same throughout the EU.
The use of cards in Luxembourg is growing, but you may still be required to make a minimum sales purchase of 10 euro.
Before obtaining a credit or charge card, compare the costs and benefits. Fees and requirements differ and it is important to find the right service for you. To cancel a card, you must give written notification at least a month in advance of the expiry date.
A debit card should be issued immediately upon creating an account. This enables you to use ATMs and make purchases at many shops and petrol stations. Debit cards are often preferred to credit cards, as the money is credited almost immediately to the vendor's bank account.
In Luxembourg, debit cards have three functions: Minicash, Bancomat and Maestro.
Minicash - a rechargeable payment card for small purchases. The maximum payment amount is 125 Euros.
Bancomat - allows withdrawals of up to 1,250 Euros per week
Maestro - permits withdrawals from countries other than Luxembourg. In some countries, the use of your Maestro card is via your Personal Identification Number (PIN), while in other countries, your signature is also required.
Credit cards issued in the region function like charge cards. Payments for purchases are due when billed and cannot be spread over several months or years. A credit card normally costs around 20 to 50 euro per year, depending on the type of card and the level of service. You'll receive a monthly statement totalling the amount due is to be debited from your account.
Visitors will normally receive a better exchange rate for the euro within an EU country then at home. Good places to exchange include banks and official tourist information centers.
Note that the best rates are by taking money from an ATM. This depends on your home bank, but this continues to be the safest and cheapest way to get euros.
Opening an account should be fairly easy in the many available facilities. You can find information about how to sign up for an account on the bank's website or by simply approaching a teller. All you will need is a passport (or other identification) and a small amount of funds to deposit. A letter of reference from your former bank or current employer can help in establishing immediate credit.
Current accounts (compte a vue) are the most common type of bank accounts. These enable bill payment via bank transfers. There are two kinds of bank transfer:
Virement - you instruct the bank to pay money to someone else from your account
Domiciliation - authorizing the bank to let someone take money from your account
To make a payment, fill out a transfer form to instruct your bank to transfer money from your account to the account of the person or company you wish to pay. The bank usually provides these forms, pre-printed with your name and bank account number, upon signing up for service. You must sign the form and keep the stub or carbon copy as evidence of payment. The form is then sent to your bank and the payment is made. Most banks offer freepost envelopes for sending transfer forms. Payment is made within five days.
For frequent bills, you can arrange a standing order (ordre permanent). To set this up, you must contact your bank with the pertinent payment information and a copy of the bill will appear a week before the scheduled payment.
Boulevard Royal is littered with banks and is referred to as "Luxembourg's banking mile".
Further listings of Luxembourg banks can be found at http://www.abbl.lu/.
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