In the Kingdom of Spain, the official currency is the Euro (€)
High value notes such as €100 and €200 might be checked or not accepted in smaller retail outlets. Instead, it is recommended to bring cash in lower denominations when traveling to Spain.
The biggest banks working with private customers in Spain are:
All of them offer Internet banking service and most services.
Although most of the stores and restaurants accept credit cards, make sure they adhere to international standards and include a microchip before traveling to Madrid. Moreover, it is recommended to look for the sticker that indicates they take credit cards, if that is your only form of payment.
Spanish banks offer an extensive coverage of ATMs across the country. They have the highest amounts of ATM per capita in Europe. However, do not plan to receive cash in stores or gas stations. It is usually not possible.
Taking out cash is free from the ATMs of your bank, although cash withdrawals from other banks may be subject to fees. All ATMs accept both debit and credit cards. A map of ATMs can be found on the website of your bank.
ATMs, Banks, and Bureaux de change are the best ways to excahnge money and each way has their positives and negatives.
Although in the past the best place to exchange money was at ATMs, exchange offices usually offer very good deals when exchanging big amounts of money. Note that these advertised rates are not nearly as good for small amounts.Changing small amounts is easiest through ATM. It is recommended to make sure your bankcard is a four PIN number type when planning to use ATMs in Madrid. If you have any doubts about the usability of your ATM card, it is advisable to contact your bank prior to leaving.
When arriving at Barajas airport or Atocha train station, exchange windows are very easy to find. They are also common in major squares. Make sure you understand rates before exchanging.
Spanish banks offer a wide range of services electronically - both online and via mobile – which makes it unnecessary to visit your bank offices personally. Moreover, using your online banking will make you save a lot of money since electronic services are largely free of charge. However, executing the same operations in a bank branch will cost you considerably more.
Top open a cuenta corriente (current account), you will need to show:
Spanish banks charge some of the highest bank charges in Europe for normal day-to-day transactions such as writing cheques, standing orders, direct debits and credit card transactions.
Always obtain a list of charges before opening an account and compare the charges levied by a number of banks. A number of entries a year are usually free. After that there'll be a charge per entry, although the manager can decide to waive certain charges.
If you don't have a NIE or come from a foreign country, you can still hold a bank account in Euros or foreign currency. You will have to show a valid passport and the ID number of your original country. If you acquire resident status any time after opening the account, you must notify the bank and give them your NIE.
Although most of the services can be done electronically, be aware that all correspondence from Spanish banks is in Spanish and it's advisable to learn to interpret your statements and other correspondence you receive. Account statements are sent to customer's monthly or quarterly, although you can request one at any time by asking for an extracto or an avance.
Most of the banks will only send mails when there is a transfer or a transaction, giving you details on the debited amount (importe). In order to know the balance of your account, you will have to go to the branch with the booklet that you received at the opening of your account (cartilla) and ask for an update.
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