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Darko&Maria 18th January 2010 03:05 PM

Opening bank account before arriving in Spain?
Hello all. We are new to this forum.
We plan with my girlfriend to come visit Spain for few months and if we like it (we think we will) we will probably plan to stay and live there.

Is it a good idea to try to open a bank account before arriving in Spain so we can send some money to it and be able to take money out of it when in Spain? How would you proceed with opening such account from abroad? We know very little Spanish for a start, definitely not enough to discuss finances and banking.

So far from reading on bank websites, ING Direct Spain is out favorite. But if another bank is offering easier opening of bank acc from abroad, that will be acceptable as short term solution.

Any advice and recommendation is appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help.

Best regards

fawlty 18th January 2010 04:42 PM

If you are from the UK you might like to check out Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Halifax, all of which have branches here. If you call into a UK branch they should be able to open an account in Spain for you, although you may need a UK account with them I'm not sure.

Darko&Maria 18th January 2010 04:53 PM

Thanks for the reply. I have an account with Halifax UK but to be with my gf I'm mostly out of the UK for the last few years, and right now. I didn't plan to travel there before going to Spain and going just for the account is too much.
I doubt they will open it over the phone but I might give it a try.
Alternatively, if they can offer to open an account with Halifax ES with short procedure after arrival, that might be one option too.

fawlty 18th January 2010 06:18 PM

You may be able to open the account with Halifax online. if you already have an account with them in the UK

greytop 18th January 2010 06:38 PM

I'd advise setting up phonebank facilities with yopur UK bank if you don't have them already.
It's easy to open a Spanish account once you are here, usually with one visit to a bank. You can then transfer money using the phonebank facility. (2 or 3 days usually). You can't transfer money inter-country using the internet in my experience, never mind changing currency as well. The only other alternatives are using a Sterling cheque (high charges), or writing to your bank with instructions (time consuming).
Initially you can use a credit card to obtain euros. Another thread mentioned one that charged no fee for this but it won't help unless you happen to have that card I guess. It's worth checking the minimum charge to withdraw/transfer, doing lots of small transfers works out more expensive.
Buena suerte

Darko&Maria 18th January 2010 07:05 PM

Yes, I do have telephone and internet banking with Halifax UK. Luckily, Halifax made international transfers available online too few years back. Until then you had to go into a branch or spend loads of time spelling over the telephone (not sure if you could even do it) for international transfer.
You say it's easy opening accounts, that's good to hear. Obviously, my main concern is that upon arrival you have no bills on your name, nothing to prove address (possibly rental contract), and I don't prefer to wait a month or so without local euro account. Yes, you can withdraw money from UK cards but the fees will kill you. :)

Legazpi 18th January 2010 07:25 PM

If you are transferring more than a few thousand then you may get a better exchange rate by going through a specialist company. Halifax may tell you they don't charge any fees, but then they might fleece you with a crap exchange rate.

I've often wondered if you can transfer money between accounts using Paypal since the last time I looked their exchange rates weren't too bad. Has anyone tried this?

Darko&Maria 18th January 2010 07:53 PM

Thanks again for all the tips.

I haven't tried Paypal, but there are couple of problems to use it for this purpose.
1. You have to send money from one account to another, and I don't have two of them (never tried to open a second one).
2. The exchange rate is OK, but not wonderful, and plus upon receipt the recipient pays I think 3.4% or 3.9% of the amount. So, you're not only losing the exchange rate difference but also 3.4% on top.

However, on occasions the above might still be better than some banks/services.

PS. The main thing is still how to get the account opened ASAP, I need that before sending any money regardless how you send them. :)

Legazpi 19th January 2010 09:10 AM


Originally Posted by vivian (Post 85444)
Dark&Maria, what about traveler's check? I've heard that it's similar to cash and can be converted into cash in Spain.
Besides, hope a Spainish Dictionary can help. Good luck!

I used to use traveller's cheques years ago, and they were fine, although a bit inconvenient. I doubt if you can use them to directly pay for things in Spain (you could in the USA) but you can certainly exchange them for cash in a bank.

Another bank worth trying is Citibank - they used to be heavily into the idea of "global bank accounts" that could be accessed from anywhere.

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