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Which Spanish bank accounts are free of charges?

Which Spanish bank accounts are free of charges?
BBVA allegedly offers a commission-free online account, but is it as good as it used to be? Photo: AFP
Finding a bank in Spain that doesn’t charge you some sort of maintenance cost or extra fee for simply having an account open is becoming increasingly difficult. So which Spanish bank accounts are free of charges in 2021?

Spanish banks have always had a reputation among locals and foreigners alike for charging extra fees or comisiones for no clearly justifiable reason.

Unfortunately, most of Spain’s biggest financial entities seem to have put their heads together and decided that 2021 will be the year they tighten the noose further.

Thousands of branches (mainly Santander and Caixabank/Bankia) will close this year and in 2020 most big Spanish banks started requiring more commitment from their customers in the form of financial products if they want to avoid extra fees.

READ MORE: The new Spanish bank account fees you need to know about (and how to avoid them)

The new Spanish bank account fees you need to know about (and how to avoid them)

There’s a sense that if every bank applies these more demanding conditions, account holders will be left with no option but to put up with it or pay the extra fees.

Are there any commission-free bank accounts left in Spain in 2021?

The short answer is yes, although there are certain limitations such as having to operate 100 percent online or a lack of financial services at your disposal.

The following list is based on the latest information available in 2021 in a number of Spanish comparison sites and news sources.

Nevertheless it’s imperative that you read the small print carefully with any account you may opt for, as Spanish banks can be quick to change conditions that make the accounts no longer technically-free.

Openbank – Cuenta Corriente Open

Santander’s digital bank offers a commission-free account with no opening or maintenance fees, as long as your dealings with the bank remain 100 percent online or on the phone (there’s only one office in the whole of Spain).

You don’t have to pay your salary or pension into the account, but you won’t be able to make use of advanced pay checks from the bank or similar credit services.

Openbank also gives you a free debit card for the first account user that allows you to withdraw money at no cost in Santander ATMs, as well as leisure and restaurant discounts.

Bankia – Cuenta On

This commission-free account doesn’t require you to have your salary (nómina) or pension set up as a direct deposit (domiciliado).

It’s 100 percent online so going into a bank branch in person isn’t an option unless you’re prepared to pay extra fees and maintenance costs. It also comes with a free debit card, as well as a free credit card which you have to use at least once a year.

However, there are reports in bank comparison sites which suggest that as a result of Bankia’s merging with CaixaBank, this account is no longer as commission-free as it once was.

Cajamar – Wefferent

Here’s an account that gets mentioned a lot in forums and other groups run by foreigners living in Spain. It’s free to open, use and close as long as all bank affairs are carried out online or at ATMs.

The first four monthly withdrawals are free at Cajamar ATMs, after which 60 cents is charged per transaction. 

N26 – Cuenta Estándar

This German neobank is gaining customers all over Europe with its favourable conditions and its offering of commission-free withdrawals and payments in any currency.

Even though they’re based in Berlin, N26 offers Spanish residents a Spanish IBAN for their accounts.

You can only do three free withdrawals a month with your debit card, however. 

Caixabank – Cuenta imagin

This fully digital bank account is aimed primarily at young people.

It doesn’t require a salary to be paid in (although it can be done), it offers free cash withdrawals at 9,600 CaixaBank ATMS, there are no maintenance or admin fees and it gives 15 percent discount on booking.com and 6 percent on rentalcars.com.

The only catches are that it doesn’t offer any free financial services and it can’t be a shared account.

BBVA – Cuenta online de BBVA

This account offers free withdrawals in the whole BBVA ATM network in Spain but charges 4.5 percent of the amount that you withdraw overseas.

It offers free transfers within the EU and there are no maintenance costs as long as everything is done online.

You get a free debit or credit card when you open the account but again this commission-free account doesn’t come with any additional financial service such as loans.

The overdraft penalty is also high: 4.5 percent with a minimum of €15 and you will be charged 7.25 percent interest on top of that.

There are also an increasing number of negative opinions online about this account which state that it’s not truly without commissions and that they’re finding ways to charge hidden fees. 

Abanca – Cuenta Clara

To keep this account commission-free, it has to be 100 percent online as with all the other accounts on this list.

Apart from that, you don’t need to deposit a minimum amount of money on a monthly basis, it comes with five free monthly withdrawals from ATMs other than Abanca’s and it offers a free debit card (and a free credit card for over-35s).

Abanca’s Cuenta Clara also transfers anything above €3,000 in your current account to a savings account to generate interest. Transfers to other EU countries with the euro as their currency are free.

EVO – Cuenta Inteligente

This 2-in-1 (current and savings) account doesn’t charge fees for national and EU transfers or withdrawals, or for depositing cheques (which isn’t the case with many of these accounts).

Even though it hardly has any offices, you can use the ATMS of a lot of other Spanish banks free of charge. You have to choose between a debit or credit card.

However, in order to avoid extra fees, you do need to deposit a minimum amount of €600 a month, or have your salary or pension directly deposited in the account.

BNext

The Spanish financial entity is technically not a bank, but rather an app connected to a card with which you can pay and take out/receive money.

It’s similar to Revolut and Monzo Bank in the UK. Their account is commission-free, the first three withdrawals at any ATM in Spain and anywhere overseas are free. They also don’t charge for payments made in other currencies.

However, the fact that BNext doesn’t have a banking licence means that you can’t have your salary directly paid into the account, you can’t use it for anything relating to tax matters in Spain and they don’t offer any credit services. 

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