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How to avoid paying hidden fees when closing your bank account in Spain

How to avoid paying hidden fees when closing your bank account in Spain
How to close your bank account in Spain and avoid fees. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP
Closing a Spanish bank account may not be as easy as you might expect, and leaving it open without using it could result in a buildup of fees, and further fines for not paying them. Here’s how to make sure you close your bank account correctly and cost-free.

Closing a bank account in Spain should be a straightforward process. But as is so often the case in a country where financial entities are notoriously prone to charging hidden fees, cancelling your cuenta bancaria (bank account) comes with its challenges. 

According to the Bank of Spain, you can close your account at any time without prior notice.

“There is no charge for closing an account if it was opened with indefinite duration or if it has been held for more than six months in the case of a fixed-duration account,” they state on their website.

But, “if the terms and conditions include the payment of periodic account fees and charges, you will have to pay the proportional part accrued when you close the account.

“However, the bank will have to reimburse you for the proportional part of any fees paid in advance,” they add.

When closing an account, the Bank of Spain also says that the bank must inform you of any outstanding fees you need to pay, such as the account maintenance fees or transaction charges, to ensure that your account is not overdrawn. 

So what’s the correct way to close a Spanish account and prevent your bank from charging you fees?

  • Make sure there are no fees to pay to close the account

Read your contract carefully to make sure it’s not a fixed-duration account that you had to keep open for a certain amount of time. You also want to make sure that you won’t have any extra fees to pay in order to close the account. Many banks will try and charge you for closing them. This is most common in banks that try and draw you in with gifts when you open the account. Remember that if there are any fees or charges, you should only have to pay a proportional amount, up until the time you closed the account, not for the rest of the year. 

READ ALSO: Is it worth reporting your Spanish bank for misconduct and how do you make a successful claim?

  • Open a new account first

You want to make sure that you open a new bank account before you close your old one. This is so you have somewhere to transfer the money to when you close it and also a new account where bills will be paid from and where your salary/pension will be paid into.

Look carefully at the conditions of your new account to make sure it will be better than your old one. There are several accounts you can open quickly online, so it shouldn’t be a long or difficult process.

Make sure you change all your direct debit payments over to your new account. Photo: Jan Vašek / Pixabay
  • Make sure you change all your payments and direct debits and that nothing is pending

Before you close your account, you need to ensure that you change all your bank details with various utility companies, insurance companies, your employer, and anything else where payments are scheduled to go in or out of your account automatically. To avoid any potential problems, ask each company when the next payment will go out, so you know when you need to change your details over by.

You also need to make sure that you don’t have any pending payments or any outstanding debts that haven’t gone out yet.

READ ALSO – Spanish bank accounts: Why you shouldn’t leave them inactive for too long

  • Ensure you take out all the money before cancelling your account

It might sound obvious but, before closing your account, don’t forget to settle any pending payments, as well as to withdraw all the money that was in your account, either through a transfer or through an ATM.

Before completely emptying it, do not forget to check if you have any pending payments. For example, when making purchases online, it may take a few days for the payment to reach your account. You want to ensure that you won’t go overdrawn and have any extra fees to pay if you do. If you are in this situation, you can do two things. The first is to wait until it is done or contact the corresponding establishment to offer you a payment alternative.

  • Sign the forms to close the account

Your account won’t actually be closed unless you’ve signed the official bank documents to say so. Remember that if you have a joint bank account with your spouse or partner, both of you will need to sign to close the account, not just one of you. This will most likely need to be done in person at the bank branch.

  • Ask for a certificate to prove the account is closed

It is essential that you have written proof that you have terminated the relationship with your bank without any outstanding payments and that your account is closed. If not, you could incur payments and fees over the years, without actually knowing it, believing that you had closed your account already. To do this, you must request an account closure certificate stating the exact date on which the operation was carried out.

This means you will have a document that will serve as proof in case there are any problems down the line. Most banks will provide you with a printed certificate at the branch. 

READ ALSO: Why you should be careful when having your salary paid into a Spanish bank account


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