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

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.

how to close spanish bank account avoid fees
How to close your bank account in Spain and avoid fees. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

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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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.

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