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Spanish banks’ ATMs are disappearing or being replaced: What you need to know

Spanish banks are closing thousands of ATMs across the country, forcing many people in Spain to have to change the way they withdraw money.

A woman uses an automated teller machine (ATM) in Madrid, Spain.
In five years, taking out money in Spain may involve a trip to the supermarket or a visit to the post office. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

Withdrawing cash is becoming harder in Spain.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Spanish banks have closed 2,200 of their ATMs across the country. 

This means that there are currently 48,300 cajeros (ATMs in Spanish), levels not seen since 2001.

The disappearance of ATMs has often come as a result of the recent closure of the hundreds of bank branches that they’re attached to.

This is part of a huge shift toward digital banking services rather than in-person customer service by Spain’s financial entities.

There are now the same amount of bank branches in Spain as in 1977.

The banks justify the closure of branches and ATMs by highlighting the increasing trend among account holders to pay by card rather than cash, as well as handle other banking processes online. 

The pandemic has only served to further vindicate Spanish bank’s cost-cutting move (ATM withdrawals dropped by 31 percent),  but the trend was already being seen before Covid-19. 

For example, in 2007 there were 157 ATMs in Spain per 100,000 inhabitants, whereas in 2019 this number had been reduced to 106 per 100,000 people. 

Who is the closure of ATMs in Spain affecting most?

Despite Spain’s population becoming more internet-savvy and accustomed to card payments, cash is still the preferred method of payment in the country. 

For some, this legal tender is the only means of payment they know or that they can use.

Branch and ATM closures are therefore affecting in particular the elderly and residents of small rural communities in so-called ‘Empty Spain’.

To paint a picture of the situation, when the only bank branch in the village closes its doors for good, getting your hands on money can become a lot more challenging. 

This rings especially true in rural areas in the Spanish regions of Castilla y León, Galicia, Aragón and Andalusia, where people, especially the older population, are finding it harder and harder to access their pensions and deal with online banking systems.

The Bank of Spain has warned that almost three percent of the Spanish population, around 1.3 million people, struggle to get their hands on legal tender.

The European Central Bank also recognises that these groups are at risk of financial exclusion as a result of Spanish banks’ changing strategy.

READ ALSO: How rural Spain is rebelling against rampant bank closures

People queue to buy Christmas lottery tickets in Spain

Spain’s lottery shop associations want to help residents of rural communities to have access to cash. Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

Is there a silver lining?

Whereas the number of bank ATMs is dropping, other cash dispensers are being set up in Spain, often following agreements between the banks and third parties. 

Spain’s national post service Correos has announced that in 2022 it will install 1,500 ATMs across all of Spain’s regions, 300 of them in small rural areas with a population under 3,000 which currently don’t have a single cajero at their disposal.

Correos’ new automatic teller machines will not only be set up at their post offices but in shopping centres and in other strategic street locations.

All debit and credit cards belonging to Spain’s main banks will be able to be used and Correos will not charge users any commission, although the banks themselves may charge a fee depending on their conditions.

Correos has also signed a deal with Santander to allow their bank customers to withdraw money at the post office counter as if they were at one of Santander’s branches, as well as for postmen to be able to deliver cash in person to customers.

Valencia’s regional government has a similar deal with Caixabank aimed at helping rural communities to fight financial exclusion.

Withdrawing money at shops, often referred to as getting cashback, is also slowly becoming an option in Spain. 

German company Viafintech has launched Cash 26 in Spain, which allows N26 bank account holders to withdraw money from a growing network of shops that have signed up to the scheme. 

ING bank also has a similar app service called Twyp which allows customers to withdraw cash at DIA supermarkets and other stores, and French neobank Nickel is also starting to offer such services as well in Spain. 

Furthermore, Spain’s lottery associations are in talks with the Bank of Spain to find a way for their kiosks and small lottery shops to also serve as cash dispensers for people struggling to find other ways of withdrawing cash. 

Fortunately, even though banks are focusing their in-person services on financial products, mortgages and investment rather than over-the-counter withdrawals, new options are emerging. 

In five years, taking out money in Spain may involve a trip to the supermarket or a visit to the post office rather than searching for an ATM belonging to your bank. 

EXPLAINED: What are Spain’s new rules and limits on cash payments?

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LIFE IN SPAIN

What to do about insects and other pests in your Spanish home?

Bugs and insects can sometimes be a problem in Spanish homes, particularly during the summer months. Here's what to do if you get an infestation and how to prevent them from happening.

What to do about insects and other pests in your Spanish home?

Fruit flies buzzing around the bins, cockroaches in the kitchen and ants invading your food cupboards can be a common sight in your Spanish home, more often than not in summer.

But what can you do when insects invade your home? 

What types of pests are common in Spain?

Bugs and insects that commonly invade homes in Spain include fruit flies, ants, stink bugs, cockroaches, pantry moths, plaster bagworms and mosquitoes.

Those who have pets may also have a problem with your animals bringing fleas and ticks into the home too.

READ ALSO: Ticks are proliferating in Spain: How to avoid them and protect yourself

These can cause a nuisance, not only flying around your home and biting you (in the case of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks), but they can get into your food and lay eggs in your cupboards.

How can I get rid of bugs in my home?

One of the most important ways you can keep insects and other bugs out of your home is to eliminate food sources.

This means always doing the washing up as soon as you’ve finished eating so there are no scraps laying around, sweeping kitchens and dining rooms regularly and putting opened food items in the fridge instead of the cupboards.

You also need to make sure you regularly empty your rubbish bin and that there are no gaps between the lid and the bin that flies can get in through.

Dusting, hoovering and general regular cleaning will also keep other insects at bay such as plaster bagworms and moths that lay larvae on your walls and ceiling.

Those with pets should make sure that animals are treated with flea and tick protection and combed through with special flea combs to make sure bugs are not stuck in their fur.

Summer can of course be very hot in Spain, with temperatures regularly in the high 30°Cs or even low 40°Cs in some parts of Andalusia and other regions, meaning that windows and doors are often left open to ensure a breeze. Unfortunately, this means that your home is more accessible to insects too.

If you can, get a fly screen for your doors and windows, so you can leave them open, but no bugs can get in. These fine mesh screens can be bought from hardware or home stores such as Leroy Merlin and can simply be lifted into place when you need them.

If you can’t get screens installed, then consider planting certain plants on windowsills or balconies. Lavender, basil, lemongrass and mint are all natural insect repellents.

Electric fly swats, ant traps and sticky paper can also all help eliminate pests in your home. 

READ ALSO: What venomous species are there in Spain?

Insecticides

When the situation becomes worse, simple everyday cleaning won’t suffice and you may need to use insecticides to kill the infestation. There are many different brands in Spain. Both Protect Home and Compo have several different products you can use.

If you don’t want to use chemical insecticides, natural ones made from white vinegar, citrus plants, or peppermint oil can also work.

Pest control

If the situation becomes completely out of control and you find that insects are not only entering your home but that they are breeding there too, it’s time to call in the professionals. Pest control services are available across Spain.

The first step is to check your home insurance to see if they will cover this service. If they won’t, they may be able to suggest a company that can help.

Otherwise, a quick Google search for ‘Control de plagas’ (pest control) and then your area should provide you with plenty of options.

According to the home website Habitissimo, pest control services in Spain can range from €80 up to €2,000 depending on the type of infestation you have, how serious the problem is and how big your property is. On average it will cost you around €267.

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