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REVEALED: The Spanish banks that overcharge pensioners

The Local Spain
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REVEALED: The Spanish banks that overcharge pensioners
The issue of pensioner mistreatment and neglect by the banks is significant enough that the Spanish government has pledged to tackle the problem. Photo: Catalina Carvajal Herrera/Pexels

Spanish banks are notorious for their hidden fees and extra charges, and a consumer watchdog report has revealed which bank accounts seniors in particular should avoid unless they want to be overcharged.


If you've lived in Spain or had a bank account here, you'll probably have noticed that Spanish banks have always had a reputation among locals and foreigners alike for charging infuriating extra fees or comisiones for no clearly justifiable reason besides having an open account.

The most common charge is a so-called 'maintenance fee'. These are usually charged per trimestre (financial quarter in English) and they vary but are somewhere in the region of €30 to €60 per quarter. This means that in Spain, you might have to fork out €200 or more every single year just to have a bank account.


Some Spanish banks not only charge for account maintenance, but even cash withdrawals and transfers.

A recent report by Spain's consumer watchdog OCU (Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios) has revealed the banks charges that pensioners in Spain face.

Many of Spain's jubilados (retirees) are surviving on less than a €1,000 a month and are more reliant on in-branch banking services, such as over-the-counter cash withdrawals, which often results in additional costs for them over other bank customers.

READ ALSO: 'I'm old, not stupid' - How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

In fact, the issue of pensioner mistreatment and neglect by the banks is significant enough that the Spanish government has pledged to tackle the problem.

Former vice president and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, who has since moved on to become President of the European Investment Bank, announced in December 2023 that banks will no longer be able to charge extra fees for cash withdrawals to those over 65 years of age and people with disabilities.

Older bank customers needed "legal protection", Calviño said, adding that "a good part of the financial institutions have already voluntarily adopted the measure".


That's not to say that Spanish banks are no longer finding ways to overcharge seniors for what should be completely free services.

During its research, OCU compared the charges by different Spanish banks to a retiree with a pension of €900 a month who uses their debit card and orders an in-branch transfer of €300 every month.

According to the report, the following banks charge pensioners the most.

Extra charges

With all the various extra charges and fees added up, the worst offenders are reportedly:

  • Banco Sabadell - €104 (per year)
  • BBVA - €96 
  • Bankinter - €78

For pensioners wanting to save on extra charges, the OCU found that Caixabank's Day-to-Day Account was the best because it charges €0 for account fees.

In addition, some banks also charge other fees that are usually for performing basic banking operations, such as basic, in-branch transfers and withdrawals, something the majority of older retirees do if they aren't as adept with online banking.

Transfer fees

The costs for in-branch transfers at the 'worst' banks is worth up to 0.4 percent of the value of the operation.

According to OCU, the Spanish bank accounts charging pensioners the most for money transfers are:

  • BBVA's Va Contigo Payroll Account
  • Unicaja's Zero Plan
  • Ibercaja's Pension Account
  • Caja Laboral Account 0.0
  • Kutxabank/Cajasur Ok Plus Account


In-branch withdrawal fees

Some banks even charge for withdrawing money, whether at the cash point or at the bank teller's window - something that is less and less common nowadays but many older people still do - meaning that many banks charge retirees for withdrawing from their pensions.

Not all banks charge for withdrawals, but sometimes a €2 charge is applied, including at these banks:

  • BBVA on withdrawals of less than €2,000
  • CaixaBank, those over 65 years old, pay €2 from the fifth withdrawal per month (the first 5 are free)


Maintenance fees

Maintenance fees in Spain generally come in two forms: debit card fees and account maintenance fees.

Debit card maintenance is another fee many banks add on. This fee varies but is roughly around €20-30 a year.

  • Bankinter Pension Account: €30
  • Ibercaja Pension Account: €28
  • Globalcaja Plan Tú Eliges: €25
  • Cajamar Pensioners Account: €18

The OCU also named and shamed the banks that even charge pensioners account maintenance fees. 

  • Sabadell account: €80 (per year) for customers who only have their pension and bills paid by direct debit.
  • Globalcaja's Tú Eliges Plan: €12 for customers with their pension and card purchases paid by direct debit.




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