The world of banking in Spain has changed dramatically over the past few years so if your idea about banks in Spain is of smoke-filled dingy caverns where the customer was an inconvenience, think again! Now many are part of international groups offering e-banking facilities to both personal and business clients. In the main expat areas you will find all banks have English-speaking staff and in fact some banks like Sol and CAM have designated ‘international’ offices specifically targeting expat clients. Unlike a few years ago, they all WANT your business and are prepared to fight to get it. They know that the average British expat will bring over 150,000 euros to Spain and they would all like to get that! For that reason, you can be choosy as to where you bank. Remember, you are the client
So, how do you find a ‘good bank’? Well, one of the first things to note is that individual bank managers have much more authority than the puppet figures in UK branches. Hence, it is important to choose a good branch rather than just a bank. For that you need to go on personal recommendations from people you trust with good local knowledge. Another thing that you should consider is that there are many regional or provincial banks in Spain and before you opened your accounts with one of these I would be checking whether they have adequate national coverage. It is pointless finding that your nearest branch is 600 kilometres away. I would also be wary of opening an account with a bank that sounds like/looks like a UK bank. I have probably heard more complaints about two particular banks UK-sounding banks than ALL the Spanish banks put together.
Nowadays, many expats will need a mortgage and the good news is that these are now readily available and most banks will be very happy to offer you their various mortgages. BEWARE!! All that glistens is not gold and few of us are experts in our own countries speaking our own native language. Our home is the biggest investment most of us will ever have and the wrong decision re which mortgage to take can potentially cost us thousands of pounds over many years as well as have implications re tax and inheritance planning. Remember every bank will only want to offer their mortgages irrespective of whether it is best for you. For that reason, I recommend newcomers to use a mortgage advisor who will assist you in finding a mortgage that is best for you. Note that 100% mortgages are rare in Spain but brokers like Casa Hipoteca will be able to deal with each case on its merits. They should never charge a fee just for offering a quotation so you have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain. You will find more details
Some Spanish banks that have large number of expat clients: