25 Apr [:en]Spanish Banking: Why to Go Online and Where to Go[:]
[:en]The most recent trend in Spain is online “discount”
banks. As is often the case in services reliant on automation, you pay almost nothing and get almost no personal service in return. This dynamic is immediately obvious on entering the ING Direct offices, for example: the majority of workers there are young and with little to no bank-specific education. Their main purpose for the customer is more accurately described as and “Online IT Helper” than anything else, serving to help you get online, and then help you help yourself. It is the “Vueling” of the banking world: everything looks cheap and plasticky because it is, and the customers know what they are getting. So why would you use a cheap online bank?
Getting a loan from an online bank can be tricky. You have to fight through various layers of administration before you can finally talk to a person face-to-face. However, if you do manage to complete this arduous task, the loan you eventually get will be considerably cheaper than that offered by traditional Spanish banks.
We use ING Direct because they charge a maximum of €60 per cheque, and you even get an extra one free per month. By contrast, traditional banks can charge between €300 and €3000 per cheque and are known to be particularly expensive for non-residents.
Free International Transfers
ING Direct also has the huge benefit of offering free international money transfers. Given that one of our clients was recently charged €2000 to receive some money from Denmark, the usefulness of this feature is apparent and cannot be understated.
Great Phone Service
If you call ING Direct, you will get a very fast response. This is thanks to the fact that their staff are not employed primarily as bankers: their role is only to help customers with any difficulty they might have. As such, the person on the other end of the line will be friendly and helpful, rather than trying to get you of the phone so they can get back to something else.
Testing the Banks
There are 4 online bank account options for expats in Spain: EVO Banco, ING Direct, OpenBank, and Banco Mediolanum. I called and researched them to find out about their level of customer service, their office locations, the cost of their bank checks, the cost of bank transfers, accounts for non-residents of Spain and their level of English.
First, a comparison between the formal aspects of each of the banks:
Second, a comparison of the quality of their customer service:
Of course, which bank you should use depends entirely on what you want from it. However, it is worth noting that none of them includes the benefit of offering bank accounts for non-residents of Spain, adding considerable hassle if you are considering using their services as a foreigner. Many major Spanish banks, particularly international companies such as Santander and BBVA, do offer this service, which is a major point in their favour.
For further advice on which bank to use, contact us.
Written by Theo Dye