As with any major city, Barcelona has many banks that offer a range of different services to their customers. If you are new to the city or the country, it can be quite confusing as most of the major UK and US banks don’t exist here. Before we look at each of them, here are a few snippets of advice about banking in Spain that may be helpful if you’re new to the process:
Firstly, most current accounts charge you for the privilege, so expect to pay some sort of monthly or quarterly fees, unless you go with an online bank. Secondly, almost all banks in Spain charge you to withdraw money from their rival’s ATMs. So bear that in mind when you choose, as the branch’s proximity to your apartment may be a factor. Thirdly, all branches seem to close around 2pm on every weekday, so plan your day accordingly if you are hoping to speak to somebody in person about your account.
Here is a summary of the main banking groups operating in Catalunya, with a little bit of information on each that may be of interest if you’re in the market for a new ‘cuenta’ or account.
Santander is the largest banking group in Spain, and one of the only major banks on this list that has a presence in the UK. Despite that, Santander doesn’t offer an English version of their website, meaning you’re stuck with the dubious workings of Google Translate unless you can make it into a branch in person.
BBVA is the second largest banking group in Spain, known to most football lovers as the main sponsor of La Liga. BBVA is a solid bet if you’re looking to find a new home for your hard earned euros. After much consolidation (including the acquisitions of Sabadell and Catalunya Caixa, both of which you’ll see dotted around Barcelona as separate branches), BBVA has become one of the most recognizable brands in the country. Online, they’re great for expats as they offer the entirety of their website in English, plus they offer special online accounts that you can maintain without monthly fees.
La Caixa (CaixaBank)
The most prominent bank on high streets in and around Barcelona, La Caixa is the largest bank in Catalunya, run by the CaixaBank group. If you live in central Barcelona, then there are scores of branches of La Caixa – a major benefit when you take into consideration the fact that most banks in Spain charge you to withdraw cash from the ATMs of their competitors. They also have SegurCaixa, an insurance arm that can provide you with easy to manage health insurance alongside your account.
You will also find some international banks in Barcelona, such as Deutsche Bank, but for current account services, we recommend going local for ease of service.