All major credit cards are accepted by many businesses, Visa and Mastercard being the most popular. Smaller restaurants and bars generally only accept cash.
Should you have the misfortune to misplace or otherwise lose credit cards or travelers cheques, it is imperative that you contact the relevant company or companies IMMEDIATELY to prevent anyone else making either fortuitous or intentional use of them.
CREDIT CARD ASSISTANCE – Emergency Numbers
Abbey National – 00 44 1908 344 900
Diners Club – 901 101 011
American Express – 902 375 637
Bank of Scotland – 00 44 1383 628 410
Barclaycard – 00 44 1604 230 230
Visa – 900 991 124
Mastercard/Eurocard – 900 971 321
Natwest – 00 44 113 277 8899
Lloyds TSB – 00 44 1702 276 270
Halifax -00 44 8457 203 099
HSBC -00 44 1142 422 047
TRAVELERS CHEQUES – Emergency Numbers
American Express – 900 994 426
Citicorp -00 44 2079 624 040
Thomas Cook – 00 44 0800 622 101
Bank cheques from Spanish Bank accounts are not used very often for shopping in Spain. The funds are not automatically guaranteed so the payee must know and trust you.
Traveller’s cheques can be changed at the banks and the Bureaux de Change. where a small commission will generally be levied. They are not commonly accepted in shops.
Cash machines are now a convenient and inexpensive way to obtain cash on a daily basis. Most machines will issue up to 150 euros, and will accept a wide range of international cards. They are located outside many banks and often inside supermarkets and petrol stations.
REMEMBER: NEVER, EVER GIVE YOUR PERSONAL PIN NUMBER TO ANYONE, NOT EVEN TO A POLICEMAN OR OTHER OFFICIAL. IT IS YOUR PERSONAL KEY TO YOUR ACCOUNT AND THERE ARE, UNFORTUNATELY, UNSCRUPULOUS CHARACTERS ALWAYS WILLING TO PART YOU FROM YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY.
Normal Bank opening hours (winter) in Nerja are from 8.30/9.00 am until 13.30/14.30, Monday to Friday and from 8.30/9.30 until 12.00/1300 on Saturdays. In the summer, for some mysterious reason, banks are closed on Saturdays. (from June to September or October).
Opening an Account
Accounts can be opened by both residents and non-residents and it is always preferable to do this in person.
You must be aged 18, provide proof of identity (such as passport), provide your address in Spain and show your NIE number.
If you wish to open an account with a Spanish bank while you’re in another country, you need to obtain an application form. These are available from foreign branches of Spanish banks or direct from Spanish banks in Spain.
A bank account is generally advisable for both residents and non-residents as more and more items, such as Utility Bills (Electric, Water etc) and Taxes, are being paid via Direct Debit.
All Spanish banks provide current/cheque accounts. However, in general, cheques are not the preferred method of payment for most Spaniards. When cheques are used for settlement, you will find that many people will ask you to make out the cheque ‘AL PORTADOR’ (Pay the Bearer/Pay Cash) in order to avoid the bank charges levied on the depositing of cheques to an account. This is a perfectly normal and accepted practice, although the risks are, of course, higher than those associated with ‘crossed’ cheques.
All cheques, including post dated, are payable on presentation and are valid for six months from the date on which they are made out.
Savings Accounts are possible with all clearing and savings banks in Spain. There are varying interest rates, minimum deposits and withdrawal restrictions, depending on the type of account and the bank.
For short-term savings and small amounts, the best option is to open an account where funds are on call and withdrawals can be made at any time. Interest is generally paid out twice a year.
Please note that for residents, the interest earned on bank accounts and deposits is subject to a 25% withholding tax at source on account of personal income tax.
Cash and Debit Cards
All banks offer customers a combined cash and debit card which are widely used and accepted throughout Spain. Purchases and cash withdrawals are automatically debited from your current or savings account.
There is no monthly statement and it is not possible to run up bills with a cash or debit card. Cards allow holders to make cash withdrawals up to a certain value per day from automated teller machines (ATM’s) and obtain account balances and mini-statements.
There are three major ATM networks – Telebanco 4B, Red 6000 and Servired. Cash can also be obtained from the ATM’s of other networks although there will be a small charge levied.
All Spanish banks provide loans and overdrafts to foreign residents, particularly if they are homeowners. Shop around for a loan as interest rates can vary considerably depending on the bank, the amount and the period of time