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There are two main types of bank in Spain: clearing banks and savings banks.
Spain has over 80 savings institutions called "cajas", which were setup originally as charitable organizations who granted loans for public interest and agricultural policies. Savings banks are quite similar to the building societies that we know of in the UK and savings and loan institutions in the USA these hold over a third of all deposits in Spain. Today these savings banks offer the same services as the clearing banks, often at much more favourable rates and terms. For free information on Spanish Mortgages and Banking.
To open a Spanish bank checking account you will need to show your passport, your address in Spain and your NIE number from your residence card. Charges vary according to whether you open a resident or non-resident account. You should obtain a list of charges for services such as writing schedules and standing orders as Spanish banks levy some of the highest charges in Europe. Some banks, in particular the cajas have a monthly flat rate charge, which includes basic services such as direct debits. For as little as €2.00 per month for residents and €3.00 for non-residents, all your banking needs can be catered for (these figures apply to “La Caixa” in 2006). Info on mortgages and banking in Spain.
Banking has become highly automated, and with regard electronic banking Spanish institutions compare favourably with other European countries and their ATMs are among the world's best. Credit and debit cards are widely used. Sometimes funds wired from overseas can take an extraordinarily long time to be available in your bank account in Spain, and even funds transferred within the same bank can float within the Spanish bank for many days before being accessible.
Bank opening hours in Spain are from 8.30 am or 9.00 am until between 13.30 and 14.30, Monday to Friday and from 8.30 and 9.30 until 12.00 or 13.00 on Saturdays in winter (banks are closed on Saturdays from June to September or October).
Spanish banks, including the cajas offer online banking, which is useful if you are going to be away from your property any length of time.
At most banks you can request that these are sent to you in English. Statements are sent to customers monthly or quarterly, but you can request one at any time.