Opening a bank account is one of the essential first steps after arriving in Spain. The process is simple but you do need to know some details about Spanish banking and how it operates first.
The most common bank accounts are current accounts or interest-free current accounts or savings accounts. To open an account, you must show your passport or ID card, your address and your NIE on site at the bank.
Most banks will immediately offer a debit card that can be used in shops and to withdraw money. Cheques are not used since they are not accepted anywhere, apart from in few special cases.
Banks in Spain use a debit system that enables companies to make withdrawals from the accounts of their customers, this avoiding the exchange of cheques or cash. Telephone, gas and electricity companies use this system too and many companies will ask you to pay in this way. If you choose not to pay this way, you can pay your bills by going directly to the bank. Schedules for payments are rather limited though usually between 8.30 and 10.30 and sometimes you can only do so on certain days of the week.
Most Spanish ATMs operate of a ServiRed or 4B network, under the more well-known name of Telebanco. Depending on the banking group that provided your credit card, you must withdraw cash at authorised ATMs or you may have to pay a commission of about 3 Euros per withdrawal. Recently, retailers do warn you if a commission will be added or not and this should enable you to anticipate unforeseen expenses.
Spanish banks are generally open Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm. Some extend their house once a week or open on a Saturday morning to easy access for customers. The majority of banks reduce their opening hours during the summer months of July and August. Spanish banks are very strict about the closing hour so, if you get to the bank at 1.55pm and it is closing at 2pm do not be surprised if the staff do not let you come in.