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Study Into Bank Charges in Spain

Source: FACUA - Sat 8th Nov 2014
Study Into Bank Charges in Spain

A report by consumer action group FACUA has uncovered the worst culprits when it comes to hidden Bank charges in Spain.

The group's study into 16of the Country's Banks has found that Barclays, Santander, La Caixa and Unicaja have the highest fees.

The finding also show that customers paid an average of EU168.73 per year if they did not set up a direct deposit for their salary, pension or unemployment benefit. Commissions soar to EU271.41 for Barclays customers and EU248 for Santander, followed by Unicaja with EU242.40 and La Caixa with EU239.90. At the other end of the spectrum, a customer with ING Direct pays EU25 and with Triodos Bank, EU30. Thus, the differences can be as high as 986 %.

The Typical client for the purposes of study is somebody paying 6 bills per month by direct debit, 7 payments by debit card and at least one credit card purchase, while arranging ​​2 transfers and depositing 2 checks each year. The profile also allows for paying a total of two bills (not by direct debit) a year and is twice overdrawn with one of those times being notified by the bank.

The study of the annual maintenance and administration fees, for bank statements, checks deposits, cards and transfers, revealing exactly what sixteen banks charge their customers.

The association also considers two circumstances : In the first instance the customer did not set up a direct deposit for their salary, pension or unemployment benefit, while in the second case the user had all his/her regular deposits directly credited to their account.

Deposit Fees

All of the banks in the study waive their fees if the user has their salary, pension, or unemployment paid in by direct deposit, provided the balance reaches a certain amount. Most banks will also cancel their commissions if the customer sets up direct debits and pays by debit/credit card.

To eliminate the vast majority of commissions, banks require a minimum monthly balance ranging up to EU5,000 in the case of Barclays and EU1,000 for Bankinter. The minimum required salary or pension is usually EU600 for Abanca , BBVA , La Caixa , Deutsche Bank, Mare Nostrum, Popular, Santander and Unicaja.

Only two financial institutions, ING Direct and Triodos Bank, do not charge maintenance or administration fees regardless of whether the user has the salary paid directly into the account or not.

As for the basic cards, almost all banks cease to charge annual maintenance fees on debit cards if the user has a direct deposit for their salary; while in the case of credit cards, almost half of the banks still charge a fee regardless of whether the client has set up a direct deposit.

Third party deposits

Most banks charge a fee for over the counter cash deposits into a third party account if the user is not a customer of the bank. Cajasur and Kutxabank apply the highest commission: no less than EU4. Abanca, Barclays, Santander and Unicaja charge EU3, followed by the EU2 of Bankinter, La Caixa, Kutxabank and Sabadell. The majority of the banks in the study argued that such costs are because they have to provide the name of the beneficiary and this represents a "special or additional" justification.

The study questions the legality of this, since banks are charging twice for the same service: once to client who is the beneficiary of the deposit, and who is already paying a yearly maintenance fee for this purpose, and again to the person who arranges the payment.

Zero commissions banks

Only two of the sixteen analyzed banks do not charge a maintenance, administration and check deposits fee regardless of whether the client has set up a direct deposit: ING Direct and Triodos Bank.

Commissions on overdrafts

If the account is overdrawn, even if only for a few Euros, a bank will charge on average EU10.79. The highest minimum amount for being overdrawn is charged by Barclays and Santander, EU18 Euros - regardless of whether the user has set up a direct deposit.

When customers are notified of the overdraft by mail, the fee goes up to an average of EU32.88, with Mare Nostrum (BMN) being the most expensive with at EU37.

Maintenance and administration fees

The annual maintenance fee on accounts with no direct deposits is on average EU44.63, in this case the most expensive is Barclays with EU72, followed by the EU60 Euros charged by Kutxabank , Popular, Sabadell, Santander and Unicaja.

11 of the 16 Banks analyzed, charge a commission for each movement into the account if the owner hasn't set up a direct deposit. The most expensive administration cost is EU0.60, as applied by Barclays, BBVA, La Caixa Sabadell, Santander and Unicaja. This amount is fixed and charged for each operation: every time there's a debit or credit card purchase, a direct debit, a transfer, or a check deposit.

Sixteen of the banks analyzed charge an average of EU20.13 per year on debit cards maintenance fees, if the client has no regular deposits. While for a credit card the average expense is EU33.81.

The banks applying the highest cards maintenance fees are Bankinter, with EU30 for debit cards and EU50 for credit cards and Santander with EU28 and EU43 respectively.

Meanwhile, ING Direct and La Caixa do not charge anything.


The average amount for standard transfers is 0.31% of the value, with an average minimum of EU3.33, when a user has no salary set up on direct deposit.

Barclays is the company where such transfers are more expensive, costing 0.60 % of the total value, with a minimum of EU8. The cheapest is Triodos Bank which charges a minimum of EU1, while ING Direct applies no commissions.

Cheques deposits

Deposits of cheques from third parties are subjected to an average commission of 0.29 % of the value, with a minimum of EU2.53, if the user has not set up a direct deposit.

Once again Barclays proves to be the most expensive, applying 0.45 % of the value deposited, with a minimum fee of EU4. No charge is incurred with ING Direct and Triodos Bank.

Bounced checks average a commission of 3.66 % of the amount repaid, with a minimum of EU12.94. In this instance, the highest figures are those of La Caixa, Santander and Unicaja, all at EU18.

The second most reported sector

FACUA warns that in 2013, the banking industry was the second most reported by consumers, superseded only by the telecommunications sector. The bank generated 27.3 % of the complaints dealt with by the organization, eleven points above the previous year (6.5%) and more than triple what was in 2011 (7.8%).

At the forefront are the complaints about irregularly charged fees and the application of unfair terms on loans or mortgages.

Study details

FACUA's study has been conducted taking into account the maximum fees published by banks on their own websites, between July and September 2014. No additional service was contracted and no further requirements were made, such as direct deposits of salary and or pension. At the same time, the analysis looked at the commissions charged in case of regular monthly entries.

The study looked at sixteen banks in Spain, all with branches that allow customers to conduct their operations over the counter, but that also have the ability to operate via phone and internet. The companies analyzed are Abanca (operating under the trademark NCG and formed by CaixaNova and CaixaGalicia), Bankia, Bankinter, Barclays (which later this year will be absorbed by La Caixa), BBVA, La Caixa, Caja Sur Bank (which belongs to Kutxabank but applies different fees), Deutsche Bank, ING Direct, Kutxabank, Mare Nostrum (BMN formed by CajaGranada, CajaMurcia, Sa Nostra), Banco Popular, Sabadell, Santander, Triodos Bank and Unicaja.

In addition to collecting information on the websites, FACUA contacted all the banks to ask for their current rates. Only six have sent all the details of their commissions: Abanca, Bankia, Banco Caja Sur, ING Direct, Mare Nostrum (BMN) and Triodos Bank.

Comment on this Story

We have a Spanish joint bank account which has only been in open for just over a year and have just been charged 20 euros each for the privilege. Is this correct or are we entitled to a refund of 20 euros?
John Greenway - Wed, 16th Sep 2015
Bankinter catered for accounts from brits.The bank made no allowance whatsoever to facilitate money transfer.For 5 yrs I had to another bank to transfer money for mortgage payment with bankinter.At last I found a Forex company who facilitate the transfer for no charge.What doBankinter do ,they put a charge on that?.basically I have been charge for transferring Euros into my own account.
G.jockoo - Fri, 27th Mar 2015
Given that no interest is paid by the banks on standard accounts, yet they charge for anything and everything, even the privilege of having a debit card which the bank makes money from the retailer, where is the incentive to have money in the bank in the first place!? Now I totally understand why people stuff their cash in the mattress in Spain!
Ed Bishop - Sat, 8th Nov 2014
Very useful, thanks... bye bye Santander !
Tyler - Sat, 8th Nov 2014

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