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  • FIRST POST
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 7th Aug 19, 4:26 PM
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    biggmick1
    0 WOW
    Avoid or Reduce Bank Charges in Spain
    • #1
    • 7th Aug 19, 4:26 PM
    0 WOW
    Avoid or Reduce Bank Charges in Spain 7th Aug 19 at 4:26 PM
    As I travel to Spain a few times a year & was annoyed by rip off fees from British banks.
    I followed the advice on travel cards from MSE
    but in the last few years Spanish banks have increasingly started to charge fixed fees for ATM cash withdrawals (these are in addition to what your British bank may charge you). Here's what I found at different banks in Catalonia, Spain.

    Firstly the only fee free Spanish bank I found was
    Caixa Bank (pronounced Cai sha) (I seem to remember not being charged a fee at Kuxta bank but I'm not certain. Love to know if you've found others)

    Then the others that I tried in cost order
    Bankia Euro 1.75
    Sabadell Euro 1.80
    BBVA Euro 1.87
    Banco Popular Euro 5.00
    Santander Euro 5.00
    (copy & paste this list to your smartphone before you travel)

    Notably for British Santander account holders there is no charge from most Santander ATM machines in Spain (one exception I found was a stand alone Santander machine in a bus station which did charge even on a Santander card.
    To check if a machine is going to charge, use the machine as normal & it will advise you of the charge just before you press the final acceptance, which you can cancel without charge. Don't forget to press the "without conversion" button as the rate is very poor. (Also be nice if you can update people here of any changes you find or any other banks that aren't listed here.

    These charges were from Autumn/Winter 2018.
    Also remember MSE's advice to not accept the conversion offered by the machine this is almost always a bad deal.
    Don't forget as well, that if you are using a credit card to withdraw cash, most cards (even most special Travel cards) will charge interest from the day of withdrawal so make sure you pay it off A.S.A.P. Don't let this deter you from using theses cards though, as they can still offer good value if their APR is reasonable, costing about 1.5% if paid off in a month.
    Also worth noting MSE's research has shown that Mastercard exchange rates tend to be better than Visa card rates.

    My take on the best cards at the moment for ATM cash withdrawals

    Debit Cards ATM charges
    Starling Bank No fees in Europe or the rest of the world
    Metro Bank No fees in Europe 2.99% + 1.50 rest of world

    Credit Cards ATM charges
    Tandem No charges overseas (except interest) but does charge for ATM withdrawals in UK (2.50min 2.5% plus interest till paid off) also give 0.5% cashback on purchases.
    If you also want to use in the UK, go for the Halifax Clarity card (no ATM fees in the UK, except interest but no Cashback on purchases)

    When I'm abroad I use my Metro bank (Mastercard) debit card for ATM withdrawals and use Google maps to find a Caixa Bank if there's one nearby.
    Then for purchases I use an Aqua (Mastercard) credit card, although I have no problem using the Metro Bank card if needed.
    These cards I use are not necessarily the best cards available now but they were when I applied a few years ago & are still good now.

    Happy, rip off free travelling.
    Don't forget to keep us updated if you find any changes & especially if you find other banks with no charges.

    Update Santander charging British customers for using some Spanish Santander ATM's
    It seems this arises because Santander bought out its rival Banco Popular a few years ago and although some of the branches have been rebranded as Santander, the machines are still working on the old system and will charge you, so take care if you're using an ATM you haven't used before.
    Last edited by biggmick1; 13-08-2019 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Update
Page 2
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 21st Aug 19, 7:21 PM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    i still think that using a Santander debit card in a Santander ATM is the best option to avoid fees charged by Spanish banks for using ATMs
    Seconded, Santander will have a presence just about everywhere in Spain.
    Last edited by NoodleDoodleMan; 22-08-2019 at 4:11 PM.
    • adindas
    • By adindas 22nd Aug 19, 2:24 PM
    • 4,162 Posts
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    adindas
    Seconded, Santander will have a presence in just about everywhere in Spain.
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    Absolutely agree, for people who have Santander Zero (Current AC), Santander 123, Santander 123 Lite, Santander Select AC that meet the requirement, it is the best way "to get cash" in particular case in Spain. Moreover, it is a debit card so no need to worry about getting interest if you forget to clear the balance asap.

    The problem with withdrawing money with the cash machines using your specialist debit/credit card in Spain is that you might know an ATM that did not charge you ATM fee last year but when you come to the same place in the following year, it might not be the case.

    If there is a bank does not charge it seems that it is just a matter of time before they start charging ATM fee. Things are different with Santander debit card on Santander ATM in Spain as it is written on the T&C. So when Santander change the T&C they will need to inform you so you will know it in advance before using it.

    It is ridiculous and unfair that the spanish bank cash machines are charging, UK debit card to be used in Spain, while the UK banks do not charge the ATM fee for the spanish debit card to be used in the UK ATM. Also most of other EU countries (if not all) even in the former eastern european countries do not charge that ATM fee.
    Last edited by adindas; 22-08-2019 at 3:26 PM.
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 22nd Aug 19, 8:17 PM
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    biggmick1
    I'm hoping as a non-profit organisation, Caixa bank may stick to a fairer, less avaricious policy but maybe I'm being naively optimistic.

    On the subject of presence, my basic research has shown that Caixa bank has more branches and ATM's than any other Spanish bank including Santander. I think though that because we're used to the Santander branding on Britain's high streets we'll probably notice them more when we're in Spain.
    • huw01
    • By huw01 22nd Aug 19, 9:36 PM
    • 237 Posts
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    huw01
    Although this page refers to fees charged for customers of Spanish Banks (they charge more for foreign cards) it does explain the situation in Spain in respect of charging and why its happening

    https://www.bbva.es/eng/general/finanzas-vistazo/tarjetas/comisiones-cajeros/index.jsp
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 23rd Aug 19, 11:25 AM
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    biggmick1
    I noticed this on another thread
    copied from a UK Santander bank statement

    Fees for using a cash card on your current account at Santander Spain cash machines
    From 1 May 2017 withdrawals from a Santander cash machine in Spain using a cash card on your current account will be charged in the same way as withdrawals from any other cash machine abroad: 1.5% of the value (at least 1.99), plus a currency conversion fee of 2.75% of the value. Fees may be higher if you make a withdrawal in Sterling, rather than local currency.

    Can anyone confirm that they have actually used their Santander Debit card in a Santander ATM in Spain since May 2017 and not been charged fees by Santander UK.
    I've used a Santander Zero credit card without fees (excluding interest) but this is saying that all bank account cards now charge fees, even at Santander machines. I had a quick look at Santander UK's website and the only account that mentions no fees is the Santander select account which has quite a high income requirement.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 23rd Aug 19, 1:14 PM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    Can anyone confirm that they have actually used their Santander Debit card in a Santander ATM in Spain since May 2017 and not been charged fees by Santander UK.
    Simple answer is yes, no charges using my Santander debit card - and one experience of being refunded by Santander UK where a rebranded Banco Popular ATM took a fee it should not have.

    The warning above refers to cash card usage - so possibly different Ts&Cs ?
    • huw01
    • By huw01 23rd Aug 19, 1:20 PM
    • 237 Posts
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    huw01
    Same here used my Santander Select Debit Card in Palma and Alcuida numerous times at Santander ATMs sine 2018 and ive not been charged. I once had the charges refunded from a Banco Popular ATM which charged me.
    • adindas
    • By adindas 24th Aug 19, 9:41 AM
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    adindas
    For those who are interested in using Santander Debitcard in Spain.

    Here is the relevant part of the T&C in relation to cash withdrawal in SPAIN IN SANTANDER CASH MACHINES. Also keep in mind it does not apply to CASHCARD account.

    https://www.santander.co.uk/assets/s3fs-public/documents/general_t_cs_and_important_information_ca_savings_ august_19_do-ec-835.pdf


    8.4 Cash withdrawals in foreign currency or pounds outside the UK at Santander cash machines when using a Santander debit card or cash card in Spain

    - Cash withdrawal fee from a Santander cash machine in Spain using a Santander debit card: Free
    - Foreign currency conversion fee for cash withdrawals using a Santander cash machine in Spain using a Santander debit card: Free

    8.5. Cash withdrawals in foreign currency or pounds outside the UK at Santander cash-machines when using a Santander Select debit card in Spain, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and the USA.
    - Cash withdrawal fee: Free
    - Foreign currency conversion fee for cash withdrawals: Free

    With regard to biggmick1 question in post #25, the answer is: Yes but my personal experience might not be relevant to other people as when traveling to Spain, I am using Santander Zero Debit card (no longer available to the new customers) and therefore hardly ever need to use my Santander 123 lite debitcard. Santander zero debit card is the best of all Santander debit card range for cash withdrawal in foreign currencies as it will allow people to withdraw cash without fee in vast majorities of foreign countries. But regarding other Santander debitcards in Spain you have got confirmation from other people. Also it has been confirmed by a few people in the past in this forum.

    Also based on my personal experience with Santander Bank UK they are very good in handling complain if the thing goes wrong. In some cases they might award you compenstion. So if someone gets charged using his/her qualified Santander Debitcard in Spain get back to them, there is a very good chance you will get refund for the fee you have paid.
    Last edited by adindas; 24-08-2019 at 10:38 AM.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 24th Aug 19, 10:57 AM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    It's also relevant to be remember that Santander debit cards are only fee free in Spain and the Canaries if the minimum 500 monthly pay in to the account condition has been met.

    This also applies to the Select account for fee free ATM use in the countries highlighted above.

    As said, Santander UK are very quick refunding fees taken in error - rebranded Banco Popular machines seem to be the main cause of this problem - best to keep the ATM receipt.
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 24th Aug 19, 7:18 PM
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    biggmick1
    At halftime in the football today I did a bit of digging on Santander's website to see the full facts for the various accounts and ATM fees in Spain

    Here's what the "Fee information documents" say for their accounts. (This is for new applicants and may not apply if you already have an account)

    Accounts that don't charge for ATM withdrawals in Spain
    And don't charge a monthly account fee
    And don't have a monthly funding requirement (so no 500 a month).
    Santander Everyday, Santander Basics, 123 Student & 123 Mini (for under 13's) accounts

    Accounts that don't charge for ATM withdrawals in Spain
    But DO charge a monthly account fee
    And DO have a monthly funding requirement.
    Santander 123 Lite & Santander 123 1 & 5 monthly fee respectively. 500 a month funding requirement.
    Santander Select 5 monthly fee 5000 monthly funding requirement

    Santander essentials (for new arrivals in the UK)
    Don't charge for ATM withdrawals in Spain
    1 a month fee
    No funding requirement

    For Credit cards
    Santander Zero No ATM fees in any machines in Spain or worldwide (but you do get charged interest till paid off)
    No monthly fee

    All the other credit cards charge for ATM withdrawals.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 24th Aug 19, 8:17 PM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    Accounts that don't charge for ATM withdrawals in Spain
    And don't charge a monthly account fee
    And don't have a monthly funding requirement (so no 500 a month).
    Santander Everyday, Santander Basics, 123 Student & 123 Mini (for under 13's) accounts
    I would seek a second opinion on the Santander Everyday current account not requiring the minimum 500 monthly funding in order to enjoy fee free ATM use in Spain.

    It's not easy to find a specific reference via Santander online sources - but I believe it is one of the Ts&Cs.

    All the other credit cards charge for ATM withdrawals.
    Not so.

    Halifax Clarity CC for example - it only charges interest from the moment cash is withdrawn (like the Santander Zero CC) and there are a few others which operate likewise.

    Our Barclaycard Platinum CC (specific deal no longer available, recently withdrawn) has neither ATM fees nor cash withdrawal fees - if the balance is settled within the monthly billing timeframe.
    Last edited by NoodleDoodleMan; 24-08-2019 at 8:20 PM.
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 24th Aug 19, 8:46 PM
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    biggmick1
    Here's the copy of the text from Santanders website.

    "Everyday Current Account
    A simple and straightforward current account, with no monthly fee

    What you can get for no monthly fee
    No minimum monthly funding or monthly fee to maintain the account"

    https://www.santander.co.uk/personal/current-accounts/everyday-current-account


    And I did make it clear that my last post was about my research on Santander cards not about Halifax, Barclaycard or any other cards.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 25th Aug 19, 1:03 PM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    Didn't realise the credit card reference was Santander only - my bad.


    As for the Everyday Current Account - no dispute that there is no monthly fee or minimum monthly funding to maintain the account - but that does not cover fee free foreign ATM debit card use, unless Santander have been advising me wrongly since I opened the account.


    I've emailed them to confirm/refute the minimum 500 condition for ATM fees - watch this space.


    Incidentally I came across a response from Santander on this issue sent in January.


    Dear Mr X, <P> Thank you for your email regarding fees whilst travelling abroad. <P> If a customer has a current account with Santander and are paying in at least 500 each month, there are no fees when you withdraw cash from a Santander cash machine in Spain and the Canary Islands. <P>

    Of course this may have been revised since then.





    Last edited by NoodleDoodleMan; 25-08-2019 at 1:18 PM.
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 25th Aug 19, 6:33 PM
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    biggmick1
    I would say that response from Sanatnder is a bit generic as it says "If a customer has a CURRENT account with Santander" and doesn't mention the Everyday account specifically.

    Here's a link to the "Fee Information Document" for the Everday account I was referencing
    https://www.santander.co.uk/assets/s3fs-public/documents/fid-everyday-current-account.pdf

    Here's the text of the relevant part of the fees document on page 2 of the PDF

    Withdrawals from Santander cash machines in Spain
    using a debit card
    Fee not charged

    There's no mention in the PDF of any funding requirement and on the main Everyday Account page that directs to the PDF it specifically says there is no funding requirement.

    I suppose it could be different T&C's for new accounts or maybe it's a clerical error one way or the other.
    • voucher
    • By voucher 25th Aug 19, 6:57 PM
    • 118 Posts
    • 103 Thanks
    voucher
    Are pre paid cards a better way or do you still pay charges on those.
    If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague
    • eDicky
    • By eDicky 25th Aug 19, 7:47 PM
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    eDicky
    Are pre paid cards a better way or do you still pay charges on those.
    Originally posted by voucher
    In general prepaid cards that you 'load' with foreign currency, especially those sold by the Post Office, travel agents or supermarkets, are very bad deals overall and it would be cheaper to just use a regular bank card with its fees.

    There is one offered now, FairFX or Caxton, I forget, that gives a 35 bonus on a 500 load when applying through the MSE link - this makes it more attractive.

    But these and any other cards available in UK will be subject to the same ATM fees imposed by Spanish banks.
    • biggmick1
    • By biggmick1 25th Aug 19, 9:53 PM
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    biggmick1
    In general prepaid cards that you 'load' with foreign currency, especially those sold by the Post Office, travel agents or supermarkets, are very bad deals overall and it would be cheaper to just use a regular bank card with its fees.

    There is one offered now, FairFX or Caxton, I forget, that gives a 35 bonus on a 500 load when applying through the MSE link - this makes it more attractive.

    But these and any other cards available in UK will be subject to the same ATM fees imposed by Spanish banks.
    Originally posted by eDicky
    I generally agree with eDicky there are some terrible prepaid cards about especially from travel agents. but there are a few prepaid cards that aren't too bad and I'd say they are better than some of the High Street banks for rates. It's hard to quantify exactly because they mostly work on a flat few plus a percentage so you get a better overall rate the more money you take out of an ATM with each transaction.
    But in Spain you've still got the problem of the charge that the Spanish bank will charge on any card (except for Santander cards at SantanderATMs) but these can be avoided if you follow the advise in the earlier posts.
    I would say follow the advise on MSE's travel cards page and you can apply for a debit card or credit card with lower fees than even the best prepaid card just as easily. There are even accounts and cards for people with not so good credit ratings.
    • adindas
    • By adindas 25th Aug 19, 10:10 PM
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    adindas
    I would say that response from Sanatnder is a bit generic as it says "If a customer has a CURRENT account with Santander" and doesn't mention the Everyday account specifically.

    Here's a link to the "Fee Information Document" for the Everday account I was referencing
    https://www.santander.co.uk/assets/s3fs-public/documents/fid-everyday-current-account.pdf

    Here's the text of the relevant part of the fees document on page 2 of the PDF

    Withdrawals from Santander cash machines in Spain
    using a debit card
    Fee not charged

    There's no mention in the PDF of any funding requirement and on the main Everyday Account page that directs to the PDF it specifically says there is no funding requirement.

    I suppose it could be different T&C's for new accounts or maybe it's a clerical error one way or the other.
    Originally posted by biggmick1

    With Everyday Account Even you do not pay ATM fee using Santander cash machines in Spain you are still paying currency conversion fee of 2.75%.

    "Foreign currency conversion fee for withdrawals: Percentage of total transaction value 2.75%"


    With Santander 123, Santander 123 lite, Santander Select you do not pay both currency conversion fee and ATM Fee if are using using Satander Cash Machines in Spain.
    Last edited by adindas; 25-08-2019 at 10:43 PM.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 26th Aug 19, 10:33 AM
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    NoodleDoodleMan
    Here is the reply I have just received from Santander reference the Everyday Current Account fees.

    "Dear Mr X,
    Thank you for your email.
    We can confirm if you have a current account and pay in at least 500 per month, you can get free cash machine withdrawals in Spain (including the Spanish Islands) when you use any Santander branded cash machine. This means there will be no cash handling fee and no foreign transaction fee. Please note you must use a visa debit card as cash cards are not eligible for this benefit.
    When making a purchase in a currency other than sterling you will be charged a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75% of the value plus a non-sterling purchase fee of 1.25 for each transaction.
    When you are completing a withdrawal from a cash machine or bank abroad you will be charged a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75% of the value plus a non-sterling cash fee of 1.5% of the value (at least 1.99).
    Please note that for all cash withdrawals and card purchases abroad, if you are given the option of paying in local currency or sterling, the local option should be chosen unless you are certain that the exchange rate is more favourable. If you choose sterling, it means that the retailer or bank will handle the conversion and may charge a conversion fee or a foreign-usage fee or both.
    When a transaction is made in a currency other than sterling, the amount is converted using the exchange rate set by Visa on the date the money is taken from the account. Visa exchange rates can be found at www.visaeurope.com and an advisory rate will also be shown on your statement.
    There is no charge if you are buying travellers cheques or foreign currency at another bank, post office, bureau de change or other outlets displaying the Visa sign within the UK.
    You can view the fees and charges for using your account abroad on our website santander.co.uk > Help and Support > Frequently Asked Questions > Frequently asked questions general > What are the fees and charges for using my Debit Card outside the UK.
    Finally we would like to make you aware that for any future travel within the European Union, we do not need to be notified as the EU has a high coverage of Chip and PIN we can identify you and will monitor for fraud in the same way as if you were using your card in the UK.
    However when travelling outside of the EU, to ensure you have full use of your card abroad, please contact us prior to travelling to advise your travel date and destinations."

    Thanks to Adindas for highlighting the currency conversion fee issue in respect of the Everyday Current Account.

    Notice that Santander also confirming that a non sterling cash fee applies at an ATM.

    I'll be using my Select debit card in future !!!
    • EveryWhere
    • By EveryWhere 26th Aug 19, 1:09 PM
    • 2,831 Posts
    • 1,403 Thanks
    EveryWhere
    Here is the reply I have just received from Santander reference the Everyday Current Account fees.

    "Dear Mr X,
    Thank you for your email.
    We can confirm if you have a current account and pay in at least 500 per month, you can get free cash machine withdrawals in Spain (including the Spanish Islands) when you use any Santander branded cash machine. This means there will be no cash handling fee and no foreign transaction fee. Please note you must use a visa debit card as cash cards are not eligible for this benefit.
    When making a purchase in a currency other than sterling you will be charged a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75% of the value plus a non-sterling purchase fee of 1.25 for each transaction.
    When you are completing a withdrawal from a cash machine or bank abroad you will be charged a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75% of the value plus a non-sterling cash fee of 1.5% of the value (at least 1.99).
    Please note that for all cash withdrawals and card purchases abroad, if you are given the option of paying in local currency or sterling, the local option should be chosen unless you are certain that the exchange rate is more favourable. If you choose sterling, it means that the retailer or bank will handle the conversion and may charge a conversion fee or a foreign-usage fee or both.
    When a transaction is made in a currency other than sterling, the amount is converted using the exchange rate set by Visa on the date the money is taken from the account. Visa exchange rates can be found at www.visaeurope.com and an advisory rate will also be shown on your statement.
    There is no charge if you are buying travellers cheques or foreign currency at another bank, post office, bureau de change or other outlets displaying the Visa sign within the UK.
    You can view the fees and charges for using your account abroad on our website santander.co.uk > Help and Support > Frequently Asked Questions > Frequently asked questions general > What are the fees and charges for using my Debit Card outside the UK.
    Finally we would like to make you aware that for any future travel within the European Union, we do not need to be notified as the EU has a high coverage of Chip and PIN we can identify you and will monitor for fraud in the same way as if you were using your card in the UK.
    However when travelling outside of the EU, to ensure you have full use of your card abroad, please contact us prior to travelling to advise your travel date and destinations."

    Thanks to Adindas for highlighting the currency conversion fee issue in respect of the Everyday Current Account.

    Notice that Santander also confirming that a non sterling cash fee applies at an ATM.

    I'll be using my Select debit card in future !!!
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    adindas is quite wrong.

    The 2.75% forex charge applies only to ATM in Spain that are not Santander ATM.

    We can confirm if you have a current account and pay in at least 500 per month, you can get free cash machine withdrawals in Spain (including the Spanish Islands) when you use any Santander branded cash machine. This means there will be no cash handling fee and no foreign transaction fee.
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