Banks must charge customers no more than €3 per month for basic services from today

From today, Spanish banks will not be able to charge more than €3 per month per client as commission for basic bank account operations, a measure that is the result of Spain translating an EU directive into national law ECE/228/2019 (see HERE). These include up to 120 basic operations annually, include opening and closing an account, paying in or withdrawing money, whether by machine or over the counter, debit card operations, transfers, and direct debits, etc.

Those who have heavier use of their accounts, commissions may not exceed the average set for the type of operation being charged, and these rates will be published quarterly by the Banco de España. The maximum monthly commission of €3 will be updated every two years by the national Bank.

Many bank account holders will be interested, and no doubt pleased, that the measure prohibits the banks from offering “products” for customers to benefit from this maximum rate, and that transfers of accounts must by law now be free.


  1. I also have N26 and it’s brilliant. All Direct Debits paid and totally free. I also have a Revolut card (also totally free) so use that to switch £’s into €’s (at interbank rate) and then send the €’s to N26 for free.

    It really is the way to go imo

  2. Although not with Santander we are charged fees for having a debit card. Don’t know how we are supposed to spend money without one. These are not the only fees. Daylight robbery.

  3. Just had my latest Santander fees applied, previously a standard €24 a quarter, today its gone up 50% to €37.

    No advanced notification or breakdown provided to this significant and unexpected increase.

  4. I’m not sure of the offical goverment requirement (rather than the optomistic hope of many) but it would appear the Banks reaction to this need is to provide a €3 a month account for ‘basic banking’ for those who have never had a Bank account.

    They have done this, you can argue a case that its totally restrictive in that one of the 3€ a month accounts are only open to those who have never had a bank account.

    As they say, the devil is in the detail. I guess the Banks will have met the requirement as I’ve not seen any negative reaction from the governing authorities.

    I suspect all this will have done is to increase existing customers Bank fees to make up for any loss the Banks believe they will incur as a result of this ruling.

  5. Keep reading that banks cannot charge more than €3 per month
    But bank will not entertain any requests for this account
    So if it is law then some banks are breaking said law
    So how do I go forward on this

    1. Author

      You consult a lawyer or a consumer association. I would start with your local ayuntamiento’s consumer department, but do remember that the limit is just for basic services so it could be that you have “products” the bank has managed to sell you that make your account run over the limit.

  6. Many thanks Barry. One question I had related to standing orders and if they were a chargeable item, can’t find any mention of them on the website. I’m always suspicious of something that seems too good to be true and free banking in Spain is one of them!

  7. N26 is a German challenger bank similar to Starling and Revolut. It is purely internet based and is set up online using the app. All you need is your passport, a Spanish address, for the card to be sent to. A smartphone is needed to go through a video call for id verification. It takes less than 20 minutes to set up. The good thing is that you have a Spanish IBAN. I am up and running and transferring money back and forward from the UK with little or low cost. I am currently looking to transfer my DD’s over and will then close my Spanish bank account.
    You do need to operate this account online
    Mr Google is very helpful with information. Please note that there are chargable options with this account but the basic account is free.

  8. By a coincidence this morning I was talking to a builder doing some work on our place here in Spain about banks. He mentioned a friend was looking at a German Internet based bank as they are fed up with Spanish bank charges but couldn’t remember its name, well it looks to be N26!

  9. Thanks Barry, interesting options. Who are N26, yes I know Google is my friend, but thought I would ask for others who may also be interested.

  10. I attempted to have my Banca March account transferred to their basic payment account but they refused the transfer due to already holding an account in Spain (see T&C’s) applicable to all banks. For non residents with an address in Tenerife you can open an N26 account with a Spanish IBAN (online and free).
    Bankia also have a Cuenta On account which is also free. However my experience with openining this account has been problematic trying to open online. Use passport as your ID document.

  11. Banks have to offer a basic bank account for €3, santander have one of these account,s called a Basic Account. They have many other accounts and can charge what they like! I suspect Martin like me a non resident have Santanders standard account, called a Classic account, with a €24 charge every quarter. So it’s not quite straight forward thinking we are all going to get cheap banking, we aren’t. One of the main requirements of opening the Santander Basic Account is to be a resident of the EU, so post brexit, that option will be out for UK residents. The expected increase in bank charges will no doubt be to recoup money ‘lost’ in providing the €3 a month bank account.

  12. I just received notice from Santander that they will be raising our charges from 24 to 29 Euros every there months and putting a 65 cent charge on each transaction. We are non-residents…does that make the difference?

    1. Author

      As far as I understand it the new rules are per account, regardless of residence status. I would challenge it.

  13. Will this change be automatically done by the bank x

  14. Do you know if this applies to bank accounts held by non-residents?

    1. Author

      As far as I am aware it applies to all bank accounts in Spain but for details you will need to check with your bank quoting the legislation I link to in the piece above.

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