Questions you may want to ask when opening a bank account

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There are many points to take into account when opening a checking account, and the information on the terms and conditions offered by different banks can often be confusing.

Here are the most typical things you should take into account when choosing the right type of bank account for you:

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1. Fees

One of the most important questions when choosing a checking account concerns the fees.

In general, bank account fees are associated to the handling and maintenance of the account, i.e., the costs incurred for operating and updating the account, the security cost and the staff costs involved.

2. Cards: annual card issuance and maintenance fee and issuance/renewal costs

Many banks offer debit or credit cards associated to a checking account. It is worth considering what advantages are offered by the card (e.g., discounts in stores, points programs, etc.). Also, you should check if there are any card issuance or maintenance fees (when opening the account) or renewal fees (to issue a new card when it expires).

If you are interested in a credit card, you should also know the pre-authorised credit limit and the interest rate applied.

3. ATMs and withdrawal fees

Each financial institution has its own agreements and fee policy for its clients. It is important to know how many ATMs the bank has in Spain and, specifically in your area (near your home, workplace, etc.). Some banks, such as BBVA, have ATM locator tools which locate ATMs according to your location, zip code or the town or city where you live or where you want to travel.

4. Branches

With the arrival of Internet and smartphones, many of the operations that were typically carried out in bank branches are now done from work, from home and even in the street.

However, it's always useful to know how many bank branches there are and where they are, in case we need to use them.

5. Transfers

Some companies offer unlimited and free transfers, others set a limit on the number of free monthly transfers, others charge a fixed fee or a percentage of the amount transferred.

Find out the cost of international transfers, both within the European Union and to other countries in the world, as different charges or fees might be applied depending on the country of destination.

As well as transfers, some financial entities now offer a new method of transfer and request for money, such as Bizum. This system allows you to make transfers to your contacts without needing to know their bank account number. Just with their telephone number, you can transfer or request money and receive it almost instantly.

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6. Passbook and checkbook

Today, many checking accounts do not come with bankbooks or check books because it is much easier to follow account movements online by computer, using mobile apps and even from ATMs.

Remember that many banks offer promotions to new clients or for new accounts. These promotions are usually associated to direct debit billing, the deposit of salaries or recurring income. It is important to compare the advantages on offer, but also to be aware of the conditions of each account and the promotion you have been offered: limited term, penalties if you don't fulfil one of the conditions, etc.

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