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Alicante - Banking

Once a resident in Alicante you can open a bank account easily with just your NIE (numero de identificacion de extranjero or foreigners' identification number) number. Make sure that you open a resident account, and not a non-resident account as charges can be a lot higher. Many banks have English speakers working in their branches, and those that don't are actively recruiting. Banks websites are also available in English, making online transactions very easy, and payments, transfers, even international transfers, are easy to do yourself.

The major national clearing Spanish banks in the area that have English websites are BBVA www.bbva.es, Bankinter www.bankinter.com, Grupo Banco Popular www.bancopopular.es. Other major banks include Banco Santander and La Caixa. Your choice of bank may depend on its convenience for home and work, and availability of English speakers. Take a look at the websites for their ease of use too.

Solbank is a subsidiary of Banco Sabadell that caters specifically for foreigners in Spain. Although there are no branches in the city of Alicante itself, there are branches in surrounding areas popular with expats such as Denia, Elche and Torrevieja.

Spain also has a network of local savings banks, which provide the same services as regular clearing banks, the local in Alicante being CAM (Caja Mediterraneo) which also has an English website at www.cam.es

There are three main ATM networks in Spain, Telebanco 4B, ServiRed and Euro 6000. Make sure your bank is a member of the network that you see most commonly around where you live and shop, as you will be charged for withdrawing money from a network that your bank does not belong to. Telebanco 4B is the most popular with the largest number of ATMs, followed by ServiRed and then the Euro 6000 network of savings banks.

Bank branch offices are notoriously difficult to visit due to their restrictive opening hours. They vary by bank, but most are only open Monday to Friday from 8am until 2pm during the summer (May to October), with winter hours extended by either one evening opening per week, or a Saturday morning.

International banks are represented in Alicante such as Barclays in Avenida Alfonso X el Sabio, Lloyds TSB in nearby Calpe and Deutsche Bank in Avenida Dr Gadea. There are branches of Citibank in the area's capital, Valencia. International online bank ING also operates current accounts in Spain through its website www.ingdirect.es. ING also allows one free international transfer per month.

Although most current accounts are issued with a cheque book, these are very rarely used in Spain, many people preferring cash, and most shops and restaurants not accepting them, preferring cash, debit or credit cards.

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