This guide explains how international money transfers in Spain work, including fees, exchange rates, and timescales.
During your move to Spain, you may need to send money abroad to cover relocation fees or security deposits. Or once settled in, you might want to send funds back home from time to time. There are a number of ways to send money from Spain to another country, be it via your Spanish bank, a specialist money transfer service, or a Forex broker. This guide offers an overview of Spain’s money transfer process, including advice on the following:
- International money transfers in Spain
- Online international money transfer services in Spain
- International money transfers in Spain by traditional bank
- International money transfers via online and mobile banking in Spain
- Wire transfers in Spain
- Foreign exchange brokers in Spain
- Useful resources
Looking for an easy way to manage your money when moving to Spain? Look no further than Wise. Alongside an easy-to-use international money transfer platform, the financial experts at Wise also offer a multi-currency account, letting you make and receive payments in euros without any hidden fees. Spend like a local in Spain with Wise.
International money transfers in Spain
International money transfers have grown in popularity over recent years, with the world’s workforce becoming more mobile and a growing number of people retiring to other countries. This trend has led to hundreds of billions of euros being transferred across borders every year. For the basics on how it all works, read our guide to international money transfers.
Spain’s financial sector isn’t as advanced as some of its European neighbors, but there are still several reliable ways to send money abroad. Sending cash internationally isn’t as complicated or fraught with danger as it once was, but you’ll need to compare the costs, timeframes, and protections in place before choosing the best method of sending money.
Online international money transfer services in Spain
Using an online money transfer service can be a quick and cost-effective way of sending money directly to the recipient’s bank account with a minimum of fuss.
There is a range of international money transfer services available in Spain, all of which offer slightly different rates and fees. When comparing providers, it’s important not to focus solely on the up-front fee. Instead, you must also analyze how the provider’s exchange rate compares to the mid-market rate.
Some of the foreign exchange services operating in Spain include:
Security is an important consideration when sending money, and some money transfer services offer greater protections than others. For example, Wise (formerly Transferwise) is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, offering additional protection if anything goes wrong.
Fees for international transfers
Wise charges flat fees which vary depending on the speed you want to send cash. To send €1,000 from Spain to the UK, the difference between a low cost transfer (€4.58 as of October 2021) is about 1€ cheaper than an easy transfer, and more than 3€ cheaper than a fast transfer. When you have a lot of transfers to do, if time is of the essence, it will add up fast. If not, you can save a bundle by using the low cost option.
Paypal offers two services, which come with a mix of flat and percentage fees. If you transfer money directly to another Paypal account in another country, you’ll need to pay a fee of at least €3.99. Paypal also offers a service called Xoom, which charges flat fees of up to €1.99.
Both Paypal and Xoom charge lower fees than Wise, but when you look more closely at exchange rates, Wise offers a rate much closer to the mid-market rate – meaning you could make substantial savings.
The following figures from the comparison website Monito show the cost of sending €1,000 from Spain to the UK using popular transfer services, taking into account both fees and exchange rates.
- Wise: €4.58-8.64, exchange rate 0.01% worse than mid-market.
- Currency Fair: €2.95, exchange rate 0.31% worse than mid-market.
- XE: no fee, exchange rate 0.95% worse than mid-market.
- Skrill: no fee, exchange rate 1.48% worse than mid-market.
- Paypal: €3.99, exchange rate 3.15% worse than the mid-market.
International money transfers in Spain by traditional bank
It’s possible to send money abroad directly from your bank account, avoiding the need to use a middleman such as a money transfer company.
If you’re sending money within Europe, you can benefit from the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) agreement, which makes the process of sending cash easier and quicker. Making payments to countries outside of Europe can take much longer.
Costs of international bank transfers in Spain
The downside to cross-border bank transfers is that they can be expensive, and it’s not always easy to get a clear picture of exactly how much you’ll pay up-front.
This is because fees for bank transfers can be imposed by both the sending and receiving bank, meaning both parties involved in the transaction might need to pay. Fees can be charged either as a percentage of the transaction, a flat fee for sending the money, or both. Banks might also offer a less preferential exchange rate than money transfer companies.
Data from moneytransfers.com shows BBVA, one of Spain’s biggest banks, charges a mark-up of 3-5% on the mid-market exchange rate, and then imposes flat transfer fees of anywhere from $5 to $45 depending on your account and where you’re sending money to.
Caixa Bank, meanwhile, charges a flat sender fee of €27 plus 0.4% (minimum €3.95) for transfers in Euros. The sender’s fee can either be paid exclusively by the sender or split between the sender and recipient.
How long do international bank transfers in Spain take?
Transfers within the SEPA region should be processed within three days, but they often go through much sooner – in some cases even on the same day. If you send money further afield it may take as long as seven days for the cash to clear. Some banks offer expedited services or instant transfers, but these often come with an additional cost.
How to make an international money transfer in Spain by bank
You can make a payment by bank transfer a number of different ways – be it in person at a branch, over the phone, or via your bank’s website or mobile app.
Online and mobile banks operating in Spain that allow you to make easy international bank transfers include:
Sending money electronically is the simplest way. The process is broadly similar to using online money transfer services, but the main difference is that you won’t need to register or provide proof of identification.
To make an international bank transfer, you’ll require the following information:
- Your name, address and account number. If you are sending the money via an online banking service, these details should already be pre-populated.
- The recipient’s name and their IBAN (International Bank Account Number) or SWIFT number. These numbers help your bank identify where to send the cash.
- The amount that you wish to transfer.
- The currency the recipient will receive the funds in.
If you’re sending a large amount of money, you may need to disclose the purpose of the transfer.
How to receive an international money transfer in Spain by bank
If you are receiving money to a Spanish bank account, you’ll need to provide the above details to the sender. These should be available on your mobile or online banking service or you can obtain them by contacting your bank. Alternatively, you can use online services to calculate your IBAN and SWIFT numbers.
International money transfers via online and mobile banking in Spain
Mobile banking in Spain has grown in popularity over the last few years. Most major banks operate their own mobile banking apps, which allow you to manage your account 24/7 using your mobile phone.
Most major banking apps will allow you to send money either locally or internationally. BBVA’s banking app allows you to send to more than 3,000 banks abroad, with instant transfers to banks in the SEPA area. CaixaBank, meanwhile, allows you to view real-time exchange rates on its CaixaBankNow app.
Wire transfers in Spain
Wire transfer services are available all over the world, and provide an alternative way of sending cash.
The big difference between a money transfer and a wire transfer is that wire transfers don’t require a bank account. Instead, they simply allow you to send cash from one side of the world to another. This can be useful if you’re sending emergency money to someone in a different country, or if you’re sending to a remote location.
Wire transfer services are fast and convenient in an emergency, but they can be expensive, with less preferential exchange rates than money transfer companies. When sending €1,000 from Spain to the UK with Moneygram, the recipient will receive £796.42. With Western Union, the amount rises to £805.17 (albeit with a €4.90 fee). If you instead send €1,000 using Wise, the recipient will get £844.32.
To send a wire transfer, you normally need to provide a valid form of identification (such as a passport) and information on the nature of the payment.
Foreign exchange brokers in Spain
One final option is to send cash using a foreign exchange broker (sometimes known as an FX or forex broker). Forex brokers specialize in buying and selling foreign currencies, but some also offer international money transfer services. Brokers often offer attractive exchange rates and quick transfers, though websites and processes can be more complicated to navigate than money transfer companies.
When using a FX broker, you’ll deposit the funds into the broker’s account online, after which the provider will exchange your money and send it abroad. Some brokers offer free transfers, but your bank may charge a fee to transfer the cash to the broker.