While credit cards are one of the most typical forms of payment and one that most of us will be used to, they can be a little more difficult to obtain in Spain than perhaps most English-speakers would be used to. For those who have lived in the UK or Ireland, over the last number of years it has become common to receive a letter in the post advising us of having been ‘pre-approved’ for a credit card by some or other financial institution.
Spanish banks are slightly more conservative then their UK counterparts and you may need to have demonstrated a history of being a bank customer as well as being in receipt of consistent income over a period of time before being considered as a safe bet to entrust with a credit card.
Once approved and having had a credit card in Spain for some time you will then have a credit history here and find it much easier to obtain a credit card.
There are a number of criteria against which credit cards can be measured and which you should be aware of before choosing any particular credit card. These would include annual charges which Spanish banks tend to be more likely to make as well, of course, as the interest rate on any outstanding credit.
Spanish banks tend to see annual charges for issuing of credit cards as an important source of income and so have been more reluctant to do away with them as compared to banks in other countries. That said, depending on the particular credit card used, it may be possible to avoid the charges by taking advantage of offers that some banks make, usually to entice customers to bank with them and which may also require
a) making minimum monthly purchases and/or
b) making minimum repayment amounts on outstanding credit.
Below is a selection of banks that are advertising accounts that include the possibility of having a credit card free of charge. Please note that you will need to contact the bank to determine if the account is available.
BBVA: A credit card free of annual charges is available upon having your salary paid directly into the account.
ibanesto: A similar offer here from iBanesto of a credit card with no annual charges when a salary is paid into the account by direct debit.
ING Direct: The Dutch bank offers via it’s ‘Cuenta Nomina’ a Visa credit card with no annual charges where a salary is paid into the account by standing order.
Banco Pastor: Through its ‘Cuenta Nomina Triplete’ customers, upon transferring their salary directly to the account can benefit from a credit card free of charges where purchases of more than €1200 per year are made.
Caja Granada: A free credit card is offered by this financial institution for the first year where the customer agrees to send their salary to the account automatically.
Self Bank: This financial entity offers a free credit card with two options – one being the ‘classic’ Visa card and the other being the gold or ‘Oro’ version
Banco Popular: This bank offers those who have their salary paid directly into their ‘cuenta nomina’ a free Visa classic card
ActivoBank: This bank offers a completely free Mastercard though they do charge €10 for the plastification of a photograph of the card holder to personalize the card
Citibank: This bank is offering it’s ‘Tarjeta Citi Oro’ to clients which is a lifetime free Visa card and to whom they also offer free insurance products
Caixa Cataluña: clients with their salary or pension paid directly into their account are offered a Mastercard credit card that is free for one year
OpenBank: The openbank free credit card for life for those who have their salary paid directly into their account are also offered a discount of up to 3% on purchases
Bancorreos: This bank offers a dual credit and debit card that is completely free of annual charges for those whose salary is paid directly into their account
Visa Cespa: This card does not require changing bank and offers a 5% discount on all Cespa petrol station subject to a minimum purchase requirement to qualify for part of that discount as well as a 1% discount on purchases in other establishment. Requires application and approval by the emitting entity.