Opening a bank account is, for the vast majority of people, their first contact with the financial world. In this article we explain what type of bank accounts are available and how they can be adapted to your circumstances and needs.

Bank accounts are deposits of money, usually on an indefinite basis and which you can cancel whenever you want, through which you centralise a number of very common financial arrangements:

  • Paying in or withdrawing cash
  • Making payments or transfers
  • Direct debiting of bills
  • Obtaining other financial services

A bank account can have one or more account holders. If you share the ownership with one or more people, the way you have access to the money and operate the account can be one of two types:

  • Joint control: the signature of all holders is required to authorise any transaction.
  • Individual control: any of the account holders can use the account freely.

As the account holder you can also name authorised persons, who will be able to use the money in your name.

Types of bank account

There are two main types of bank account:

  • Current accounts
  • Savings or passbook accounts

They both share a number of common features:

  • Total liquidity: in a current or passbook account you can make deposits or withdraw your money whenever you want, although it is advisable to notify the bank in advance if you are going to withdraw a large amount of cash.
  • Ease of opening: you only need to provide an identification document such as DNI, NIF or resident's card. Banks also request other types of documentation to better identify their customers, such as a payslip for employees or a VAT return for self-employed people. Minors can also open a bank account, with the signature of their legal representative or guardian.
  • Remuneration: this is an operating product, therefore the remuneration it offers is little or nothing at all, it pays almost no interest.
  • Operation: you can have debit or credit cards associated with your bank account, and you can also have your salary directly paid in and any type of bill directly debited. You can also check your balance, withdraw cash at ATMs, and make transfers.
  • Fees: banks generally charge administration and maintenance fees, and other fees for making transfers or using other banks' ATMs.

What are salary accounts and securities accounts

One type of current account is the salary account, where it is a condition that the person's salary or other regular income (such as a pension) is paid directly in to the account. In return, these accounts may offer advantages, such as discounts on bills, exemption from maintenance fees, some form of remuneration or even remuneration in kind.

Another specific type of current account is the securities account, in which, instead of money, securities, such as stocks or bonds, are deposited. It is a necessary instrument for managing securities and it must be linked to a current account into which cash will be paid to purchase the securities. In addition, this account will be credited with dividends and proceeds from sales transactions.

Types of savings accounts

There are other types of accounts on the market that are geared towards savings, such as interest-bearing savings accounts. As the name suggests, they offer some form of remuneration, i.e. the account balance will earn you interest. They usually have a more limited functionality than a current account. For example, they do not accept direct payment of salaries or direct debiting of bills nor do they allow you to link a debit or credit card to the account. However this may be seen as an advantage if you wish to save. Unlike a fixed term deposit account, you can have your money available whenever you need it, without any penalties.

Choosing a bank account

Knowing, broadly speaking, the characteristics of the different types of bank accounts that exist, when choosing the one that best suits you, it is worth considering:

  • What fees and other charges apply, and whether they can be avoided or reduced by taking out other banking products or by fulfilling a number of conditions.
  • What are the costs of overdrafts (when your account is "in the red").
  • Whether it is necessary to maintain a minimum balance.
  • What kind of activity is allowed.
  • The availability of credit and debit cards linked to the account and their cost.
  • The interest rates. For interest-bearing accounts, you need to know if the interest rate is offered for a certain period of time (three, six months) or if it is maintained indefinitely. For the return to be acceptable, the interest rate must be at least higher than inflation.
  • Online banking. What transactions can be carried out using online or mobile banking. It is probably cheaper to do your banking online rather than at a branch office.

Now that you know what to think about when you open a bank account, find out about the Santander current accounts and choose which one is best for you.


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