It’s possible to avoid paying ATM withdrawal fees in Spain but you need to be very careful about which machines you use. Although some banks in Spain don’t charge any ATM fees at all, many of them do and the charges involved can be as high as €5 per cash withdrawal.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain and things have changed since the first time I began using Spanish ATMs. Some of the banks that didn’t charge cash withdrawal fees in the past have started to do so. It’s a bit disappointing, but that’s the way life is. I hate paying ATM fees. If you are reading this, you probably do as well. I hope this post helps you to keep more money and pay less fees. It contains a list of banks that charge foreign visitors for using their machines and a list of the ones that do not.
During my previous visits to Spain, Bankia was one of my go-to banks whenever I needed some cash. That’s no longer the case. Now, if you don’t want to pay ATM fees in Spain, you need to avoid Bankia like the plague. Every time you make a withdrawal from a Bankia ATM it charges a fee of €1.75.
And it gets worse.
When you originally enter your card into a Bankia ATM and key in the amount of money you want to withdraw, Bankia stakes claim to the money straight away. Then when you see there’s a fee and cancel the transaction the money is no longer available in your account.
When I was using a Bankia ATM in Madrid, the banking app on my phone beeped at me to let me know I’d made a withdrawal before I even got chance to cancel the transaction. Then I checked my account and it said the money would be returned within 7 days. Fortunately, it was available again within a couple of hours, but I needed cash sooner and had to transfer extra money to my account so I had cash available to withdraw from an alternative ATM. This is a situation that was new to me.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered other Spanish banks do the same thing. So you need to be very careful when you select which bank to use.
If you don’t want to pay any ATM fees during your time in Spain, BBVA is another bank you need to avoid. It’s been charging foreigners for making cash withdrawals for a very long time. Every time you make a cash withdrawal from a BBVA ATM, the bank hits you with a €1.87 fee and, like Bankia, it lays claim to the cash before you have made tje withdrawal.
IberCaja will also charge you every time you take cash out of one of its machines. At only €0.52 per withdrawal, the cost of using an IberCaja ATM is very low, but charges of any kind soon mount up. There are plenty of Spanish banks that don’t impose any fees at all so there is no need to deal with any of the banks that do. Like Bankia and BBVA, IberCaja claims the money before you even take it, placing it in limbo for a couple of hours or more (or possibly up to 7 days), so this is another Spanish bank I suggest you avoid.
The good news is, Santander doesn’t claim your money and leave it in limbo. The bad news is Santander ATMs in will charge you €5 for every cash withdrawal you make.
As far as ATM fees go, Santander is the most greedy bank I found in Spain so it’s another one you may want to avoid.
UPDATE (October 2021): A site visitor has has just informed me Santander has increased its ATM withdrawal fee to €7. Now more than ever you definitely need to be waving two fingers at this bank. (Thanks for the Info Rob.)
Sabadell Bank will charge you for taking cash out of its ATMs too. At €1.80 per pop, it’s fees are very similar to those imposed by the majority of other Spanish banks that charge, but its still money down the drain. If you need to take money out of an ATM in Spain and don’t want to pay any withdrawal fees, Sabadell is another bank to avoid.
Good Choice Avoid)
CaixaBank is one of my favourite Spanish Banks. It doesn’t charge any ATM fees at all. If you see one of its distinctive-looking yellow machines you can be sure you won’t have any extra charges when you make a withdrawal. Although, as with any other bank, avoid using dynamic currency conversion. This is an option many banks offer. It offers you the opportunity to let the machine to the currency conversion. It’s enticing because it lets you see how much money will be leaving your account back home. The problem is, the rate is always more expensive. The best thing to do is to select the option that shows you the cost in euros and let your own bank handle the conversion.
UPDATE: In September 2019, just a few days after I wrote this post, CaixaBank started to charge a €2 ATM withdrawal fee. This is now a bank to avoid.
Good Choice Avoid)
Bankinter is another one of the good banks. If you use one of its machines, the only money that will leave your account is the amount that you withdraw. Bankinter makes no additional charges at all.
UPDATE: As of June 2021, it appears Bankinter may has started charging ATM withdrawal fees and is no longer a tourist-friendly bank. If you check he comments section below, you will see a comment from Elizabeth who made a withdrawal from Bankinter and was hit with a charge of €4.
Eurocaja Rural (Good Choice)
Eurocaja Rural is a good choice as well. Its machines don’t hit you with any extra fees.
Unicaja (Good Choice)
Unicaja doesn’t charge fees either. So, if you want to avoid paying any of those nasty ATM fees in Spain, Unicaja is another good bank to use. Just remember not to accept the offer of dynamic conversion. It won’t work in your favour.