Am I entitled to a free basic payment account?


Some weeks ago we told you about basic payment accounts. As we said then, your bank can generally charge you a fee of up to €3 per month for providing the services associated with these accounts, subject to certain limits.

However, vulnerable members of society find it more difficult to access these accounts. Under a recently approved Royal DecreeAbre en ventana nueva, basic payment accounts will be provided to vulnerable customers free of charge.

What, however, do we mean by “vulnerable”? How do you apply for a free basic payment account? What steps are involved? Your bank has to inform you about these questions, so don’t hesitate to ask. Here, however, we summarise the essentials:

To begin with, you should be aware that this measure is intended for people entitled to a basic payment account. These accounts are provided free of charge if you meet the following two conditions: 

  • The annual income of your household unit is not above certain limits specified in the Royal Decree. These limits, which are set in accordance with the multipurpose income indicator (IPREM by its Spanish abbreviation) published annually in the State Budget LawAbre en ventana nueva, are more or less stringent depending on the members of the household unit. 
  • You have no claim to real estate, other than your principal residence, or to any business entity.

These conditions must be met both by you and, where applicable, by any other account holders or parties authorised to operate the account.

To demonstrate that you meet these requirements, you have to submit various documents to your bank:

  • To show the number of household members, the family record book (libro de familia) or the document to register as cohabiting partners.
  •  To show your income, you have various options, including tax or administrative certificates related to your income and recent payslips.

However, if you do not have these documents, you should submit a municipal social services report indicating the composition of your household unit or explaining why you are eligible to benefit from this measure.

Also, your bank may ask for your authorisation to obtain online, from the competent authorities, the information necessary to show you fulfil the requirements mentioned above, for which it cannot charge you.

  • Bear in mind that, even if you already have a basic payment account for which you pay fees, you can apply for it to be provided free of charge if your circumstances change so that you meet the requirements mentioned above. If your application is successful, your account will be provided free of charge from the date you submitted it.
  • Your bank has 30 days to accept or refuse your application from the date you provide the documentation. It must inform you of its decision in writing and free of charge. If it does not respond to your application within this period, it is considered to have been accepted. Also, if you do not agree with the decision you can submit a complaint.
  • Finally, you should be aware that fulfilling these requirements gives you the right to a basic payment account free of charge for a period of two years. If your circumstances remain unchanged this period will be extended by successive two-year periods.
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