Using a Belgian Bank Account

Find out about the products and services available from banks in Belgium, plus bank opening times...

Most banks are open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 16:30 and a few banks are open on Saturdays. Many smaller branches may close at lunchtime, often between 13:00 and 14:00.

Debit Cards

Payments in Belgium are often made with a debit card. Generally, this is issued when opening a bank account and allows use of the bank's ATMs for a range of transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, fund transfers and sometimes bill payments. When using a debit card, the amount of the transaction is removed almost immediately from the person's bank account.

The major types of debit card are Bancontact, Mister Cash, Cirrus and Maestro. These require a four-digit PIN code issued by the bank. Most debit cards can be used in any ATM that is part of the related debit card network.

Proton

Some debit cards have what is known as a Proton facility, which can be used for making small payments. A PIN code is not necessary. Cash cards can be loaded electronically at a bank machine, and can be used for paying parking fees, newspapers and most other everyday items.

To use the card, the shopkeeper types the amount in to a Proton terminal, and the customer then inserts their card and confirms the transaction. The disadvantage of Proton is that if the card is lost or stolen it can be used by anyone until the credit is spent.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are used widely in Belgium, and differ from debit cards in that payments for purchases are removed from the bank account once a month. Both Visa and Mastercard are available through banks, but American Express and Diners Club cards are issued by the respective company. An annual fee is charged for a credit card. Monthly statements are issued about ten days before the payment is debited from the bank account.

Cheques

Cheques are very rarely used in Belgium.

Paying Bills

There are a number of ways of paying bills in Belgium, and some can be paid via an ATM.

Household bills and invoices can be paid by authorised payments, otherwise known as direct debit (domicilisation/domiciliëring). This allows an authorised organisation to debit money from the bank account. To set up an authorised payment with a company, written consent must be sent to the payee, who then sends bills directly to the bank.

Standing orders (ordre permanent/doorlopende opdracht), are common for amounts that do not vary from month to month, such as rent payments. The customer simply has to give authorisation to the bank to transfer a fixed amount to another bank account on a fixed date.

Many bills can be paid by money transfers. Bills in Belgium are often accompanied by an orange slip, which has the name and account number of the payee, as well as the amount due. The customer fills in their own account number, signs the payment slip, and then sends by post or hands it in to the bank.

Electronic Transfers may be made at self-service banking machines in the majority of banks. Most banks offer Internet banking services: the online transfer forms are the same as written transfer forms.