Debit and Credit Cards in Spain

Understand how to use your debit or credit card in a Spanish ATM...

In most cases an ATM card is also a debit card; two separate cards are not required.

ATMs (cajeros automáticos) provide the standard facility of being able to withdraw cash. Most will allow the account holder to view the balance and movements, and make transfers. In some cases they provide more diverse facilities such as being able to top up a mobile phone balance and buy tickets to the cinema and sporting events.

Almost all provide the option of selecting the language in which to use the service, including English.

Note: There is often an extra charge when using an ATM that is not part the banking institution where the account is held. Some banks have joined networks to help waive these costs. Icons on the ATM will indicate what network the machine is connected to.

Debit Cards

The vast majority of establishments in Spain accept debit cards for payment of goods or services. Most of them will not accept cheques which are not guaranteed. Some form of identification (passport, driving licence) is required when using a card for making a payment. If the card uses Chip & PIN technology, ID is not needed.

When using a debit card either to withdraw cash from an ATM or to pay for goods in a shop, the system will check if there are sufficient funds in the account or whether there is a pre-agreed overdraft in place. If either of these are not in place, the withdrawal/payment request will not be accepted, regardless of the amount for which it is in excess.

Credit Cards

The use of credit cards instead of cash for undertaking transactions is steadily increasing in the Spanish retail market, and they are accepted in the majority of establishments.

Most banks also offer credit cards which can either be applied for during the current account opening process, or can be opened independently, (for example via a different credit card provider). However, a credit card applied for via an independent provider, will still require a current account from which the monthly payments are made. Some independent providers will only offer credit cards to Spanish residents. Most banks charge an annual fee for having a credit card, but some offer free ones when opening certain types of accounts. Most banks charge an annual fee for having a credit card but some do offer free ones when opening certain types of accounts.

Some banks also use anti-fraud technology and send an SMS message to the account holder’s registered mobile phone number when the credit or debit card has been used. There are banks that offer personalised credit cards.

Lost or Stolen Cards

A lost or stolen cash card must be reported to the bank as soon as possible by calling their emergency number. If the card has been stolen, the incident should be reported to the Spanish Police.

  • To report an assault or robbery to the Spanish police, call 902 102 112
  • The Bank of Spain (Banco de España) is the authority to which customers can complain about service from a Spanish bank