Finance & Economics

How to Apply for a Credit Card in Spain as a Foreigner?

These simple guidelines will help you apply for a credit card in Spain as a foreigner without any fuss

Spain is a beautiful country to live in. Despite average career prospects, immigrants are delighted by the local leisure options, friendly people, a number of beautiful cultural and natural attractions, and a great climate. In fact, 79% of expats feel at home in the Spanish culture (vs. 63% globally) and have no trouble with learning the Spanish language. However, true comfort of life in a foreign country can be achieved only if you get access to the local banking system.

Credit cards have a number of benefits. Getting one to complement your debit account gives people additional financial opportunities. Yet non-residents in the Mediterranean country will face stricter application requirements, having no Spanish credit history.

Nevertheless, everything is possible if you know what to look for.

1. Prepare the documents. You’ll need an ID to prove your age and identity, as well as proof of long-term residency (permanent residence visa) and the tax identification number for foreigners Número de identidad de extranjero (NIE).

2. Get NIE. Once you arrive in Spain with a visa, you have one month to apply for a Foreigner Identity Card. Take all the documents that you previously needed to apply for a visa and submit your application at the relevant authorities of the province where you have settled in Spain like the Immigration Office or a police station.

3. Open a bank account. You can open up an account with most main banks in Spain either before you move or once you arrive in the country to live there. Many Spanish banks offer non-resident accounts for those only planning to move to the country. Most banks in Spain also offer credit cards with their accounts. However, those foreigners who are not permanent residents yet are not likely to get one. You can apply for the credit card either at the time you open the account or afterwards.

If you’re the owner of a non-resident account, you must inform the bank should you become resident (i.e. spending 183 or more days per year in Spain; having a business or employment based in Spain; having a spouse or minor child who are resident in Spain).

4. Consider digital banks. There are a few innovative banks operating in Spain that provide online bank accounts and receive applications from residents of multiple countries. Some of them such as Revolut or Bunq also offer credit card options. Opening up a mobile-only account usually only takes minutes and can usually be done from your smartphone. You will need to provide an address, an email address and a mobile phone number to link to your account.

5. Work on your creditworthiness. The availability of credit money and the amount of credit available to any bank customer depends on their credit history. Spain doesn’t have a scoring system like the US or UK. However, negative credit incidents such as unpaid debt are recorded and influence credit decisions. Setting up utility accounts and paying them regularly would be a good way to start building your creditworthiness in Spain. Credit scores aren’t shared between countries, so you’ll get a fresh start, even if you had troubles with loan repayment in your home country.


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