More information on a
You can transfer money from your sterling account to your euro account at a
very competitive rate (the buy/sell spread seems to be minimal, according to my
calculations shifting money in both directions, around 1.8% -
this may have got worse recently though). To withdraw money, you get a
visa delta card which can be used in pretty much any ATM in Spain at no cost provided your card
is linked to your euro account. I say at no
cost -- if you ask them they say charges are up to the discretion of the bank
which operates the ATM, but I think I have never been charged and I just head
for the nearest ATM so I must have used most of them by now. Normally you can withdraw up to
euros a day. Some machines only allow 300 but some machines allow 500.
But you can just put your card in twice to get 300
twice. You can also use the card as a debit
card for direct purchases, again (apparently) at no cost. It works very well -
you can go into an internet cafe and transfer funds between your accounts and
walk to the nearest ATM and withdraw them immediately. One minor drawback of the
Citibank account is that unless you live in central London you will have to do
all your banking by internet or by phone (which is also free), which is probably
fine for most people. I have had no problem doing this - indeed it works very
well. You may also have to make this your main account in order to avoid any
charges since you must maintain an average balance of
2000 pounds across (i.e., adding up) all you accounts each month to avoid a
charge (i.e., you can drop below 2000 some of the month so long as you
make up for it, and you don't need to have £2000 in your euro
account ); otherwise they charge €20 a month for the
euro account unless you have an enhanced current account (which costs).
As of summer 2010 there will be a charge at an ATM (cash
machine) if your card is not linked to your euro account - the exchange rate is
still decent I think. Also charges if the card is used for purchases when
not linked to your euro account. You have to call Citibank to switch the card over to your
euro account before you travel - this is free and pretty straightforward, and
you get used to using the phone service for some other banking services. (They
went through a sticky period when you had to wait to get through to someone -
coinciding with their near bankruptcy during the financial crisis, so presumably
a cost cutting measure, but now it seems OK again.)
Recently (2007) they have introduced monthly charges
for the account. However this seems to be for an enhanced version; the basic
account which is free appears to be as it was; people who didn't take action
were moved onto the more expensive account. The website is inconsistent about
what account you need to have a free euro account irrespective of your balance,
but I understand it is the Citibank Plus one.
There is a discussion of the account on a
BBC moneybox programme (5/6/04) and you can check out the
Their details about the amount you need in your accounts to avoid any
charges appear to be inaccurate however; see above.
A new change is that now (summer 08) you
money out of the account or your sterling account
(it makes little difference) to other Spanish bank
accounts for free (previously there was no free way of getting the money
out of the account other than by card without a Spanish Citibank
account). Other bank accounts only seem to allow you to
transfer money free if you also have an account in Spain with the same
bank, and to get the latter, you may have to be
living in Spain already or to have some Spanish connection,
but maybe these free transfers are now more common..
As of summer 2010 you will have to pay a charge if you
withdraw euros from an ATM when your card is attached to your sterling account.
So it is vital to call citibank to link your card to your euro account before
you travel abroad.
I have looked for similar deals from other banks but have not been able to
find one. Some have off-shore euro accounts, but these seem rather complicated.
By comparison I have found Citibank very easy to use.
Tell me if you know of better deals.