Paying bills in Spain

Hello everyone,

What bills do you pay? If you are renting, are bills included in the price of rent, and is this common practice in Spain?

How can you pay your bills (e.g. online, at provider's store, at the post office)? Which is the most convenient or reliable way?

With what frequency are different bills sent in Spain? Are there different deadlines for payment?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


All my regular bills go through my bank, that is the chosen method by cable, mobile, water, gas and electric. Same goes for my car insurance as well as health and dental.  As for repairs I get a bill brought by hand at the end of the month and I pay it either with cash or a bank transfer. When I rented the water, gas and electric was paid to the landlord who provided me with be bills from the different companies.

In Spain there are tons of monopolies such as utilities and phone companies. There the 'customer' often has no choice but to accept 'domiciliacion bancaria' an automatic periodic payment order charging his bank account. Even with insurers one has no choice.
Errors with domiciliaciones are extremely hard to fix in Spain as opposed to in most other countries.
I asked recently if one could also use a foreign EU account for domiciliacion, but that is still not possible here.
As soon as it is, I will cancel my Spanish bank accounts.
Abroad, one is far better protected against improper automatic charges.
Rent is paid by bank between the 1st and 7th of the month and it is fully under one's own control. Rent often includes utilities, sometimes also trash and sewer.
Big problem in Spain is that bank transfers outside one's own bank often get charged for applying ridiculously high fees. That is because there are many proprietary networks instead of one joint network. It is an archaic system here, very inefficient and costly for customers.
To get around those fees, get a bank account in another country of the EU and do your bill payments from there. IBAN/SEPA transfers like that are FREE and now take a mere one day to arrive with the Spanish payee.
Paying a car rental is an altogether different story. The car rental companies will block a huge security deposit on your card for weeks as opposed to a few days in other countries. And meanwhile they will of course charge right away the rental costs.
Most purchases are best paid cash here. As a security precaution but also as a negotiating option since quite some will provide a serious 'discount' if done so. For obvious reasons.
Cards and PayPal are useful for online purchases. I recommend especially using Paypal if you can since it gives more options and has better processes to dispute charges than through one's card issuing bank.
Paying abroad with a Spanish card is a pain. Their archaic networks result in charges appearing late, often days later, against one's supposed card and bank balance. The rest of the world is able to have real time card and bank account balances, but Spanish banks are not. Obviously they are hiding that they are holding one's money somewhere temporarily, a practice that is ancient and does not belong in this time especially with the high fees they charge en poor exchange rates.
As to getting cash out via  A Spanish ATM, never take out against the exchange rate of the ATM. Always leave non-converted so it gets charged with the exchange rate of your bank abroad. Your rates will always be far better.
Insurance, being that the premiums are often quite inexpensive, are best paid annually to get the best price, or quarterly. Just beware that the insurer will be charging your account automatically often without ANY notice ahead and you will also need to cancel these automatic orders, even the annual one. They love to trick one into inadvertedly lapsing the deadline of giving notice. Keep a calendar of all of these.
If you believe you are due a refund by a phone company, make sure to file it as a complaint online. No use calling as one gets different answers and often such claims are not processed right. The funds will be deposited back to your bank account where you pay from.
At gas stations only pay cash. Saves you time, since the attendant can take that and it is more secure.

I have my bank account with Caixa, and for all the services - Internet, Mobile, Child´s school fee, electricity, gas , water.  My account number is linked with services.  I think it is mandatory to get it linked or provide account details to avail any of such services.

So all the bills automatically paid on time and by bank account itself.

For house rent and credit card bills, I set a date (configure the payment instruction) in bank account, and on specific date it gets debited.

So far, there is no possibilities of late payment, thus no penalty, as everything is automated.

Just on the point  Paperdetective   "At gas stations only pay cash. Saves you time, since the attendant can take that and it is more secure."

I have been using my Nationwide Visa for petrol for around 30 years.  Never ever had any problem.

(With the price of a tank-full of petrol now around  4 times what I paid for my first banger in 1957 in UK, £10, I find a card much more secure than carrying a pile of cash)

PS Karan   QUOTE   So far, there is no possibilities of late payment, thus no penalty, as everything is automated.

In July  on checking my bank statement I noticed that the IBI for one of my son's apartments here, which is on a  DD from my account,  had not been debited. 

Short story:  The Town hall had an erroneous record that the apartment had been sold.  Eventually sorted but I had to pay the full IBI and claim back the 30% discount which my son is entitled to as he is on the Padron. Claim submitted, stamped etc.  Now  October and still waiting for the refund.

So do not believe all will be paid just because you have made the D/Ds etc.

On security issues with cards: be aware that teh stories here are merely anecdotal. The reality is that there are a lot of scammers out there en nowadays and cash is your protection against them. The fact that one or two people have had luck with no scams for decades means nothing. In fact, I had already two scam attempts while living here. Had to get my cards replaced. So now I'm far more into cash payment in stores and at gas stations. By the way, in rural Spanish areas attendants often may not have access to connected card readers anyway. If you insist on paying with cards they will send you inside, a real waste of time.
Just do not assume that your card details (nor id details) are safe here. The nonchalance of the Spanish use of cards and lack of sufficient security measures is astounding. Just observe and tell me then it is not true.

Paperdetective.  be aware that the stories here are merely anecdotal  ( i.e.  not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research).

Good point.   

But I speak from 30 years as a Police Detective in UK  (including working on The Met and City Police Company Fraud Dept. often closely with the major UK banks)   investigating practically every type of crime, working 20 years as a volunteer with the National Police and some time with Guardia Civil, in Spain assisting victims of crime and arrested suspects,  and being resident 30 years in Spain.

In most case of fraud involving credit cards, as long as the victim has not been grossly negligent, they will usually be reimbursed.

Loosing cash  is often just that,.   For residents in Spain, with Spanish insurance companies an uninsurable  loss unless stolen by quite violent robbery.

As a general rule, when a pick-pocket steals a wallet they take the cash and abandon everything else, including credit cards, in the nearest rubbish bin.

This is of course just my angle on things

I generally use money to pay bills

basics e.g. utilities - bank automated
Car tax pay at bank - forget and a modest multa applies like last time 80 Eurocents
IBI - direct / bank or via cash at bank same when forgetting to pay or when they forget to take it out of account one pays a multa .... it does happen.
Funny you cant pay these with a credit / debit card.... at a bank
Other smaller purchases - petrol etc., we use debit card with no problems or electronic bank transfer.

Larger purchases credit card (foreign) or cash ..... rarely bank transfer as a  recall is problematic nowadays.
Car rental always by credit card (UK card) any flights etc always with credit card even if there is a surcharge - specifically cheap tickets as on nofly etc. one gets the money back.
Note on car rental - they can block two amounts one is for the francisa (the part one pays if accident etc) and one is for penalties multas etc., This is the one they like to hang onto for a while....

Basic security - More than one bank account. The one with debit card gets topped up regularly but cant get overdrawn. The Spanish government can access all Spanish accounts but the debit card can't ......

So far 12 years no problem.

To answer the title of this thread :-

I live in Spain.

I have a Spanish bank account, from which I pay all my regular Spanish bills, including an allowance to my wife's account,  by DD. 

My State pension is paid directly into that account.

The DWP, as is their MO, pay the pension through City Bank, where it is converted into Euros and then transferred via City Bank Madrid to my account.  It hits my account a few days after the DWP payment date.   There are no charges and it is the best rate possible.

I maintain a Nationwide Building Society account in UK , no charges,  where my Crown Pension (former Government employee pension) is credited;    I have my visa account there, which is paid in full by DD every month, so no charges, either for the card or transactions,

Occasionally I have a couple of month's Crown Pension paid directly to my Spanish account to top it up.   Again that is converted by the Government pension managers before being transferred, so again the best rates and no charges.

I use my (Nationwide) Visa card for most casual payments, restaurants, petrol, supermarket shopping, on-line purchases, etc.  ,     No charges. and best exchange rate.   Always pay in Spain in  Euros, NEVER in GBP as local exchange rates are very poor.

I use cash only for small everyday purchases, coffees, a beer or two, etc.

Over the 30 years I have lived in Spain I have refined my finances as above.  I believe I have the best and most efficient MO.  Of course this is my personal solution which I would not expect to be right for many others.


I pay every 2 months my water and electric bills through my Spanish bank account.
My mobile phone and internet landline are being paid cash every month in their office
in my town. Good arrangements with cablemovil here in Murcia.

The rent of my duplex is also through my bankaccount.


I am a US citizen and have lived in Spain off and on for 22 years, and pretty much do things similarly to Johncar. I have a Citi plat card which I use for most purchases when the dollar is strong or when we travel  (as with Johncar, there is no commision and money is transferred at bank rates in any currency, also get Oneworld freq flyer points, but card costs $95/year). I have an FX acoount which I use to transfer large quantities (usually $10,000) which costs me about 1% per transfer. In Spain, I have a 123 account at a major bank which pays good interest up to 15,000 euros) and we have our bills "domiciled" to this account, also have Spanish credit/debit cards which I need to use with a certain frequency to get interest on my 123.  If I find a local Citibank in Alicante, I will look into starting an account there. The only problem I have had with Spanish banks is perhaps changing rules on account or not offering interest or offering very low interest rates on savings. I have not had credit card fraud problems in Spain, but my wife and I have had two problems in the US, the last of which was due to the cavalier attitude of trusting waiters or hotel clerks with your credit card in the US (I now do not let my credit card out of my sight anywhere and use trip notification on my card) . Citicard covered the fraudulent charges and reissued mw another card quickly. I do use cash for the market, coffee, outings with friends, etc. For gas use the plat card on repsol and get Iberia points. Don't use my debit card except for cash withdrawal at my bank.

I can't say I'm a big fan of Spanish banks.

On the few occasions when I have to go into a branch office I'm amazed how long it takes for them to carry out the simplest of transactions. If you are behind say three or four people in a queue then you will be at least half an hour and probably longer. Mind you I haven't needed to go into a branch for over nine months now so it's not such a big problem.

The banks also change their conditions as and when they want and the changes are usually to my detriment. Nowadays I get charged 3€ a month for the pleasure of having a bank debit card and they charge me one or two euros every time I use that card to draw money from any ATM that isn't theirs.

Telephone and especially email customer service can be frustratingly slow and, as my Spanish is inadequate, and I prefer to use email it can become very annoying asking the question a couple of times before anyone deigns to answer.

That said, and I never thought I would do this, but I feel I need to stick up for Spanish banks a bit after the long message from paperdetective.  He or she makes it sound as though things in Spain are significantly different from other banking systems. To be honest I can only compare the Spanish banks with the UK, and only anecdotally at that, but I don't see that much difference. I was also"forced" to pay bills by direct debit in the UK, various bits of the credit card bill don't appear straight away etc. We've had discussions on this board in the past about the security of contactless payments etc. I'm not that concerned about the time it takes to walk inside a petrol station to pay at a fixed terminal so I suppose that paperdetective and I have different paces to our lives.

On a recent trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Austria I presumed that my British bank cards would be much cheaper to use than my Spanish ones. That was a remarkably expensive mistake on my part. My Wizink credit card was way, way cheaper than either British Barclaycard or an HSBC credit card.

I don't recognise the thing about monopolies either. Until about four years ago it was true that the only Internet provider in the village of 100 people where I Iive was the old, renamed, state provider. But that was four years ago and I think that I now have the choice of about four or five local set ups plus the possibilities through the mobile networks. It's true too that most people around here have stuck with Iberdrola as their electricity retailer but I know several people who haven't.

I do recognise the thing about the hassle there is in Spain if you are looking for redress. My, anecdotal, experience is that I haven't had many problems but if something does go wrong trying to complain in Spain is a hell of a job. Banks, insurance companies, government departments and the like simply don't answer.

As to the original question I think all my standard payments, electric bill, council "rates", rubbish collection, water, phone/Internet, mobile phone and a couple of charitable donations are on "direct debits" So far, fingers crossed, they've never been a problem even when I've had to change details. Car and house insurance are paid against invoices - sometimes by bank transfers and sometimes with credit cards. I use the credit card to pay for anything that I'm not carrying the cash for in, for instance supermarkets and petrol stations. Spain tends to be a cash society, especially away from the bigger towns, so that I sometimes pay things like restaurant bills with folding money which I wouldn't have done in the UK even 15 years ago. I would never consider paying for my Taco Bell taco with either a card or my mobile phone as most of the young people in front of me were doing when I went in one, for the first time ever, last week- if it's 5 or 10€ then I would still definitely pay with cash though I can't remember the last time that, when I asked if I could pay with a card, anyone said no.

Transferring money between bank accounts - for instance to pay friends - I just do online or use the app on my mobile phone. Inter bank transfers have been free with my account for years now.

I still get occasional cash in the UK and if I transfer that to Spain I use one of the Transferwise type setups in which case the money usually turns up on the same day in Spain that it "leaves" the UK. My pay cheque seems to take a couple of days to process but I always wonder if that's because my employers don't actually tell me the truth about when they paid me!

I am also living here in Galicia for several years and have lived elsewhere in Spain as well as in several other (Spanish speaking) countries.

1)  I agree with your basic security point and would add t o get a couple of free online bank accounts like Openbank (Is cheap daughter of Santander) or Imaginbank (is cheap daughter of Caixa) to cover that or you end up with lots of fees.

2) I assure you that all major car rental companies I used  here place a full hold for weeks for the franquicia (security deposit) and did not differentiate. I also worked for two major car  rental companies (Alamo and National). No such differentiation was ever applied by us, so I'm not sure  what company you got that privilege. My own consumer experience with a couple of them, includes using my own Spanish cards for that not  foreign ones. Small local only car rental companies where one has a personal relationship are different of course, but did not refer to those. My local one refunds the deposit  days and it is also far smaller than the (inter-)nationally operating ones. So I recommend staying away from the big ones. The sole exception  is if you rent a car one way for $ 1 Euro through Driiveme (which means you return a car that was already a one way rental and get to drive for free). In that case the security deposit is a fair EUR 300 and a lengthy wait for its return becomes less important.

A couple of other things anyone may want to  consider:
3) Train and bus tickets are bought online (if the site works ;-), That prevents hassles like 'no change', higher ticket prices,having to wait first for online ticket passenger to get seated  and hope you will still be allowed in. if age 60 or older bring proof and get free senior train  discount card at stations.

4) Consider also, if you rent cars regularly, to get a separate inexpensive annual   'franquicia' insurance.

5) As to  anyone doubting that Telefonica/Movistar has no monopoly, check  out the law. they OWN the lines from the switch into the house and the other companies have to ask them to make the connection, every time again. Also, in local rural areas they can easily sabotage any attempt of the other companies to set up their own GSM antenna's and they do. In many areas the other companies simply  refuse their customers a fixed line connection because they d o not want to deal with the hassle and the complaint afterwards of poor connections caused by Telefonica/Movistar.  When you get a  fixed line first for a   month with T/M (a trick l  learned) and then cancel while switching to one of the other suppliers T/M will call  to threaten you with EUR 150 charge for early cancellation as well as a threat to throttle a competitor. Officially they may charge you but the throttling is not allow. State that they threatened to throttle you if you change and that you recorded the conversation. They will never pursue the matter again.
To really save money, consider getting a prepay phone card from your home country as the end of roaming rates has shown Spanish companies not to keep up  with much lower rates.  UK cell rates can be cheaper. Portuegese certainly are cheaper and at the border the Portuguese cell antenna's are  often far better than local  Spanish ones. I bought a 15 GB cell data only card across the border for 15 euro. One can start its use anytime (recommend getting a 4g sim card modem if living near the Portuguese border) and it lasts 2 weeks. better connection and lower cost than a service from Spain.

6) Even taxi drivers have a monopoly here in Spain. Local towns set their rates and give them permits. There is no taxi competition.  The taxi lobby also had the Spanish government kick Uber out of  the country. So taxi rates are obscenely high. Consider instead the here quite popular rideshare through BlablaCar. It saves a ton of money and time. You pay on  the site, n advance, using a card.

I can certainly appreciate the advice given here, but being as this is a fairly international audience, I just want to mention that internet security concerns are international . . . the issues requiring attention and care do not stop at borders or oceans.  Here in the US, I subscribe to 3 technology blogs, just to keep up with the ongoing breaches on websites.

Additionally, my husband and I have each been affected by identity theft; he via a job application at a state website and I via our tax return website --!   I review our online bank and card accounts daily, just as a precautionary measure.

No one is really safe anywhere online, no matter the country.  Only constant vigilance aids in maintaining a measure of security, at least allowing for immediate reaction to potential fraudulent activity.

Be careful out there, no matter where you are!    :cheers:

Hello, all bills were paid for my landlord monthly. My landlord came to my flat every month and i gave her money, that's all!

Some members here really sound as if they are unhappy with the way Spain is run.
Knowing it is not perfect is one thing, but to always write the negatives is another.
To answer the OP you will find the preferred payment is to have the money payed directly from your account.
This can be stopped but you have to do it within the laws of the country. Normally utilities, IBI, car insurance, etc cannot be paid another way.
Sometimes you will find that to set things up there is a paper chase. However if you do not make payment automatically you could well find yourself do the same amount of paper work each time plus having to queue up to wait for a desk to be free at the bank. I know what I like to do to and how to spend my free time away from any bank!
A lot of credit cards can be linked to your mobile phone. This is a good safety measure as you will receive a message when a payment has been taken from your account. You will see that instantly.
There no old fashioned things like cheques in Spain. Thus there are no cheque guarantee cards either.
The RENFE website works just fine. It is usually those with non Spanish cards that have difficulty. Even then you can use PayPal these days to overcome those problems.
I feel that if you read careful most of the other questions have already been answered.
Are you getting some facts together for this website???