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Spain Money Saving Tips and Offers

Save money in Spain. Providing regular money saving tips, tricks, offers, cheap deals and guides for people living in or visiting Spain. Covers shopping,restaurants, going out, supermarkets, insurance, bank accounts, utilities, phone/mobiles etc.

Activo Bank Account - Free Banking in Spain
13 October 2018

Activo Bank, part of the Banco Sabadell group, is one of the few Spanish banks to provide commission free banking without any catches.  I had an Activo bank account for a few years and had a positive experience with them.  The only downside was the internet banking was a bit basic and was only available in Spanish (fine for me as I speak Spanish).

The Activo Bank account offers the following advantages:

  • 0 commissions
  • 0 maintenance fees
  • Free national transfers in euros
  • Free euro cheque deposits
  • Free bank card issued and free bank card renewals
  • Free withdrawals at Banco Sabadell ATMs
  • No minimum balance required
  • No minimum amount to pay in each month

Many other banks will claim that they offer commission free banking but there is usually a requirement to pay in a minimum monthly amount and/or keep a minimum balance but it is not the case with Activo Bank.

During the time I had the bank account I had no problems whatsever, which is rare with Spanish banks!  I ended up closing my Activo Bank account as I already had a fee free Barclays account which I was really happy with and I wanted to simplify my finances.  Unfortunately, soon after closing my Activo Bank account, Barclays Spain was taken over by La Caixa and then the charges and commissions starting appearing on my account.  I wish I had kept my Activo Bank Account!

Clcik here for more details:

https://www.activobank.com



Like 0        Published at 07:23   Comments (2)


My 3000 euro refund from Caja Sur
30 September 2018

When we took out our mortgage with Caja Sur in early 2014 we had to take out compulsory home and life insurance and pay an upfront amount for 5 years' worth of cover. This was part of the mortgage terms and conditions and enabled us to get a slightly cheaper interest rate than we otherwise would have got.  We were'nt very happy with having to take out these insurances with Caja Sur.  We would have preferred to shop around.  But the mortgage rate was good so we bit the bullet and went ahead with the mortgage and the accompanying insurances.

We ended up selling our house in early 2017, exactly three years after purchasing it.  We realised that we had paid 5 year's worth of home and life insurance up front but had only owned the house for 3 years. So we thought logically we would get a refund for the unused 2 years.  We went in to our local Caja Sur branch and asked our branch manager to refund us the remaining 2 years left.  She said she would get in touch with head office and try and sort out a refund for us.  After a week or so,  she eventually got back to us to say that they were refusing to refund this money to us. Apparently the terms and conditions said that we would not get any money back.  This was a load of rubbish.  I read through the terms and conditions of both insurance polocies and there was zero mention of not getting any refund.

We were furious at this point.  We decided to make an official complaint to the Caja Sur head office in Cordoba using the complaints form we printed off their website.  We heard nothing for a couple of months and then we finally got a letter back from Caja Sur HQ in Cordoba. They had agreed to refund us the monies owed, just over 3,000 euros.  It was then a bit of a long drawn out process after this.  It took several emails back and forth before they finally released the funds to us.  Thankfully we had a really helpful Caja Sur case officer who we dealt with, rather than being passed around various people.

We finally got our money back about 3 months after starting the complaint.  That's pretty good for Spain!  So it took quite a bit of effort and persistence but it was well worth it.  3,000 euros is not to be sniffed at!



Like 0        Published at 20:25   Comments (1)


In praise of Jet2.com
20 September 2018

Just thought I'd write this post to praise the response I got from Jet2.com regarding a complaint I made to them about their "Kids Go Free" offer.  I had booked a holiday for the three of us last weekend (2 adults + 1 child), and took advantage of their free child place offer but after making the booking I had some concerns about the offer. 

 

I wrote directly to their chief executive on Monday afternoon to complain that I found their Kids Go Free offer misleading.   I felt we weren’t actually getting a free child place based on the price we were paying.   First thing Tuesday morning I got a phone call from their Head of Customer Services who explained the offer to me and put my mind at rest.  I hadn't been conned.   The hotel we had booked as part of the holiday already offered a free child place anyway.  So we effectively got the flight and transfer for free under the Jet2.com offer.

I was offered £100 off my holiday by Jet2 as a good will gesture, which I greatly appreciated.

I've always found Jet2.com to be one of the good guys.  I'll often spend extra to fly with them rather than use Ryanair or Easyjet because the all-round experience is more pleasant and I find their customer service to be excellent.  This has just confirmed my belief!



Like 0        Published at 14:27   Comments (0)


List of Spanish bank websites offering discounted repossessed property UPDATED
16 September 2018

The Spanish banks still have many thousands of repossessed property on their books that they're trying to sell.  This includes new builds, nearly new and second hand properties.  There are still some very attractive prices available, although a lot of the real bargains from the property crash have probably gone now.  

Here is an updated list of the bank repossession websites where you can buy property directly from the banks.  It's not a comprehensive list but it covers the majority of the big players in Spain:

Abanca: Ecogecasa http://www.escogecasa.es/

Banco Santander: Altamira Inmuebles http://www.altamirainmuebles.com/

BBVA: BBVA Vivienda https://www.bbvavivienda.com/

Bankia: Haya https://www.haya.es/

Banco Sabadell: Solvia http://www.solvia.es/

Bankinter: Bankinter https://www.bankinter.com/www/es-es/cgi/ebk+inm+home

Caixabank: Servihabitat http://www.servihabitat.com/svhPortal

Caja España Duero: Giasa Inversiones http://www.giasainversiones.es/

Ibercaja: Portal Inmobiliario Grupo Ibercaja http://portalinmobiliario.ibercaja.es/home/

Kutxabank: Kutxabank Inmibiliaria http://www.kutxabankinmobiliaria.es/

Liberbank: Liberbank Viviendas http://www.liberbankvivienda.es/

Popular: Aliseda Inmobiliaria https://www.alisedainmobiliaria.com/

Unicaja: Unicaja Inmuebles http://www.unicajainmuebles.com/inicio.do



Like 0        Published at 21:25   Comments (0)


Does the Complaints Book Work in Spain?
15 September 2018

By law every bar, restaurant, shop and business in Spain has to have a complaints book, knows as "hojas de quejas y reclamaciones" which you can ask for should you need to make a complaint in Spain.  Its a form in triplicate.  You fill it in at the establishment's premises and you keep the green and white copy, and the business you are complaining against keeps the pink copy.  You take the white copy to your local consumer office (OMIC), together with any evidence such as receipts, invoices, photographs, copies of letters/emails and so on.  You keep the green copy for your own records.hojas de quejas y reclamaciones

The local consumer office will then investigate your complaint and contact the company you're complaining about.  You should hear back in a couple of months, or weeks if you're lucky.  With consumer protections in Spain being way below countries like the UK, does the complaints book in Spain actually work?

Often the very act of asking for the complaints book kicks the business in to action.  Often they won't want the Consumer Office investigating them so they will often sort your complaint out there on the spot.  This was my experience the first time I asked for the complaints book.  It was in Carrefour and I was trying to take a toaster back after it broke after a couple of months.  At first they refused but then after asking for the complaints book, they swiftly refunded my money.

The next complaint I made was against Caja Sur.  When we took our mortgage out, we had to take out 5 years’ worth of home and life insurance with them.  We sold the house after 3 years so asked my local bank manager to get the unused 2 years’ worth of insurances refunded.  They refused so we submitted a complaint via the Caja Sur website (not technically the complaints book) and a few months later we got our money refunded.

Unfortunately our next complaint against Caja Sur was not successful.  We tried to claim back our mortgage related costs from them, after reading a blog post from Maria de Castro at Costa Luz Lawyers:

https://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/costaluz/16981/legal-tip-1425-claim-a-refund-for-fees-imposed-on-you-by-the-bank-when-opening-your-spanish-mortgage.aspx

Again, we complained via the Caja Sur website but our claim was rejected as expected this time.  Perhaps we should have used the official complaints book!  We've had to take legal action in this instance.

So generally, I think you have a decent chance of getting a satisfactory outcome to a complaint in Spain when you use the complaints book.  So go ahead and give it a try next time.  Good luck and let me know how you get on...



Like 0        Published at 07:30   Comments (1)


Renting in Spain
14 September 2018

For those moving to Spain, I think renting is possibly the best option for people, at least initially until you know that Spain is right for you. 

I've seen a lot of expats who bought a Spanish property, particulalry during the boom years and moved straight out to Spain, without ever having properly lived in Spain.  They went on holiday there and decided they wanted to buy their dream home in the sun! Living in Spain is different to being on holiday in Spain.  It can be a very stressfull and bureaucratic country and it can be difficult to get anything done.  There is definitely a manana attitude here.

When I moved to Spain I spent the first 5 years happily renting a 3 bed town house on the Costa del Sol.  You could argue that it was 5 year's worth of dead money, but I enjoyed the flexibility that renting gives you.

Renting lets you move from place to place with ease.  If you buy a house in Spain and then decide to move, there are lots of fees involved in buying selling.  You basically need to have made around 20% capital growth just to break even on a property sale.  That's why a lot of Spaniards buy a house and stay put.

As well as buying and selling expenses, there are also ongoing expenses such as community fees, IBI (council tax) and so on.  Some community fees can be mouth-wateringly high each month.  If you are renting, the landlord pays all of these fees.  You pay the rent and utilities and that's it.

I was paying a very low amount in rent each month when I was renting in Spain.  Rents are still quite low in the coastal areas because of the massive oversupply of property from the boom years.  Granted, the big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona can be quite expensive, but then salaries are higher there.

A lot of expats that move to Spain eventually end up going back to their home country.  Some stay for a year or two; some stay for longer and a smaller percentage will end up staying for good.  Reasons for leaving Spain can include loss of job/lack of work; illness; relationship breakdown or just good old fashioned home sickness.

Although the property market is improving in Spain, we are still not talking "property boom" here, so selling a property can take a long time.  If you rent in Spain, you can give your notice to your landlord and can get back home relatively quickly.

But if you're sure about moving to Spain, have done your homework and are in it for the long haul, then buying in Spain makes sense.

In summary:

  • Buying/Selling a house in Spain can be expensive
  • Ongoing fees such as IBI and community fees
  • Renting offers flexibility
  • Selling a house in Spain can take a long time if you need to go back home
  • Renting can be inexpensive in Spain, particularly in the coastal areas.

 

 



Like 0        Published at 08:00   Comments (0)


Spanish Bank Repossession Properties all on one Website
09 September 2018

Idealista.com, the giant Spanish Property portal makes it easy to find Spanish bank repossession properties.  It lists them all in one place, which saves you hunting them out yourself.  At the current time of writing this blog post, it has just over 35,000 bank repossession properties across Spain.  This includes second hand properties as well as new and almost new properties.  Not every single bank repo property will be on there, but with idealista.com being the market leader, I would say that a good proportion of them will be on there.  Idealista.com is the Spanish equivalent of Rightmove.

A few years back, I recall that this number was over 100,000 available properties.  I guess this reflects the fact that the massive oversupply of properties has been significantly reduced in recent years, with many of the real bargains having already gone.  But there are still some good deals on there.

The link to these bank repossession properties is http://www.idealista.com/pisos-bancos

From that link you can then narrow it down by city/area.

Here are some direct links to some of the more popular areas in Spain:

Alicante province bank repossessions

Almeria province bank repossessions

Balearic Islands bank repossessions

Barcelona bank repossessions

Gran Canaria bank repossessions

Malaga province bank repossessions

Tenerife bank repossessions

Valencia bank repossessions

 



Like 1        Published at 16:56   Comments (0)


Mercadona Yellow Sticker Price Reductions
09 September 2018

In recent years I've noticed Mercadona putting yellow reduced price stickers on items that are shortly to be out of date.  The round yellow stickers says "Bajada de precio - Fecha de consumo proxima".  Typically the items are reduced by between 20 and 50%, so nowhere near as good as some of the reduced deals you can get in the UK at the likes of Asda, Morrisons and Tescos.

Mercadona don't leave it until the end of the day to start putting these stickers on.  I was in one morning recently and there were already a lot of yellow stickered products on the shelves.  The prices only seem to be reduced once, unlike in the UK where the yellow ticket prices are reduced in stages throughout the latter part of the day.

I've not seen any of the other Spanish supermarkets doing these sort of reductions before.  Maybe they do and I've just missed them...

 



Like 1        Published at 09:00   Comments (0)


Ryanair to Start Charging for Hand Luggage from 1st November 2018
05 September 2018

Ryanair recently announced another change to their baggage policy, and it's not great news for passengers.  Ever inventive with extracting extra cash from passengers,  from 1st November 2018, they will effectively start charging for hand luggage.  It all sounds rather confusing to me.  This is from the Ryanair website:

From 01st November 2018, non-priority customers who wish to bring a second larger wheelie bag (10kg weight) must purchase the 10kg Check-in Bag for €/£8 if purchased during the initial flight booking, or €/£10 if added online after booking up to 40 minutes before the scheduled flight departure time. The 10kg wheelie bag must be deposited at the airport bag drop desk prior to entering security. Please be advised this new bag option is available to purchase from the 01st September 2018 for travel on/after 01st November.

Non-priority customers who have not added a bag to their booking can still purchase a 10kg wheelie bag at the airport bag drop desk for €/£20 or €/£25 at the boarding gate.

Main benefits of this new policy will be reduced flight delays and cheaper checked bag option. Additional advantages for customers will be the ability to pack more liquids into their 10kg checked wheelie bag and walk to the boarding gate 'hands free.' We have also increased the permitted size of the free small carry-on bag by 43% from 35 x 20 x 20cm to 40 x 20 x 25cm.”

How is this different from the previous carry-on bag policy? 

Previously, all non-priority customers could bring 1 (small) carry-on bag and 1 bigger (wheelie) bag free of charge. The bigger bag was tagged at the gate and put in the hold (for free). This led to the tagging of up to 120 free gate bags which caused delays to 25min turnarounds. From November, non-priority customers can only bring 1 free (small) carry-on bag – there will be no free gate bags. Only priority customers can continue to bring two free bags. (1 small carry-on + 1 wheelie bag)

https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/useful-info/help-centre/faq-overview/Baggage/new-bag-policy-effective-01st-november

 

 



Like 1        Published at 22:26   Comments (3)


I can still get a coffee for 1 euro in Spain
04 September 2018

I moved to Spain at the back end of 2008, just before the credit crunch happened.  Back then, I was paying 1 euro for a really good coffee (cafe con leche) in my local bar in Manilva pueblo.  Fast forward 10 years and I am still paying 1 euro for my coffee at the same bar.  The bar in question is Bar Castillo, on the main street in Manilva village.

I think this is fantastic value for money, particularly compared to coffee prices in the UK.  I would regularly have 2 or 3 coffees per day in Spain because it was so cheap.  Unfortunately, I don't spend so much time in Spain these days, so if I want to have a coffee now, I'm hard pressed to find one for less than £2.50 back in the UK.

I guess the lack of price rises reflects the economic situation Spain has found itself in since the credit crunch in 2008/09 and the lack of inflation in the economy.  It has meant that my local bar has stayed really busy during this period.

Given the recovery Spain has been enjoying in recent years, I don't think anyone would begrudge paying an extra 10 or 20 cents for a coffee?



Like 2        Published at 18:16   Comments (2)


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