Expats relocating to Austria will find a smooth transition. Austria is a wealthy EU nation known for their hospitality and multiculturalism. Vienna, Austria’s capital, holds a quarter of the country’s population.
One of the first things you’ll need when you arrive is an Austrian bank account. Read this guide to get your Austrian finances all set up.
Opening a bank account in Austria is quite simple. You’ll need:
- Proof of identity (a passport is the norm)
- Proof of residency (usually a Residency Registration form and utility bills)
- Proof of employment
The bank’s welcome pack will provide terms and conditions for your account, so you’ll want to make sure to read through those. Your debit card, or bankomatkarte, normally arrives via snailmail within a few business days.
If you’re not a resident yet, you may have a bit more difficulty opening a bank account. Due to financial regulations, certain banks have policies that may require them to turn away non-resident customers. Others, like Bank Austria offer a range of services for non-residents. Double check with the bank before showing up.
Some banks in Austria will allow you to open a bank account from abroad, but it's certainly not a guarantee. For example, Bank Austria, as a UniCredit member, will allow other UniCredit members to open a bank account from abroad using their standard request form. Erste Bank, also called Sparkasse, specifically notes that they welcome non-residents who want to open an account.
Policies vary, but some banks make their account setup available online. If you're unclear on the bank’s policies, call the local branch. They’ll be able to clarify if there's anything you can do before entering the country. In some cases, they may also begin preparing your papers to speed up the process.
As a matter of convenience, many expats use Bank Austria, Erste Group Bank, or Raiffeisen Zentralbank. They are the largest and most prevalent banks in the country. However, if you decide to bank with another, most banks in Austria provide English assistance and expat-friendly services.
In addition to its own banks, Austria is home to a number of big name international banks and ATM partners like:
Though the list isn’t as long as those in London, New York, or another global capital, it's still worth checking with your home bank if they have an Austrian bank partner.
As an expat, you'll likely bank with one of the following operations:
They have over 300 locations (plus partner branches in 19 other countries). A few of their basic account offerings:
- Relax Account: A fixed price account with a 24-hour service line and standing order payments
- Online-Only Account: For managing transactions online with mobile banking
- Perfect Fit Account: For casual users, tailored to your needs and ideal for limited standing orders and transactions, with low fees
- Maestro Bankcard and Maestro SecureCode
Erste Bank has 2,700 locations in 7 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It’s clear why it’s considered one of the largest Austrian banks with over 15 million global clients. Some of their basic products include:
- Opening an account online
- Classic bank card with contactless payment and multi-account functionality
- Student account: Free until your 27th birthday, with the ability to open online in 10 minutes
- S comfort account: Account for salaries, wages or pensions, free for one year
- Babycare account: For parents on maternity or paternity leave, with 2 years free and bonus €20 at account opening
Raiffeisen has more than 475 branches and the largest Asian presence of all Austrian banks. They can offer you:
- Salary Account: Offering online banking and contactless payments
- Student Account: free account management and accident insurance
- Youth Account: free account management, along with offers like discounts at clubs around Austria
- Prepaid and bankomat cards
If you’re not opening a student or youth account, you'll probably be charged for your bank account every quarter. For example, Bank Austria’s three personal accounts currently cost between €5.97 and €23.97 per quarter.
There can also be charges for opening an account and applying for a credit card. And if you accidentally overdraw your account, you'll be paying high fees and interest charges.
Along with normal banking fees, if you send money abroad from Austria, you’ll face more fees. While some transfers within the EU will only cost you a nominal fee, these can vary from bank to bank. As is common in most countries, Austrian banks will advertise a fixed fee for sending money abroad, while adjusting their exchange rate and taking a hidden fee from this. You can check the real exchange rate on Google to make sure you’re not losing out when you’re making a transfer abroad.
To avoid hidden fees entirely, use TransferWise. They only use the real exchange rate and tell you their fee upfront, so you’ll always know how much you’re sending.