Opening a Czech Bank Account

Want to open an account in Prague? Ryan Scott suggests some points to consider when choosing a bank

Setting up a bank account in the Czech Republic is pretty simple. All you need is your passport and an initial deposit. If you have time, however, it pays to do some research, since banks' services and fees vary.





FEES



If your monthly income is over 15,000 CZK, eBanka charges no monthly fees. For most of the others the monthly fee is between 30 and 50 CZK a month. Citibank's is the highest at 250 CZK.



The annual fee for your standard debit card, usually a Visa Electron, is between 150 and 200 CZK.





USING YOUR CARD



Using your bank's own machines costs around 6 CZK. Using another bank's can cost five times as much.



Volksbank is the absolute cheapest if you use their ATMs (2.5 CZK per transaction).



If you meet their 15,000 CZK minimum income requirement, eBanka charges a flat rate of 6.90 CZK for all ATMs. This only seems fair as there are relatively few of their ATMs around.



If you can show restraint, ČSOB is the cheapest option, offering two free withdrawals per month.



It's when you travel abroad that you'll be hit hardest.



The fee is between 75 and 80 CZK, plus 0.05% of the total withdrawn.



If you're earning crowns and plan to travel then it might pay to withdraw beforehand and take travelers checks, which are available from most banks. Costs are between 1-2% of the amount.



Making electronic purchases is free with all the major banks.





OTHER SERVICES



Overdrafts are possible and range from 10,000 to 20,000 CZK. ČSOB offers the overdraft facility as part of its monthly service fee. Other banks charge. Interest is applied to all.



Internet banking is available from all. Again, the costs vary.



As the name suggests, eBanka is marketed toward electronic banking.



Unlike most of the other banks they will issue a Personal Electronic Key (a small handheld device which randomly generates security codes) free of charge.



One disadvantage of being so focused on the internet, however, is that there are fewer branches.





EXPAT SERVICES



Česká spořitelna advertises an account expressly tailored to expats, with services in English, French and German. Their "World Class" package allows you to open two foreign-exchange accounts, though Živnostenská banka and eBanka offer this service too.



Volksbank offers the "Free" account. Many of its services, as you'd imagine, are free of charge, and it's available to foreigners studying in the Czech Republic.





SENDING MONEY HOME



In order to do this, you'll have to obtain a form either from a branch or online.



Czech banks require a number of numerical codes referred to as symbols. These symbols tell the bank where the money is going and the purpose of the payment. You should be able to get a list of these symbols from your bank.





CURRENCY EXCHANGE



According to conventional wisdom the places which don’t charge offer the worst exchange rates. However a little research shows that for these six banks it isn’t always the case.




































































































Exchange Rates and Commissions Charged by Banks
BankCommissionExchange Rate
  USDEURGBP
  BuySellBuySellBuySell
ČSOB0% up to 49 pieces20.12620.90627.59128.65941.27642.874
Živnostenská banka (UniCredit)2%19.87621.10527.26628.95340.78343.306
Citibank1.5%20.15520.64527.78328.45741.46642.474
eBanka1% up to 50 pieces20.00020.99027.44028.82041.05043.120
Komerční banka1% sell, 2% buy20.11020.88827.68128.55941.39942.729
BAWAG0% sell, 1% buy20.28520.69527.82428.38641.39242.652


• Information collected between 10:45am and 11am on July 26th, 2007






LANGUAGE SKILLS



A quick ring around various banks that the level of English-language skills varied.



Dialing the number on ČSOB's English page gets you directly to an English-speaking operator. Some misunderstandings ensued but my query was answered fairly promptly and politely.



After a short wait, the operator at Živnostenská banka passed me on to a colleague with better English-language skills, and my question was answered quickly.



Česká spořitelna's Expat Center has an answering machine that greets you in English.



The eBanka receptionist asked for my number which she then passed on to an English-speaking colleague.



Branches near the main tourist centers, such as Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) and Malá Strána, have at least one member of staff who speaks English.





CREDIT CARDS



Credit cards are available only to Czech citizens and permanent residents.

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