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For tenants · 1. april 2020 · 2 minute

Best banks for foreigners and expats in Budapest, Hungary

With the countless banks and financial institutions that can be found in Hungary, especially when you’re from abroad, it’s easy to have a lot of questions. So we compiled a short list of questions and answers to try and help you chose a good bank.

Can I open a bank account in Hungary?

Absolutely. It’s always easier if you have a permanent residency in Hungary, have a work permit, or are in Hungary for studies. But even if you are a non-resident you can still open a new bank account. Though if that’s the case, it might be much more difficult. What do I need to open a bank account in Hungary? Most importantly, you need patience. Each new account at a bank is different and will require some or all of the following documents:

  • Passport, ID card, or a utility bill
  • A valid residence permit/work visa (if you want to know how to get one of those, we wrote a helpful article you can find here)
  • An address card (which usually means a proof of rental such as a lease)
  • Proof of employment or earnings

For most banks, a passport and a visa or a residence permit will do but it’s good to make sure ahead of time and check with the bank either by looking up their website or calling them. Also, most banks will want to set up your account in person and the few that make it possible to open an account online will take much more paperwork. Each bank will also charge a fee for a newly opened account which should cost you somewhere around 15 € for a standard personal account.

What banks are there in Budapest?

The safety and stability of the Hungarian banking system are overseen by The Magyar Nemzeti Bank. It has been the central bank of the Republic of Hungary since 1924 and is a member of the System of Central Banks. The rest is the private sector and it can be generally divided into three groups: the commercial banks, branch offices of foreign banks, and other financial institutions.

As to what you should expect price-wise, an average fee for maintaining an account is somewhere between 0,60 € and 9 €. The credit card charges vary wildly depending on what card you’re holding and at which bank. Average domestic credit card charges when you withdraw money are very low, at about 0,22 €.

Which bank should I choose?

Of the many banks out there, it is probably best to stick with well-established names as they are very likely to provide safe services and be flexible when it comes to English speakers. With that in mind, we have chosen these three banks, each of which is a solid choice.

First is OTP bank, the largest bank in Hungary with 1500 branches in central and Eastern Europe and a wide network of about 2000 ATMs. They have everything an expat might need, from an English phone app to a free credit card for the first year of a new account.

Second is the Erste Bank with 2700 branches all over the world which makes it a great choice for expats. They have solid eBanking and provide special accounts for students, businesses, and professionals alike. It’s good to keep in mind that there might be a steeper language barrier.

The third is the K&H Bank which has around 200 branches and even more ATMs all over Hungary. Their account comes with a free contactless debit card and has monthly fees starting at about 1,50 €. They also have a helpful phone line in English which will provide you with information, making it accessible to new arrivals.

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