If you plan on sticking around in Italy for long, you’re going to want to open a bank account in Italy. Finding a bank account in Italy was a JOURNEY. I have heard a few stories from other foreigners in Italy that it has caused a headache. In theory, you don’t have to be a resident in Italy to open a bank account.
However, I ran into problems at a lot of banks. Most info I found online when searching for a bank was not what they told me in person. Many banks rejected me because I wasn’t a resident, others because I didn’t have a direct deposit paycheck, others because my name on my Permesso and my SSN were different because I missed my middle name, there was always some reason. I have settled for two online banks. In this article, I will include a few options so you can see what might be better for you.
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A few things to know about Bank Accounts in Italy
Many, if not all, Italian accounts take a few euro fees every month, this can range but is usually around 4 euro, it may be higher if you are not a resident. Then, banks with in-person branches often require you to settle issues in person, and at the branch, you opened the account. I have run into this many times and had to change my main branch every time I moved cities, it meant half a day at the bank each time, this is one reason I switched to online only.
Also, Italian banks may be subject to high fees for withdrawals from ATMs, and for international bank transfers. For cross country transfers I found that Wise was the best option (scroll down to Online Banks).
What you will need to open your bank account in Italy:
Most Italian banks will require you to open an account in person, you will need your passport, your Codice fiscale, and your SSN. You will need your SSN because due to FATCA, all your finances in Italy need to be reported to the US. You should also go ahead and bring your permesso with you just in case.
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Finding a bank in Italy: In Person Options
These are the largest banks in Italy and you will find ATMs and branches everywhere, so they are quite accessible. You will need to go in person to open an account. Intesa is great as can have international branches and has investment options. I have previously used Intesa and was happy with the service until I ran into some issues with blocking my card, and they made it near impossible to open a new account.
I used BancoPoste for about 2 years, and also was happy, however, I wanted to look for an account that did not have a fee.
The main cons of these accounts are The monthly fee to hold an account, the fact you have to solve many issues in person and have to always go back to your original branch. The Customer Service for these companies was not that great for online/phone.
Online Italian Based Banks
I personally use Fineco and have been with them for 4 years now. Everything can be done online, when I signed up I just had to sign one form in person, but it took only about 20 minutes. You can find branches all around Italy, so this one meeting is not too difficult. Then I have to say their phone and email customer service are very responsive and helpful.
Hype on the other hand is an entirely online account. Rather than a bank account, it is more like a prepaid card that can be used entirely through your phone. You can pay stores and send money to friends instantly. You can also track your budget, get cashback and even invest in bitcoin. (*I did find out that you will need residence to open an acount with them!)
Some cons of these two: With Fineco I found cards tend to get demagnetized. It happened to me at least twice, and when I looked for help online I saw many saying the same thing had happened. Every time you ask for a replacement, you have to pay for a new card. Then if you are over 28 you have to pay a monthly fee.
Hype does require a monthly fee from 3 to 10 euro, plus you have only a limited number of bank transfers with the cheaper version. So while it has great features, it does have some things to keep in mind.
International Online Banks
- N26: N26 is a growing favorite, it can be used in different countries, and you can set up your original account either in Italy or the US. Everything is entirely online, you can opt for a card or use your phone. You can also deposit cash through many locations in Italy
- Revolt: Revolt is another great 100% online bank, letting you get real-time exchange rates, invest through the app and pay both through a card or your phone
- Wise (was Transferwise) This is my personal favorite, it can hold multiple currency accounts at once, you can exchange and transfer money across borders with very low fees, you can also get a physical card to pay in any currency. The best for switching countries often. With this link, you’ll get a rate-free transfer for up to 500euro!
Another Great Payment method
Not a bank, but I have to sing Satispay’s praises. Satispay is an app that you can charge with your chosen budget weekly, you can use it to send money to friends, pay bills, or pay at stores. I love it because it gives tons of cashback options, allows you to set a weekly budget and it means I don’t need to carry my wallet.
While really popular in the North, especially in Turin, from what I understood it hasn’t yet taken off further south. Still a great option when you can use it. You will need an Italian bank account to set it up and connect. Click here to get 5 euro free!