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Planning a move to Czechia to live, work or study? You’ll probably need a local bank account to hold and exchange Czech koruna (CZK), to help you manage your day to day finances.
There’s a good range of account options for Czech residents, although some of the well known global banks which operate in the Czech Republic may offer only limited services for individual customers. We’ll walk through all you need to know about opening a bank account in Czechia - plus a look at the Wise account as a flexible alternative you can open from anywhere.
How easy it is for you to open a bank in the Czech Republic will depend a lot on the specific account and bank you want to get set up with.
The most convenient accounts only require you to present 2 forms of personal ID to get your account open. However, some accounts are far more restrictive, with extra paperwork needed which can make life pretty tricky for new arrivals. Here’s what you may need:
- 2 forms of proof of ID
- Some accounts also require you to show proof of legal residence
- Some accounts require you to already have a CZK account with another bank
If you’re struggling to find an account in the Czech republic which meets your needs - or if you’d be better off with a multi-currency account which can handle both GBP and CZK you may consider getting a Wise account. Open your account conveniently online from the UK, to hold, send, spend and exchange CZK easily. More on that later.
Banks such as EquaBank allow you to open an account online without any hassle. You begin the process by filling out a form on their website. They’ll prepare your account and call you the next working day to set up an appointment. As this is a relatively quick process, you'll generally get an appointment within one day. The final process of signing the contract and officially opening your account must be done in-person at a local branch.
Other banks still require you to go to a branch in person to show your ID and pay your opening deposit. You may also find that banks ask you to leave your personal details online, and then they’ll call you back to talk through the account opening process.
You’re likely to struggle to open an online account in the Czech republic from abroad. While it’s certainly worth checking if your preferred Czech bank will open an account for you without a local proof of address, and without you visiting a branch in person, you’ll often be asked to provide proof of another CZK account to be able to access this service. Which, of course, could be a challenge if you’re new in the country.
A smart alternative is to open a multi-currency Wise account online or via the Wise app, from the UK, with a UK proof of ID and address, to hold, send, spend and exchange 50+ currencies. Wise is not a bank, but an E-Money Institution that will allow you to hold a CZK balance, and spend conveniently on your linked Wise card. Just top your account up in pounds with your Wise GBP details, switch to CZK and you’re good to go.
We’ll look a bit more at Wise international transfers and the Wise multi-currency account, a little later, to help you decide if this option might suit you.
Once you’re in the Czech Republic with your documents all prepared, you’ll be able to get your local Czech bank account all set up. Many banks have English speaking staff, who can help walk you through the process, plus English language websites to get product information more easily. Here are some different account types you’ll come across.
Some Czech banks offer non-resident accounts which have features tailored to non-residents, such as multi-currency banking options and investment management. These may be targeted at high wealth individuals and families. In addition, some banks may allow non-residents to open a standard account by presenting their 2 forms of ID document in a branch.
There are lots of different account products available for legal residents in Czechia. Some banks have great savings account options, and some focus more on digital services which are easy to access online or through an app. We’ll look at a few of the most popular Czech banks for resident foreigners in a moment to give you some inspiration.
Most Czech banks have accounts which are suitable both for children and older students in further education. These usually have lower fees, but may not come with all the same services that are available on standard account types.
Savings accounts are available from many major Czech banks, including easy access digital savings accounts and fixed term deposit products.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest banks in the Czech republic as a great place to start your search for the best bank for your needs. There are plenty of regional and global banking names you’ll likely recognise when it comes to banking in the Czech republic - although some, like HSBC¹, only offer services to corporate customers in Czechia, with no option for local retail banking accounts.
The Czech Republic has plenty of banks with English-speaking staff, making it easy to open a bank account in the country. Some of the most popular local retail banks are Česká spořitelna, Citibank, ČSOB (Československá Obchodní Banka), Equa Bank and Expobank.
The Czech Republic banks also have plenty of international partners, such as:
As an expat, you’re likely to bank with one of the following local retail operations:
- Bank Branches: 90+
- Products Offered: Accounts, mortgages, loans, insurance, savings and more
- Fees to consider: Some accounts have monthly fees, but you may be able to reduce these by maintaining a minimum balance
- Bank Branches: 100+
- Products Offered: Accounts and savings, loans, mortgages, business and corporate services
- Fees to consider: Bank accounts are available with no maintenance fee - some transaction and service fees will still apply
- Bank Branches: 398
- Products Offered: Accounts, loans, mortgages, insurance - and specific expat banking services including foreign currency accounts
- Fees to consider: Some accounts have easy ways to waive monthly fees. Service charges will still apply
- Bank Branches: Services are offered through Citibank Europe, with offices in Prague
- Products Offered: Services targeted at corporate customers, with private banking services for wealthy individuals and families⁶
- Fees to consider: Private banking fees are likely to be high, with a focus on investment and risk management services
Equa Bank has recently merged with Raiffeisenbank, so all accounts and services are now available via Raiffeisenbank’s branches and website. See above for more information on Raiffeisenbank and the types of accounts and services they offer.
Max banka⁹ recently took over ExpoBank and completely rebranded as a predominantly digital bank option.
- Bank Branches: Services are intended to be accessed online, although you can also interact in person at the Maxbanka office in Prague
- Products Offered: Current and savings accounts
- Fees to consider: Generally fairly low fees, which can vary by account type
There’s quite a wide range of different approaches to banking in the Czech Republic, from banks which operate predominantly online and have advanced digital services, to others which are a bit more old school. However, most Czech banks will have online banking options so once your account is all set up you should be able to transact from home if you’d like to.
There’s also a huge variety when it comes to bank opening hours. Branches of big banks in city centre locations may have extended opening hours through to 6:00pm or later, while smaller branches may shut far earlier and also close for a while over lunchtime.
Major banks tend to have a branch locator tool online which lets you filter by the service you need - for example, late or weekend opening options - to find a location which works for you.
For easy access to your money around the clock, why not check out the multi-currency Wise account. Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app before you head to the Czech Republic, to hold 50+ currencies including both GBP and CZK, and spend all around the world with your linked Wise card. There’s no minimum balance, and all currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees.
The fees you run into when banking in the Czech republic may not work in quite the same way as you’re used to at home. Read through your account terms and conditions carefully so there are no surprises. Here’s what to look out for:
- Account maintenance fees - although many accounts have maintenance fees, you can often have them waived by meeting eligibility requirements
- Card issue and maintenance fees - these costs vary widely, and are payable on an ongoing basis
- Out of network ATM fees - can be around 30 CZK
- Domestic transfer fees - these are pretty cheap when done online, but can be 150 CZK - 300 CZK for in branch services
- SEPA transfer fees - these are pretty cheap when done online, but again, fees may rise sharply for in branch services
- International transfer fees - which can be steep. More on that later.
Looking for low fees and a flexible account you can manage with just your mobile? Check out the Wise account. Hold and exchange 50+ currencies, send payments to 80+ countries, spend in 170+ countries with your Wise card, and get paid like a local in up to 10 different currencies. You’ll be able to hold, exchange and spend CZK easily, and you’ll get the Google exchange rate any time you need to switch between currencies in your account or send international transfers.
Sending money overseas can be costly with traditional banks. In the Czech Republic you’ll often find family high minimum fees, and percentage charges added to the exchange rates used. That can work out extremely costly - particularly for lower value transfers.
To review how much international transfer fees may be when you send money from the Czech Republic to the UK, let’s look at a quick example. In this worked example we’ll imagine you’re sending 3,000 CZK to the UK with Wise and Unicredit Bank - one of the Czech banks we profiled earlier.
|Provider||Bank Transfer Fee||Exchange Rate|
|Unicredit Bank¹⁰||250 CZK (0.9%, minimum 250 CZK for online payment) Additional 800 CZK fee if you want to cover third party cost||Markup will be added to the mid-market exchange rate|
|Wise¹¹||36.84 CZK||The mid-market rate.|
Here the main driver for the high overall cost with Unicredit is that there’s a fixed minimum fee, which means worse value for lower value transfers. However, even given that, Wise comes out on top, with a low fixed fee of 7.39 CZK for transfers from Czechia to the UK, and a variable fee of just 0.47% - far cheaper than the bank’s 0.9%.
Before you send any money overseas it makes good sense to compare a few different options, including your local bank in Czechia and specialist services like Wise, to make sure you get the best available deal - and save money on your currency conversion.
So there you have it - a full guide to opening a bank account in the Czech republic - plus some handy hints on how to cut the costs of living internationally with Wise. Use this to pick the right provider for your needs once you move - and don’t forget to compare the Wise Account with the local banks, to see if working with Wise could mean lower costs on your international transactions.
- Unicredit Bank
- Česká spořitelna
- Citibank private bank
- Equa Bank
- Max banka
- Max banka press release
- Unicredit individuals price list
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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