Opening a bank account in Poland as an American

Gabriela Peratello

Opening a local bank account is one of the most important things you'll do when you move to a new country. Without one it can be hard to do simple things like set up a home internet connection or get a mobile phone contract. As these are essentials for most of us today, getting a new bank account can quickly become top of the priority list.

This guide covers what you should know if you need to open a bank account in Poland. Plus, if you want to get an account for holding and spending PLN even before you move, we’ve got an idea from Wise - the Wise Account. Open your Wise account using your phone, before you leave the US, and hold 40+ currencies including USD, PLN and EUR with low fees and mid-market exchange rates¹.

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Can you open a Polish bank account as an American?

If you have not yet arrived in Poland, and therefore not completed the residency paperwork, you will find it difficult to open an account.

The most likely outcome is that you’ll be pointed to an international banking service which usually aims its products at high wealth individuals looking to invest, rather than giving a full suite of everyday accounts.

If you’re in a hurry to get a PLN account, you can always look at non-bank alternatives, like Wise - which offers the Wise Account to US residents.

You’ll be able to hold a balance in PLN, USD, EUR and a whole selection of currencies in the same account, as well as getting a debit card for spending and withdrawals and lots of easy ways to manage your money from your phone. More on that later.

Can you open a Polish bank account from abroad?

Many banks offer online and in app account opening options - however, as a foreigner you may not have all the right documents to be able to take advantage of this service.

You’ll generally find it’s far easier to open your account once you have a local proof of address to hand, for example.

That said, the services available digitally are expanding all the time so it is still worth asking your preferred bank if you’ll have the option of getting your account set up from home.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Poland?

Opening a bank account in Poland should be quite straightforward if you’re a resident. Some banks do not offer products for non-residents, making this a more tricky option for the occasional visitor.

If you’re a resident then all you need to take along to open an account is:
  • Passport or national ID card

  • Proof of residence (residence card, or if you don’t have this, then banks can usually accept another proof of address such as a rental contract)

  • For a credit card or overdraft facility, expect to be asked for a proof of employment or banking history

Most banks have English speaking staff and call centers, and branches open until 6 or 7 PM during the week. If you have queries you should be able to find someone to help you.

Make low cost international transfers with Wise

A smart option if you’re sending money overseas: meet Wise.

Register a Wise account online or in the Wise app, and send money to 70+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees.

Wise always shows you the amount you’re paying and how much your recipient will get — and you can even compare against other providers on the Wise app or desktop site.

If another service is cheaper for your particular payment, you’ll be shown — so you can’t lose.

Get started with Wise

See how Wise compares with international bank transfers in our full guide

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

What are some of the best Polish banks?

It can be easier to open an account in Poland if you go with an institution you already work with. So check if your home bank has any alliances with Polish banks, or has a physical presence in the country. Opening an account might be as simple as switching over to a local partner institution.

Even if that’s not the case, opening a bank account will be a fairly simple process. However, if your Polish language skills aren’t up to filtering through the information available online, you might need to pop into a bank branch to get details of the products offered. Notably, Bank Millennium® has account information easily available online and in English, so this could be a good starting point for your research.

Poland has a wide range of national and international banks. Here’s a quick overview of four popular national retail banks in Poland to help you on your search:

Bank Pekao

Bank Pekao®² is a Polish institution with an 85 year history. They offer a full range of banking services, including personal accounts, cards, investment management and loans. Banking can be done on the internet or by phone, although the English language coverage on the website is a bit patchy. If your Polish isn’t all that great yet, you may need a friend to help you navigate.

Bank Millennium

Bank Millennium³ offers a good range of financial products, including some which offer online and in-app application processes. The Millenium 360 account is one worth looking at, with options to earn cash back, as well as no maintenance fee to pay. Bear in mind that digital onboarding may not be an option depending on your residency status.

PKO

PKO®⁴ is one of the largest banking brands in Poland, offering a large range of retail banking solutions. They cover Poland and Ukraine, and specialize in current accounts, payment cards and mortgage products. There are quite a few accounts you can open through the PKO app, although you may need a local ID to complete this process without needing to go to a branch to get verified.

MBank

MBank®⁵ is an internet and phone based bank, which has a focus on private banking services, such as wealth management and ways to invest. There are also deposit accounts and cards and customers get access to relationship managers to ensure their finances are managed in the way they prefer.

Banking fees and charges in Poland

When you open a bank account in Poland, it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully - especially when it comes to banking fees and charges.

Check, for example, if there are regular charges levied to keep your account open or use a credit or debit card. In Poland it is common for there to be a monthly fee applied (15 - 20 zloty) to use your account.

Although usually relatively small, these account handling fees mount up over time. Some accounts will waive this fee for the first six months or year, which might make them more attractive.

Other common charges include a set fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM operated by a different bank. Be aware of whether this may apply to your chosen account.

Fees can be particularly steep if you need to regularly move money between accounts which use different currencies.

As well as a charge for processing the transaction, you might find additional fees rolled into the exchange rate being used.

Choosing a non-bank alternative like Wise can be a cheaper option. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with low transaction fees from 0.43%¹, and offers fast transfers to 160+ countries globally.


Use this guide to decide which bank - or non-bank alternative - might suit your needs to manage PLN alongside your USD funds, and don’t forget to check out Wise as a smart choice for both multi-currency account options and speedy international payments with low fees.


Sources:

  1. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee informationBank Pekao
  2. Bank Millennium
  3. PKO
  4. MBank

Sources checked on 02.02.2024


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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