ATMs in Barcelona will cost more to use in future after the city council tries to remedy the disappearance of 40% of cash machines in the capital
The announced expansion of 161 cash withdrawal machines in publicly owned or municipally-conceded spaces is intended as a stopgap measure for neighbourhoods most affected by the closure of bank branches and also for seniors who are less accustomed to digital banking.
However, users of these terminals have not overlooked the fact that to use the multi-brand ATMs sponsored by the city council, residents will have to pay a commission of 2.95 euros and even 3.95 euros for each cash withdrawal.
This occurs especially when using a card issued by one of the four major Spanish banks: Caixabank, BBVA, Santander, and Sabadell. They are the ones with the most customers and also the most prevalent in Barcelona.
The former first deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, and the socialist sector of the municipal government have announced this January the measure, which aims to counteract the thinning of the banking network. Indeed, the number of ATMs has decreased in the city due to the closure of about 800 branches in the city between 2015 and 2022, which has mobilized neighbourhoods such as La Teixonera.
Of the 161 announced, only 4 belong to a traditional institution: these four ATMs, belonging to Banco Santander, have already been placed in the Besòs, Sants, Llibertat, and Sant Antoni markets. The rest are from international companies dedicated to installing ATMs suitable for any card, very used by tourists and customers of small banks, and already have a significant network in the Catalan capital, some of them within this municipal plan.
The first of a batch of 60 that the multinational Euronet installs in kiosks have begun to function, where it is expected that 125 stalls will adopt them throughout this year, and the 21 booths that the American Cardtronics has already distributed in metro stations will be expanded with 11 more.
Santander is the only institution that has responded to the city council’s call to place terminals in municipal facilities and compensate for dwindling banking services in Barcelona. In the case of these four machines in markets, only those who have an account with the bank can use them without any additional cost to obtain cash. Santander explains that a commission of 2.95 euros must be paid if the user is not its customer, as is the case with its branch ATMs.
Two multinationals, Cardtronics and Euronet, charge the same amount to customers of Caixabank, Santander, BBVA, and Sabadell in the ATMs located in the metro by Cardtronics, which operates under the Cashzone brand. The fee rises to 3.95 euros for holders of cards from the same entities in the Euronet booths located in kiosks.
The industry giants concentrated 75% of deposits in Spain in 2022. The data is not segmented by cities, but it is clear that the four big players continue to be prevalent in Barcelona: between them, they have 425 branches, which, although they are almost half of what they had in 2015, represent 87.8% of the branches open in the city.
Smaller banks have more affordable fees
Unlike the major banks, customers of smaller and online banks are somewhat better off. The commission that is charged in the multi-brand ATMs is more affordable and, in some cases, the operation may even be free.
For example, ING customers do not pay anything in Cardtronics terminals – there is a 55-cent charge that the bank covers – nor in Euronet terminals. If you have a Mediolanum Bank card, the first four cash withdrawals are free if they are equal to or greater than 100 euros in the machines of both companies; from the fifth withdrawal and in other cases, the customer pays 95 cents in Euronet booths and 90 cents in Cardtronics booths.
Warning before charge
The amounts that both operators charge in the ATMs promoted by the city council are the same as in the rest of their network. The terminals’ screens warn of the additional cost before charging the payment, so the operation can be cancelled in time.
The difference in commission amounts according to the bank depends on the agreements that the two multi-brand ATM companies – identified with the initials ATM – have signed in Spain. In statements to El Periódico, Cardtronics emphasizes that it has signed preferred agreements with about 70 entities, to which the commission is usually reduced to a range between 50 and 65 cents. It adds that, in most cases, it is not passed on to the customer. Euronet has also closed “several agreements with the vast majority of banking entities” to apply a discount.
In the hands of banks
Neither of the two multi-brand ATM companies has signed contracts with the four major banks. The consequence is that, in those cases, the companies apply the full fee that they have established for their service. “We do not charge the final customer, but we charge the commission to the entity, which decides if it passes it on or not,” says the general director of Cardtronics in Spain, Jimmy Tarazona. “The issuing bank can decide if it wants to charge all that commission or part of it to its customer,” emphasizes the director of operations of Euronet in Spain, Jacinto Calvente.
The difference between the entities that have reached agreements with the ATM operators and those that have not lies in the size of their terminal network. Small and emerging banks see an opportunity to expand services by relying on white-label booths, while the industry giants do not find interest in aligning with companies that they see as competitors of their facilities, bank sources say. In short, for alternative banking, it is attractive to have these external ATMs, while for large firms, the attraction is their own network.
When detailing the measure, Collboni criticised that the vast majority of banks ignored the city council’s call to place ATMs in municipal facilities and compensate for dwindling banking services in Barcelona.
Read more about Barcelona:
Barcelona is the capital and largest city of Catalonia, an autonomous community in the northeastern part of Spain. Known for its rich culture, history, and architecture, Barcelona is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.
One of the most famous attractions in Barcelona is the architectural work of Antoni Gaudi. His most famous work, the unfinished Sagrada Familia, is a must-see for any visitor to the city. The basilica, which began construction in 1882, is still unfinished but continues to attract visitors from around the world. Gaudi’s other works, such as Casa Batlló and Park Güell, are also popular tourist destinations, showcasing his unique and imaginative style.
Another must-see attraction in Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter, which is home to several medieval buildings, including the Cathedral of Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter is also home to many shops, restaurants, and bars, making it a great place to experience the local culture and nightlife.
Barcelona is also known for its beaches, such as Barceloneta and Sant Sebastià, and for its lively street markets, like La Boqueria. The city also has several museums, including the Picasso Museum and the Joan Miró Foundation, which showcase the work of some of the most famous artists of the 20th century.
Overall, Barcelona is a vibrant city with a rich culture and history, and it is a great destination for tourists who want to explore the city’s architecture, art, and culture. With its excellent food, beaches and nightlife, it is a city that has something to offer to everyone.