The good news first: Austria is the country with one of the densest bank networks in Europe. More than 800 commercial banks operate in more than 5.000 locations, and -unsurprisingly- a very large number of those can be found in Vienna. The institutes themselves can be divided into incorporate banks, mortgage banks, cooperative banks, provident banks, savings and loan associations, building associations, as well as specialised banks.
Now we get to the somewhat bad news: while the large number cited above suggests a vast multitude of options to chose from, there’s less than a dozen of the large banks or holdings that carter to the private customer segment. The remaining, way larger number, are either small, local institutes or are purely engaged with the commercial sector.
An Austrian Bank Account
In oder to open an Austrian bank account, you usually just have to show up in person at the bank and branch of your choice. These days, some banks also allow for a preliminary online registry before you actually have to drop by to finalise the contract. In order to find the one best suited for you, have a look at this list of links to Austria’s big banks catering to private customers:
Make sure to take along some form identification (usually something with a photo is required – think driver’s licence or passport), as well as your Student ID if you have your eyes on a student account.
Student Bank Account
Typically, a student account will be your best (and cheapest) option, no matter which bank you end up choosing. As a rule of thumb, student accounts come with no or very little monthly/yearly fees and a free debit card. Sometimes they also throw a free credit card and/or goodies like welcome-presents, free newspaper subscriptions or reduced fees for cinema or concert tickets into the mix.
With this type of bank account a thorough research is paramount – added extras and goodies can and do vary quite a bit, as do the fees for overdrawing as well as interest rates.
Depending on your preferences and spending habits, it might make sense to increase your payment flexibility by adding a credit card to your name. While Austria is still a long way from becoming a cash-free nation, most bigger stores, venues, and attractions accept credit card payment.
You may want to check in with your bank provider to see if they offer any special deals and have corporations with a certain provider. Otherwise, the following are the credit cards most used in Austria:
And, finally, one of the most important links you need to know when dealing with Master- or VISA cards in Austria: the Card Complete services.