How to open a bank account
You might have already guessed it, but Luxembourg is one of the biggest financial centres in the world, with more than €4.6 trillion in assets under management.
There are 126 different banks in Luxembourg (many of which are subsidiaries or branches of foreign banks). If you're simply looking for retail banking, to cover your day-to-day banking needs, then the number of banking choices is much more limited.
How to open a retail bank account
Most banks are open weekdays from 9.00 to 16.00 (some may open for longer hours, and some may close for lunch). A few banks at major shopping centres stay open during lunchtimes and on Saturdays.
You will need valid ID such as a passport or ID card or an EU driver's licence. Bank cards with no photo ID are usually not acceptable.
Bring proof of address with your name such as a housing contract, utilities bill or commune certificate. If you don't live in Luxembourg yet, you may still be able to provide other proof. Some banks will ask for a copy of your employment contract or a letter of employment, and, if you want a credit card linked to your account, you might be asked for payslips to prove your ability to pay.
It is possible to open an account online before you arrive in Luxembourg and post documents to your bank or present them on arrival to collect your cards. You may be asked by the bank to transfer a small sum into the account.
Agencies that offer to open an account tend to be for those seeking confidential banking arrangements outside their country of residence, rather than those seeking to open a retail banking account in advance of moving to Luxembourg.
Since many people live outside Luxembourg but work in the country, you can get a non-resident bank account, providing proof of address for correspondence purposes, if you live in a neighbouring country.
US citizens/ passport holders might find it harder to open a bank account or to get a mortgage. This is due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires that foreign financial Institutions, and certain other non-financial foreign entities, report on the foreign assets held by their US account holders.
Essentially smaller banks may not be willing to set up a a bank account or mortgage loan because of the administration involved. US residents in Luxembourg say they have had no problems opening bank accounts and getting mortgage loans with BCEE, BGL, ING and Societe Generale Luxembourg (for mortgages).
Types of account
Banks offer different packages depending on the level of banking support you need. These packages will include statements, access and transactions, online and electronic banking, bank and credit cards and access to loans, investments, insurance and securities accounts.
You should check each package before signing up to a plan to see what you will receive for your monthly, quarterly or annual charges.
Savings accounts usually include tax on interest, but a good portion of savings can be exempt from tax. Check out if you can qualify for savings discounts via your employer's bank or for special child, student and young person (less than 30 years) discounts.
Post Luxembourg accounts are free to set up and run, but you are limited to using their ATMs. If you think you are likely to get a mortgage or loan in Luxembourg, it's worth considering these offers and terms before you open a current account.
What you get
V-Pay card is the European debit card system offered by all banks, and you can use this for cash withdrawals and payment in shops and restaurants. Contactless cards have been introduced in Luxembourg, so check if your cards will have this facility.
The main credit cards are VISA and MasterCard, and you can increase your monthly credit limit with the permission of your bank.
Many banks operate a token/password system for secure online banking, so remember to take your token with you if you plan to go on holiday for a long period and need to check your account.
Online tools such as loans and tax simulators are also available free of charge, and most banks offer a mobile banking app.
Make sure you understand all your banking fees including charges on your account, credit or debit card and limitations on the number of bank transfers you can make per month.
You may also be charged for withdrawing cash from an ATM operated by a different bank, as not all banks work in partnership. If you regularly transfer money from another country or from another currency, it's worth checking the transfer fees of each bank.
List of retail banks
The following banks offer retail banking for daily requirements but also provide savings and investment products:
- BGL /BNP Paribas
- Post Luxembourg
For more information, you can check out the Association of Bankers of Luxembourg, which lists banks on its website.