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Foreign currency accounts in Poland


berni23 7 | 379
5 May 2013  #1
I have had a Polish account for years and they have crazy fees for everything you do.
They even found a way to charge for SEPA transfers which are free all across Europe.
But the most outrageous thing are the conversion rates. The spread at my current bank is at 0.25pln to the Euro.
In my travels across the world i never came across anything remotely comparable.

Unfortunately my Polish is not good enough to read through the banks fine print jungle and i hope somebody here might enlighten me:
Is there any bank that offers fair exchange rates and doesnt go overboard with the fees?
Monitor 14 | 1,821
5 May 2013  #2
You can use service like walutomat.pl to exchange your currencies. SEPA transfer fee is up to bank. Maybe they don't pay for it, but their clients can. Many banks in Europe charge for that.
Harrys moma
5 May 2013  #3
Try allior bank they also have kantor services and can open acct in any currency if u dont want a debit card then all is free
OP berni23 7 | 379
5 May 2013  #4
You can use service like walutomat.pl to exchange your currencies. SEPA transfer fee is up to bank. Maybe they don't pay for it, but their clients can. Many banks in Europe charge for that.

I am aware of online kantory and am using them when i can. I was just wondering if maybe a bank has accepted that they are ripping off their customers like nowhere else in Europe...

Concerning SEPA:
"European Parliament mandated that a bank charge the same amount for international euro transfers within the European Economic Area as it charges for domestic credit transfers in euros"

Polish banks of course dont feel obliged to follow that directive.

Try allior bank they also have kantor services and can open acct in any currency if u dont want a debit card then all is free

You mean those kantor services?

aliorbank.pl/en/about_us/exchange_rates/current_exchange_rates

9%+ spread. I feel like crying when i read this.

Compare to Germany or any other bank in Europe: db-markets.com/#fx_rates/spots

For crying out loud did all the expats leave Poland or you guys simply dont care?
Monitor 14 | 1,821
5 May 2013  #5
" as it charges for domestic credit transfers in euros" - they are also charging people for domestic EUR transfers and it's according to the law.

In the past banks kept high spreads for EUR and CHF to PLN, because they were used to pay back mortgages taken in EUR of CHF. Since few years law was changed that they must accept EUR and CHF directly, so many people started using online kantory and spreads went little down, but maybe they're still high for those people who are too lazy to do that. Just use kantory like everybody and accept premium fee when you don't have time to do that.
npk
6 May 2013  #6
They even found a way to charge for SEPA transfers which are free all across Europe.

slightly off-topic, but I think, I'm pretty much sure, that sepa transfers are NOT free across the EU, they're about 1 EUR, or perhaps, supposed to be a flat 1 EUR. But definitely not free.

ref. Poland, mbank charged about PLN 4.50 or PLN 5 last year for a sepa, so yes, it was a rip-off, considering the above, but then, still much much lower than the cut banks take with a "normal" international transfer, something like GBP 15 - 20 for UK banks, if I remember correctly.

n.
OP berni23 7 | 379
6 May 2013  #7
Yeah, i wasnt precise enough.
"European Parliament mandated that a bank charge the same amount for international euro transfers within the European Economic Area as it charges for domestic credit transfers in euros"

Which in simple terms means, that its free of charge in all countries where the Euro is the national currency and national transfers are free of charge.

Anyway back on topic, could you guys post what it costs in your bank to receive SEPAs to an Euro account and international wires to a Dollar/Pound account?

@npk Was the GBP 15 - 20 a flat fee and which bank was that?

Let me start:
Nordea:
SEPA: 10PLN flat
Int wire: 20PLN flat
Same for outgoing(with special fees for urgency).
Monitor 14 | 1,821
6 May 2013  #8
SEPA eur:
BZWBK: 5PLN both in and out.
Alrior Bank: 5PLN out 0PLN in.
Harry
6 May 2013  #9
Is there any bank that offers fair exchange rates and doesnt go overboard with the fees?

Not really, no. The best option (other than virtual kantors) is to use a kantor for your exchanges and then pay cash into the bank. If you're exchanging a few thousand, some kantors will send people to meet you in the bank (so you can all waste time as the bank counts out your money, gives it to you, you give it to the kantor, he counts it, gives you your foreign currency, you give it to the bank, they count it in and then you all go your separate ways).

You mean those kantor services?

That's why taking financial advice from a failed shop-keeper isn't such a good idea.

Anyway back on topic, could you guys post what it costs in your bank to receive SEPAs to an Euro account and international wires to a Dollar/Pound account?

Citibank (checked this year)
SEPA: no charge
GBP: no charge
OP berni23 7 | 379
6 May 2013  #10
(so you can all waste time as the bank counts out your money, gives it to you, you give it to the kantor, he counts it, gives you your foreign currency, you give it to the bank, they count it in and then you all go your separate ways).

I like the in your face approach against the banking cartel. ;)

Citibank (checked this year)
SEPA: no charge
GBP: no charge

Sounds interesting! I read up on it and it sounds almost to good to be true for Poland.
Did you go for Citigold and does cash held in foreign currency accounts counts towards the required balance?
Walking in with an EU passport will do?
Harry
6 May 2013  #11
The more amusing one is walking into a branch half an hour before closing and demanding they give you EUR 10,000 in cash (they won't have it) so you can give it to your kantor to change; at those times you can get above the mid-rate as the exchange rate from them.

Sounds interesting! I read up on it and it sounds almost to good to be true for Poland.
Did you go for Citigold and does cash held in foreign currency accounts counts towards the required balance?
Walking in with an EU passport will do?

Sadly Citibank in Poland are fairly useless. One example: before they'd upgrade my credit card they wanted proof of income (i.e. tax declarations) and proof that I pay my taxes (i.e. a letter from the tax office saying I pay up); apparently it wasn't possible for them to just look in their own accounts and see all the data there.

I have got the Citigold but don't know about the foreign currency accounts contribution (I got it on monthly inflow). I expect that just an EU passport will do, provided that you don't want them to actually lend you any money.
OP berni23 7 | 379
6 May 2013  #12
Thx for the input! Thats what i call an insightful and professional response.

Sadly Citibank in Poland are fairly useless. One example: before they'd upgrade my credit card they wanted proof of income (i.e. tax declarations) and proof that I pay my taxes (i.e. a letter from the tax office saying I pay up); apparently it wasn't possible for them to just look in their own accounts and see all the data there.

I only visit Poland a few times a month and am rather looking for a savings account, so that shouldnt be a problem for me.

I will definitely pay them a visit this week.

Found this: e-platnosci.23.pl/przelewy_zagraniczne.htm

Its from 2007, but its astonishingly accurate.
Monitor 14 | 1,821
6 May 2013  #13
but it's pre SEPA time list.
Snowmuncher 3 | 24
7 May 2013  #14
berni23 it's a good thread, well done for bringing this up.

I've been in Poland for a few years and I have a Citibank Gold account. Even with "preferential" exchange rates, the rates are appalling for consumers. In general, unlike the west the consumer is a down trodden and bad treated species.

Most banks think they are doing their clients a huge favour by allowing them to have an account at their bank. In other words 50 years or so in the past. They are normally arrogant and ignorant of their treatment of their clients.

Many Polish people, especially those who have not traveled much or not lived in more consumer-centric (I'm being polite) countries, can't understand this concept. They say things like "What is the problem? Are you too lazy to use a horse / typewriter / washboard / flint / coal fire (delete as appropriate)".

When I'm not too lazy (and actually do something useful in my life), I take out the cash from my bank, go to the kantor to change the money, go back to the bank and pay in the foreign currency into my foreign currency account, transfer the money to foreign account abroad. It takes at least 2 hours. Sometimes it is not worth it (vs. what I get paid per hour) for the money I save but I try to do it anyway just to spite the bank - I think I am becoming more Polish.

I also use an online forex currency company in my own country for larger amounts. They only give worthwhile rates if you change more than EUR 5000 worth.
OP berni23 7 | 379
7 May 2013  #15
It takes at least 2 hours.

Yeah, i totally forgot about that.
Opening an account, savings account and 2 foreign currency accounts takes 1h+.
They look for information, print dozens of forms out, chat with their colleagues or ask them for help and let you wait all through the process.

Even a single withdraw never takes less than 10min.
I am having a really hard time to understand how they can efficiently operate like that.
Even in Germany, which is a service desert compared to other western countries, 90% of the things are done in the background.

Anyway im planning to visit a few banks and am prepared to waste a whole day for that.
Here is another seemingly nice alternative i found: fx.aliorbank.pl
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
7 May 2013  #16
I think I am becoming more Polish.

How is it spiting the bank? Most banks in the world offer poor rates - really, trying to pretend that it's a Polish thing is nonsense. In fact, the only reason that you're able to do it is because the kantors in Poland are able to offer exceptionally good rates - in other countries, not so.

I also use an online forex currency company in my own country for larger amounts. They only give worthwhile rates if you change more than EUR 5000 worth.

See, again - why would you bother? Use your own bank in Poland - most of them will have specialist currency exchange divisions and will offer better rates if you ask.

It takes at least 2 hours.

You're going wrong somewhere. Wrong bank, perhaps?

I've never had this problem with ING Poland. Perhaps it's time to change?
OP berni23 7 | 379
7 May 2013  #17
but it's pre SEPA time list.

I dont see the point u are trying to make.
Anyway EU regulations concerning cross border payments(e.g. PE-ACH) have been in place even before the Euro was introduced.

Most banks in the world offer poor rates

Thats true, the banking mafia works the same everywhere, although its hard to beat Poland when it comes to exchange rates.

And another interesting or rather scary site: spred.pl/waluta/eur
Jars777 20 | 70
7 May 2013  #18
Hello

Sorry, I haven't read all your posts... so please forgive if I repeat something.

We have been in Poland for a year now and are also with Citibank (Citi gold). Our bank manager was helpful to say that we have to deposit 12.000 PLN per month and then all our accounts (and we do have a few) are free. They even told us how to trick the system. You can just withdraw money and deposit it back on their deposit bank machines. That way we can make up the 12.000PLN deposit per month.

I also found out the other day that you don't get ANY interest on foreign FX accounts. What's that all about? So they have my money and don't give me anything for it. B*st*rds!!!

But in regards to the exchange rates... they are SHOCKING! That's why I use walutomat... here is my English instruction manual: the-fields.de/?p=1060

The rates are A LOT better and the service is pretty smooth. Citibank is sometimes a little slow but I am happy to save the money on the better fx rate.

Let me know if you need any other help on walutomat etc.

Cheers
J
Monitor 14 | 1,821
7 May 2013  #19
"I dont see the point u are trying to make." The point is that the list only shows non SEPA money transfers which are much more expensive than SEPA.
Snowmuncher 3 | 24
20 May 2013  #20
How is it spiting the bank? Most banks in the world offer poor rates - really, trying to pretend that it's a Polish thing is nonsense. In fact, the only reason that you're able to do it is because the kantors in Poland are able to offer exceptionally good rates - in other countries, not so.

It's spiting the bank because they miss out on their forex profit - isn't that obvious? - they forego say EUR 200 on a mid sized transaction, perhaps every month. Why are you saying I am trying to pretend it is a Polish problem? It is a Polish problem compared with most other countries where I've changed money using a local bank account. No-one is saying it is uniquely a Polish problem. For sure appalling exchange rates at banks where you have an account (i.e. you are their client) exists in many other countries.

Snowmuncher: I also use an online forex currency company in my own country for larger amounts. They only give worthwhile rates if you change more than EUR 5000 worth.

Why would I bother? Because when I changed a large amount to buy an apartment I saved several thousand Euros. That's why (*??!!!???) First of all I have accounts at more than one Polish bank, and I had have accounts at several others which I have closed because the service was so appalling. Even after negotiating the best possible deal with my current bank (and remember I already have better than normal rates because I have a premium account) the best exchange rates they offer are far worse than I can get else where. For your information, my work is finance related and I have been closely involved in rates for large commercial transactions with the help of an ex-manager of one of the major Polish banks, so I have a rough idea of what I am talking about.

Lastly, have you ever changed a large amount of a foreign currency into PLN in a bank, especially when it is a currency there are not used to exchanging? The bank often checks each note with extreme care more than once. Say there are 500 notes, of foreign currency. Perhaps you can understand why it takes so long, even assuming there is no queue / line, which there usually is. Then there are the logistics of going from bank to kantor back to bank. I work in the centre and even just the transport can take 30 mins or more. Normally one kantor will suffice, but sometimes there is the issue that a kantor will not always have the amount of foreign currency you need. On occasion I have had to go to 5 kantors to get what I need, for example before a public holiday where people are jetting off abroad. But the 2 hours assumes a visit to one kantor.
pusspuss
20 May 2013  #21
Lately I had to change 1.4 mil pln from usd I would withdraw 30k usd and change at intraco kantor in warsaw and they would charge me .45 grolsch at the live current forex rate and cash whereas the banks were ripping me.i saved tons of money..lol and now $ went up but im happy I got what was good last week.banks give u ****** rate
Snowmuncher 3 | 24
20 May 2013  #22
This morning just changed PLN 15000 into Sterling. I'm abroad so no possibility of doing the cash run to the kantor and back, and the amount too small to use the online UK forex exchange that have used in the past.

The Citi online buy / sell spread was 6.1%, and that is better than the rates Citi offers customers with normal accounts. I phoned up Citi & spoke to one of their phone reps (Citi offers the best English speaking phone service, by the way - it has become better and better and now it is commendable, and often the best customer service you are likely to experience in Poland, in terms of they way they talk to you if not always the rates they offer). I asked her to call their treasury department to get a better rate than the premium Gold rate online. She told me that for transactions of less than 30000 zl that is not possible, and then after a few seconds relented and said as I was an important long standing client (news to me!) she would try. The spread came down to 5%, which I accepted.

The extra cost to me versus doing the cash run to the kantor in Galeria Krakowska was £86 or EUR 101.50 or 424 zl

By the way, not all Kantors are good. The ones targeted at tourists can be terrible, far far worse than the banks, so check very carefully the rate and any fees before you hand over your money. My experience has been that the kantors in the major shopping centres are always competitive, mainly because they are predominantly used by the locals. However, the one I use has never returned my "dzień dobry" nor my "dziękuję" - not in 3 years. They tend to be skin headed young mafia types who look like they don't appreciate the benefits of foreigners in their country. But I continue regardless in the hope that one day good manners will rub off!
OP berni23 7 | 379
20 May 2013  #23
My experience in Szczecin recently was terrible. First i went to a small Citybank, since i knew most details it was quick and i was treated like a customer.

After that i tried WBKs and Nordeas main branches since they were in the vicinity. In both the service and English was poor and they were not able to accommodate me.

Then followed Alior:

Here is another seemingly nice alternative i found: fx.aliorbank.pl

Which was my favorite based on research.

And thats when the odyssey started.
In the first branch nobody spoke English and i was directed to the main branch, where i found a lady speaking decent English, but she had no clue about the account.

She started calling colleagues and after a while she handed me the phone, where a broker hastily made an appointment with me.
When i arrived there, he was aware about the account, but said those can be opened in branches only.
So i went back to the main branch, they still didnt know what i was talking about and after i showed them the account on the Internet, they said its a business account(which is not true btw).

I replied that thats not a problem and if i could finally get some infos about the account. After a few more calls she made another appointment for next week.

That was when i gave up after a whole day wasted returned to the Citibank and the whole thing was over in 20min.

By the way, not all Kantors are good. The ones targeted at tourists can be terrible, far far worse than the banks, so check very carefully the rate and any fees before you hand over your money.

Agreed, never try those at airports, train stations and close to tourist attractions, no matter if you know Polish and how much you should be able to get, they simply wont haggle that far.

Chain kantors are my favorites, since they can order cash from other branches.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
20 May 2013  #24
Znasz j. polski? Yes

In both the service and English was poor

Yawn...
OP berni23 7 | 379
20 May 2013  #25
I was born in Poland and i do to a certain extent, my partners dont.
Yawn...
Snowmuncher 3 | 24
3 Jun 2013  #26
Thanks Jars777, that was a really useful post.

I haven't tried Walutomat yet, but will give it a go next time. Do you know how it compares with kantors in shopping centres?

I just used my currency transfer.com and it gave me a selection of online forex exchangers, and I chose transfer wise.com, which had the best "indicative"rate for me at the time for those 2 currencies.

Poland transfer use bank accounts in the country where you are transferring the money from in order to reduce the international charges incurred.

I was changing 10k zl to GBP. My Citi Gold account would have given me £1920 before charges. Transfer wise gave an indicative £1988 after charges. We'll see...

...following on from my test of transfer wise (see post above), I just checked the rate at the main shopping centre kantor in Krakow - booths in ,galeria Krakowska, Bonarka, Kazimierz etc.

I was quite surprised to see that if I changed the same amount I would have received £1996, but that does not include the international transfer fees. So actually, if the estimate is correct, transfer could be very cost effective, and time effective versus the Polish banks and versus kantor cash runs.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,626
3 Jun 2013  #27
online forex exchangers

Do be careful, as there was a high profile collapse of one a while ago called Crown Currency Exchange - they used to offer the best rates on the market, but quite a lot of people got burnt by them. If you do use one, try and find one that is properly regulated.
OP berni23 7 | 379
3 Jun 2013  #28
BTW: Since i wrote this i started using Bitcoins to transfer and exchange currency and never looked back: weusecoins.com/en/
Snowmuncher 3 | 24
3 Jun 2013  #29
Do be careful, as there was a high profile collapse of one a while ago called Crown Currency Exchange.

Yes, it's a very good point. You would have thought that clients' money would be / should be ring-fenced in some way and the firm itself should take no forex positions - only earning on fees and commissions, but that's in an ideal world.

According to their website; "Transfer Wise is registered with the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) as a fully authorized payments institution (reference 571669) which gives us a license for collecting money and for making international payments. ...and (we) keep customers funds separate from our operational bank accounts"

I would be happier if the last sentence read "...and (we) keep customers' funds legally separate from our operational bank accounts in designated escrow accounts, but maybe this is actually the case and it has been simplified for their average punter. You would have thought the FSA would require that as a minimum. It is reassuring to know that it is "from the same people who brought you Skype & Paypal" however.
rlscott63 4 | 21
3 Jun 2013  #30
I will be moving to Poland in the near future from Canada. I will be transferring $Cad to my account at XE.com which has the lowest rates for exchange. I will be opening an account in Warsaw in the early fall in PLN and EUR. I am seeking information on wiring money into either account and the appicable fees from the Poland side.

With XE I can wire the money directly to the appicable account.

For example, I want to transfer $10,000 Canadian dollars to XE where it gets converted to PLN at the cheapest rate and then it would be moved to the appropriate Polish account (ie converted to PLN and goes to a PLN account). Is there a bank that does no charge for the receipt of money being wired into an account of the right currency - ( ie XE conversion of PLN to the PLN bank account.)

Thanks in advance

Rlscott


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