In Hungary, banks provide a wide range of services for individuals and companies. They try to tailor their services for the customers as much as they can. For example, small and large companies often have different service packages. Most banks offer the following services:
General account services: account management, credit services (such as loans for the purchase of property, bank overdrafts, commercial credit, unrestricted-use credit, etc), pension funds (voluntary and mandatory), insurances (life insurance, health insurance, travel insurance, property insurance, car insurance...etc). Banks in Hungary today are extending the range of services they offer to meet as many of their clients’ financial needs as possible.
Loans and mortgages: Mortgages are available for foreigners in every bank branch. You can apply for 80% of the value of the property. The process can takes up to 4-6 weeks. A Hungarian bank account, salary certificate and telephone bill are required in order to make an application.
SMS service: your bank sends you a SMS message after every transfer, withdrawal and credit card use. This is a fraud and theft prevention measure to minimise loss in the even of your credit card being stolen or cloned (copied) while shopping or eating out.
ATM: machines are available throughout Hungary. It is advisable to find and use your own bank’s ATMs as you are charged extra for using an ATM that is not affiliated with your house bank. Nowadays there are also banks where this service is for free of charge. (Unicredit)
Internet banking: Most of the banks offer online banking services which can be used to: access account information, review and pay bills, transfer funds, apply for credit, recharge prepaid services, e.g.: mobile phones and foreign exchange transfers: The service fee is lower that the traditional paper-based service fee and you can use these services 24 hours a day.
WARNING: keep in mind that with Internet banking complete security can never be guaranteed. To minimize risk, make sure you update your computer regularly, have up-to-date antivirus software installed and working, and have a working firewall.
Insurance: often banks offer insurance as an additional service; for example, travel insurance when making purchases with a bank card or cover included when you apply for one.
Bank deposit: the interest rate depends on the length of the fixed-term deposit you make. You cannot normally withdraw your money until reaching the end of the term without incurring a penalty. It is possible to have it in HUF or in a foreign currency. This type of saving can be useful for expatriates on a long-term assignment.
Security account: Your money is not tied-up so you can make a withdrawal at any time. This has the disadvantage of a variable rate of interest (currently around 6-20%)
Common fees and charges
- Account opening fee: approximately 5,000 HUF. Not all banks charge this fee, e.g. Budapest Bank, so it pays to shop around.
- Account maintenance fee: 2000-3000 HUF/month
- Credit card fee: Cards which only can be used domestically cost around 1,000-2,000 HUF. Embossed printed cards which can as well be used abroad cost around 3,000–4,000 HUF.
- Commissions: Hungarian banks charge a commission when you withdraw cash from your account. The amount of the commission depends on the amount of money you withdraw (usually 75 HUF per transaction).