For any Expat who has reloaded to Italy, getting your finances and banking sorted out is vital to start enjoying the Dolce Vita. You need an Italian bank account to purchase items, pay taxes, get a job and even buy a car, so it’s vital to sign up with a local bank as soon as you can after you arrive.
There are nearly 500 separate banks that operate in Italy including mutual banks, cooperative banks, public limited banks (SPA), subsidiary banks and large international banks. This means it can be pretty confusing for Expats when they first arrive! However, I have sifted through the options and found the best brick and mortar regular banks as well as the top online banking services, so you don’t have to!
Italy does not have dominant national banks like Bank Of America or Wells Fargo. You will find branches and ATM’s of these banks in almost every town in United States. Even the biggest banks in Italy like Intesa Sanpaolo or Unicredit are somewhat regional in nature. Before opening an account, make sure there are a few ATMs and/or branches near your location.
The Best Banks In Italy For Retail Banking.
The following are the best retain banks in Italy that you should be aware of:
Intesa Sanpaolo is Italy’s largest bank in terms of its market capitalization and assets as well as the number of branches and employees. With its main headquarters in Turin, Intesa Sanpaolo provides both retail banking and corporate banking services.
Intesa Sanpaolo serves more than 15 million customers in Italy, over 4,500 domestic branches and 19 representative branches overseas. Intesa Sanpaolo is a great choice for Expats because it has branches throughout the country and plenty of experience in working with foreigners. They have great customer service and were voted Italy’s top bank by Global Finance.
As the second largest bank in Italy, Unicredit is a good choice for Expats and serves around 15 million customers. Unicredit has 3,400 branches throughout Italy so you can find them in all major towns and cities. They also operate branches in Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; so if you’re planning to travel extensively throughout the European Union, Unicredit is a great choice for your banking.
Banco BPM is Italy’s 4th largest banking institution and is headquartered in Milan and Verona. The bank currently serves around 4 million customers with 1,800 branches throughout the country.
Most of Banco BPM’s branches are concentrated in the provinces of Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont, so if you’re not living in these parts of the country then they won’t be the best choice for you.
Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena.
Established in 1472, Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena is the oldest bank in the world and is the 5th largest bank in Italy. The bank’s major shareholder is the Ministry of Economy and Finance so its holdings are secured by the government, making it very safe in uncertain times. The bank provides a wide range of services including deposit and lending accounts as well as credit card services, online banking and ATM services.
Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro.
Headquartered in Rome, the Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro is one of the nation’s leading banking groups. It is operated as a subsidiary of the French bank, BNP Paribas, and offers savings accounts, personal and commercial lending services as well as mortgages, insurance, debit and credit cards. The bank has about 1000 branches in Italy so it’s worth checking that they serve the area you are planning to move to before you sign up for an account.
BPER Banca is based in Modena and is widely regarded as one of Italy’s best consumer banks. With around 2,000 branches all over Italy and great customer services, it’s a popular choice with locals and Expats. The bank also operates in Luxembourg which might be helpful if you need to travel within the EU.
The BancoPosta is an official subsidiary of Poste Italiane and provides its customers with all the basic banking services they could need. The services that BancoPosta provides include current accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, insurance, salary accounts, auto loans, credit and debit cards.
You can use the online BancoPosta app to access your account, visit a local post office or use an ATM. They can also arrange money transfers which can be very useful if you want to send money back home to your friends or family.
Credit Agricole Italia.
Headquartered in Parma, Credit Agricole Italia is part of the French banking group, Credit Agricole. The bank has almost 900 retail branches in Italy as well as 60 business centers around the country. The company provides banking services in Tuscany, Lazio, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Veneto, Piedmont, Campania and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. They serve around 2 million customers but are probably not the best choice for Expats since they don’t provide as wide a range of services as many of their competitors do.
This is an investment bank that is one of Italy’s main consumer credit providers. The primary activities of the bank are corporate investments but they also operate consumer banking and wealth management services. Although Mediobanca is a big name in the industry it might not be the best option for most Expats unless you are dealing with very large accounts that require personalized wealth management services.
With around 1,650 branches throughout Italy, UBI Banca is a solid bank that primarily operates in Apulia, Calabria, Campania, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche and Piedmont. UBI was acquired by Intesa Sanpaolo in 2020 and remains one of the country’s leading banks for customers and businesses.
The Best Online Banks In Italy.
Like the United States, Italy also has banks that provide banking services online only
Wirex is a fantastic online bank that allows you to spend both traditional Fiat and Cryptocurrencies anywhere that you see a Mastercard or Visa sign. Wirex operates in 130 countries, including Italy, and has 4.5 million customers. They also provide 24-hour customer service so you can receive assistance anytime you need it.
Wirex allows you to withdraw up to $400 per month from ATMs for free with flexible plans available if you need to access more. It’s also easy to share money or cryptocurrencies with other people around the world from your personal wallet. Anyone can apply for a Wirex account which makes it a good online option for Expats in Italy, particularly if you use a lot of cryptocurrencies.
Hype is a great online bank that you can use to shop on and offline, all over the world. When you open a Hype account you will have a virtual card that is fully encrypted for your security. Once you have your account set up you can use your virtual card in any location that has a contactless Mastercard service available to their customers.
Hype also provides credit services which can be useful to help make ends meet or cover unexpected expenses during your relocation to Italy. With a Hype Next or Premium account you can apply for a loan of between $2,000 to $20,000 anytime you need to.
With easy money management services as well as investment opportunities and travel perks, Revolut has over 20 million customers and is one of the best online banks for Expats in Italy. With a Revolut account, you can send and receive money between over 200 countries in more than 30 of the top currencies, including Euros and US Dollars.
With a standard Revolut account, you can earn up to 1.35% interest on your money which is paid out to you daily. You can also buy, sell and store your cryptocurrencies in your account and invest in the stock market directly from your wallet. Revolut also provides travel insurance as well as various offers on hotels and other travel amenities.
All of this makes Revolut a top choice for online banking for Expats who want to stay connected with their banking abroad, operate in the crypto ecosystem and are ready to start investing in the stock market.
Is It Easy To Open A Bank Account In Italy?
Yes, it’s very easy to get yourself set up with a new bank account in Italy. All you have to do is visit your local bank and find out which documents you will need to bring with you (American citizens need a Codice Fiscale (Tax ID) to open a bank account in Italy). Then, after you’ve brought in the necessary documents your account should be up and running within a week or two at the very most.
A great option for Expats who are relocating is to set up an online bank account before you move. Not only is it difficult to set up a regular bank account in Italy until you’re in the country but it will also give you a little extra breathing room when you arrive. For instance, having an online bank account will allow you to spend money in most stores and restaurants as well as cover your travel and accommodation expenses until you have a brick and mortar bank account in Italy set up as well.