Opening a bank account
You may want or need to open a bank account in another EU country. If you study at BME with a Hungarian governmental scholarship (e.g., Stipendium Hungaricum), you are required to open a Hungarian bank account where your scholarship will be transferred.
How to open a bank account?
The bank is free to choose whether or not to accept your application. That is a private business decision for the bank. Before opening a bank account, the bank needs to get to know its potential clients. This may require more due diligence in assessing bank account requests from non-residents. Some banks may, therefore, have a policy not to accept non-resident customers.
To open a bank account, you must present your passport and another identification document (such as driver’s license, tax card, etc.), school attendance certificate which is proof that you’re student at the BME, and in most cases having a residence permit is not required (citizens of certain countries can be exceptions). We will help to get the required documents for you.
In Hungary banks are typically open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Banks are not open on Saturdays except some branches in shopping centres.
Bank account opening for students from countries with weak anti-money laundering or terrorist financing regimes (FATF list)
As some of you might know, there are third-nation countries with a high risk of money laundering. According to the regulations of the EU it is compulsory for Hungarian banks to strictly check the citizens of countries from the FATF list. Unfortunately, this results in the situation that Hungarian banks are trying to avoid opening bank accounts for students from these countries. We collected the countries from which BME students faced issues, as well as some useful advice that will help based on our previous experiences.
List of the countries from which students have faced issues opening their bank accounts:
For more information about the countries with weak anti-money laundering or terrorist financing regimes check the FATF list here.
(Unfortunately, the official website is only available in Hungarian, therefore we recommend using a translator to understand it!)
Recommended documents to bring with you for opening your bank account:
- Valid passport
- Residence permit
- Address card
- Student status certificate
- Letter of award
- Letter of acceptance
- Rental contract/agreement
Besides these, in some cases, you will need two Hungarian witnesses to sign your papers. A Hungarian translator is also necessary, for which you can always request the help of the mentor team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With these papers and a translator, you can visit the bank where you would like to open your account. They will likely ask for most of the documents listed above and in some cases, you will have to fill out a request form as well. Usually, banks decide within two weeks, whether they will or will not let you open your account.
We collected a list of banks where a student with similar issues opened their accounts:
- OTP bank at Astoria (1075 Budapest, Károly körút 1.)
- OTP bank at Deák Ferenc tér (1052 Budapest, Deák Ferenc utca 7-9.)
- OTP bank in Allee (1117 Budapest, Október huszonharmadika utca 8-10.)
- OTP bank near Rákóczi tér (1085 Budapest, József körút 33.)
In case your request is not accepted we recommend to keep visiting different banks until you can open your account. We know about cases when students managed to open their account their 12th attempt, so do not give up trying! We wish you the best of luck in opening your bank account! For further questions please contact us at email@example.com!
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
ATMs can be found anywhere in Hungary and Budapest. Hungarian banks charge a commission for using ATMs. Note that higher service charges might apply for using an ATM that is not operated by the bank that issued your bank card. You don’t have to worry about exchanging Hungarian Forints before your arrival and carrying cash with you. ATM machines are widely available in major cities, and they accept Visa and MasterCard.
Please be aware of private ATMs in the city centre, as they charge extra fees when a foreign bank card is detected!
What is our recommendation?
Most of our students choose the largest and newest banks. OTP and MKB both have a large international clientele and an abundance of branches all across Budapest, but generally speaking, most banks offer a similar quality of service. Here is a list of all banks that operate in Hungary.
Also, financial technology is on the rise throughout the world and several multi-currency virtual accounts can now handle Hungarian Forints, which will come in handy if you plan to transfer money to/from abroad or if you travel a lot.
For more information, read this quick guide about how money works in Hungary!
After graduation remember to CLOSE your bank account before leaving Hungary (especially if you are using OTP), otherwise you will keep receiving the monthly fees.
Unfortunately, most banks won’t allow you to close the account if you are out of Hungary, you need to do it in person. You can only do it by authorizing someone else to close it, but it might turn out to be more complicated.
SZÉP kártya (relevant for employed students)
Some employers provide their employees with an extra cafeteria benefit by SZÉP card. You can open a SZÉP card account in K&H, MKB, or OTP bank. However, the presence of a Hungarian witness is essential for opening an account, please note that before the bank appointment.
If you have any questions please check the FAQ or contact us using the form below! We aim to provide answers as detailed as possible, which can take some time. Please be patient; we cannot respond immediately.