TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Making Phone Appointment
2. Documents Required to Open Bank Account
3. Two Types of Bank Accounts
• Current Account
• Savings Account
• Money Transfer Between Own Accounts
4. ATM Bank Card
• ATM Card Blocked after 3 Attempts of Wrong Pin Code
• Lost or Stolen Bank Card?
• Bank Security Token
5. Monthly Statement of Account
6. Overseas Money Transfer
7. Credit Card
8. Languages Used by Banks
Opening Your First Bank Account
I opened a bank account with Argenta immediately after I have received my Orange Card (Attest van Immatriculatie). Argenta, a family-owned bank has been around for 60 years. Besides, it is free to open a bank account with Argenta. There is no monthly maintenance charge to pay too. On the contrary, some banks in Belgium have monthly or annual charges. Therefore, check the bank charges before opening a bank account with them.
Making Phone Appointment
I called Argenta bank to verify whether it was necessary to have an eID as I did not have it yet. One can decide whether to make an appointment for opening a bank account in Belgium by asking questions over the phone or at the counter.
Documents Required to Open Bank Account
The process to open a bank account in Belgium is very easy. I gave my Orange Card with the address printed on it and the Declaration of Legal Cohabitation approval as a record. I would inform the bank again when I receive my F Card residence permit later. They can then keep a record of the new card. As my partner also has a bank account with Argenta, the bank consultant linked our record together as a reference.
It is compulsory for the applicant to show proof of residence to open a bank account. Therefore, if a person does not have an address to prove the domicile, the bank would require other forms of official documents with the address stated on it. You can request a letter of your residence address from the Gemeentehuis/Stadhuis of where you stay.
Two Types of Bank Accounts
Below are two types of bank accounts to open a bank account in Belgium. What is the difference between a Current Account and a Savings Account?
➀ Current Account
The Current Account is the primary bank account that one would first open for use in Belgium. Most of the employers in Belgium pay the salary via bank transfer to the Current Account of an individual. Likewise, one can draw money with a bank card or perform online transactions on this Current Account.
You can open a Current Account without putting in any money. That was what I did until my first salary came in a few weeks later. In addition, there is no administration charge for having a zero dollar account. Despite that, you will not earn any interest in having just a Current Account without a supplementary Savings Account.
➁ Savings Account
Opening a Savings account is free in Argenta. Furthermore, it is an optional choice. The purpose of the Savings Account is to encourage savings by setting aside some money and depositing into it. Moreover, you can get bank interest from such an account. The percentage of interest is typically rather low. On the other hand, there is no interest at all if you put all the money into the basket of the Current Account. You can always open the Saving Account anytime if you wish to do so.
I want to save the hassle of running to the bank for opening a Savings Account. Thus, I opened a Savings Account on the spot since there is no obligation to put in money. However, the bank would charge a small, negligible amount of administration fee if there is no money in this bank account for a long time. Check with the bank for more detail.
» Money Transfer Between Own Accounts
One can transfer the money from the Current Account to the Savings Account online or with a mobile bank app and vice versa. There is no need to go down to the bank to deposit money. The process of savings is rather convenient.
ATM Bank Card
An ATM bank card and a pin mailer will be mailed to your house separately. You should receive it within one week after opening a bank account. Thereafter, get the password changed at the ATM. Subsequently, you can withdraw money from all ATMs, not restricted to only your bank. There is no additional charge for withdrawal from other banks which is a plus.
» ATM Card Blocked after 3 Attempts of Wrong Pin Code
The bank will block the ATM card on three consecutive attempts of entering the wrong pin code. It happened to me recently because I did not change the pin number. As a result, I could not remember the pin numbers after some time. I called the bank for a solution quickly. The man asked for my card number. Following the call, the bank sent me a new pin code within three working days after verification.
Immediately after receiving the pin code, I tried to top up my prepaid SIM card credit online with the bank card. Despite entering the right pin number three times, I could not understand why my card was blocked once again. I called the bank again the next day.
Consequently, the man unblocked my ATM card after my explanation. He told me that upon receiving my new pin code, I should go to the ATM first to do some transactions. Such as changing the pin code or withdrawing some money to activate it. Subsequently, I could perform the online transaction.
I followed his instruction. Indeed, after changing my pin code and withdrawing some money, I had no problem making payments online. Lesson learned. Always go to an ATM first to activate the card before any online transaction.
» Lost or Stolen Bank Card
What to do for Lost or Stolen Bank Card? In the event of lost or stolen ATM/Debit/Credit cards, call Card Stop +32 (0) 70 344 344. The Card Stop website will also tell you which types of cards that you can call if you lose them. The site language is available only in Dutch or French. At the same time, inform your bank.
» Bank Security Token
When performing an online transaction, insert the bank card into the bank security token. On the merchant page, there will be step-by-step instructions on how to make payment with the security token.
Monthly Statement of Account
One can opt to receive the Bank Statement of Account monthly by mail or online from Argenta. The customers can download the Monthly Statement of Account in PDF files online. Moreover, the bank database will store the PDF files for roughly a year. You can download and print the bank statements periodically or as and when you need them.
Overseas Money Transfer
There will be no charge to transfer money overseas for Argenta. Nevertheless, the bank from the receiving country may impose a fee for inward remittance. Online personal banking cannot perform overseas money transfers. The customer has to do it personally at the bank counter.
The step is to first fill up a form with the IBAN on it. Then, give the remittance to the counter. The bank headquarters will proceed with the overseas bank transfer from Belgium to your designated country. Keep more of such forms if you regularly remit money overseas.
One can apply for a Mastercard credit card if the Savings Account maintains at a minimum sum of €2,500 with a stable income.
Languages Used by Banks
For Argenta and some other banks, there are only two language selections (Dutch or French). In another word, all their documents like Statement of Accounts, online banking and ATM have no English language as an option. If you do not request to choose, it will be the default language used in that region. I indicated the French language for my bank account even though I live in Flanders.
If you cannot read Dutch and French yet, therefore, select a bank that uses English as one medium. Some bank services like KBC, ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, Hello Bank, Keytrade offers English as one of the communication modes to their expat clients.