Residence Permit
March 28, 2024
Reading Time: 9 min

Largest Hungarian banks: how to get a European bank account as a foreigner

In Hungary, a foreigner can open an account and obtain a bank card even without resident status. Compared with other European Union countries, becoming a bank customer in Hungary is easier for foreigners: a passport and proof of accommodation suffice.

Read our guide to find the best bank in Hungary for foreigners and learn how to obtain a Hungarian bank card.

Hungary banks: how to open an account in a European bank
Largest Hungarian banks: how to get a European bank account as a foreigner

3 benefits of a Hungary bank account for foreigners

Banks in Hungary issue cards to foreigners who have moved to the country or visit it regularly.

With a Visa or MasterCard issued in Hungary, cardholders can:

  • pay for goods and services from vendors in Hungary, other EU countries, the US, the UK, and more;
  • transfer money domestically and internationally;
  • receive a salary from an employer in Hungary;
  • get benefits, scholarships, and other social payments;
  • pay utility bills.

A Hungarian bank card offers even more advantages for foreigners.

1. Simple issuance. Compared with other European banks, most Hungarian banks have fewer requirements for non-resident customers. For example, German banks may conduct a credit check, while Dutch banks require an individual BSN number. The regulations in Hungary's banking sector are less stringent.

Foreigners with Hungary residence permits can open a bank account and obtain a debit card with just a minimal set of documents: a passport and a residence permit card. The requirements for non-residents are slightly stricter — to become bank customers, they must prove regular visits to Hungary.

2. Multi-currency accounts. Banks in Hungary offer a wide range of services in various currencies. Customers can hold accounts in the local forint, as well as in the euro, the American dollar, and other currencies.

3. English-language customer service. The apps and websites of the major banks in Hungary are available in English. Call centre staff and support specialists also speak English, making it easier for foreigners in Hungary to understand banking services.

How Hungary’s banking sector works 

The financial system in Hungary was established more than 30 years ago, and a two-tiered banking system was introduced in 1987. Today, it is considered one of the most developed and stable in Eastern Europe.

Tier 1 is the National Bank of Hungary, or Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB). Serving as the country's central bank, it oversees the financial system, issues currency, and implements monetary policy. The MNB is responsible for ensuring price stability, curbing inflation, and controlling money circulation. It sets the Central Bank base rate, publishes official exchange rates, and manages foreign exchange reserves and gold to influence exchange rates.

The MNB primarily interacts with commercial banks and other financial institutions rather than directly engaging with individual customers or non-financial legal entities.

Tier 2 is commercial banks, which offer services to the public and businesses. These services include maintaining accounts and deposits, issuing cards, providing loans, and accepting payments.

The average fee for opening a private bank account in Hungary is approximately €12. Monthly maintenance fees vary between €5 and €8. The fee for issuing a payment card is around €8, although some banks may issue cards for free.

Banks in Hungary typically charge commission fees for all basic operations, though the rates and terms vary by provider and pricing plan. For example, the number of fee-free ATM cash withdrawals per month may be limited. While ATMs owned by banks usually do not impose a withdrawal fee, third-party ATMs often do, with the average cost being €4 per withdrawal. 

For SEPA transfers from Hungary to other EU states, the fees are approximately 0.7% of the transaction value.

Overall, Hungary is home to around 30 financial institutions, including commercial banks, foreign bank branches, mortgage banks, and savings banks. Their operating statuses are usually Nyrt (Public Limited Company) or Zrt (Private Limited Company).

Top 10 largest banks in Hungary based on market share

BankMarket shareAssetsReturn on assets
1. OTP Bank Nyrt24.78%€47,300 million0.04%
2. MBH Bank
Nyilvánosan
Működő
Részvénytársaság
11.17%.€21,300 million1.20%
3. K&H Bank Zrt 8.41%€16,100  million1.23%
4. UniCredit Bank Zrt7.67%€14,650 million1.81%
5. Erste Bank7.62%€14,500 million0.81%
6. Raiffeisen Bank Zrt6.44%€12,300 million1.78%
7. MBH Befektetési Bank Zrt5.25%€10,000 million0.76%
8. CIB Bank Zrt4.63%€2,900 million1.30%
9. MFB Magyar Fejlesztési Bank Zrt4.44%.€8,490 million 0.23%
10. OTP Jelzálogbank Zrt3.27%.€6,250 million-0.47%

Internet banking in Hungary is well-developed, with most banks providing specialised online services and mobile applications. Through these platforms, clients can manage their accounts and cards, pay for purchases, and execute transfers.

Among foreigners, the most popular banks are OTP Bank, Kereskedelmi és Hitelbank (K&H), Erste Bank, and Raiffeisen Bank.

Biggest banks in Hungary in 2024
National Bank of Hungary Headquarters in Budapest/ Hungary's banking system is recognized as one of the healthiest in Eastern Europe 

OTP Bank Nyrt

OTP Bank Nyrt stands as the largest bank in Hungary, boasting over 70 years of history. With nearly 1,500 branches and more than 17.5 million customers worldwide, it holds a 25% market share, making it the owner of the largest branch and ATM network in the country. The bank caters to foreign clients by opening accounts, issuing payment cards, and offering services in English.

Forint accounts at OTP Bank are available in several packages tailored to individual customers: Basic, Active, Classic, Minimum, Premium+, Smart, and Junior. These packages differ in terms of options, rates, and service fees. Clients have the option to open a no-deposit account for free, which includes a linked bank card.

Foreign currency accounts at OTP Bank are available in 12 currencies, such as EUR, USD, GBP, JPY, SEK, and TRY. These accounts can be opened without a deposit and at no initial cost. Account holders with multiple currency accounts are required to pay a maintenance fee for only one account, starting at €0.22 per month.

MasterCard or VISA cards can be linked to any bank account and are available in electronic format for contactless payments or an embossed format for traditional offline payments:

  • for forint accounts, the minimum card issuance fee is €8. The first year is free from the annual card fee, after which the annual fee becomes €15;
  • for foreign currency accounts, OTP Bank exclusively issues MasterCard cards and only for accounts based in euros. The issuance fee for these is €7.68, with an annual fee of €39.9.

Non-resident companies are eligible to open accounts with OTP Bank Nyrt. The average monthly maintenance fee for these accounts is €16. For international transfers, the bank applies a commission of 0.12%, with a minimum charge of around €11.

Additionally, business cards linked to corporate accounts are available. These enable company members to make purchases, deposit funds, or withdraw cash directly from the company's resources.

Kereskedelmi és Hitelbank (K&H) Zrt

K&H Bank, the third-largest bank in Hungary, has been serving customers for over 35 years. It offers a wide range of financial services, including account opening, bank cards, loans, insurance, and brokerage services. With a network of more than 200 branches and over 500 ATMs, K&H Bank ensures accessible banking solutions across the country.

The bank presents six account packages tailored to individual customers: Minimum Plus, Extended Plus, Comfort Plus, Youth, Retail, and Retail Foreign Currency. The latter accommodates accounts in four different currencies: EUR, USD, CHF, and GBP. Account management fees begin at €0, varying by the chosen package. 

Two internationally accepted debit card types are offered by K&H Bank: K&H Mastercard Contactless and K&H Mastercard Gold. Both cards are issued free of charge and can be digitised for online use. There is no annual card fee for the first year of usage. Starting from the second year, the annual fee is set at a minimum of approximately €21.

Corporate clients at K&H Bank have the option to open accounts in both forints and various foreign currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, SEK, DKK, CAD, and JPY. The process of opening an account is free of charge, with maintenance fees varying based on the account's currency:

  • for forint accounts — HUF 9,863, or approximately €25 per month;
  • for foreign currency accounts — €29 per month.

K&H Bank allows the issuance of an unlimited number of corporate bank cards for each account, with each card including travel insurance.

K&H Bank simplifies the process for companies transferring their accounts from other banks. It assists in reporting changes to government agencies, provides stickers with the new account number for the company's business partners, and facilitates the setup of regular payments.

Additionally, the K&H+ service, accessible through the bank's mobile app, enables customers to purchase city and intercity transport tickets without any commission.

Erste Bank Zrt

Erste Bank, originating from Austria and offering a comprehensive suite of banking and insurance services, operates more than 120 branches and 420 ATMs across Hungary.

Erste Bank clients have the option to open accounts in forint or foreign currencies such as EUR, USD, GBP, or CHF. The bank provides a variety of account packages catering to different client needs, including standard, premium, student, retirement, youth, and children's options.

Erste Bank offers MasterCard and Visa cards with a variety of features. While most cards are embossed, they can also be digitised using the Erste Bank App, which includes an option for a virtual Visa card. All MasterCard cards are accompanied by complimentary travel insurance, which is valid worldwide and covers accidents, illnesses, and expenses related to damaged luggage.

For corporate clients, Erste Bank provides flexible terms and conditions. The service fee adjusts automatically based on the account's fund turnover, typically ranging from €2 to €70 per month. Additionally, bank transfers are unlimited, and a Visa card can be linked to the account at no extra cost.

The main drawback of the bank for a foreigner is that all services are provided mainly in Hungarian.

Raiffeisen Bank Zrt

Raiffeisen Bank Zrt, a subsidiary of the Austrian group Raiffeisen Bank International AG, boasts over 60 outlets and more than 120 ATMs across Hungary.

Clients of Raiffeisen Bank have the option to select from various forint account packages, such as Feewinner, Activity 3.0, Everyday 2.0, Base 2.0, and Basic. Account maintenance fees vary by package, ranging from €0 to €6 per month. Depending on the chosen package, either a MasterCard or Visa card can be linked to the account. ATM cash withdrawals typically incur a fee starting at €4.

Raiffeisen Bank offers foreign currency accounts that can be opened in EUR, USD, GBP, or CHF. Both account opening and maintenance come at no cost. Fees for cash withdrawals start at a rate of 0.76%.

The bank provides a proprietary contactless payment app for Android devices named RaiPay Hungary. This app enables clients to make in-store payments and ATM withdrawals within the country. Furthermore, Raiffeisen Bank's services are compatible with Apple Pay, offering a seamless payment experience across various devices.

Corporate clients can choose from various Entrepreneur Active account packages, offering appealing incentives such as special offers for the first year, complimentary debit cards, low monthly fees, and the ability to hold accounts in foreign currencies. Business owners can choose a package that best matches their turnover, with approximate maintenance fees beginning at €3 per month.

For corporate clients, online transfer fees start at 0.3%, and cash withdrawal fees begin at 0.6%, subject to the monthly limit at the applicable rate.

Raiffeisen Bank also runs a referral program for both individual and corporate clients. Rewards for referring a new client, such as a friend or a small business owner, can reach up to HUF 60,000, or approximately €152.

Hungary banking system and banking cards
ATMs in Hungary typically impose fees for cash withdrawals. Clients can avoid these fees by using ATMs owned by their own bank, rather than those operated by third parties

Best American bank in Hungary

Citi, or Citibank Europe plc Magyarországi Fióktelepe, is currently the only US bank operating in Hungary. It has been operating in the country since 1985. It caters to multinational clients, financial institutions, the public sector, large local corporations, and SMEs.

The bank is currently the 13th largest in Hungary based on total assets, which amounted to 1,011.94 billion HUF as of the latest report from 2022. Regarding profitability, Citibank is the second-best in the country, showcasing a 2.42% return on assets in the same year. 

Citi offers corporate banking, investment banking, cash management, corporate finance, trade services, custody services, trustee services, fund administration, and more.

For international clients, including foreigners living or doing business in Hungary, Citibank offers international transfers, including SWIFT Transfers, SEPA Credit Transfers, SEPA Instant Transfers, and SEPA Direct Debits. 

For corporate clients, the bank offers group transfers, which are used for salaries, commissions, and dividends. ​

Documents required to open a bank account in Hungary

In Hungary, bank accounts can be opened by residents and non-residents alike. 

Residents follow simplified requirements for opening a bank account and getting a bank card, which is on par with Hungarian citizens. The minimum set of documents includes:

  • a foreign passport;
  • a valid Hungary residence permit or work visa.

Non-residents can also become clients of a Hungarian bank if they prove a direct connection with the country. Therefore, banks may request the following documents:

  • a registration certificate in Hungary;
  • a long—term lease contract or purchase and sale agreement for residential accommodations;
  • utility bills from Hungary;
  • a salary certificate or other income documents.

No local SIM card is required, as clients can link their online banking account and mobile app access to a foreign SIM card. 

How to open a bank account and get a bank card in Hungary as a foreigner

For foreigners, opening a bank account in Hungary takes 3 to 14 days. A plastic bank card is issued within one month, and an e-card is issued within 1 day after the application.

Foreigners cannot open bank accounts online in Hungary. They must personally visit their bank and submit an application and documents.

PT1M
Up to 2 weeks
Preparing the documents
Preparing the documents

Gather the documents required by the selected Hungarian bank. Obtain a certificate of registration from the migration service at the place of residence. The issuance will take a few days.

1 day
Visiting the bank and submitting the documents
Visiting the bank and submitting the documents

Documents must be submitted in person. It is best to have a Hungarian translator accompany a foreign client for more effective communication with the bank’s specialist.

Up to 2 weeks
Waiting for the application review
Waiting for the application review

On average, banks in Hungary review foreign applications within 7—14 days.

1 day
Visiting the bank once again
Visiting the bank once again

If the bank approves the application, the applicant comes to the office again to sign the service agreement and additional documents — such as bank card issuance and online banking access.

How to get a residence permit in Hungary and open bank accounts without restrictions

A Hungary residence permit can be issued by marriage, employment, or enrollment in an educational institution.  Foreigners can also obtain a 10-year residency in the country by investment. 

Benefits of a Hungary residence permit by investment include:

  • faster and more straightforward access to local banking;
  • family reunification, with the opportunity to add spouses and children;
  • visa-free travel across the EU and Schengen states; 
  • European permanent residency or citizenship prospect after 10 years;
  • access to quality public and private healthcare and education. 

In 2024, Hungary relaunched its residency program, known as the Golden Visa program. Investors can join after choosing one of the following options:

  1. Purchasing real estate fund units for at least €250,000. They can be redeemed in 5 years.
  2. Buying residential real estate in Hungary for at least €500,000. It can be sold in 5 years.
  3. Donating to a public foundation, the minimum of €1,000,000. The donation is used to support Hungary's education, art, and science sectors. 

First, an applicant receives a 2-year Guest Investor Visa. The applicant must fulfil the investment condition within 3 months after entering Hungary on this visa. Then, they can apply for a residence permit by investment. 

In a nutshell: banking services in Hungary for foreigners 

  1. Hungarian banks work with foreign clients, including non-residents: they open accounts, issue cards, and provide other services.
  2. The most popular banks among foreigners are OTP Bank, Kereskedelmi és Hitelbank (K&H), Erste Bank and Raiffeisen Bank.
  3. With a Hungarian bank card, foreigners can pay for purchases in Hungary and other EU countries, receive wages, benefits and payments, and pay for utilities.
  4. To open a bank account in Hungary, a foreigner must personally submit documents to the bank's branch.
  5. Residents need a minimum package: a passport, residence permit, or work visa. Non-residents need to prove a direct connection with Hungary — provide a lease agreement and a certificate of registration at the place of residence.
  6. Foreigners with residence permits can use banking without restrictions, opening accounts and getting payment cards faster. They can get a Hungary residence permit by investing €250,000+

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest bank in Hungary?

More than 30 banks operate in Hungary. The largest is OTP Bank. It occupies about 25% of the Hungarian market and operates in 12 other Central and Eastern European and Asian countries.

Which bank is best suited for foreigners in Hungary?

The most popular Hungarian banks among foreigners are OTP Bank, Kereskedelmi és Hitelbank (K&H), Erste Bank and Raiffeisen Bank.

These banks open accounts for foreign citizens and provide a full range of banking services. All banks, except for Erste Bank, can provide services in English.

Can non-residents open a bank account in Hungary?

Yes, a non-resident can open an account with a Hungarian bank. To do this, you need to personally visit the bank branch with your passport and write an application. You also need to provide documents that confirm a direct connection with Hungary. For example, a real estate lease agreement and a certificate of registration at the place of residence.

Can I get a bank card in Hungary as a foreigner?

Yes. If you are a foreigner with a Hungary residence permit, the process will be faster. You will only need a passport and a residence card. If you are a non-resident, you will need additional steps, such as proving that you visit Hungary regularly. 

Overall, Hungarian banks issue cards for almost any bank account. The cost of issuing and servicing the card, commission fees, and other conditions depend on the bank and the selected tariff.

What international banks are there in Hungary?

In Hungary there are several international banks operating alongside local institutions. Some of the notable examples include:

  • Citi, or Citibank operates as a branch of the American bank, and is the consumer division of financial services multinational Citigroup. It is the only American bank in Hungary;
  • Erste Bank, part of the Austrian Erste Group, provides a full range of financial services to individuals, businesses, and other organisations;
  • Raiffeisen Bank, a subsidiary of Raiffeisen Bank International AG, operates as a universal bank in Hungary, offering services across all customer segments;
  • Bank of China operates a branch in Hungary focusing on corporate and investment banking services;
  • BNP Paribas originates from France and focuses on corporate and institutional banking;
  • ING Bank originates from the Netherlands and focuses on corporate and investment banking.
How do I get a Hungarian bank card?

To apply for a bank card in Hungary, you must select a bank, prepare the documents, and personally apply to open an account and issue a card at the bank’s branch.

How much does it cost to open a bank account in Hungary?

The average fee for opening a private bank account in Hungary is €12. Maintenance fees range between €5 and 8 per month. Payment cards are issued for approximately €8, though some banks issue cards for free.

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