I opened an account with UniCreadit Bank WebsiteUniCreadit for both immigration and renovation purposes.
It is easier to pay D.I.Y Shops, Supermarkets and Direct Debits with a UniCredit Debit Card rather than exchange GBP into HUF all the time.
When you are serious about buying a property in Hungary, it is best to open a Hungarian bank account during or just after the signing of the property pre-contract (the contract that requires you to put a deposit down for the property you want to purchase) so that you have the option of paying the remaining purchase price, solicitor fees and so on through your new Hungarian bank account as well as please the Immigration Office.
The immigration office will want to know (have proof) of how you will support yourself while living (off/on) in Hungary. Although you could show them a UK bank statement, I recommend showing them you have a Hungarian bank account with between £1,200 and £5,000 inside it because it demonstrates you are serious about living in Hungary, helping the economy, and is therefore another good reason for immigration to favour you a Residence Permit; but nothing is guaranteed of course.
Be sure to ask your Hungarian bank if they can make you a few copies (printouts) of your current bank statement, because immigration might want a copy for themselves. The Szeged immigration office kept my original Hungarian bank statement as part of my overall application. I opened a bank account with UniCredit and deposited £1,200 whereby their bank statement was good enough for the immigration official dealing with my application.
Opening a Hungarian bank account is quite straight forward if you already live, work and/or study in Hungary. If you do not, you will be classed as a "Foreigner" and therefore will NOT be allowed to open a Hungarian bank account. Put another way, unless you have an address card or property contract you will be refused a Hungarian bank account.
If you are eligible for a Hungarain bank account: Visit the bank in person, present the following paperwork to the bank teller, fill out their application form, sign their paperwork and then deposit some money into your new Hungarian bank account.
NOTE: Although you may hear on the internet that some Hungarian banks only require a Passport in order to open a bank account, this is NOT true at all simply because of money laundering laws for example; Plus the fact Hungarian officials love paperwork! The banks need to know who is opening the bank account, where they live and so on.
It is also worth setting up a mobile phone account with Vodafone Hungary WebsiteVodafone for example so you have a contact number too.
NOTE - A property pre-contract is NOT 'proof of Hungarian property ownership' simply because the pre-contract can be made void at any time.
Although a Hungarian bank account is NOT needed for the purpose of transferring money, for example, it is better to have one; especially if you need receipts for tax purposes and/or need to set up a direct debit later for whatever reason(s).
The most important reason for having a Hungarian bank account is for immigration purposes (as described above), but is NOT an immigration requirement. You could use a UK bank statement instead (also as described above).
IMPORTANT: I signed up for a bank account whereby one of its requirements was to deposit at least 150,000 HUF (£400) every month. No problem there. However, I later found out that that was to be via a bank transfer (i.e. bank to bank or through deposit of wages) and not via a person depositing 150,000 HUF (£400).
As a result of this misunderstanding ("lost in translation” scenario) I then had to accept that the bank would be charging me a monthly handling fee of 1,990 HUF (£5.30) for not depositing via bank transfer. They actually give you this monthly handling fee back if you do deposit via bank transfer each month.
At the end of the day though, regardless of bank charges, I still have a Hungarian bank account I can use; even if I am paying 23,850 HUF (£63.60) per year to keep it open.
Below is a list of 9 common banks operating in Hungary. I have not gone into detail about them simply because 8 of them have English web pages together with accounts and fees information. Therefore I have left it to you to make your own mind up about which, if any, you open a bank account with.
OTP Hungary WebsiteOTP (Országos Takarék Pénztár / National Saving Funds) is the largest network of Hungarian banks. Although they dominate the ATM machines, they are said to be expensive to bank with.
UniCredit Hungary WebsiteUniCredit, who I have a bank account with, are not too bad. As mentioned above: I pay 23,850 HUF (£63.60) per year (because I do not deposit that much money with them each month, now my apartment renovation has finished) whereby I see no extra charges, get free ATM withdrawals, have an online (worldwide) banking account and a contactless debit card.
K&H Hungary WebsiteK&H - E-mailed K&H because no e-mail contact details on their website (but ironically on their Facebook page) and no Open Bank Account details either whereby I received a totally useless reply. Hence I why I do not rate their customer service. They want to be on Facebook but do not want their own website to be helpful.
Raiffeisen Hungary WebsiteRaiffeisen is said to be popular.
ALL Banks in Hungary are required to give you at least two free ATM withdrawals per month under the financial Act CLXXXIX of 2013 before being able to charge for ATM usage. And any single withdrawal cannot exceed 150,000 HUF (around £400).
With Hungarian bank websites you will find that even those who have made English language web pages, which should be appreciated, those English language web pages will quickly redirect you to Hungarian web pages.
Unfortunately the same has to be said of e-mailing the banks. They usually send you a reply with broken, hard to understand and/or difficult to interpret, English and/or dead links. Many even insist on replying in Hungarian only and do not have an option to open a bank account online. Hence why you are much better off visiting a bank in person.