Best banks for foreigners, according to Sofia's biggest international community

Five options for personal or business banking in Bulgaria

Written by Toni P. Lyubenova, edited by Lindsay Martin, photo by Ilias Iatropoulos.


Opening a bank account in Bulgaria is a tedious task for many foreigners moving to Bulgaria. The exchange and interest rates, the specific requirements, and the lack of English speaking personnel make the whole experience challenging. As a general rule, you should always consider the fees when maintaining or opening a new account. A spreadsheet of your options from the Bulgarian National Bank can be found here

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular banks, according to Bulgaria’s international community Foreigners in Sofia & Friends, in hopes of assisting you on your way.

 

UniCredit Bulbank

UniCredit is arguably the most popular bank among the foreign community in Bulgaria, credited for their helpful customer support and English speaking staff. Their mission is to provide solutions to their clients, remain easy to work with, and create real value with what they offer. They have more than 100 companies across the entire world and offer excellent service in each one of their offices. Like most Bulgarian banks, UniCredit provides its customers with the option to bank online. You can open an account at any of their branches here or by making an online request here and waiting to be contacted by a consultant. Click here to find out useful information regarding the safety measures and possible offers during the pandemic.

When I was in Bulgaria I opened my bank account with UniCredit, at the branch where I opened the account almost nobody spoke English but I was really impressed by the service of Iliev Veselin at the branch of Paradise mall. I think that fees are pretty high at Unicredit but I cannot compare with other banks. 

Maria Vinciguerra, Italy

I had a wonderful experience with Unicredit Bulbank, Paradise Branch. More precisely Rumyana Kostadinova who has since then been promoted to the corporate branch in the city center. She was extremely helpful in getting a mortgage and helped with paperwork, bank account and financing. She went beyond what you would expect from a regular branch manager. All the things we had to sort out, we always sorted in the Paradise branch where they spoke English and were always ready to help. I would recommend them anytime.

Claudia Sonea, Romania

 

FiBank

FiBank is another one of Bulgaria’s favored banks for services to foreigners. FiBank is recognized as a rapidly growing and innovative bank, offering outstanding products and services to its customers. Online banking is available. You can find more information about the interest rates and foreign currency in FiBank here. Click here to find out the details about the current state of the bank during the pandemic. If you’d like to open a business account, you’ll have to present several documents, including the court decision for the entry of the company in the Commercial Register; Certificate of current status issued not earlier than 3 (three) months ago and Certificate of BULSTAT registration. You can open an account at any of the bank’s branches in Bulgaria.

For me they’ve always been good and very helpful, and in all the Malls and other offices I’ve been there is always someone speaking English. I have been with them for 3 years now.

Chris Kent Kempe, Sweden

 

Raiffeisenbank 

Raiffeisen is among the leading banks in the country, offering bank services in all customer segments, improving their clients’ experiences, and aiming to generate solid and sustainable shareholder value. Originally based in Austria, they own more than 2,500 offices in Central and Eastern Europe. According to the current Corporate Income Tax Act, foreign legal entities that do not have a permanent establishment in Bulgaria must pay a 10% withholding tax on certain types of income generated in Bulgaria, including income from interest on bank accounts. In view of the above, Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) EAD withholds 10% of the interest paid on client bank accounts and deposits.

They currently offer lower fees due to the state of emergency, which can be found here.

Their offices are everywhere which is super convenient. People are friendly, you don't wait too long. Their customer support is very adequate. You have passive online banking and they charge you BGN 3.60 per month. If you lose your password for online banking, you have to go there to have it changed for 5 leva, I don't know if it's the case with the others. 

I had a problem with the card once (it was 2-3 years old), as it had worn out and the ATM was spitting it out. When changing I had to pay for a new card and wait for 2 weeks, which was super annoying, but the mistake was in the employees of Ivan Asen street. 

In general, it's okay, I'm satisfied with their service. The payments are always on time.

Alex Portarev, Bulgaria

 

Online alternatives

With digital banking on the rise, many businesses and individual customers prefer to use a combination of banking strategies, utilizing online platforms as well. Revolut lets you connect all your accounts and manage your finances in one place. They offer excellent exchange rates in 150 currencies. Wise gives you the upper hand by making the banking process easy and transparent, charging as little as possible, and simplifying the transfer process. Other popular solutions are iCard and Paysera.

 

If you would like to learn more about the interest rates in Bulgaria, as well as the forecast for the nearby future, you can find some useful information here.

Looking for more daily service solutions? Here's our list of the best internet and mobile providers in Sofia.