Banking in e-Estonia is easy. You can do most transactions online and almost never have to go to an actual bank branch.
No cash, no cheques
You can make both cash deposits and withdrawals via ATMs. All standard bank transactions take place online and most of Estonians have never seen a bank cheque. Banking in Estonia is easy, fast and secure.
Use your debit card
You will not need cash very often in Estonia. The most common method of payment is debit cards like Maestro (MasterCard Debit) or Visa Electron, or credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Debit cards are accepted by 99% of the businesses and are usually operated by chip-and-PIN machines. So don’t forget your PIN!
Credit cards can be difficult to obtain for new residents. Banks usually associate your credit worthiness with salary and length of employment. This means that you can apply for your first credit card about six months to a year after having started employment. When applying for a credit card, the bank will look into your monthly salary and base your credit limit and interest rates on it.
Opening a bank account
To open a bank account, most commercial banks in Estonia need you to come into one of their branches. Have your ID on you when visiting the branch.
Once the account opening procedure is completed, you will have instant access to your account over the Internet.
Most banks also issue internationally recognised debit and credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Be aware that each bank has its own types of account and banking plans, so check the banks’ websites beforehand.
There are four major commercial retail banks in Estonia – Swedbank, SEB, Nordea and LHV – and a number of smaller ones. Of the four bigger ones, LHV does not handle cash at all.
The largest banks in Estonia:
Swedbank – a subsidiary of the large Swedish banking corporation of the same name
SEB – also a subsidiary of the large Swedish banking corporation of the same name
Nordea – a subsidiary of the large pan-Nordic banking corporation by the same name
LHV – a bank founded on Estonian capital
Danske Bank – a subsidiary of the large Danish banking corporation by the same name
BigBank – a bank that started as a loan corporation and grew into a full retail bank
Krediidipank – a smaller Estonian bank, partly owned by a Russian bank