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The verdict: What are the best banks for foreigners in Norway?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
The verdict: What are the best banks for foreigners in Norway?
The Local's readers have shared their thoughts on what Norway's best foreign bank is. Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash

Picking the right bank in Norway, or even getting an appointment to open an account, can be hard. Thankfully, The Local’s readers have shared their experiences and advice to give you a head start.

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Upon moving to Norway, opening a bank account will be one of the very first things you’ll have to do. 

Overseas accounts are unlikely to cut it for everyday tasks like paying bills or receiving a Norwegian salary. 

Even after spending a few years in Norway, you may eventually become dissatisfied with your bank and wish to make the switch. 

We asked readers of The Local to share some of their best insider tips in a recent survey (special thanks to those who contributed). 

READ ALSO: The key things you need to know about savings accounts in Norway

In the case of our readers, the Sparebank group came out on top as it was the financial institution that received the most positive feedback from readers who answered the survey. 

“In my case, SpareBank 1 SR-bank were very quick to reply to my request to open a bank account without BankID. I filled out the online form and went straight to the bank without an appointment. I was welcomed, and they understood the situation. One week later, we had our BankID and bank account up and running. Some other banks took longer or never replied,” an Algerian reader living in Bergen responded.

“The downside, it costs 400 kroner to open a bank account without BankID (other banks offer it for free). Also, the fees are a bit higher than other options,” he added. 

The reader also praised the app and the customer service experience in person or over the phone. 

Other readers were also impressed with the customer service from the Sparebank group.

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“Sparebank1 for their excellent customer service and good and honest advice,” Arjen, who lives in Jessheim, responded when asked about the best bank in Norway. 

After Sparebank, DNB and Handelsbanken were the banks to receive the most recommendations from our readers. 

Handelsbanken received good feedback for the high interest-rate accounts it offers to union members. 

Meanwhile, DNB received praise for it being easy to set up an account with them if you are a student. Another was happy that they lived near a branch, making it easy to walk in and speak to an advisor whenever they wished. 

However, DNB was also the bank to receive the harshest feedback from our readers. 

“DNB, terrible app, terrible conditions (interests, loans, etc) and terrible customer service,” Alireza, an Iranian living in Oslo, complained when asked about the banks foreigners should avoid. 

Another wrote that they felt that the bank only valued customers with high incomes, while another said that the bank’s service improved once they had access to BankID. 

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Sbanken could be considered a middle-of-the-pack option by our readers as it didn’t really attract overwhelmingly positive or negative feedback. 

The Norwegian Customer Barometer published figures on customer satisfaction, and in 2023, it was Sbanken that received the highest customer satisfaction rating with 84.8 percent. 

Handelsbanken was second with an approval rating of 79.8 percent. Sparebank 1 had a customer satisfaction rating of 74.3 percent, which placed it fourth. 

DNB was the worst-rated bank among Norwegians, with an approval rating of just 65.3 percent. 

However, Norwegians will likely have a very different banking experience to most foreigners as they already possess all the paperwork to open an account, and all the paperwork they need to look over is in their native tongue – therefore, what works for the locals may not always work for foreigners. 

Being an active customer with different banks may be best 

As one reader pointed out, it is likely that there wasn't a single bank that acted as a silver bullet for customers, and they may need to shop around to maximise their returns. 

When the reader responded to the survey, they said that there wasn’t a bank that managed to offer a good app and customer service experience, good savings and investing options, and Apple Pay integration all in one package. 

For example, some banks in Norway ask for higher deposits from foreigners to secure a mortgage – meaning that while you could be thrilled with your current account, your mortgage options may not be as rosy. 

Norway’s consumer council has various portals for comparing financial institutions, from current accounts to mortgages.

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