Managing your finances

Last updated: 31 8 2018

This material is from the book About Sweden.

​Banks, bank accounts and bank cards

The majority of people have a bank account and a bank card. You can use the bank card to withdraw money from your account at a cash machine. You can also use the card to purchase items in shops. To get a bank account and bank card you have to speak to the bank.

There are different types of cards:

  • Debit card – can be used to take out money from a cash machine. It is also possible to pay using the card. The money is taken directly from your account.
  • Payment card – you can pay using these. The money is not taken directly from your account. Instead, you get a bill each month. Payment cards are usually more expensive than debit cards.
  • Credit card – it is possible to borrow money using this type of card. When you pay with a credit card you are borrowing money from the bank. You often pay a high rate of interest when you borrow money on a credit card.

Most people borrow money from a bank when they want to buy a home or a car. If you want to borrow money from a bank, you have to have a stable income.

Paying bills via the internet or Autogiro

In order to pay bills (invoices) and see how much you have in your bank account via the internet, you have to first contact your bank. The bank will provide you with information about what to do.

Autogiro is a form of direct debit, this means that the money for recurrent bills is withdrawn directly from your account.

Source: BankID.com

BankID is an electronic identity document, and a simple way of providing your ID e.g. when you enter into a contract or make electronic payments on the internet. Using your electronic signature via BankID is legally binding in the same way as a physical signature. You need to have Swedish personal identity number in order to obtain BankID. Banks are the issuers of BankID to private individuals.

The security code for your BankID is personal. Never reveal the security code to anyone else. Do not log on to BankID if you get contacted via phone or social media. Contacts of that kind are more likely to be attempts at fraud.

Borrowing money to buy things for your home

If a municipality has received you as a refugee or a family member of a refugee, there is a special loan you can apply for from CSN (Centrala Studiestödsnämnden, which also administers student loans and aid) in order to be able to buy furniture and things for your home. This is known as a home equipment loan. The amount you can borrow depends on how many family members there are and if you are renting furnished or unfurnished accommodation.

If you want to apply for a home equipment loan, you need to speak to your case officer at the municipality or your introduction case officer at Arbetsförmedlingen. You will fill out a form together and send it to CSN. The application has to be made within two years of your reception by a municipality.

When you get a home equipment loan you are borrowing money. You have to pay the money back to CSN with interest. This applies even if you move away from Sweden.

Record for payment default

If you do not pay your bills and debts on time, you will receive a letter reminding you to pay. If you still don't pay, the bill will be sent to a debt collection company. If you don't pay the bill sent by the debt collection company either, the case will be referred to the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden) and a note of payment default will be added to your credit record.

A record of payment default is an indication that you have not been managing your payments. This has serious consequences for you. It may mean that you have difficulty getting loans, renting a flat, finding work or taking out a telephone contract.

There are companies who provide information about the finances of individuals and companies. They are called credit reference agencies. If you want to, for example, buy a mobile phone and pay for it in instalments, the retailer contacts a credit reference agency. The agency can then provide information about whether you have any records for payment default. A record for payment default remains in place for three years for individuals and five years for companies.

The Swedish Enforcement Authority

The Swedish Enforcement Authority is known in Swedish as Kronofogden. Kronofogden takes care of debts that have not been paid. If someone owes you money, Kronofogden can help you get this back. Kronofogden also work with debt reconstruction. This means that Kronofogden help people who have large debts to sort out their finances.