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How Americans Can Open a Bank Account in Mexico
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This article provides helpful advice if you have been wondering how to open a bank account in Mexico. Many countries are far stricter when it comes to opening a bank account in Mexico. If you have the required documentation, then you don’t need to worry about your credit history. Having a Mexican bank account is a great way to avoid constant international fees. However, if you are only planning to be in Mexico for a short time, then you might want to consider sticking with your American account for the time being, and just stick to withdrawing cash as needed.
** Note: Every city and bank have their own internal rules for foreigners, these are just general guidelines from our local experience in San Miguel de Allende. Some banks only require a tourist visa, while another bank down the street may require residency **
THREE STEPS TO OPENING YOUR ACCOUNT
STEP 1 – CHOOSING A BANK IN MEXICO:
– Here are five prominent banks in Mexico –
– BBVA Bancomer –
With roughly 1800 branches, over 7,500 ATMs, and 12,000 POS terminals, Bancomer is hands down Mexico’s largest bank.
– Banamex –
Mexico’s second largest bank is a Citigroup subsidiary called Banamex. 1,700 branches and 6,200 permanent ATMs service their client base of 21 million people.
– Banorte –
Banorte has over 1,200 branches, more than 7,000 ATMs. Furthermore it has over 5,200 commercial businesses which accept deposits, such as convenience stores and drug stores.
– Scotia Bank –
Scotia Bank is a Bank of America partner, so if you bank with Bank of America, then this may be a good solution for you.
– HSBC –
HSBC banks in Mexico, have over 5,200 ATMs across Mexico, and more than 1,400 branches to accommodate your needs.
*To learn more about some major banks in Mexico, click here.
*These major banks generally only allow permanent residents to open a bank account in Mexico. For those foreigners on a tourist visa, we have heard that Ci Banco and Intercam allow tourists to open up a bank account.
Step 2 – FILLING OUT YOUR APPLICATION PAPERWORK:
After choosing your bank, you should locate your local branch. You will likely have to physically be at the branch to open your account, though there are some remote options covered in the next section. Be sure to bring your pertinent documentation with you, such as:
- Your U.S. or Canadian Passport
- Proof of Address (a power bill will do for example)
- Your FM2, FM3, or FMM Visa (depending on the bank’s requirements)
- If you are a corporation, then you will likely need to bring your incorporation paperwork and your power of attorney documentation
- You may be asked for a credencial if you are a business traveller, which you can easily get at the Instituto Nacional de Migracion.
Some banks may offer an English translation of the necessary paperwork, however a few banks might have a master copy in Spanish that you will have to fill out. If you have a language barrier, you might want to bring a Spanish speaker with you to help translate.
STEP 3 – OPENING YOUR ACCOUNT:
When you go to open your account, be sure to have at least 1,000.00 MXN (roughly 50.00 USD) with you. If you are only going to use this account in Mexico, you may want to choose an account that is based in the Mexican peso. You might want to consider a bank account that is based in either the U.S. dollar or the Canadian dollar if you plan on using this account in your native country, or if you want to reduce the currency loss which naturally results from the vicissitudes of international currency. Certificate options often carry more security and better returns.
You should receive your Mexican account paperwork and your booklets. Some banks offer a temporary card until your card arrives in the mail. Other banks will print you a card right there in the bank. Follow the clerk’s instructions when it comes to ATM use and basic account maintenance. It is always a wise decision to ask for a list of contact numbers as well.
*To learn more about opening an account in Mexico, click here.
OPENING AN ACCOUNT REMOTELY
There are some American banks that can help you open a bank account in Mexico. Foreign banks are prevalent among the Mexican banking industry. If you already have an account with Santander, HSBC, or Bank of America—they can help you open a bank account in Mexico with one of their partner banks before you arrive.
Most banks do not allow you to open a bank account in Mexico online. However, all major banks offer online banking where you can pay your bills and transfer funds.
TYPES OF BANK ACCOUNTS
- Cuenta de Nomina –
By law, all banks in Mexico must offer what is called a cuenta de nomina. This type of account is a payroll account which is intended for workers to receive their wages. Cuentas de nomina do not charge commissions or fees, and ATM holders are provided ATM cards for free.
- Cuenta de Cheques –
All Mexican banks also offer a checking account (Cuenta de Cheques) which often requires a minimum deposit which must be made every month to avoid incurring fees. Furthermore, they generally only offer a limited of free ATM withdrawals. Afterward surpassing this limit, a commission is charged based on a certain percentage of the amount you take out of your account.
- Cuenta de Ahorros –
A Savings account is a type of deposit account which is meant for holding savings for a time. It typically has a higher interest rate than a cuenta nomina. Many savings accounts in Mexico require you to hold your savings in the account for a period of time between one month and one year.
- Cuenta de Depositos –
One type of deposit account (cuenta de depositos) is an a la vista deposit account. This type of bank account in Mexico usually comes with a free debit card, and it allows you to take out money without giving the bank a prior notice. Interest rates are generally low, and you likely have to hold a minimum balance of more or less 1,000 pesos (50 USD) or you might incur account fees.
Another type of account is a notice account which—as the name implies—requires you to give the bank notice before you can withdraw money from the account. This type of account offers better savings than an a la vista account.
- Premium Accounts –
Most banks offer the option for premium accounts which have cash back services, insurance, and interest payments. These accounts have strict eligibility requirements and they often have monthly fees. You may or may not qualify for one of these bank accounts in Mexico if you have just arrived in the country with little documentation in the country. For this reason, many expats only set up a short-term account.
- Investment Accounts –
Most major banks in Mexico offer some form of “market accounts” that will let you buy or sell directly in the international stock market. These are a type of premium account, and they often require a higher minimum deposit—around 5,000 MXN pesos.
- Offshore Bank Accounts in Mexico –
Citizens of nations other than Mexico are allowed to open dollar-denominated offshore accounts through many offshore branches that are affiliates with Mexican banks. These accounts target individuals with high net worth and they generally require large deposits. Activities on offshore bank accounts are free from Mexican taxes such as: income taxes, profit taxes, interest, and dividends. The income from these accounts is taxable in your country of residence however. Most Mexican offshore bank accounts are fully liquid offering daily capitalization of interest, and they are also confidential with all information.
*To learn more about bank accounts in Mexico, click here.
- ATM and Human Bank Teller Fees –
Human bank tellers at your own branch are free, as are ATMs from most types of bank accounts. If you are using another branch’s ATM in Mexico, then you can expect to pay a fine for using their services, as well as another fine from your own bank for using an outside ATM. If you choose among the most popular banks in Mexico, then we recommend trying to find that bank’s nearest ATM to your residence and making it a habit to use their services as much as possible.
- International Transfer Fees –
If you are going to be sending money internationally on a regular basis, then you would watch out for hidden fees from poor exchange rates. Before you send your money abroad, check an online currency converter to see the actual value of your cash. Your American bank—should you decide to keep it—may also charge you exchange rate fees which are usually only a dollar or two to compensate for the amount of money that you withdrew. However, to avoid all international transfer fees and exchange rate fees, open a bank account in Mexico.
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