If you’re planning on calling Mexico home, you might want to think about opening a bank account here – just to make your life a little bit easier.
I’m not saying that you should close your account back home, I’m just recommending that you open a Mexican account that you keep a small amount of money in.
There are numerous benefits to having a Mexican bank account, here are a few of the ones that top the list:
1) No fees for ATM withdrawals
2) Easily transfer money from your bank account bank home
Anytime you need funds added to your Mexican account, you can accomplish this electronically without ever having to go to the bank.
This is safer than wiring yourself a large amount of money and having to physically pick it up.
3) Pay for goods and services in Mexico with bank transfers
This is extremely common here in Mexico — especially with larger transactions.
Many small businesses don’t take credit cards. When we had a screen enclosure put up around the patio, we were given two payment choices: cash or bank transfer.
4) Easily obtain a replacement ATM card in case of fraud
By keeping an account back home at the same time, a Mexican account will provide a buffer of protection between the bulk of your assets and fraud.
If you’re using a debit card from home, any theft or fraud will affect that account directly. Even though your funds will be returned to the account later, that only occurs after completing fraud affidavits and there is often a substantial delay. In that period of time, you may have had checks bounce without your knowledge and that may take weeks to resolve with the individual businesses affected.
I was a law enforcement officer for 25 years and I’ve seen debit card fraud in the U.S. cause the problems explained in the last paragraph. That’s why I prefer to have the buffer of a Mexican account while conducting business here.
The requirements to obtain a bank account in Mexico are pretty much the same no matter which bank you choose. They are also similar to the requirements to open an account in the United States, with one exception – the immigration status requirement.
Don’t worry, I’ve dedicated an entire section to covering that one. For now, let’s just cover the basic requirements:
1) Official identification (a valid passport works for this one)
2) Proof of address in Mexico (utility bill, property tax receipt)
3) Minimum deposit (this varies but it’s usually around $1,500 pesos or about $75 USD)
Before we had our temporary resident cards, we tried – and failed – to open a bank account at several different locations. Every bank employee that we spoke to was very adamant that we have at least a temporary or permanent resident visa (formally FM2 and FM3) in order to open an account.
Since a lot of the expats that we know only have tourist visas, I wanted to see if this was still the case, I contacted five of the major banks in Mexico to ask if they would allow me to open an account with just a tourist visa (FMM).
It was an adventure – to say the least – and I frustrated more than one customer service representative when I asked them for a simple yes or no answer to this question.
Here are the results:
Tourist visa (no)
Tourist visa (no)
Tourist visa (no)
Tourist visa (yes)
HSBC was the bank to specify that they would accept the “forma migratoria múltiple”, which is the FMM or tourist visa.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will actually be able to do it when you go to the bank. We had previously gone to an HSBC branch and they told us no.
Tourist visa (maybe)
The customer service representative told me that I would have to have an immigration document proving legal presence. When I asked if the FMM or tourist visa would suffice, she merely repeated the vague requirement. When I asked for some clarification or a list of documents that would meet the requirement, she directed me to visit the nearest branch.
By the way, there were significant pauses in our conversation which led me to believe that she was asking her coworkers and they didn’t know either.
My advice is to go to the branch and just ask — you might get lucky.
Let’s Wrap This Up
It’s very beneficial to have a bank account in Mexico; however, that doesn’t mean that you should close your account back home. I recommend that people keep the bulk of their assets in their accounts in their home country and to merely transfer small amounts of money to their Mexican account as needed.
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