13 August, 2021

Banking in México

One of the more popular questions from ex-pats/immigrants here in Mazatlán (and México) on Facebook and in forums is one of banking. In making things difficult (in theory) for the cartels, México banking regulations also make banking a difficult prospect for those who aren’t citizens. Compounding the banking regulations are the businesses that only accept credit/debit cards issued by Méxican banks for online transactions (edited to clarify). CFE is a shining example. Yes, you can pay your electric bill using several options – but most of them require you be here in México. Yes, you can pop into a CFE office and pre-pay your bill, but they don’t speak English, so be prepared to rely on Google Translate if you don’t speak Spanish! And if you’ve gone back North to take care of something for a couple of months – well, you’re just up the river without a paddle!

México News Daily published an article about using a Fintech account (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/mexicolife/a-branchless-free-mexican-bank-account-for-foreigners/) to get a pre-paid credit card. I’m not sure how or how well this works, so I’m giving the information for its own sake without recommendation.

Intercam has branches in several states and also has decent exchange rates. BUT, their debit card is NOT recognized as coming from a Méxican bank (at least mine isn’t). They are geared towards the English speaking community, AND they will often open an account with just a tourist permit. If you don’t need the Méxican bank card, then they are a decent (my opinion only) option. I have an account with them, but primarily only because they hold my fideicomisso. Of note, they >>do<< have an online system that you can use to recharge your Telcel phone number. It works fairly easily.

Here in Mazatlán I was able to open an account with BBVA Bancomer (the branch near the cathedral) using my residency card, passport, and a utility bill. I may have also needed to provide my drivers license (from the USA), and my CURP. They also made me sign up with a promotion for homeowners insurance that they made me carry for two years (I keep forgetting to cancel it … and using it would require I navigate through a stack of paperwork in Spanish)! So it was a little bit of the ‘one hand washes the other’ kind of deal. I got my bank account in a Méxican bank, and the bank got two years (or more) of money for an insurance plan I haven’t used. I will say that BBVA Bancomer has an EXCELLENT app that generates a digital card number, and then a new CVV code for each online transaction you make. It works. And I even set up a recurring charge to pay my TelMex bill each month. Don’t ask me how I did it … but it’s working!

I’ve heard that other banks have branches that will open an account for non-citizens, you just have to visit them and find one. Ask friends and neighbors how they were able to open an account, and which branch they used.

As far as banking on the other side of the border goes, most of the people I know have an account with Charles Schwab. Charles Schwab refunds ATM fees at the end of each month, and doesn’t seem to mind when all of your transactions come from outside the USA. If you’re from Canada, I’m sorry, but I can’t be of much help, you’ll have to talk to friends!

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