Banking in Mexico can be frustrating for some, but don’t let it bother you for more than a few minutes. Adaptation, patience and a sense of humor are key.
Like many things in life, especially the immigrant/expat life, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Who you bank with in your current home country and what your banking needs and residency status are will guide your banking path.
In order to open a bank account in Mexico, you must be at least a Temporary Resident (it is possible that some banks would require Permanent Residency). You may not open a Mexican bank account on a Tourist Visa, as a CURP (similar to a social security number) is required and these are provided only for Temporary or Permanent Residency Visa holders.
Mexico in large part is a cash-based society, and as such, it is best to diversify your options for accessing cash because things will not function smoothly 100% of the time.
Our Banking Path
As Permanent Residents we opened a Mexican bank account with Citibanamex and linked it to our stateside Citibank account. This allows us to pay for things in Mexico with our Banamex debit card and provides another option for withdrawing cash.
With our Citibank account we can transfer dollars directly into our Mexico Banamex peso account and the transfer occurs within 30 minutes. A Capital One transfer can take anywhere from 3 to 5 days, so best to plan accordingly.
The following three banks are easy to work with and will refund ATM withdrawal fees:
It is important to set up these accounts prior to moving to Mexico so that you can take care of any necessary paperwork by traditional mail and get their apps installed on your smart devices.
ATM Exchange Rate
When withdrawing from a Mexican ATM, it is very common for a message to be displayed asking if you accept their offered rate of exchange. Always decline. If you accept their rate of exchange it will be lower than the rate of exchange your bank will use.
Notifying Your Bank
You will want to notify your banks that you will be in Mexico so that the fraud department is not flagged when charges and withdrawals start coming in from out of your home country.
Many banks in Canada and the USA will not accept a foreign address and will not want to maintain accounts if a customer is living full time in Mexico. You will need to navigate this as you see fit depending on who you are banking with.
Maintaining a home country mailing address is easy via US Global Mail.
Going as paperless as possible is highly recommended as is maintaining a US number for when you need to receive security text message from your stateside bank.
One option for having a US # on your Mexican cell is via:
Voip.ms obtain NOB phone #
Zoiper.com download app to your phone and connect with Voip.ms
Documents Required to Open A Mexican Bank Account
*Your passport and copies
*Your residency card and copies
*2-3 consecutive utility bills from your residence dated within the last 3 months–it does not matter if it is in your name or not–from CFE (electrical) or Telmex (landline/internet). This proves the residence actually exists.
*Home Rental contract
*2 Personal References
You will need these documents for almost any government, banking or other service transaction you wish to initiate so it is best to make several copies of each.
You may want to consider taking a translator with you, in case they do not have English speaking staff.
In most Mexican banks, you will need to take a ticket and wait your turn as many don’t allow you to make appointments.
Two Popular Mexican Banks with Expats:
All banks have their own specific requirements. Check with their customer service or websites before you head out in person to open your account.
Banking in Mexico Summary
Everyone must find what works best for them. You will no doubt get many different opinions on what banking path(s) work best for others on Facebook groups and other forums. It is not a bad thing to speak with other folks to compare notes and determine what options will work best for you.
*Last but not least, have your local bank in the US provide you with some pesos prior to leaving the States.
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