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Best bank to have an account in.

As part of buying our vacation home in San Miguel we need to open an account in town. Our US bank is Bank of America. BoA is affiliated with Santander so it seems the natural choice for a bank. Their ATM is always the one we use in Centro. We have had other expats suggest other banks and I'm curious what the consensus in on banks in San Miguel. Which are easiest to deal with? Have fewer issues or lower fees?

Muchas Gracias,

Stuart

The ATM fee is about the only affiliation that Santander shares with BofA. I use HSBC, but others hate it. Seriously, they're about the same. Pick one closest to you or near where you shop. Keep a nice balance in your account and there are no fees. I used to pay 90 pesos a month at HSBC until I figured out the balance deal. It wasn't written down nor on their web site. I had to ask.

We also have a vacation home in San Miguel we purchased last year.  Our property manager there recommended Intercam an we are very happy with their service. Our US bank is also  Bank of America but there was no real benefit with Santander. 
Best wishes with your vacation home!!
Denise

I am not sure about the fees.  I have only used Bancomer for ten years, in Chetumal, Quintana Roo.
We have two accounts and can easily from our accounts at Bank of America in Houston, transfer money every month.  The online process with BA is super easy and it takes 2 days approx to reach our accounts here.

Launia Tate Sullivan :

I am not sure about the fees.  I have only used Bancomer for ten years, in Chetumal, Quintana Roo.
We have two accounts and can easily from our accounts at Bank of America in Houston, transfer money every month.  The online process with BA is super easy and it takes 2 days approx to reach our accounts here.

You might want to check out xoom(dot)com. I transfer from BofA to HSBC in 2 hours. It costs 4.99 usd for the transfer and the rate is better than a wire.

We wish to sell our bahia property and i was always wondering about.  How to send my money back to bank of america.  Bancomer manager never had a direct answer to me. Even if all my legal stuff is in order.

With xoom you might have to establish an account physically in usa
it is with western union and some others... I cannot Set an account with them online..They want me to physically oresent myself to an office in usa.. So unfortunate.. That is why i rather use my bank transfers or my bank of america atm...

Can anyone offer details on just what I can expect when opening an account? I imagine I'll need my passport, but what other documents? If my wife will be on the account does she need to be there when I open it or can I add her later? What is the minimum amount most banks require to open an account? What type of account makes the most sense for the purpose of funding ongoing expenses of a house? Any input is appreciated.

Passport, RT or RP visa, CFE bill (for your address), maybe your RFC and CURP cards. The last two depends on the bank.Your CURP is on your visa. You will have to fill out an IRS form W-9. That is for the bank to report to the IRS when you have more than 10,000 usd in your account at any one time. Deposit a couple thousand pesos Maybe 4 or 5 thousand. Ask what the minimum balance you need to avoid monthly service charges. Normal checking account without checks and with a debit card is rather standard.

I recommend you to open an account in Banamex, it is part of Citigroup, an American bank and financial services corporation settled in New York.

Going to start building a home late this summer in Jalisco and was pondering should I take 1/2 the construction costs from my US bank and send to my Mexico bank while the dollar is strong or should I just transfer small amounts as needed.?

Troy greer :

Going to start building a home late this summer in Jalisco and was pondering should I take 1/2 the construction costs from my US bank and send to my Mexico bank while the dollar is strong or should I just transfer small amounts as needed.?

at 18.31 this morning, I would be buying pesos. They won't go bad lying dormant in the Mexican bank.

Awesome thanks my friend good answer! Only one concern. My wife's brother is a Mexican who lives in Mexico and he says don't put a lot of money in your Mexican account because Mexico will tax this money. Is this true?? Sounds crazy to me. What you think.

Troy greer :

Awesome thanks my friend good answer! Only one concern. My wife's brother a a Mexican who lives in Mexico and he says don't put a lot of money in your Mexican account because the Mexico will tax this money. Is this true?? Sounds crazy to me.

They used to do this a few years ago, but not any more.

Interesting. Banamex is the only bank that friends living San Miguel have advised me not to use.

joaquinx :

Passport, RT or RP visa, CFE bill (for your address), maybe your RFC and CURP cards. The last two depends on the bank.Your CURP is on your visa. You will have to fill out an IRS form W-9. That is for the bank to report to the IRS when you have more than 10,000 usd in your account at any one time. Deposit a couple thousand pesos Maybe 4 or 5 thousand. Ask what the minimum balance you need to avoid monthly service charges. Normal checking account without checks and with a debit card is rather standard.

Thanks Joaquin. It was my understanding that prior to or about the same time as the closing I need to open a bank account. At this time I don't have either a RT or RP. Since the house is not in my name I won't have a CFE indicating that. Perhaps I have the cart before the horse? (Reminds me of the armed services commercial that used to play on TV in the 70's..."They say no experience, no job. How do I get experience if they won't give me a job?"

In the 16 years I've lived in Mexico (not in SMA), I've had accounts at Banamex, HSBC and Bancomer. Bancomer wins hands-down for a number of reasons. I now have an account in both Bancomer and HSBC because I think two banks is good idea just in case something gets screwed up with one account. Plus, switching money from one bank account to another via their websites is a piece of cake.

Thank you Felipe. I'm curious as to the fee's you incur with two accounts. Is there a minimum number of Pesos you keep to avoid fees? What about ATM's, do they have them?

gstuartw :

Thank you Felipe. I'm curious as to the fee's you incur with two accounts. Is there a minimum number of Pesos you keep to avoid fees? What about ATM's, do they have them?

Yes, there is a minimum you have to keep to avoiding fee. You have to ask and it depends on the type of account you open. There are ATMs for the major banks everywhere. It is safe to only use those at banks and supermarkets as they are constantly in use and unlikely tampered with.

Thanks Joaquin.  I have only used ATM's in the Jardin, almost exclusively Santander. As for account type I expect we will be opening a checking account with debit card. When visiting as touristas we typically withdraw pesos from an ATM and use the cash for grocery items etc and depending on the size of the bill use cash or credit at the restaurants. With the purchase of our house we hope our visits will be more frequent but we will legally be touristas as we will not immediately go for RT or RP status. As property owners I expect our most significant use of the local account will be pay monthly expenses for the rental house. Would you agree?

One other aspect to choosing a bank came to light recently is the issue of a staff member being conversant in English. My spanish is passable as a consumer of goods on the street etc but I would not feel comfortable having a financial oriented conversation in Spanish just yet! I've heard from an Expat that her bank, Actinvar  has a very English fluent gentleman there. The issue with that bank it seems is they don't have an ATM so they are paying fee's at all ATMs.

I use my Mexican bank debit card to pay online to Megacable, Telcel, MercadoLibre, etc. Use it at Chedraui, Liverpool, Costco, and Sears. I prefer not using my US bank debit nor credit card except for purchases from the US. Even then, I like going through PayPal.

I keep quite high balances in part to avoid fees, which I do. I don't know what is the minimum required to dodge fees, but it would just be a question of asking in the bank. They do  have ATMs. All banks here have ATMs.

Thanks for all who submitted their suggestions. I just returned from San Miguel where I opened two accounts with Intercam. A good friend who lives in SMA tooth time to go with to the bank and introduce me to her contact there. That person as well as a number of the bank personnel speak excellent English which of course made things enormously easier. While not as large as some of the other banks, Intercom does have online banking as well as smart phone apps, including an iToken.

My wife was not there at the time so I could not put her on the account other than a beneficiary. That's not an issue as it will be simple to add her when we return next. I elected to have checks as well as debit cards, surprisingly they had personalized checks for me before I left the building. Try that in the states! The debit cards will be waiting for me at the bank when I get back.

Banco Santander doesn't have a deal with Bank of America anymore.  If you use your BofA Debit card at a Santander ATM, you'll pay foreign ATM fees to both banks and a few months ago, BofA upped it's foreign transaction fee to 3%.

I recently switched to BBVA Compass in Texas.  There's no fee to use you BBVA Compass debit card in BBVA Bancomer ATM's and their foreign transaction fee is only 1%.

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