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Expat Banking: Tips for Expats in Mexico

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: Expats in Mexico face the challenge of successfully managing their finances while living there, and that always starts with settling on the right expat financial services. Here are some tips from expats already living in Mexico based on their actual experiences with banks there.

Expat Banking - Tips for Expats in Mexico

Expats in Mexico, or anyone moving to Mexico, inevitably has to decide on a banking service to use there.

Expats need to choose international banking services, a local bank in Mexico, financial institutions in their home country, or some combination of these options.

Here is some advice offered by expats already there to people in the process of moving there or considering such a move. Remember that individual banks and Mexico have policies, but every case will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. That can make things very confusing at times, and frustrating. Read what we've edited below, as well as the full texts and threads so you have as much information as possible.

Ask questions on our Mexico Forum as needed.

If you are living in Mexico, or are moving to Mexico, you may have to obtain and provide a CURP and RFC, in addition to the visa that permits you to live in Mexico.

In a thread about opening a bank account in Mexico, expats wrote:

"CURP is your Unique Registration Credential, a Mexican federal form. The RFC is your Mexican tax registration umber; like an IRS ID number of sorts. The CURP may be applied for at INM & may have been issued with one's residence visa. The RFC may require an appointment and visit to the taxing authorities office.

"More and more, Mexican banks and other institutions are requiring residency visas and federal documentation. Years ago, simple tourists could buy homes, cars, open bank accounts, etc. It is not so simple and easy not, as computerization has made it easier for the government to keep track of things.......taxes, for example. Caveat: Some things vary by state, or even by areas. Change is not always instant and universal."

"If you are an American citizen, I would be to your advantage to establish an account with a Major U.S. bank, with good online services, and never let it go. If you have U.S. income, have it deposited there, and only take what you need in cash from ATMs in Mexico as you need it. As I have mentioned before; we lived happily in Mexico without the need for a Mexican bank. You will find that U.S. banks are easier to deal with, and much safer. No time spent waiting in long lines, either."

"I opened one at Banamex with just a tourist visa, passport and an electric bill."

"Do you live in Mexico year round ? We really need Mexican bank accounts. We pay a lot of our bills online in Mexico. We also pay things like ; our TAG for highway access, MercadoLibre, Amazon Mexico, etc. against our Mexican CC. We save 4% at Costco using Banamex. We have the auto insurance for our cars and house through our bank - and get a 10% discount."

Banking in Mexico? TransferWise is an online account that lets you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. With a TransferWise account, you can send money abroad, get paid in other currencies, and spend abroad on the TransferWise debit Mastercard.

In a thread about U.S. Expat Banking While Living In Mexico, several expats offered advice to someone preparing to move there:

Banks in Mexico are generally not affiliated with any U.S. banks. I suggest that you simply keep your established U.S. accounts in your U.S. bank; hopefully a major one with international capabilities, online services, etc., and use ATMs in Mexico for cash via your debit card(s). For occasional large purchases (car, home, etc), you can arrange for an increased daily limit for one day, wire transfer, etc. We never wanted or needed a Mexican bank (ugh!) in 13+ years.

"It's true you should keep your U.S. account and just use an ATM whenever you want to withdraw money. In terms of which U.S. bank is best to do this, in my experience and to the best of my knowledge it is Citibank. Citibank is the same organization as Banamex. No withdrawal fees (even if the screen says there's a fee, we've found that we are not actually charged one) and I think they may have the most ATM machines available. We have a Banamex account (necessitated by the fact that when you have Mexico medical insurance, your reimbursement checks have to go to a Mexican account). Having a US Citibank account works well with our Mexican Banamex account."

"It's true you should keep your US account and just use an ATM whenever you want to withdraw money. In terms of which US bank is best to do this, in my experience and to the best of my knowledge it is Citibank. Citibank is the same organization as Banamex. No withdrawal fees (even if the screen says there's a fee, we've found that we are not actually charged one) and I think they may have the most ATM machines available. We have a Banamex account (necessitated by the fact that when you have Mexico medical insurance, your reimbursement checks have to go to a Mexican account). Having a US Citibank account works well with our Mexican Banamex account."

"No you will still be able to trade, we do... Also you should open Schwab Checking with the Schwab Bank, refunded all fees monthly on ATM."

Regarding the advice to check out BBVA Compass in the US and BBVA Bancomer in Mexico... don't. Just, don't. I did this exact thing thinking (silly me) that because they are both part of BBVA, it would be easy to transfer money between accounts, use ATMs in both countries, etc. I even asked before I opened my BBVA Compass account, "Can I transfer money between my BBVA Compass account in the U.S. and my BBVA Bancomer account in Mexico." I was assured that I could, no problem..." It turned out that, "No, I can only do this by physically walking into a BBVA Compass branch in the U.S.," and not while in Mexico.

"Personally, I have my US bank account at Ally bank (part of GMAC Financial). They have been really good."

Join our Mexico Expat Forum

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Jul 31, 2018

First Published: Jul 31, 2018

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