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Expat Banking: Tips for Expats in Panama

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

Summary: Expats in Panama face unique challenges in managing their finances while living there, and that always starts with settling on the right expat financial services. Here are some basic tips from expats living in Panama - their insights are based on their actual experiences managing their finances while living there.

Expat Banking - Tips for Expats in Panama

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

Comments

DoctorG
Oct 9, 2021 15:56

Having just opened a Savings account with a:debit card at Isla Colon's Banco Nacional, one of two government-owned banks in Panama, and the only bank in Bocas Town, I have some insight to share. First, a $5,ooo deposit was required to open a simple savings account with a debit card. I asked if there was a minimum balance required and they to me no and that I could access the funds the next day, and I did a small withdrawal. I also quickly discovered that the "debit" card was not like what we're used to in the U'S, It's a "no-name" generic debit card, not like VISA or Mastercard and apparently cannot be used like debit cards in the U.S. From there I also discovered the fine print of debit cards (at least for government-owned Panamanian banks) and that the usage is limited to within Panama's borders. Because I have a Pensionado (retired) Permanent Residency Visa, the paperwork was surprisingly simple and quick. However, I soon also disc0vered more quirks of Panamanian banking: (1) a 15-day minimum for non-bank checks to clear, and the only way to get money in or out of Panama is by wire-transfer, even between international branches of the same bank. I've already determined, that as a light user, paying ATM fees in Panama for rent, utilities, and cash for the few places I need it, is cheaper than paying for wire transfers. So I'm left with wondering if I need a local bank at all and am still considering it. I plam om meeting with MulitBank and Scotia soon in Changuinola.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Panama GuidePanama Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Panama.

Panama Forum Panama Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Panama on our Panama forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Panama Index Panama Index
An index of all of our site's Panama information.

Contribute to Panama Network Contribute
Help others in Panama by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Panama.

Expat Healthcare Advice in PanamaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Panama

Expats in Panama offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Panama.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in PanamaMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Panama

Expats in Panama offer advice about healthcare in Panama.

Best Places to Live in Panama Best Places to Live in Panama

Panama is a great place to live or retire with easy residency laws, warm people and lots of expats. Whether you want to live by the beach in Bocas del Toro or need to live in Panama City for work and schools, there are many places to explore.

Real Estate in PanamaReal Estate in Panama

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Panama.

Guide to Real Estate in PanamaGuide to Real Estate in Panama

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Panama.

Pros Cons of Living in PanamaPros & Cons of Living in Panama

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Panama.

Cost of Living in PanamaCost of Living in Panama

Expats in Panama enjoy a relatively low cost of living. However, it's important to do your research to make sure you'll actually enjoy those saving while creating a high quality of life as an expat in Panama.

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