Home Panama Forum Panama Guide Moving to Panama Real Estate Healthcare in Panama
Panama
Resources
City Guides
Cigna International Health Insurance
Join Sign In
Cigna International Health Insurance

Expat Banking: Tips for Expats in Panama

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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

Expats in Panama, or anyone moving to Panama, inevitably has to choose a banking service to use there.

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 Panama all have specific policies, but every case will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Read what we've edited below, and the original articles and/or message-board threads so you have as much information as possible.

Expat Recommended Banks in Panama

An expat looking for a bank with offices in the U.S. and Panama, which resulted in an insightful conversation among expats:

"There is no easy way to send money from the U.S. to Panama and the other way around. It is all about bank wires. Scotiabank is considered an international bank, but because they are franchises here in Panama, you cannot simply move money from one branch in the U.S. such as in New York or Canada to a branch here in Panama. Panama's banking system is closed in that respect. It is just as easy, or difficult, to send money from the Bank of America to Caja de Ahorros, a National Bank of Panama, as it is to send money from a Scotiabank in Canada to a Scotiabank in Panama. No real association like you have with branches in the U.S. or Canada. Citibank here in Panama was recently purchased by Scotiabank. HSBC was another International bank that has left Panama and sold back its holdings to Banistmo, a Colombian-based bank in Panama. Panama banks have no direct connection to any other banks in the world. If you need guidance in that regard, I work in the banking industry here in Panama and I am only too happy to guide you."

Banking in Panama? 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.

"There are a few banks in Panama where they will accept your U.S. Social Security checks monthly. Most people collect their checks over time and make a bank wire when they need money in Panama. Some just use their Schwab or other ATM cards and pay the $5.25 per withdrawal and then Schwab will reimburse at a later date. Cash is still King in Panama but cards are widely accepted."

"There is no direct connection with banks in the United States and Panama. But you can have your pension or Social Security direct deposited in to most reputable banks in Panama. I know many people who do this and it works just fine."

"There are plenty of Chase credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees, including the Sapphire cards and United Explorer."

"You should also look at Schwab in the United States. They will reimburse you for ATM fees in Panama and around the world."

In another discussion about banking in Panama Interest Rates in Panama Banks.

One expat responded and wrote:

"Depends on how much... Check out BCT Bank."

Panama does not offer FDIC insurance and is generally not transparent.

Another expat advised:

"Even if you have an account with the local subsidiary of a large international Bank the mother company might not be held responsible. As a former banker I would not deposit more funds than necessary locally and keep your savings and investments where they treat you better, I.e. FDIC and SIPC insurance. The return of your money should have priority."

Opening a Bank Account in Panama

An expat asking about documents needed to open a bank account in Panama was given the following advice:

"Each bank has different requirements. You'll usually need at least 2, maybe 2, bank reference letters from your current bank. (it cannot be more than 30 days old and must be signed by a real person), copy of passport photo page and your driver's license, proof that your income taxes have been paid (if US citizen, you can get an IRS transcript)), the bank questionnaire and about $1500 to open the account."

Best to go with a bank that has online banking in English and Spanish unless you are fluent in Spanish. Some of those banks would be Banistmo, Global, Multibank and Scotia.

If you have more questions about banking in Panama, post it into our Forum for expats in Panama.

Deciding Where to Live in Panama

If you're thinking about moving to Panama and haven't narrowed down where you would like to live, consider taking a tour with our partner, Panama Relocation Tours.

Join our Panama Expat Forum

Visit our Panama Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Panama.

Read Next

Cost 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.

Best Places to Live Overseas: Costa Rica vs. Panama

When expats consider a move to Central America, there are more and more options available to them. Often, the conversation will turn to Costa Rica vs. Panama. Read what expats who have lived in both of these countries have to say.

11 Expats Talk about Living in Boquete, Panama

11 expats talk about what it's like to live in the beautiful mountain town of Boquete, Panama. From the Tuesday Market at the BCP to group hikes and drinks at Mike's Global Grill, expats love living in Boquete.

International Schools in Panama

Expats with children who explore the possibility of moving to Panama first and foremost want to know what educational options are available there. Here is a great start on exploring the options in Panama City... and beyond.

Expats in Panama: Pros and Cons of Living in Panama

Expats in Panama talks about the pros and cons of living in Panama. Topics include the lower cost of living, bureaucracy, friendly people. Expats in Panama seem to agree that you'll have to come down and explore the country to find out if it's the right place for you!

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.

AGS Worldwide Movers

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.

Updated On: Sep 05, 2018

First Published: Sep 05, 2018

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Panama from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Top 5 Reasons Expats Move to Central America

From lower cost of living to affordable healthcare and beachfront living, expats discuss the top reasons they moved to Central America.
From lower cost of living to affordable healthcare and beachfront living, expats discuss the top reasons they moved to Central America....

Cost 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.

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 i...

Expat Banking: Tips for Expats in Panama

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.

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...

Retirement-In-Nueva-GorgonaAn Expat Shares What it's Like Retiring in Nueva Gorgona, Panama

An expat retired in Nueva Gorgona, Panama wrote an extensive report about her experiences there. Everything from cost of living, housing, safety, how it feels to retire abroad, transportation and more are covered. A definite must read for anyone considering retiring in Panama!

An expat retired in Nueva Gorgona, Panama wrote an extensive report about her experiences there. Everything from cost of living, housing, safety, how it feels to retire abroad, transportation and mor...

Moving-To-BoqueteAn Expat Talks about Moving to Boquete, Panama

An expat who moved to Boquete, Panama talks advises newcomers to find a short-term rental to have time to explore without committing to one place. She has found that rental prices in Boquete are about a fourth of what they are in the US.

An expat who moved to Boquete, Panama talks advises newcomers to find a short-term rental to have time to explore without committing to one place. She has found that rental prices in Boquete are abou...

Panama Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2019 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal