How to Open a Peso Bank Account
by Baja Real Estate Guide
If you are planning to spend more than a few months each year in Mexico or have a remodeling project taking place, having a local bank account can make your life A LOT easier.
THE PROS of opening an account:
- Banks in Mexico make it VERY easy to transfer money to other banks in Mexico. If a fee is charged, it’s usually less than 1 US dollar. It makes paying people and bills extremely easy.
- Avoid high international ATM fees
THE CONS of opening an account:
- They require a minimum balance of roughly $2500 to $4000 pesos or a fee will be charged monthly.
- American citizens are required to formally declare their foreign bank account on their taxes through the FBAR form.
DOCUMENTS TO BRING TO THE BANK WHEN YOU OPEN THE ACCOUNT
HSBC / SCOTIABANK / BANCOMER
- Current passport
- Current Immigration Visa
- Recent utility bill in your name. Accepted ones are water, CFE, Telmex. If you are renting and the bill is in the owner’s name, bring along the original rental contract.
- Current passport
- Recent utility bill in your name. Accepted ones are water, CFE, Telmex. It does NOT need to be in your name.
In most instances, you’ll be able to open the account on the spot. Expect to wait up to an hour to meet with an executive and up to another hour for all the paperwork to be completed. You may not be able to get it all done on the first visit if:
- If the format of your name on the utility bill doesn’t match up with the format of your name on your current Passport.
- Scotiabank has a disclaimer that new accounts can take up to 48 hours to be approved.
With all these banks, you’ll receive a debit card right when you open the account. You may even receive a starter check book. For personalized debit cards and checks, expect to wait 5 to 15 business days, depending on the bank, for it to be sent to the branch. Only you will be able to pick it up. Make sure to bring long at least your current passport but your Immigration visa might be requested as well.
TIP: If this is a joint account with your spouse, pay attention to whom they put as the “TITULAR”, or account owner, as only that person will be approved for most of the activity on the account.
MINIMUM AMOUNT REQUIRED TO OPEN ACCOUNT
SANTANDER / SCOTIABANK / BANCOMER
These 3 banks require $4000 pesos to open the account and as a minimum balance. If the account drops below that, they each charge a fee currently ranging from $139 pesos to $180 pesos + iva depending on the bank.
HSBC offers 2 types of peso accounts. One is a basic checking account and the other is a checking account that comes with a debit card.
Basic Checking: $3500 pesos to open the account. If the account falls below an average daily balance of $2500 pesos, you will be charged $35 pesos + iva. You can withdraw cash from this account by writing yourself a check at the bank window.
Checking + Debit Card: $2500 pesos to open the account. If the account falls below an average daily balance of $2500 pesos, you will be charged $35 pesos + iva.
HSBC / SANTANDER / BANCOMER
These 3 banks do not charge an additional fee for online banking access or transfers to other banks in Mexico. It’s an easy way to pay utility bills which can be either set up to automatically deduct from your account each cycle or be handled on an as needed basis. Depending on the bank, you can also pay for things like insurance, cell phone bills, cable bills, directly through the bank’s website.
Scotiabank charges $7 pesos + iva per movement/transfer within Mexico. The only bills you can pay through their site are: CFE, Telmex, SKY and Telcel.
HSBC up to $7000 pesos daily.
SCOTIABANK up to $8000 pesos daily.
BANCOMER up to $8000 pesos daily.
SANTANDER up to $7700 pesos daily though in non-Santander ATM machines, the maximum may be only $5,000 pesos.
If you’re using a different bank’s ATM machine, fees range from $33 pesos to $65 pesos.
HSBC has two ATM machines in Los Cabos where you can withdraw US dollars up to the equivalent of $7000 pesos per day depending on the exchange rate.
⦁ San Jose – the ATM machine in the HSBC branch in Plaza Las Velas (behind La Comer)
⦁ Cabo – the ATM at Walmart
Santander allows you to withdraw up to $50,000 pesos from your account at a different bank by simply presenting your current Passport and debit card.
WITHDRAWALS AT THE BRANCH
You can withdraw large amounts of pesos at the bank window inside the branch. Bring both your current Passport and your debit card.
HSBC up to $70,000 pesos a day. Also bring your Immigration Visa along with your Passport & debit card.
SCOTIABANK up to $100,000 pesos a day. If more is needed, the bank will require 2 days’ notice.
BANCOMER up to $200,000 pesos a day. If more is needed, the bank will require 1 day notice.
SANTANDER no limit
INTERNATIONAL WIRE TRANSFERS
Online: Both SANTANDER & BANCOMER offer online wire transfers right when you open your account. Their fees range from $35 to $40 USD to for outgoing wires. A separate fee is applied to receive a wire. HSBC offers this feature after a 6 month waiting period for $40 USD.
SCOTIABANK only allows international wire transfers to be handled directly at the bank’s branch.