How to Move Money from the USA to Mexico: Checks, Wire Transfers, ATMs
Posted on July 15, 2014 by yucalandia
July 15, 2014
Cashing US checks at Mexican banks, transferring money into Mexico, and avoiding big ATM fees has definitely become more difficult since the US Govt’s July 1 FATCA new rule additions. Some banks and financial institutions are now saying there are additional new US govt. rule changes coming in August, which has left some bank’s check cashing and transfer policies in limbo until they deal the with rule changes and figure out their costs and consequences, but there are still many good options. This post attempts to summarize the current common options for moving money from the USA to Mexico.
Since some bank’s policies are temporarily in flux, and others are on hold, we’re waiting until any August rule changes to finally settle in, creating new long-term bank policies, before we write a full summary article on what’s available, but here’s a snapshot of people’s first-hand reports of their July 2014 experiences with their banks.
ATMs are still a good option for getting cash out in Mexico (see details below). Readers should note that there have been sporadic problems with ATMs being modified by thieves installing skimmers, so here’s a link to an article on stopping this kind of information theft at ATMs – see about halfway down: http://yucalandia.com/answers-to-common-questions/banking-currency-exchanges-using-credit-cards-atms-in-mexico/
Wells Fargo’s Express Send service is still wiring money from the USA to Mexico. Account holders can send up to $1,500 U.S. per day to certain Mexican banks for $5 USD. One poster described using BBVA Bancomer here to receive the wire. They said there is no charge for receiving if you have an account which can be opened with a $2,000 pesos min. balance/no fee. This process takes 2 days.
In no particular order: Bancomer is still cashing foreign checks for account holders. Intercam currently accepts personal checks from the USA, but some branches are saying they will stop cashing them in August. Actinver is saying they will no longer deposit checks from the USA. Merrill Lynch transfers money for free, if you have enough on deposit with them. Citibank US accounts can transfer $$ for free to MEXICAN Banamex accounts (– but who knows how long that will last… as Banamex goes through regulatory scrutiny and prosecutions: where the Banamex-USA has closed most accounts of US citizens living in Mexico). We can open an HSBC bank account in the US or Canada, and one in Mexico, and then link the accounts and make free transfers between accounts between countries if we deposit enough. The HSBC transferred money appears instantly. XE.com does exchanges from US accounts and transfers within 4 days, but you have to open the XE account from the USA. Capital One 360 debit card has no fees and allows free withdrawals at Banorte ATMs – up to $3,000 pesos a day. Monex still has its fans where you can wire money from any US bank to Monex, and then withdraw funds from Monex Mexico offices. Also note that the information I listed here has eccentric twists like: one way to get around Capital One 360/Banorte’s $3,000 peso a day withdrawal, MultiVa allows withdrawals up to $10,000 pesos a day for about $2 -$3 in fees. Also note that if you have a MultiVa account, then you can currently deposit US checks here in Mexico with them.
**** Be aware that if you start pulling lots of cash from Mexican ATMS, and then making cash deposits to a Mexican account, it creates an electronic “paper” trail that Hacienda/SAT tracks. The good lawyer Spencer McMullen reports that Hacienda then requires the expats (or Mexicans) “to explain why the deposits are not income”. Hacienda/SAT only gives us a short time frame to explain why its not income, or we face taxes, fines and penalties. ****
This section has a listing of Banks in Cozumel
This section has a list of Mexico’s principal banks and a brief overview, based on current information we have about them. This information is provided by The Mexexperience: http://www.mexperience.com/living/banks-in-mexico.php
Short for “Banco Nacional de Mexico”, Banamex is now owned by CitiBank, the US Banking giant. When the bank was purchased by Citi, it underwent a slight re-brand with a mix of the old Banamex logo and current CitiBank colors. Lines are often very long at Banamex branches, despite their electronic ticket/rota system. In October 2007, CitiBank announced that it was selling US Dollar denominated mortgages for property in Mexico, using its subsidiary, Banamex, to administer the product. Banamex has one of the largest branch networks in the country and is also an agent for Western Union money transfers.
BBVA is short for Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria that, as the name suggests, is a Spanish bank. BBVA bought Bancomer and re-branded the name to BBVA Bancomer replacing the look to match the parent bank’s corporate theme and colors. BBVA has a huge branch network with branches and ATMs at every main town and city throughout Mexico and is one of the banks in Mexico which is often seen reaching out to foreign clients through magazines targeted at foreigners, e.g. glossy real estate and in-flight magazines.
The British banking giant, HSBC (Hong-Kong Shanghai Bank of Commerce) bought the Mexican bank formerly known as Bital. Bital’s image and reputation was so dated that the bank immediately re-branded every branch to its HSBC (“The world’s local bank”) brand. Bital’s service levels were always perceived as below par, although recently it seems that the bank has raised its game, perhaps through more training and management know-how. Lines at HSBC are usually shorter than those at Banamex and BBVA Bancomer — but longer than those at Banorte. HSBC claims to have the largest branch network of any bank in Mexico (inherited from Bital) and it was also the first bank in Mexico to open very extended hours (until 7pm at some branches) and was also the first to open its larger branches on Saturday mornings. Other banks have followed suit and extended opening hours are a world-away from Mexican bank’s opening hours in the 80’s and early 90’s, when they closed their doors by 1pm. Longer opening hours have also helped to ease the waiting time in lines at banks in Mexico: before, when all banks closed by lunchtime, extremely long lines were part-and-parcel of the banking experience in Mexico. Thankfully, those days have passed.
Previously known as Inverlat, the bank was bought out by the Canadian banking giant Scotiabank and promptly re-branded to the parent’s own image. Judging from reviews and internet bulletin boards, this seems to be a popular bank with foreigners. Scotiabank’s branches are well represented in all major towns and cities but the bank does not have the breadth and depth of branch network reach as Banamex, Bancomer and HSBC. Perhaps as a result of having fewer customers overall, the lines are not as long as those at Banamex and Bancomer.
This bank is partly owned by Santander, the Spanish banking giant, and Bank of America. Like Scotiabank, it does not have the branch network reach like that of the ‘big four’ although this can be an advantage if you live in a major town and don’t need frequent ATM access to your account in lots of different places. Smaller banks do tend also, to have shorter lines which makes day-to-day transactions less time consuming.
Banorte is a wholly owned Mexican bank. It has a real branch network across the whole of Mexico and prides itself, through image and advertising, on being the only remaining bank that is wholly Mexican-owned. It does not seem to proactively advertise to the foreign / expatriate community as other banks do (especially BBVA and HSBC, who are often seen in magazines and newspapers for foreigners). The lines at Banorte always seem shorter than other banks.
Banco Inbursa is owned by Grupo Carso, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s principal investment vehicle. It has ATMs and branches at Sanborns and Sears stores and offers a range of of financial services including credit cards, car loans, insurance services, deposit accounts and AFOREs — all of which it promotes and sells through the retail outlets owned by the group.
Banco Azteca was Mexico’s first bank to be based in a retail setting, with branches at Elektra retail outlets. Its primary purpose is to offer credit to customers purchasing durable goods at its stores. Banco Azteca is also an agent for Western Union money transfer.
Wal-Mart de Mexico
Wal-Mart de Mexico received permission from the Mexican financial authorities to open its own bank in Mexico in October 2007. Wal-Mart now has bank branches at its stores nation-wide and offers its clients credit to buy goods at its stores.
Nacional Monte de Piedad
Not, strictly speaking, a bank, Monte de Piedad (translated it means “Mount of Pity”) is Mexico’s largest pawn broker. With operations nation-wide, Monte de Piedad offers ready-cash in exchange for almost anything with intrinsic value. Gold and silver jewelry is the most commonly traded item. The organization is huge, and branch stores may be found in nearly every state in Mexico. With such a large informal economy, pawn broking is a sought-after service by people in need of cash, especially those who do not have access to mainstream banking and credit facilities. If the money is repaid within a certain time limit (plus the interest), customers may reclaim the goods; else the item or goods are sold-off at the branches which also act as shops. Loan amounts depend on the current value of the item(s) being pawned; interest charges are, not surprisingly, higher than those offered in the mainstream credit markets.
Update: September 2016:Topic: Bank of American has agreement with a Scotia Bank If you have a Bank of America account you can now use Scotia bank ATM in Mexico. The only fee will be currency exchange 3% no other fees.