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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:27 pm

I'm heading to Lakeside come June, so much to do and so excited to get there! One of the things on my list is trying to figure out banking while living there. So my questions are can an expat on a temporal or tourist visa get a bank account easily at one of the banks in Ajijic?  What are the pros and cons for anyone who has done this? Also I have a savings account here in the States but only have an ATM card it's not a debit or credit card like most ATM cards, for example I can't use it to buy things online or in any store that is not a grocery store here in the US.  I usually have to use it at the bank where my savings acct is to withdraw funds from the ATM machine.  So does anyone have any idea if the ATM machines in Lakeside accept restricted ATM cards?  My bank couldn't answer this for me, they had no idea. Thanks for any feedback!

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Post by CanuckBob on Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:38 pm

We only have a bank account in Canada which we access via the ATM's. We have never had a need for a Mexican bank account. If we need a large amount for something like home renovations or a vehicle purchase we plan ahead and withdraw our weekly limit for a few weeks. You can have your bank increase your daily and weekly limit. When we purchased our house it was a simple wire transfer from our bank to the RE companies escrow account. It is primarily a cash society around here so you don't really need a charge card. If you are Canadian, open a Scotia account so you can use the Scotia ATM's down here for no fee.
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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:48 pm

Thanks Bob, but I'm moving from the US. So that advice is appreciated but won't work for me :(

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Post by Lady Otter Latté on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:00 pm

The rest of Bob's advice is valid.
I have lived here for 7 years and have no need for a Mexican bank account. Before moving change your account (or your bank) so you have a debit card. The one you have sounds too restrictive.
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Post by martygraw on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:06 pm

WE have lived here for 12 years and have found no need at all for a Mexican bank acct. Bob's advice is spot on./
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Post by Pedro on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:08 pm

you have time to get a debit and/or credit card from your bank-no? there are plenty of atms here. a lot of us don't bother with opening a bank account here.
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Post by Trailrunner on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:15 pm

Totally agree with CB and the others. No need for MX bank. I use a US credit union and ATM card.
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Post by RVGRINGO on Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:22 pm

Multiple dittos; we lived in Chapala for 13 years and only used cash from ATMs, which are everywhere. It is a cash society.
To reduce transaction fees, have your bank increase the default daily limit to, say $1000 or $1500 USD, so that you can withdraw larger amounts and not have to visit a machine so often.
No need for a Mexican bank account and the difficulties it will cause with IRS, etc. Keep a US address, too.

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Post by Trailrunner on Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:37 pm

If you think you want a Mexican bank account, just pick one you like and go stand in line for a few hours to get change while all the local big shots get called to the front of the line (HSBC, I'm talking about YOU!). Then see how you feel about Mexican banks.
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Post by gringal on Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:01 pm

RVGRINGO wrote:Multiple dittos; we lived in Chapala for 13 years and only used cash from ATMs, which are everywhere. It is a cash society.
To reduce transaction fees, have your bank increase the default daily limit to, say $1000 or $1500 USD, so that you can withdraw larger amounts and not have to visit a machine so often.
No need for a Mexican bank account and the difficulties it will cause with IRS, etc. Keep a US address, too.

"Keep a U.S. address" can be problematic, if not nearly impossible.

We have an account with a Mexican bank with no problems. Some advantages.

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Post by slainte39 on Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:54 pm

gringal wrote:
RVGRINGO wrote:Multiple dittos; we lived in Chapala for 13 years and only used cash from ATMs, which are everywhere. It is a cash society.
To reduce transaction fees, have your bank increase the default daily limit to, say $1000 or $1500 USD, so that you can withdraw larger amounts and not have to visit a machine so often.
No need for a Mexican bank account and the difficulties it will cause with IRS, etc. Keep a US address, too.

"Keep a U.S. address" can be problematic, if not nearly impossible.

We have an account with a Mexican bank with no problems. Some advantages.  

I agree, many of us, Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, and others have no need for a foreign bank account as Mexican banks can receive government pension transfers from abroad.  Payments of many debts are much easier by a Mexican bank check than US or Canadian checks or having to go to the ATM machines constantly and carrying around excess amount of cash or putting up with snafus of ATM withdrawals that don't actually happen.
I would venture to guess that even amongst foreigners who live here permanently, far more bank locally than from afar.
ATM banking might be better for tourists, short term visitors, snowbirds and new arrivals, but for long term living, a local banking relationship has it's pluses.

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Post by gringal on Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:00 pm

One of the plusses is that the direct deposit from SS doesn't end up with double ended fees, so that saves a bit.  Another is that some Mexican banks offer free ATM use and their ATM's seem to be working more often (This doesn't include the one at Pharmacia Guadalajara in Ajijc, which takes a lot of naps.)

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Post by RVGRINGO on Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:05 pm

It was quite easy, and we bought and sold two homes and a new Mexican car, used a US credit card to pay for insurance and hospitals, and cash for everything else.  Waiting in bank lines and paying them fees was not something we wanted to do. All US banking and transfers was handled online through our US bank, where we have had a relationship for over 55 years, and the bank is very capable with expat and military folks scattered around the globe. The bank also refunds all ATM fees.
So, if you have the right bank in the USA, your funds will be protected (FDIC) and you will not have to deal with Mexican banks at all, or have them report your accounts to the US government, etc.

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Post by Flamingo on Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:41 pm

If you have any military connections (self, daughter, spouse, sister), open a USAA account sooner rather than later. They are a joy to deal with. If not, I also like my credit union, lower fees and easier to deal with than commercial banks IMHO.

We haven't bothered with a Mexican account either. If your bank doesn't know if they will let you withdraw $$ from an ATM in a foreign country, don't wait to find out when you are here. You can only use credit or debit cards at large boring stores, none of the small local fun-to-shop-at places.
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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:51 pm

My daughter lived in MX for 7 yrs while working there and she opened a bank account there because it saved her in ATM fees, and it was just easier to manage her money that way.  I think it would be wise to have both . What difference does it make whether the bank reports back to the  US government about your money in their bank or not, all banks in the U s already do that anyway so I fail to see an issue with that.  Not sure why anyone would want to hide that as well. Anyone getting social security benefits has to still pay federal taxes regardless of where you live. If you don't pay them the government will eventually catch up to you and take it out of your social security pension.

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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:01 pm

Flamingo to respond to you, one of the main reasons I posted was to ask if anyone else there has ATM card that's not a debit or credit ATM card. I will look into it with the main headquarters of the bank before moving there but thought I would ask members on here too. My bank rep said it should work with any ATM machine that has a pulse icon displayed on it.  But I don't trust that answer. Seems the bank should know this answer without any doubts, but perhaps I'm being too presumptuous!

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Post by RVGRINGO on Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:30 pm

I have never heard of a restricted debit card or ATM card. I suggest that you ask someone else at your bank, and also try your card to withdraw cash at other ATMs in your area. If it works there, it should work in Mexico. If not, you need a new bank and a better card.

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Post by David on Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:07 pm

It's not a "restricted" debit card, it's an ATM card. I have one. It's from BancoMultiva, it's good only in ATMs, it's NOT a debit card. BTW, my bank reports NOTHING to the USA. They don't even have my SS number!

Pamarie, you statement about paying income taxes when receiving SS is not true. You pay income tax ONLY if you have sufficient income to have tax liability. Many people on SS do not even have to file a tax return.

I find it advantageous to have both a US and Mexican bank. When I need more cash than I can get from the ATM I have some wire transfered. It's easy and fast. Paying for large purchases is easier with a local bank account. Think purchase of car or large appliances or home renovation.

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Post by martygraw on Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:27 pm

Sorry i can't agree David. You don't buy a car, renovate a house or buy a house that often, and if you do there is always bank or wire transfers transfers.
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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:47 pm

My ATM card is for a savings account and is restricted because it doesn't allow for overdrafts like most typical ATM cards that have a Visa or MC icon on the card. I prefer a restricted card.  Credit cards are risky because if used for transactions they charge a percentage for foreign transactions which is what I was told with the ones I have. 

Thanks David for the correction on the social security taxes.  I wondered about that as well but someone told me you still have to pay federal income taxes on your social security benefits, which mine will be only about 13000/year. So if the MX bank reports the money their foreign members have in their bank if it's less than the taxable income for the US why is it a bad thing to have a bank acct there?

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Post by Lady Otter Latté on Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:52 pm

I don't think it is a matter of being "bad" or "good" to have a Mexican bank account. Some people find it useful and other people don't. Why they do has been answered in their posts so far.
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Post by David on Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:07 pm

Pamarie, it has to do with $ on deposit in foreign countries and privacy. If you have a pile of $ in a "foreign" bank account you are required, by US law, to report that to the IRS and the US is pressuring other country's banks to report on foreigners deposits. I have several friends here who are pemanent residents and prefer to have substantial investments in Mexico. Since they are committed to Mexico they feel it's none of the USA's business how they manage their investments. So, they have taken the next step and become Mexican Citizens. That way the US has no claim in thier information.
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Post by pamarie on Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:12 pm

Sorry I didn't mean to put words in anyone's mouth by stating whether it's bad or good to have a MX bank acct, I do realize it's a personal choice and everyone has their reasons for what they have chosen in handling their funds. That's why I posted asking for advice based on members experiences for either having an ATM card vs/or has an MX bank acct and what their experience has been with either or both.  Mainly I wanted to find out if the ATM machines there accept ATM bank cards besides the typical debit/checking & savings bank account cards. 

Thanks everyone for all your responses! It's been helpful for me. Wish I could see a picture of the ATM machine to see if the pulse icon is on it, but I'll check here for ATMs like that to see if it works.  I never even try to use other machines because when I initially got my card I was told it would only work in the bank ATM machines the card comes from. Seems the best thing is to ensure that my savings ATM will work at various ATM machines here.  Feel kinda silly that I don't know for sure if it works in other ATMs but given this is what I was told when I got my savings acct setup some 20 years ago now.  I will most likely end up opening a bank acct there.  I think for me it makes more sense to have a bank acct where I'm living.  Lots of great input here, thanks again!

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Post by Traveller on Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:36 pm

Hi Pamarie, here is some info on "Pulse" ATMs from their official website https://www.pulsenetwork.com/atm-locator/international.html

"Although PULSE ATMs are only located in the United States you can use your ATM/debit card internationally if your financial institution participates in a national network. To find out which network(s) your ATM/debit card is accepted just look on the back of the card for the network logo or ask a representative in your financial institution."

So check the back of your card, and if there is a Visa/Plus or MasterCard/Cirrus logo on there too, the card should work here. There is a link on that page so you can find the actual locations of those ATMs in this area.

If there's only the Pulse symbol, your card won't work internationally.
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Post by Intercasa on Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:28 pm

I recommend a Mexican Bank account as well as maintaining a US account. It is useful for paying utilities and having access to money locally as well as having a Mexican debit or credit card for those times or transactions where a US card will not work.

Mexican banks and institutions offer little consumer protection and scams abound and laziness so I say keep less than $10,000US perhaps $8,000 maximum at any one time to avoid US treasury reporting requirements and limiting your chance of loss.
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