Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banking Realities While Living in Mexico

Monday's Bancomer Banking Event at the Mayan Riviera Properties Office went very well!  Bancomer is promoting their new branch, located in the Cancun Hotel Zone, which provides banking services for English Speaking Clients.  They offer savings, checking, and investment accounts, as well as fideicomisos and mortgages.
Monday's Bancomer Banking Event at the Mayan Riviera Properties Office

Monday's Bancomer Banking Event at the Mayan Riviera Properties Office

Several people asked me about how I manage my personal banking.  Trying to live in 2 countries with accounts in each and having to ATM/Wire Transfer/Foreign Transaction Fees can get expensive.  So, I thought I would share my system with you.  It is the best way I have found to keep your money from being eaten up by fees.  If you have any other tips, please  share by leaving a comment at the bottom of this blog for others to be able to reference too.

First of all, I have a U.S. checking account at a local, hometown bank called Wilson Bank & Trust.   With  this account, I can pay bills online and they have the added bonus of NO ATM FEES!  Shop banks in your area to see if you happen to have one that does not charge ATM fees.  Additionally, I have developed a good working relationship with the bank manager, so doing wire transfers from abroad (without having to be present) is also possible.

I have a Capital One VISA Signature Credit Card.  Capital One Visa Cards have NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES!  (A foreign transaction fee is a fee that most credit cards charge on each transaction that is made from a foreign country.)  This Visa Signature has no annual fee, and I have an 9.9% APR.  Additionally, I earn 1.25 points for every 1 dollar spent.  These points can be used for flight miles on any airline, with no blackout dates.  

I am considering upgrading to their Visa Signature VENTURE Card.  This card is the same except it has a $60 USD annual fee, and you earn 2 points for every 1 dollar spent.

The Capital One Visa point system is pretty easy.  Let's say you want to purchase a ticket for $500 USD.  Then, add two zeros for the number of points you will need to purchase the ticket.  $500 USD ticket = 50,000 points.  While it's a few more points than the other cards, you are earning them at 2x1 and you have no restrictions.  So, it works well for us.  There is a lot of other things you can use the points for: car rental, hotels, gift items, etc.

I have two personal checking accounts in Mexico at HSBC, one in USD and one in Pesos.  I chose HSBC because they have the branch closest to Puerto Morelos, located in the Central de Abastos in Bonfil by the airport.  I have a debit card for both accounts, as well as checks which I rarely use.

HSBC charges a fairly hefty commission to cash U.S. or Canadian Checks, so I also have an account at Monex.  With my Monex account, I am able to write a check to myself from my U.S. Dollars Account and they transfer it, in pesos, into my HSBC peso account at an excellent exchange rate.  The checks usually clear within 2 business days.  This is how I avoid paying those expensive wire transfer fees to move money from my U.S. Account to Mexico.

The Monex is located in Downtown Cancun, on Tulum Av. south of Plaza Las Americas.  It is a large, dark gray, multi-story office complex on the east side of the road.

Photo of the Monex Building:

According to Bancomer representative at the event on Monday, Bancomer does not charge a commission to cash foreign checks, but it does take approx. 15 days to clear.  If this is the case, you would not need a Monex account to move money.

The Bancomer representative also said that those who open accounts with them will have a preferred account.  Preferred customers have their own account executives and their own (shorter) line at the bank.

Hope this helps!  Would love to hear any tips that you might have!!

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Amber Pierce-Schulz is the Broker/Owner of Mayan Riviera Properties, specializing in Puerto Morelos Real Estate and Puerto Morelos Vacation Rentals. We are members of AMPI and Federally Certified Realtors.