How To Open A Bank Account In Mexico

You’re probably wondering how to open a bank account in Mexico if you plan on living and paying bills there. Fortunately, navigating the banking system in Mexico is pretty straightforward, like in the U.S.

However, it can seem a little daunting when you don’t know where to start or decide if you need a bank account in Mexico. Keep reading to help you consider if you need a Mexican bank account. Once you decide if you need one, I’ll cover how you open a bank account in Mexico.

HSBC Is a popular bank in Mexico. Consider this bank when opening a bank account in Mexico

Why You Need To Open A Bank Account in Mexico

Having a bank account in the U.S. or Canada won’t be a problem if you plan to live in Mexico. However, having a Mexican bank account can make things easier for you, especially if you plan to live there long-term. In Mexico, ATMs sometimes run out of money and if you are paying your rent in cash, it can be a problem and a nuisance.

Here are some benefits of having a bank account in Mexico:

  • Being able to set up essential services like utilities, a cellphone plan, and internet.
  • Some landlords will require payment through a local bank transfer. Paying cash may not be an option.
  • Save money on international withdrawal fees from any ATMs you are withdrawing money from. (Unless you have a bank account that doesn’t charge for international withdrawals, such as Capital One 360 or Charles Schwab)
  • Many retailers only accept bank transfers or cash. You’ll either need to withdraw a large sum for expensive purchases or have a Mexican bank account. (You can’t always pay with your credit card.)
  • Sometimes, Mexican insurance companies will only make payouts to a Mexican bank account.
  • Being able to buy things through online retailers like MercadoLibre or Amazon Mexico.
  • Having a Mexican bank account will help you establish a financial history in the country. This will be useful later if you apply for loans and credit cards that require a credit history.
  • If you want to send yourself a large amount of money, you’ll need a reliable bank account to safely and economically do so since services like Western Union will eat a large chunk of your cash in commission fees.

On the other hand, I know people pay with cash or their credit card for one or all of these services. They have never opened a bank account in Mexico and have zero fees for withdrawing money from an ATM in Mexico.

Most people who choose to keep their banks in their home country as their sole bank have found that they get a better exchange rate from their bank back home. Plus, it might be the best option if you don’t get charged on international ATMs or international transactions.

However, if setting up services such as utilities or your rental situation requires it, here is what you’ll need to know about opening a bank account in Mexico.

*Tip: When withdrawing from an international ATM, check your home country’s exchange rate and the local bank exchange rate. If your home bank’s exchange rate is better, which it usually is, make sure you decline the local banks’ exchange rate when the ATM asks.

Get our Free 15-part Email Series About Living and Retiring in Mexico! Learn more.

Documents You’ll Need To Open A Bank Account in Mexico

To open a bank account in Mexico, you’ll need to have temporary or permanent residence at the very least. And yes, I know some people get away with opening a bank account on an FMM tourist visa. However, this is the exception and not the rule. Don’t assume you’ll automatically have such luck. In some cases, I have heard of tourists opening a Mexican bank account in San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta —  both concentrated ex-pat communities.

Most banks have the same requirements, but it’s wise to check with your desired bank for a detailed list of documents you’ll need to bring.

Here’s what you’ll need to open an account at most Mexican banks:

  • Temporary or Permanent Resident Card
  • RFC  (a Mexican taxpayer ID) 
  • Passport
  • Proof of address in Mexico (a recent utility bill or internet bill with your name on it)
  • at least MXN 1,000 (yes, it needs to be in pesos.)
  • Many banks require you to have a Mexican phone number
  • Translator (most banks only have paperwork in Spanish.)

(Interested in knowing the process of residency in Mexico? Read this article.)

Some banks may have an English-speaking banker to help translate some of the paperwork. However, I wouldn’t count on this. Come prepared to understand the paperwork you have to fill out. If you are uncomfortable with this, bring someone who can translate for you. This is one of the many reasons why learning Spanish should be a priority when moving to Mexico.

Once you open your bank account, you’ll most likely be given a debit card on the spot. Ask your banker for details on how many withdrawals you can make without penalties. Make sure they explain the fees for withdrawals (if any) and how you can change your PIN.

Is Your Money Protected?

The Instituto para la Protección al Ahorro Bancario (IPAB) is the country’s deposit insurance for account holders in Mexico. It insures up to 400,000 UDIs (Unidad de Inversión).

The equivalent of $3,138,036 pesos for each account (as of September 2023).

ATMs

Use a lot of caution when using ATMs. Only go to bank atms, and never use atms at night in Mexico.

ATMs are the most convenient place for you to get your pesos. Cities and larger towns will have multiple ATMs. However, smaller towns and villages probably won’t have ATMs or banks.  ATMs also have daily limits for withdrawals, so plan accordingly. 

One cautionary piece of advice is to always be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs in Mexico. As a general rule, don’t go to ATMs alone or at night.

It is not unheard of for criminals to lurk around ATMs waiting for an opportunity. Many ATMs have a locking mechanism that only allows people with a debit card to enter the ATM area. If you see someone hanging out in this area without using an ATM, it’s best to walk away.

Learn How to Move to Mexico and Have a Better Life for Less! Check out our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide.

Types of Bank Accounts in Mexico

As a foreigner, you will most likely open a checking or savings account. However, other types of bank accounts are available, such as investment accounts. Make sure you know what kind of bank account you are opening when you go to the bank. You can find most of the important details about each bank’s accounts on their websites.

Checking Account, aka Cuenta de Cheques

If you will only use the account for everyday banking transactions, a checking account should be sufficient.

At some banks like Santander, there are two types of checking accounts. For a basic checking account, your monthly deposits must be less than MXN 18,000 (approx $1000), and you benefit from having a more minor minimum balance requirement to avoid fees. However, you are limited to six free withdrawals per month. At the same bank, there is an additional checking account, Super Cuenta, for deposits larger than MXN 18,000. The benefit of this type of account is you don’t have a limit on monthly withdrawals.

Most Mexican banks will ask for a minimum deposit of MXN 1,000 to open a checking account. Depending on the type of account, a minimum balance is needed to avoid fees. ATM withdrawals are usually free of charge from your bank’s ATM. (However, some banks have a maximum number of withdrawals a month. Make sure you ask.) Otherwise, withdrawals are allowed from other ATMs at an additional charge.

Savings Account, aka Cuenta de Ahorros

Cuenta de Ahorros, or Savings Accounts in Mexico, work very much like savings accounts in the U.S. and Canada. Most banks limit how many withdrawals you can make a month. At some banks, your money must remain fully in a savings account for a grace period. Check with your bank before opening a bank account, as this could mean you will not have immediate access to your cash. The plus side of this account is the higher interest rate paid out to you.

Intercam Is The Winner for Expats

Mexico is a country where bureaucracy meets paperwork. Banks are no exception. But why do I bring that up? Well, many banks in Mexico, like Bancomer, BBVA, Santander, and the like, give expats a hard time opening their bank accounts. For example, some banks want you to be a permanent resident or national. Other banks allow both temporary and permanent residents.

Intercam Grupo Financiero - Vallarta Lifestyles

Some banks don’t allow joint bank accounts.

However, one bank stands out among the rest as the one with the least hassles and the easiest to open a bank account in.

This is Intercam.

The only downside to Intercam that I know of is that they don’t have locations and ATMs all over Mexico as the other popular banks do. But if you do all of your transferring online or live near one of their locations, it’s one of the best options due to its variety of products and services designed for foreigners and a good reputation for customer service.

Banks in Mexico with American Affiliates

Although affiliated, banks in the U.S. with branches in Mexico are separate entities, so you may not be able to automatically open an account in Mexico if you have an account with one of them in your home country. However, you may be able to take advantage of some similar banking options and reduced ATM fees.

These are a few of the ones I know of:

Get our Free 15-part Email Series About Living and Retiring in Mexico! Learn more.

What If You Don’t Have A Mexican Bank Account?

But what if you’re just spending a few days or weeks in Mexico and don’t want to open a bank account? How do you access a large amount of money, then?

I’ve mentioned in this previous blog about a widely popular service known as Wise.com. If you have a bank account in the U.S. and need to send money to Mexico, using a service like Wise.com is a safe and reliable platform with some of the best exchange rates and lowest fees.

It is extremely easy to use. You can even transfer money from an app on your phone and check the exchange rate before committing to initiating a transfer. What I love about Wise is its transparency. They’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of their exchange rates and fees compared to other money transfer services. In some cases, Wise may not be the cheapest option, and they’ll let you know that upfront if it’s the case.

Whenever I use Wise to send money to Mexico from my U.S. bank account, I have access to it within 24-48 hours. It is very important to know in case of an emergency!

Need a Facilitator To Help You Open A Bank Account?

I know this dance all too well. You have all your paperwork in order, go to the bank, and you’re still denied a bank account. Your basic Spanish and the banker’s basic English make it even harder for you to fully communicate what it is you need.

If you aren’t fluent in Spanish, I recommend hiring a local helper who speaks the language, understands the culture, and can go with you to open a bank account. This is especially true in less popular expat towns where the banker may not be used to dealing with foreigners daily.

In our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide, you’ll get a directory of facilitators in the most popular cities who can help you open a bank account, among other things.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Greg Esser says

    I was told by a BBVA representative that myself and wife could not open a joint account and get two debit cards. That ended that for us. The only reason for us to get a debit card is so I can stop the shifting of funds from the US to Mexico everytime we need to make a purchase. Can you tell me if there are any banks in Mexico that allow a joint account for debit cards and a savings account?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Greg
      Yes BBVA no longer offers joint accounts. You could open an account at Intercam if you’d like to have a joint account

      • Lila Gonzalez says

        Hi Mariana, I live in US, and I would like to open an account with Citi Banamex in Mexico, should I open it from US?

  2. Aminah Scott says

    I want to open an account

  3. Kay Davis says

    I just want to know which banks at Lake Chapala allow me to use my Bank of America debit card. BBVA just stopped allowing it so now I have to walk 20 minutes out to a Scotiabank ATM to get pesos…

      • Cassandra Gleeson says

        Hi
        Does the utility notice have to be in your name or can it be in your landlords name?

        • Mariana Lange says

          Generally it has to be in your name. However, they may allow you to bring it in tour landlords name and have your lease to show that you are renting at that address.

  4. Michael J Wolf says

    Hello. Will any of the banks you mentioned allow me to transfer funds directly from my US Bank account (in order to avoid making wire transfer purchases…which cost money)?

    • Mariana Lange says

      You can transfer money to your Mexican bank from a US bank- however you would still incur some sort of wire transfer fee. I don’t know of any bank that doesn’t charge to receive international money.

    • Mariana Lange says

      You can transfer money to your Mexican bank from a US bank- however, you would still incur some sort of wire transfer fee. I don’t know of any bank that doesn’t charge to receive international money.

  5. Nidia says

    I live in the United States and I need to open a bank account in Mexico for a life insurance policy claim. The insurance company wants to deposit the money in a mexico account and not an international bank. How can I go about doing so and what is needed?

  6. Sterling says

    Do you have any advice on closing an account? We are with HSBC, but our residency expired in 2017 and debit cards are expired. We came back to close the account and it seems more complicated.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Have you tried talking with the bank? What have they told you?

      • Sterling says

        The local branch said they cannot do anything without a valid FMM card, but it’s not possible for us to get this now because we changed jobs. They asked us to call the bank to get a new debit card issued. Trying this now.

        • Mariana Lange says

          Yeap sorry. But sounds like you’re handling it 😊

      • Nidia says

        I have talked to the local branch near me Baja California. I really couldn’t hear very well not sure if it is bad connection because I am here in the U.S.

  7. Trevor says

    Hi, do you know how we can transfer US currency from Mexico to Canada? Wise doesn’t offer this service out of Mexico.

    • Mariana Lange says

      As far as I know you can do this with Wise through something called interac. Alternatively, you would need to do a wire transfer from bank to bank. Or you could also try Western Union

      • Juan says

        Is like you SSN you need it to file your income taxes

  8. steve says

    what is an RFC

  9. Jaime says

    Banorte and HSBC in Ensenada have both told us we cannot open a bank account with our temporary residence card. We have to be permanent residents or citizens. Are other people running into this problem? We visited branches on Aug 3 & 4.

  10. Jerry says

    Hi, My wife and I have just become permanent residents legally in Mexico. We have a TD bank in Canada and a TD bank in the US (which allows us to send money between accounts). We would like to open an account in Mexico which allows us to retain a US currency account and a Mexican currency account (Cdn dollars would be exchanged into pesos). Is there a bank in Mexico that we can make simple transfers from the banks mentioned above. Large wire transfers need to be made in person, at each corresponding bank, which is impossible if you’re living in Mexico.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Any bank in Canada should be able to do wire transfers to any bank in Mexico. There are a variety of companies that offer this service. Like Remitly or Wise
      Another option is to send yourself money through Paypal. Although they charge a hefty fee.

      Or you could just withdraw money from ATMs in Mexico- although atm machines are notorious for running out of money and you could end up in a hurry if you had to pay rent or other timely things.

  11. Rod McClure says

    Thank you Mariana Lange! I have spent the last 3 hours trying to find a bank to open an account with in Mexico. BBVA could not reach anyone, HSBC wants to charge $50 a month if you don’t keep a balance of $75,000 or deposit $5,00o monthly. I called Intercam Banco and got a english speaking person (my Spanish is limited) on first call. She told me everything to bring and transferred me to the bank in Guadalajara which told me everything to bring.

  12. Mahshid Rad says

    Hello Mariana,
    Is there a Mexican bank that permits for a permanent residence to hold a US dollar account?
    I am selling my house in Mexico and the buyer is paying me in US dollar. I don’t want to convert the final payment to Peso but rather keep the money in US dollar due to Peso exchange fluctuation.
    Thank you.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Not that I am aware of.

  13. Afam Henner says

    I am an RP, in virtual queue for RFC appointment. I am buying a departamento and closing date will likely be before I get my RFC. Will there be a problem at closing, as buyer, without an RFC?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Have you talked to your realtor or notario about this? I’m not sure if you’ll need the RFC at closing but would be good to ask the notario

  14. Gloria says

    I was born in Mexico but migrated to the US 30+ years ago. Can I still open a bank account in Mexico without residing there?

    • Mariana Lange says

      You’ll probably need an RFC and an address locally

  15. Ari says

    Are there any Mexican bank accounts that do not require a Mexican phone number (besides Intercam)?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Why not get a Whatsapp account with a Mexican number? It’s simple to do

  16. Simon Chung says

    Did anyone else experience at BBVA where they said they required you to open a life insurance for 4 years in order to open the bank account?

    • John White says

      No way. My gf had to do the same thing too! I thought it was ridiculous.

  17. Rob roberts says

    I have my pension and social security directly deposited to my Wells Fargo account monthly…I’m looking to relocate to Mexico and want to know if opening an account is it difficult to set that up.??

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Rob,
      It’s not difficult to open a bank account in Mexico. But you most likely need to be a resident.
      There are a few banks that let you open an account without being a residency visa but they are far and few in between
      Otherwise, you can continue to get your SS benefits deposited into a US bank account and then withdraw from an ATM in Mexico.
      Especially if you get a Capital One 360 account or a Charles Schwab account- they have zero international fees and also no ATM fees anywhere in the world

  18. Kevin Schneider says

    The simplist answer to all the questions above is….to learn and be proficient in speaking Spanish, or Espanol. That way all our questions would be answered quickly and simply. I am learning the hard way myself, by recently getting a permanent resident card, a residence down in San Luis Potosí, which right now is under just my wife’s name, since she has dual citizenship, and I am trying to get an RFC number on their waiting list for the last 4 months. Finally opened a bank account but was pure hell because my wife lost her patience with me in trying to translate everything I had questions on. She finally gave up on me and told me to go find someone to learn the language.

    Like my banker down here in Mexico said to me… “Anything and everything is possible in Mexico”. With new state goverments in effect, many things get either obvioarated or changed with every new administration and what is possible yesterday may be obsolete tomorrow.

    Mariana… you have a lot of patience with everybody on this blog…. great answers!

  19. Michael says

    Hi Thank you for this article!
    I have an Intercam bank account! I was hoping to be able to transfer mexican pesos from my Revolut account ( similar to Wise) to my Intercam account! However intercam informed me that they do not allow transfers from „Apps“ such as Wise or Revolut! Are you aware of any Banks in Mexico than accept transfers from „Apps“ . I am a temporary resident, so chances are not bad that I can open an account! Thank you very much! Greetings from Merida!

    • Terry says

      I have an account at Banca Mifel and use Wise to transfer money into my bank account with no problems. Easy peasy!

    • Rose says

      I have an Intercam account and have been using Wise to transfer money (USD) from the US to my Mexican account.

  20. Jan Michell says

    I’m a Mexico resident but couldn’t open a bank account at BBVA without a Mexican cell number. I only have a U.S. cell so I couldn’t do it.

    • Mariana Lange says

      You can very easily get a Mexican cellphone number by buying a Telcel sim card at any Oxxo or telcel store.

      • Fabi says

        Can someone tell me if you buy a SIM card- for a Mexican phone number in Mexico, will this Mexican phone number work in the US territory? I have a Banorte card that I opened a few months ago. But never set up online app banking since I had to return to the US. Now I am here monthly later still trying to figure it out. Thank you in advance.

  21. Miguel A.S says

    Hi!

    I want to open a account to deposit money from my US account to be able too pay or open cellphone, cable utility, exc bills.

    Im Mexican born and have a Mexican pasaport.

    Will that be something that I can do?

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

  22. Sarah says

    How do I take advantage of the 10% interest rates in Mexico right now? I am transferring money $$ from the US

    • Mariana Lange says

      You would have to open an investment account or Cetes
      You’ll have to keep the money in the account for a minimum amount of time and also make a min deposit.

  23. Kimberly Doi says

    BBVA is requiring us to either buy their car insurance for 1 year (which is $150 US more expensive than our current auto policy) or open a “savings account” that we must keep for 6 years, transfer 2000 to 2500 pesos every month (they will do this automatically), and it doesn’t earn any interest plus there’s a 20% penalty if we withdraw the money early. They have another account but it’s not available to us because we are not citizens with an INE. We are permanent residents. Also, they don’t allow a joint account. The whole situation sounded unusual to us just to open an account. Is this unusual?

  24. Rose says

    Thank you for this article. I am having trouble with my Intercam bank account as they are telling me that I cannot get a debit card. This has been making things very difficult to make every day purchases. Did something recently change that made foreigners with a business RFC not able to have cards associated with their accounts? Any advice is appreciated!!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *