Moving to Mexico?

Your guide to expatriate banking services in Mexico

Mexico is situated in Middle America, on the southern border of the United States, bordered to the west by the North Pacific, and to the East by the Gulf of Mexico.

Mexico operates a free market, trillion dollar economy, with per capita income almost one third that of the United States, with an economy dominated by agriculture and industry. Spanish is the official language of Mexico, with a number of indigenous dialects also being spoken by approximately 5% of the population.

The currency is the Mexican peso (MXN), which is divided into 100 centavos. As of April 2010, the exchange rate was approximately 19.5 MXN to £1 GBP (pound sterling).

Banks in Mexico

Central bank
  • Banco de México (BANXICO)
Commercial banks in Mexico
  • Banamex
  • Bancomer
  • Banco del Bajío
  • Banorte
Bank opening times

Branches of the main Mexican banks are generally open from 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Branches of the major banks in the larger towns and cities may also offer Saturday opening hours.

Banking services in Mexico

The major banks in Mexico provide a comprehensive range of financial services for their banking customers, with most providing a wide selection of checking accounts, fee-free accounts, savings and deposit accounts, in addition to investment products, insurance, credit cards and mortgages. Most of the main banks provide online banking services, although these services may not be available with an English translation. The banks also offer branches in major towns and cities, in addition to a network of over 32,000 ATMs nationwide. Banks such as Banco del Bajio also offer customers a 24 hour telephone customer service facility.

The main types of bank account in Mexico

Mexican banks offer a wide range of accounts to customers, including;

The broad account types are;
  • Checking accounts – similar to a current account, these accounts offer easy access to finances on deposit, and provide services including internet and telephone banking, Visa Electron and debit cards that can be used in ATM machines, along with additional branch services. Interest rates are generally low for checking accounts, and are primarily used for everyday banking needs.
  • Savings accounts – there are a range of savings accounts offered, which include accounts offering monthly or annual interest on savings held on deposit, to savings accounts that offer free entry into monthly draws to win cash prizes whilst giving customers unlimited access to savings. Many savings accounts have restrictions on accessing funds held on deposit, with some interest penalties being incurred on account withdrawals, where permitted.
  • Deposit accounts – these accounts are widely designed for long-term savings, and range from fixed term - fixed interest accounts, to accounts offering higher rates of interest for regular account deposits.
A range of accounts are generally offered by the Mexican banks, to cater for the different needs of the customers, with many banks offering a basic account, which is fee-free, no minimum account balance, and offers a comprehensive range of services, with many accounts being offered in US dollars or foreign currency accounts in other major currencies.

Opening a bank account when you arrive in Mexico

Expatriates will need to provide the following forms of identification when opening a bank account;
  • Official photo ID document (e.g. passport)
  • Proof of address (e.g. utility bill, no more than two months old)
  • Personal ID number (CURP)
  • FM2 Migration form
Opening a bank account before you arrive in Mexico

If you wish to open a Mexican bank account before you arrive in Mexico, you can visit an international branch of a Mexican bank to submit your application, subject to meeting the bank’s account opening criteria and providing the required documentation.

Another option is to open an international bank account, which will give you access to a wide range of secure international banking services, including online savings account and offshore banking options, as well as money transfer facilities and international online banking.

These services can be used by clients who will be living in Mexico, and also when travelling between international locations, which is particularly beneficial for expats working in Mexico.

ATM facilities in Mexico

Mexico operates a network of over 32,000 ATMs, with debit cards allowing a range of services, such as cash deposits, to be carried out at the ATMs or network of Teller Branches. Many of the debit cards are affiliated with Visa Electron, which enable card holders to make transactions in affiliated shops and outlets, in addition to cash withdrawals. Some accounts also provide loyalty bonuses and rewards programs when using the cards, to provide customers with additional benefits.

Credit cards

Major credit cards, such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted across Mexico, by affiliated outlets and shops. Using a credit card in the Bajionet ATM network allows customers to view statements at ATMs, and a number of credit card accounts provide customers with travel insurance and emergency card replacement when abroad. When making transactions or cash withdrawals with a credit card, a surcharge may be applied.

Cash withdrawals

Using debit cards issued by Mexican banks to make cash withdrawals are generally free if using ATMs within the banks network, whilst using credit cards for cash withdrawals may incur fees. ATMs are widely available, but when making cash withdrawals, it pays to exercise a degree of caution, particularly if late at night or the ATM is away from a main pedestrian area.

Money transfers to and from Mexico

In addition to the transfer services provided by the Mexican banks, there are a range of specialist transfer businesses in operation. Research the market thoroughly before making transfers, to ensure that you get the most competitive rate.

Currency regulations relating to the import and export of foreign currency are subject to change, so check with the Mexican national bank or Customs Department before travelling into or out of Mexico.

Currently, there are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency which may be taken into the country. However, currency exceeding $10,000 US dollars (or equivalent) must be declared to the Customs Department.

Bank charges in Mexico

Bank charges can vary between banks and depending on the account. Some banks offer accounts which are largely ‘fee-free’ for daily banking services, whilst other accounts will incur additional charges depending on the service requested. Banks will be able to provide a full fee structure to customers, so it is advisable to check the charge structure prior to opening an account.

Banking in Mexico – other information

Mexican Ombudsman

If you have a complaint regarding a bank in Mexico, contact the Central Bank for further information and assistance:

More information on banking with Barclays Wealth International

For further information about the benefits of opening an International Account before you move to Mexico, you can speak to a specialist adviser at Barclays Wealth International by calling +44 (0) 141 352 3902.

Alternatively, find out more about the overseas banking services and expat banking that are available from Barclays Wealth International.