Monday, January 31, 2011

Banking in Mexico

This isn't a "how-to" article, but just some brief notes about my experience.  Here are some points I've noticed.

  1. I've never opened and closed as many bank accounts as I have living in Mexico.
  2. This is because more and more Mexican employers are paying by direct deposit (which is super!!!)  But, every time they change their pay system or bank, you as an employee must also get a new account in their new system.
  3. The "employee accounts" offer a good range of services for free!  (Very good thing.)
  4. When you are no longer employed by the company, or the company through which you got the account changes banks, suddenly outrageously high minimum balance fees apply.
  5. The minimum balance is usually low, and it's based on an overall average, but they are bad at communicating this with their clients, so if you don't close your account after the changes, one day you have a $20 dollar service fee (plus taxes) and you're not sure why.  The fee is irreversible.  (I'm sure if you complained enough to the right people, you could get it back, but is $20 worth the hours, days and weeks of headaches?)
  6. Debit cards, etc. are becoming much more common.  Most accounts come with these features now - at no or little cost as long as you keep your "employee" status.  While small stores still need cash, just about any chain or large business will accept cards.
  7. The 15th and the 30th/31st are payday for just about everyone.  They are consequently the absolute worst day to go the bank; it could take hours to get through the line.  The day before and 2 days after are also best avoided.
  8. I've learned how to avoid these days.  Today, because of the combination of a few different events, I had to go to 3 different banks on the day before payday.  Not fun.
  9. The best bank for waiting in the line is Banamex.  They give you a number, and you sit on a relatively comfortable cushioned chair.  When your turn comes, there is a little ring and and electronic screen displays your number, and the teller which you should go to.  This makes it really easy to read a book, plan your work, check notes, look at pictures, or anything else you can carry with you in your bag.  Unfortunately, this is the bank account that just went out of use for me, and I had to close.

I guess I should have #10 to round it off, but I can't think of anything at the moment.

For my experience with another system in Mexico - health care - read:

Childbirth in IMSS - Mexico's Social Insurance Health Care System
Mexican Health Care – The Really Cheap Side of Things

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