How to Open a Bank Account in Mexico

As you probably know, it is easier to open a business in Mexico City than in any other major Latin American city, so understandably the city is seeing an influx of new startups, incubators, and digital nomads. In some cases, new business owners can get their business open in only a day and at the cost of zero dollars. 

You will need to do all the normal business routines, such as renting property, understanding Mexico’s income and corporate taxes, and getting to open a bank account in Mexico. You will soon find that competition is much less threatening south of the border, and when adding in the reduced cost of living and operational expenses, it becomes clear why opening a business in Mexico City is quite attractive to international entrepreneurs.

 

Let’s focus on opening a bank account in Mexico, though. This step of the process can feel unusual if you’re coming from other western countries. Banks in Mexico, as you’d imagine, have different infrastructure and rules than their other North American counterparts. The bottom line is that you need a trustworthy place to put your money if you want to have any hope of running your business out of Mexico City. 

So if you’re moving to Mexico City, let’s explore what you should look for in a Mexican Bank account.

Mexican Bank Accounts for Foreigners

The first question on your mind is probably “as a foreigner, can I open a bank account in Mexico?” Thankfully the answer, unlike many other countries, is yes, but there are some barriers. 

Recommended largely for tourists and foreigners that intend to live in Mexico for more than six months, it is an important decision to make when trying to lay down roots in the country. Having a good bank record is a good way to start gaining credibility as a business owner, so getting started early upon arrival is recommended. 

Currently, only Intercam bank grants bank accounts to foreigners with tourist visas, and while not the largest bank, still has over 70 branches sprinkled throughout the country. That said, as a new business owner in Mexico, it will be much easier to open a bank account in Mexico as you likely have a business visa. 

Having a Mexican bank account will save you and your business a lot of headaches as withdrawal fees are waived for local accounts. Transferring money to Mexican bank accounts from the US is easy as well, so you won’t have to leave your capital behind. You will likely have to have a minimum amount in your bank account to avoid fees, so be sure you transfer enough and keep an eye on your balance, though in many cases, the amount is quite low. 

Why Open a Mexican Bank Account as a Foreigner?

The advantages of opening a Mexican bank account include: 

  • Easier set up of essential services like internet accessibility, utility payments, and cell phone service.
  • Easier compliance with residence owners and landlords. Some landlords in Mexico will require rent be paid via bank transfer, which is much easier if you have a local account. 
  • Saving money on international withdrawal fees. ATMs in Mexico do not typically charge a withdrawal fee, but if your bank account is abroad, there will likely be transfer fees. 
  • Easier shopping at retail outlets. Some retailers only accept bank transfers or just cash, and credit card payments aren’t always available. Unless you want to withdraw large sums of money for large purchases, bank transfers are a much easier option. 
  • Easier online shopping. If you want to use Amazon Mexico, or the Latin American equivalent MercadoLibre, you will need to have a Mexican bank account and debit or credit cards sourced locally. 
  • Easier access to large bank transfers. This one is more about business, but if you need to send yourself large amounts of money, a reliable Mexican bank account will help. Other money transfer services like PayPal or Western Union usually have commission fees, which can cost a not-insignificant amount of money. 

Documents Required for Opening a Bank Account in Mexico as a Non-Resident

The documents required for opening a bank account in Mexico are fairly easy to acquire. The requirements vary a small amount between banks, but it’s good to prepare: 

  • A Valid Passport or photo ID if you have residency/citizenship.
  • A valid tourist card for Mexico if you don’t plan on staying permanently.
  • A valid resident visa for Mexico if you want to open an account with larger banks.
  • Proof of residence. This can be a utility bill such as those for water or electricity. You will need to obtain it from your home country if you don’t have local residency or from your landlord in Mexico if you are living there.

There are no specific requirements for opening a bank account as a foreigner that are directed at any particular citizenship. The requirements are the same across the board, regardless of your passport. 

Top Banks in Mexico

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Can I open a bank account in Mexico,” let’s talk about which banks you should bank with. Not all Mexican banks are made equal, but there should be enough choice to find a banking service that works for your needs. When you’re opening a bank account in Mexico, start with these suggestions.

  • BBVA Bancomer – the largest bank in Mexico with over 11 million clients. They have the most ability and volume when it comes to assets, loans, deposits, and locations of both ATMs and branches. It has won accolades for its online services and the World Finance magazine awarded it the best digital bank in Mexico. 
  • Banorte – this is the second largest bank in the country and the largest owned in Mexico. It has all the services you will likely need and boasts a large number of branches and ATMs all over Mexico. Some sources claim their credit card services offer more than BBVA, so it’s worth a look. 
  • Citibanamex – a subsidiary of the US-based Citigroup, this bank is the third largest in Mexico. It’s notable for having a large number of government organizations and small to medium business owners are part of their clientele. 
  • Banco Santander – the fourth largest in Mexico, this bank is part of a Spanish company. They offer most services you would expect from a bank, such as mortgages, loans, trade finance, and working capital. They have over 8,000 ATM locations around Mexico so you can always find a place to withdraw cash. 

International Banks in Mexico

If you are having trouble opening a bank account in Mexico, it may be worth looking into the international banking systems. Several companies from Europe have branches in the country and depending on your country of origin, this may be the easier way to approach banking in Mexico. 

  • Scotiabank – based in Canada, this bank has more than 600 branches and around 1,300 ATM locations in Mexico. 
  • HSBC – this UK bank boasts nearly 900 branches and over 5,500 ATM locations in the country. 
  • Santander – the Spanish bank was one of our top picks for a good reason. They have 1,373 branches in the country, supported by a whopping 5,200 ATM locations. 

Best Online Banks in Mexico

Because we’re already well into the 2020s, you likely have a smartphone and are interested in banking online. It’s safe, easy, and accessible from nearly everywhere, and Mexican banking systems are not lacking in good online banking choices. While you give up the convenience of banking with brick and mortar locations, it is undeniably easier to set up from the privacy of your own home and can be a simpler method of banking in Mexico as a non-resident. 

  • SuperDigital – this online banking solution comes from, once again, Santander Bank. They offer this online service with an internationally approved Mastercard debit card which you can get in just a week’s time from your signup date. One peculiarity is that in order to sign up, you should NOT have any pre-existing Santander accounts. So if you want to bank with Santander but prefer the online method, be sure to stay away from brick and mortar locations before signing up online. 
  • Hey Banco – this service comes to us from Banregio Bank which is owned and operated in Mexico. The app offers one of the easier setups and the service can ship you a Visa debit card in as little as 5 days. They also offer business banking, so this may be a good solution for international entrepreneurs that are looking to step into online banking during their time in Mexico.
  • Amazon Rechargeable – Amazon works with Banorte to offer this online banking service that offers a no-commission Mastercard debit card. Processing times for receiving your debit card can vary, but where this banking service really shines is in it’s 24-hour assistance hotline. 

Ways to Keep Your Banking Information Safe

Like in any country, keeping your bank information safe requires a little forethought and the use of safety measures provided by the banks. Thankfully, Mexican bank accounts take this a little further than what you may be used to. These measures can present minor annoyances like limiting your daily ATM withdrawals or filling your email with notifications, but at the end of the day, these measures keep your banking information and your money safe and sound. 

Are Mexican Bank Accounts Safe?

The simple answer is yes, but this is largely due to several safety measures that most banks in Mexico take to prevent fraud from causing too much damage. Mexico City does have crime, so these measures ensure that even if your card is stolen, opening a bank account in Mexico is still the best option. 

Mexican Bank Accounts Have Withdrawal Limits

Most banks have different withdrawal limits, but in general they are limited to under MXN10,000 (about $500) a day. While this can cause headaches with paying rent or any other larger purchases, it can also prevent a thief from withdrawing too much before you have a chance to stop the card. You can also get larger amounts over the counter at your local bank branch, which is significantly harder for thieves. 

One Time Passwords

If you have a Mexican phone number, you can usually set up one-time passwords through your banking app. This can make it so you have to input the password into your banking app to approve any transaction that happens through your bank card. This can get tiresome as you will likely make multiple purchases per day, but one way to avoid the redundancy is to withdraw spending cash and only use the card or bank transfers for larger purchases. 

Notifications for Transactions

Nearly every banking app for Mexican bank accounts features notifications whenever a transaction goes through. This can help alert you to a stolen card as well as specify fraudulent activity on your bank account to the bank branch itself. Apps are usually the way to go, but email notifications are usually available as well. 

PIN Input in Mexico is Common

For those reading this wondering how to open a bank account in Mexico from the US, understand that outside the United States, PIN inputs are much more common, and Mexico is no exception. Expect to put your PIN number in for almost every transaction, from buying water at a convenience store to buying a meal at a restaurant. This obviously keeps your account behind one extra layer of security.

Conclusion

The good news for expats and tourists alike is that opening a bank account in Mexico is actually pretty easy. Aside from long wait times at branches and daily ATM withdrawal fees, banking in Mexico is simple as long as you can get used to planning a little ahead if you have looming large purchases. Several great options exist for online or offline banking, and the system itself is very safe through theft countermeasures offered by Mexican banking services.

If you plan to spend time in Mexico opening a business or simply roaming the country, it is not a bad idea to open a bank account to simplify your banking life.