For those coming to Mérida on a tourist visa, one of the most important questions asked is “Can I open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa?” The answer is yes BUT Intercam is the only bank in Mérida where you can do it. Now, let me be perfectly clear. There are other banks where you can open an account on a tourist visa however you will also have to have a Mexican utility or cell phone bill in your name. This is where you will find the unique difference between Intercam and other banks.
Inbursa advertises you can open an account on a tourist visa however you will have to provide proof of something in your name. This article walks you through the entire process of opening a bank account. Intercam bank is featured in this article as I believe it is the best bank in Mexico and in Mérida, of course.
This article was updated in June of 2023.
Opening a Mexican bank account in Mérida
For me and for many people, having a local bank in Mérida is more than important it’s a necessity. You’ll need a bank account when setting up utilities, as part of a long term rental contract, making transfers to pay for goods and services, as a few examples.
Whether you are planning to relocate or not, you should know how to open a bank account as a non-resident. This article specifically addresses how to open an account on a tourist visa ONLY with Intercam Bank.
Now, as part of your banking due diligence, I recommend verifying the following:
- ease of accessing your funds
- availability of mobile banking
- excellent customer service
- English spoken and understood
- adherence to banking regulations
My due diligence and research before coming to Mérida
I decided to do my due diligence state-side before I left Dallas. I researched what banks were in both the U.S. and Mexico. After this, I decided that BBVA would be a good choice. I made an appointment with a bank officer who assured me that I would have access to my money at the BBVA in Merida. I opened an account, deposited my money and had the confidence all was well.
However when I arrived in Mérida, I quickly found out this was not the case. The parent company of BBVA has divisions in the U.S. and Mexico but they are kept separate due to different banking regulations. Imagine my shock and then disappointment to find out what I was told was not true. Obviously, this caused a GREAT amount of stress. I still had my U.S. cell phone and was renting short term through Airbnb. I also knew I needed to open a bank account here as soon as possible.
Now, I had to search for a bank where I could open an account on a tourist visa. Someone referred me to Intercam and to contact Alfonso Rodriguez Trava. After my frustrating experience with BBVA, working with Alfonso and Intercam were a walk in the park! Notably, with my newness in Mérida, it was important for me to find someone who not only spoke English but also understood what I needed.
Read on to learn more about how to open a Mexican bank account on a tourist visa. Alfonso Rodriguez, Executive at Intercam, provided thorough and informative answers.
Opening a bank account on a tourist visa at Intercam
Alfonso: In order to open an account on a tourist visa, the potential customer must meet first with Alfonso Rodriguez Trava, Intercam Executive. They will be asked to provide the following documents:
- Valid Passport
- Social Security Number // NIF // TAX ID
- Migration Form – document given to the person as they enter the country
- Recent Utility Bill (electric, water, gas bill) or a bank statement that is no older than 3 months from their U.S. residence.
- If the account has a co-signer, then the same documentation is required for the co-signer
These documents may also be sent in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org as long as they are sent as clear scans in .PDF format. Additional information to include is the full name, phone number and email address of the potential customer. You’ll need $5,000 Mexican pesos to open the account.
PLEASE NOTE: If you do not hear back from Alfonso within 24 hours,
please contact him via WhatsApp on +52 999.275.7610 during regular business hours.
After the first meeting, the bank takes 1-2 business days to review and approve the account.
Once the account is approved, the customer needs to return to the branch to sign paperwork. Additionally, at that appointment the customer is issued a debit card and access to online banking. It is at this appointment that the customer needs to bring their passport and migration form with them.
Contact information for Alfonso Rodriguez Trava, best banker in Mérida
Alfonso: Please keep in mind, our main goal is personal attention. However, due to the current health situation, the best way to reach me is via email. I’m very aware of my inbox and I reply quickly. If, for some reason, you don’t hear back from me then most likely I did not receive the email. If that is the case, I recommend calling me on one of the numbers listed on my business card.
You could also contact me at the numbers shown on my business card – see below.
Other major cities with Intercam banks
Alfonso: Intercam is a national bank with presence in major cities in Mexico. It is important to note, the account can be open at the Mérida branch with Alfonso Rodriguez even if the final destination is in another city or state in Mexico.
Locations include but are not limited to:
- Playa del Carmen
- Mexico City
A full list of all Intercam branches can be found at: https://www.intercam.com.mx/sucursales/
The boutique bank advantage of Intercam
Alfonso: Intercam differentiates itself from other banks because we are capable of providing personalized attention that a major bank simply can’t match. We consider ourselves a “boutique bank”, prioritizing people who give us their trust and their business.
An important advantage of Intercam is that we focus almost exclusively on “exchange rate sensitive customers”. These are customers who bring money in different currencies from all over the world. They desire the best possible value for their money. Another important advantage is Intercam also focuses on welcoming foreigner customers.
Notably, most of the employees at the bank speak English. We are always improving our communication skills in order to be able to provide better service for our customers. Finally, at Intercam, we do not charge any annual fees or premiums. Owning the account generates no costs for the customer.
Other banking services offered by Intercam
Alfonso: Intercam offers a wide range of services on top of our great banking products. The most relevant services for our foreigner customers include:
- Intercam’s core business is our flexible currency exchange at the most competitive rates.
- Our CD’s offer a higher rate of return compared to what most banks can offer in the U.S., Canada or Europe. These CD’s are protected by the IPAB. The IPAB (El Instituto para la Protección al Ahorro Bancario) works similar to the FDIC in the U.S. Checking account and CD’s funds are insured up to 400,000 UDIS. (UDI: a unit of value protected against inflation. This article on Mexperience gives a great explanation of the history and use of UDIS.)
- Intercam is also an Insurance Broker. We work with all the major insurance companies in Mexico giving us the ability to offer great insurance plans at a very competitive prices.
- We also offer “Fideicomiso” services. A Fideicomiso is necessary for a foreigner to own a property within 100 KM of the borders and 50KM of the beaches of Mexico. For example, Mérida, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun are within this range.
- Our investment funds offer a higher return than regular CD’s.
Maximum amount of deposits by one person
Alfonso: There is no limit on the amount that can be deposited by one person. However, the IPAB which is the equivalent of the FDIC covers 400,000 UDIS. Today, UDI is valuated at $6.82. Therefore, the amount protected by the IPAB is around $2,728,000.00 pesos.
Minimum recommended balance
Alfonso: The recommended minimum balance on the account is $5,000.00 pesos. It has to be in pesos because a customer can’t have accounts in other currencies except in very specific cases and in certain locations.
Exchanging dollars for pesos at Intercam
Alfonso: Currency exchange is Intercam’s CORE BUSINESS. It’s what we do best. In order to make a currency exchange, a separate agreement is signed. This agreement is typically generated at the same time as the checking account agreement. Then, signed at the same time as the checking account agreement. If the money exchanged comes from a wire transfer from the customer’s country of origin there is no limit. However, if the customer wish to exchange USD in cash there is a limit of $4,000.00 per month (calendar month)
Partner no-fee ATM’s for Intercam clients
Alfonso: Intercam has established a network of ATMs around the country to facilitate the withdrawal of cash by our customers.
Every ATM in the Mexican ATM network will work with our debit cards. But these ATM’s are free for our customers:
Advice for tourists or expats about opening an account at Intercam
Alfonso: My personal advice would be to designate a few days for the whole process to open the checking account. Sometimes people expect the whole process in the first meeting. However, most people think between signing the agreements and receiving debit cards only takes a few hours. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In Mexico, a checking account is an intricate agreement that takes 1 – 2 days to open. Therefore, it’s advisable to plant at least 2 – 3 business days for the whole process.
I also advise a potential customer contact me directly as soon as possible. This helps us to start building the relationship resulting in a smoother process to open the account. It helps to prepare in advance for the whole process.
Depositing foreign currency into an existing account
Alfonso: It’s possible to make a deposit of foreign currency once an account is open. Of course, there are limits. For example, the limit for American dollars is $4,000 per month. There’s no fee for this but the dollars must be exchanged into pesos before making the deposit into the account.
Beware of incorrect information
Amy: We just got off the phone with Inbursa who is the other bank advertising tourists can open an account on a tourist visa. When we asked more detailed questions, the only way a person with a tourist visa can open an account there is if they have some form of payment they make to a Mexican company. For example, a utility bill with a local address, a Telmex or Telcel account, etc. In this case, a digital nomad or remote worker would not be able to open an account if they have a foreign cell phone and rent on Airbnb. A HUGE detail left out and one that I want to ensure people are aware of.
Alfonso: Not the case with Intercam, see our requirements to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa displayed above. A foreigner who is a soon-to-be-customer of Intercam does not need a form of payment they make to a Mexican company and they do not need a Mexican utility bill.
Research and responses on how to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa
If you search on expat groups on Facebook and other forums, more than likely, you’ll find ALOT of conflicting information. My goal with this site and these articles is to provide you with factual and current information. For further due diligence, I asked Angel to contact the largest banks in Mérida to ask if people could open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa. My experience with this and other research revealed the same results. In conclusion, the majority of customer service representatives do not know the actual answer. He even tried calling the same bank several times and received different answers depending upon the time of day and the customer service agent that answered the phone.
To summarize, I found the answer depended upon the customer service representative. One thing that is challenging about the Mexican culture is that people do not want to disappoint you. Additionally, they will avoid conflict at all costs. They will tell you yes when the actual answer is no. It is their culture not to disappoint or cause conflict.
For this reason, I hope the information provided here from Alfonso Rodriguez, Executive at Intercam saves you time and frustration.
*image used with permission from Intercam Banco
Other major Mexican banks in Mérida
The other major Mexican banks and the results:
- Bancomer is Mexico’s largest bank with approximately 1,800 branches, 7,500+ ATMs, and 12,000 POS terminals. Bancomer does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
- Santander is the second largest bank in Mexico with 1,350 branches and 9,000+ ATMs. Santander does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
- Banorte is also impressive with over 1,200 branches, 7,000+ ATMs and 5,200+ commercial businesses that accept deposits, such as convenience stores and drug stores. Banorte does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
- HSBC México has 1,400 branches and 5,200+ ATMs across Mexico. HSBC does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
- Scotiabank México is a Bank of America partner with 600 branches and 1,300 ATMs. Scotiabank does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
- Citibanamex is the merging of CitiGroup and Banamex in Mexico with 1,500 branches and 7,000+ ATMs. Citibananex does not allow you to open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa.
Benefits of a Mexican bank account
Unquestionably, if you’re planning on calling Mérida or another city in Mexico home, I highly recommend opening a bank account in Mexico. I promise it will make your life a little easier. Understandably, you may or may not want to close your bank account back home. Undoubtedly, you’ll find when you open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa it provides a comfortable safety net. You may choose to keep a small amount of money in the bank or transfer a larger amount.
Here are some of the benefits of a Mexican bank account:
- Easily transfer money from your home bank
- No fees for ATM withdrawals
- Pay for local goods and services with a bank transfer (very common here)
- Ability to obtain a replacement card in case of fraud
- Establishes proof of funds, if needed, for rental agreeements or other contracts
Types of bank accounts in Mexico
Cuenta de Nomina
Intended for workers to receive their paycheck, this type of account does not charge any fees.
Cuenta de Cheques
This is the equivalent of a checking account. This accout may require a minimum deposit every month or a minimum required balance to avoid incurring fees.
Cuenta de Ahorros
This type of savings account is meant to hold savings for a speficic amount of time. Typically, your savings are held in the account between one month and one year. Interest rates for this account are usually higher than standard accounts.
Cuenta de Depositos
There are two types of deposit accounts: Sight (a la vista) and Notice
In the Sight (a la vista) Account, most banks allow you to take out money without giving prior notice. Interest rates are generally low with a required minimum balance or you may incur account fees.
In the Notice Account, the bank requires notice before you can withdraw money from the account. This type of account offers better savings than the Sight an a la vista account.
Some Mexican banks offer premium accounts. These accounts have strict eligibility requirements with monthly fees. This account is typically held by Mexican nationals who have an established history in Mexico.
Most major banks in Mexico offer some form of money market accounts that allows you to buy or sell directly in the international stock market. A type of premium account, they often require a higher minimum deposit.
Offshore Bank Accounts in Mexico
These accounts target individuals with high net worth and generally require large deposits. Not surprisingly, the income from these accounts is taxable in your country of residence.
This information is from Intercam’s website.
With Intercam Online Banking you can do banking from your computer, with the added security of your physical or mobile token (through the Intercam Mobile Banking App).
You can also view your account balances and movements, purchase foreign currency, make transfers to other accounts at the same bank, to other banks (SPEI) and pay bills from main mexican public utility companies as well as your credit card (Visa, Mastercard and American Express).
Benefits of an Intercam Account
This information is from Intercam’s website.
- Carry out any number of banking transactions from anywhere.
- Every transaction is authorized using a one-time password (OTP) generated by a physical or mobile token, an added layer of security for all your account activity.
- Open and check your +Pagaré investments in MXN Pesos and US Dollars, knowing the interest rate and the exact amount you will be paid at maturity.
- Register other users for your Online Banking managing their privileges, transaction limits, type of payments, among others.
- Install the Mobile Banking App and start doing your banking transactions with your smartphone.
- Foreign-exchange transactions: recharge your Multi-currency Cash Passport Card, send international transfers and purchase foreign currency in cash.
Final Thoughts on Can I open a Mexican bank account with a tourist visa?
It’s very beneficial to have a bank account in Mexico; however, that doesn’t mean that you should close your account back home. You may want to to keep the bulk of your assets in an account in your home country and then transfer amounts of money to your Mexican account as needed.
As you can see, the ONLY bank in Mérida where you can open an account with a tourist visa is Intercam. As with any information, perform your own due diligence, take advice ONLY from trusted resources and remember, everyone has their own experience and personal situations. This does not mean you will have the exact same circumstances where a general answer will apply.