What are the banks in Mérida?

Inbursa Bank on the Paseo de Montejo in Merida Yucatan Mexico at night

This article lists the major banks in Mérida such as BBVA, Santander, Banorte, HSBC, Scotiabank, Citibanamex, and more. It also provides some tips and important information you need to know before opening an account. Having a bank in Mérida is more than important, it’s necessary. However, that doesn’t mean that you should close your account back home. You may decide to keep most of your assets in an account in your home country. Then, transfer to your Mexican account as needed. Everyone has their own needs and requirements, especially regarding banking.

Reasons for a local bank account:

  • No fees for ATM withdrawals.
  • Easily transfer money from your home bank.
  • When setting up utilities in your name.
  • To establish Mexican credit, if desired.
  • Pay for local goods and services via bank transfer (very common).
  • As part of a long-term rental contract (most of the time, not always).
  • Ability to obtain a replacement debit card in case of fraud.
  • Establishes proof of funds, if needed, for real estate transactions, rentals, and purchases.

Major Banks in Mérida* — all located on the Paseo de Montejo

  • BBVA/Bancomer is Mexico’s largest bank, with approximately 1,800 branches, 7,500+ ATMs, and 12,000 POS terminals.
  • Santander is the second largest bank in Mexico, with 1,350 branches and 9,000+ ATMs.
  • 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.
  • HSBC Mexico has 1,400 branches and 5,200+ ATMs across Mexico.
  • Scotiabank Mexico is a Bank of America partner with 600 branches and 1,300 ATMs.
  • Citibanamex is the CitiGroup and Banamex merge in Mexico with 1,500 branches and 7,000+ ATMs.
  • Inbursa, owned by Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, provides banking and related services, including investment funds, general insurance, automobile insurance, mortgages, health insurance, retirement funds, and commercial banking.

*Notably, none of these banks allow you to open an account as a tourist. You must have temporary or permanent residency. Some require that you have an RFC, the equivalent of a social security number. Call in advance to confirm the CURRENT requirements for opening an account. The ONLY bank in Mérida that you can open an account as a tourist is INTERCAM.

Best Boutique Banks in Mérida

For me, the most important thing about a local bank is having a personal relationship with my banker. If ANYTHING goes wrong, then my banker can assist. I bank at Intercam, the ONLY boutique bank in Mérida, with Alfonso Rodriguez. You can learn more about Alfonso and the valuable assistance he provides in this article. Additionally, you’ll need to set up an appointment IN ADVANCE. It is NOT recommended to walk into the bank and ask to speak to the first available bank executive. Like anything else, you want to choose who you do business with and my recommendation is Alfonso. Send him an email to schedule your appointment. One of the best things about Alfonso is that not only is he fluent in English, he understands cultural nuances of his clients from the United States and Canada. I’ve learned over time and, at times the hard way, that just because someone is fluent in English does not mean they understand my cultural perspective.



What about money laundering for banks in Mérida?

Yes, money laundering happens everywhere. Therefore, it happens in Mérida too. Due to the level of money laundering in Mexico, banking is a bit cumbersome due to extra security measures. One of the biggest challenges I’ve found is my signature. Signatures must match precisely. Interestingly, Mexican nationals start practicing their signatures in elementary school resulting in their signatures remaining the same throughout their lifetime. But for foreigners, this is not something we’ve had to deal with . . . especially as we age and our signatures change. Therefore, when signing documents, take several copies of what you need to sign if your signature isn’t accepted the first time.

Once you open a foreign bank account, you must report it to your country’s appropriate revenue service.
For example, the IRS requires U.S. citizens to disclose foreign-owned bank accounts.
It doesn’t matter if you receive income or not. It’s an IRS requirement.
Be sure to ask your tax professional for more details.

Frequently asked Questions about Banks in Mérida

How long does it take to open an account at banks in Mérida?

Plan for a few days. The first meeting can take a few hours. Then, you’ll need to return to sign the agreements and receive your debit card. The entire process takes at least 2 – 3 business days. When you return to the bank to pick up your cards, plan for another few hours to learn online banking, set up the banking app on your phone, and receive clarification in other areas.

Is it possible to deposit foreign currency into an account in banks in Mérida?

Yes, it is possible to deposit foreign currency into the account. Each bank has its own requirements.

Is the money insured in banks in Mérida like FDIC would insure money in U.S. banks?

The Mexican equivalent of the FDIC is the IPAB — Institute for the Protection of Bank Savings. Funds are protected for the equivalent of 400,000 UDIS. You can see the current value of the UDI here: banxico.org.mx — in the search bar, enter UDI.

What is needed to open an account at banks in Mérida?

Verify all information in advance. Here are some general requirements for your reference.

  • Full name, phone number, and email address
  • Valid passport
  • Residency card
  • Utility bill such as electric, water, or gas bill from current residence (U.S. or Mexico) OR bank statement no older than three months.
  • Money in Mexican pesos to open the account
  • If the account has a co-signer, the same documentation is required for the co-signer.

What about wire transfers to banks in Mérida?

Many people recommend transferring with Wise to save fees. Wise is a third party and not a bank. When transactions come through, the banking system cannot determine the origination of the money nor the actual relationship between the third-party company that WISE uses to deposit the funds to the client’s account. Because Wise is not a bank, the transaction is flagged for possible money laundering. While this may be possible for a time, if used infrequently, be aware that the bank may close your account without notice.

Can banks in Mérida exchange money?

While exchanging money at a bank may have a bit better exchange rate, it takes longer for the process — plan on a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes or more. You’ll need your passport. Each bank has a maximum amount you can exchange per month. I prefer to exchange my money at a Casa de Cambio or exchange house. The exchange rate isn’t quite as good. But I can get in and out in a few minutes, and there’s no maximum amount. My favorite Casa de Cambio is next to La Tratto in Santa Lucia Park on Calle 60. They’ll ask you to register via text message if you’re exchanging a large sum, such as $1,000+ U.S. Give them your phone number, and they’ll send you a link with a QR code. To complete your exchange, they’ll scan the code. Keep the code handy for the next time.

Photo by Rafael Heredia Abuxpaqui of BessaNovaPro.com

Are there special instructions for ATM withdrawals at banks in Mérida?

Understandably, banks charge a conversion fee to convert your currency into pesos. Every bank is different, so pay careful attention. When you go to withdraw money at an ATM, you’ll be asked a series of questions:

  • Do you accept the ATM fee? YES — You’ll find a range of ATM fees depending on the bank and the location of the ATM. The airport has some of the highest fees I’ve seen. BBVA has high fees as well. Depending on the bank and location, typical fees start at $36 pesos and up. I’ve seen as high as $189.
  • Do you accept the bank’s conversion rate? NO — Banks offer a lower conversion rate to make more money.
  • Do you want the peso rate or the dollar rate of conversion? NO — I’ve only seen this question at BBVA terminals. They ask this question vs. the question above.
  • Do you want to insure your withdrawal for 24/48 hours? NO — There’s no need to do this. Again, the bank is trying to make a little more money.

Final Thoughts on What Banks are in Mérida

Before I left Dallas, I researched banks with divisions in the U.S. and Mexico. I decided BBVA would be a good choice. The bank officer in Dallas assured me I would have access to my money at BBVA banks in Mérida. I opened an account, deposited my money, and thought all was well. When I arrived in Mérida, I quickly learned BBVA has divisions in the U.S. and Mexico. They operate independently of each other due to different banking regulations. Imagine my shock and stress at discovering what I was told was untrue.

I also recommend opening a Charles Schwab account in addition to your primary bank. It’s always good to have a backup account in case of emergencies. My Schwab account is my primary bank, and I have a local bank in Dallas as a backup. One significant benefit of Charles Schwab is they reimburse you for ATM fees. It doesn’t matter how much the fee is; Schwab reimburses you. You can use the card internationally. I ALWAYS have Plan B for emergencies. Credit card terminals occasionally fail, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s easy to open a Schwab account online from the U.S. If you try to do it from Mexico, you will encounter IP address issues. Therefore, consider opening an account from the U.S. before you leave or on a subsequent trip. I ran into IP issues as I opened my account while in Mérida. Over about ten weeks, I had to take many additional steps, including follow-up and management. It was a good learning experience to know that it’s better to open an account from the U.S. Through it all, Schwab was very responsive and worked diligently to resolve the issue. After all was said and done, they sent my debit card to me via DHL.