I’ve survived nearly 2 and a half years in Mexico with no bank account, no debit card and no cheques. Actually I really have no use for cheques, but a debit card would be handy. Not just to avoid carrying cash, but also for those internet purchases – my Flickr Pro account just expired, and I can’t renew it! Still, it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, so hopefully, some generous benefactor will sort that out!
Problem is, it isn’t cheap or easy to open an account when you are a foreigner. Aside from the mass of Spanish language bureaucratic form filling, they want you to put in, and maintain a minimum balance of, MXN $2,500 to $5,000. Which I can’t really spare. I have noticed that Banamex have a new account, Perfiles, which requires only MXN $1,000 to open, and they don’t ask you to keep a minimum, only to ensure you remain in credit. You also get a Mastercard debit card. And that’s far more like it! Of course, there is no such thing as free banking in Mexico – the account costs MXN $30 a month. If I can’t open an account as a foreigner, then I’ll have to get Paola to open one as soon as she has a job – she can then get an extra card (in my name of course!) for just an extra 10 pesos a month. But there is no hurry – Wal Mart have just got their license to operate banks in Mexico, and will have branches opening up in stores as early as November apparantly. It might be worth waiting to see what special introductory offers they have going!