Banks In Mexico and How to Liquidate Your Debt

To all my friends back in the US who think they have to deal with difficult tellers and horrible customer service, just remember, it could always be worse.

Opening a bank account when I first moved to Mexico was a pain in the culo to say the least. I remember going from bank to bank figuring out which one would work best for me, and remember one distinct conversation with a promotional bank account recruiter from Banamex (a popular bank in Mexico). She said, “Hunny, all banks are thieves and even though I work for one, I wouldn’t recommend it.” Case and point.

First, there is no such thing as having a bank account without a monthly fee. The bank is charging you to use your money! Then, you need to go through a screening process that takes about a month before you get your debit card (at least it did for me with HSBC bank). Several banks won’t even take your American dollars even if you want to deposit them into your account as pesos and not request the immediate exchange in hard-copy currency. My bank started doing this the last few months and when I asked why, the response was “policy”. What policy? The ignorant frijolero couldn’t tell me.

Getting my credit card took about three months. Granted, I had no credit history in Mexico, and they wanted me to prove a source of income. I couldn’t because I had just been employed and hadn’t received my first paycheck, but when I’m depositing 5 thousand dollars (un-suspiciously of course) that’s not enough? The bank consultant told me to take that money out and deposit 200 dollars every week. Guess what, it worked. After two months they approved me. UN-NE-CE-SS-AR-Y Work! I looked at the bank consultant straight in the eye and told him, “you know this is estuped right?” His response, “I know, it’s policy.” They gladly embrace their estuped policy.

The general public does not trust banks. They still believe in the idea of hiding your money under your mattress or some secret place. For good reasons too! I miss the days of easy banking (on-line and in person), easier credit approval, and non-estuped policy.

Oh, and get this, apparently, if you owe a bank or another store money that previously gave you credit and suddenly you find yourself unable to pay because you are so in debt, there is an easy solution–a convenio.  In plain and simple terms, a convenio is legal binding document that states both parties (indebted person and the institution that gave the credit) agree that the entire debt will be liquidated if the indebted person agrees to pay a smaller amount in full! Crazy! This of course comes at the price of being blacklisted on the Credit Bureau database. Consumer debt is a country-wide problem and institutions are willing to charge you less and get something then to charge you the total sum and have you avoid and hide from them all your life.

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