Banking – Accounts

Banking

Before selecting a bank it is necessary to decide what services you will need.
There are branches of Costa Rica’s state-owned banks in San José and
in other large cities and towns. The headquarters of Costa Rica’s largest
banks: Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Crédito Agrícola
are in downtown San José near the Central Post Office. The government
guarantees all monies deposited in these state banks.

Here is a list of banks:
BAC San José (private)……………………………………………..Tel: 2295-9595
Banco Promérica (private)
E-mail: solucion@promerica.fi.cr………………………………..Tel: 2296-4848
Banco Bantec (private)………………………………………………Tel: 2242-2222
Banco Cathay (private)……………………………………………..Tel: 2290-2233
Banco Central de Costa Rica………………………………………Tel: 2243-3333
E-mail: webmaster@bccr.fi.cr.
Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago……………………………..Tel: 2550-0202
Banco de Costa Rica…………………………………………………Tel: 2287-9088
E-mail: bancobcr@bancobcr.com
Banco Nacional………………………………………………………..Tel: 2212-2000
Banco Popular…………………………………………………………Tel: 2257-5797
Citibank (private) …………………………………………………….Tel: 2201-0800
Mutual de Alajuela (private)……………………………………….Tel: 2437-0865
Scotiabank (private) …………………………………………………Tel: 2287-8700
E-mail: scotiacr@scotiabank.com

When making deposits in national banks, you should consider the
following. Checks from outside Costa Rica, including bank cashiers checks,
sometimes require 15 or more working days minimum before funds are
usable after they are deposited. Checks issued by private Costa Rican banks
will usually take a couple of working days before the funds will be available.
Checks deposited from the same bank and branch are usually available the
same day. Wire transfers are usually available in 2 to 4 days.

There are also numerous private banks affiliated with international banks.
Private banks can offer many of the same services that the state banks do.
When the minimum deposit is not maintained, service charges for account
operations at private banks can sometimes be higher than at the national banks.
Many private banks pay higher interest than state banks but cannot
guarantee your deposits as the government banks do. Remember, the higher
the interest, the more the risk. In the mid-1980s private finance companies
were offering up to 45 percent interest in colones. As recently as 2002, several
other companies were paying as much as three percent monthly. Needless
to say they all failed and the investors lost everything (Please see Chapter 4
for the whole story).

Some of the better private banks are BAC, HSBC and Citibank, .
Check the yellow pages for more private banks. It is advisable to open an
account at one of these banks or state banks so you can have a dollar account
to protect against unexpected currency fluctuations, cash personal checks,
obtain a safety deposit box for your valuables and facilitate having money
sent to you from abroad.

Regarding the latter, you should make sure that the bank you choose
works with a U.S. correspondent bank to avoid untimely delays in cashing
checks.

.Warning: Be careful of Scotiabank. I have heard many foreign residents
complain about unfair treatment at this bank. They complain about having
to open their safety boxes for random inspections (which is illegal without
a court order) and general lack of privacy at this overly intrusive bank.

Here is what one resident said about Scotiabank, ”I was with Scotiabank
for over a year. They were awful. And I mean bad. Their statements were
impossible to read. But worse is they didn’t know how to read them and
often took two months to research the problems. The worst was telling me
they would have a decision for a home loan in two weeks and then taking
three months. In the end they said the property was worth $4 per square
meter when all other sales in the neighborhood were $25 to $35. I moved
to Promerica and they have been tons better. Not to say they are perfect.
But compared to Scotiabank, they are amazing.”

Another local who works in the real estate business said about Scotiabank:
“Atrocious service, and they outright mislead. I have seen them pull the rug
out of a sale at the last minute, when sellers and buyers both had their house
packed up to go. No good reason. I have heard this tale from others, too.

Overall, I regard them as the worst because they seem so up-to-date and
modern with the fancy air conditioning and slick offices. I avoid them like
the plague and have no clue why they behave this way.”

Here is another bad experience a local resident had at Scotiabank. “I
have a good excuse to report an experience at Scotiabank from several years
ago (downtown branch). I withdrew some money, which the teller gave
me after opening an unusual number of drawers (not all at his window) and
roaming about a lot. Within 10 minutes of leaving the bank, I discovered
I had been given a $100 counterfeit bill. I returned and they wouldn’t do
anything about it saying, of course, “You left the bank.” Whenever I had
occasion to be in the bank, I would look at him in passing and he would
duck his head and look away. I think he was just waiting for someone to pass
it to. I avoid Scotiabank every opportunity I get.”

The author has a safety deposit box at Banco Nacional that is readily
accessible during working hours. We also have a dollar account, certificates
of deposit and an ATM card. My only complaint is that service in state run
banks tends to be very slow. You can spend up to an hour in the bank waiting
to make a simple transaction.

ATMs are found all over the country in banks, supermarkets and other
convenient locations. These 24-hour automated tellers disperse a few hundred
dollars at a time from your account, cash advance in colones only. When using
one of these machines, be sure to exercise the following precautions:
1. Look for an ATM that is not isolated or unknown.
2. Use ATMs located in well-lit areas with good visibility.
3. Use an ATM that allows you entry and a door to lock rather than
one on an open sidewalk.
4. Cancel the transaction at the first sign of suspicious activity.
5. Take all paperwork with you and do not throw away anything that has
your account number printed on it.
6. Do not carry your ATM card with you unless you are going to use it.
7. Don’t go alone.
8. Concerning residency receipts — ATM receipts will NOT work as proof
of exchange.

Other banking services are high-yield certificates of deposit in colones,
certificates of deposit in dollars on par with U.S. interest rates and credit
card related services.

All banks have different requirements for opening accounts or obtaining
credit cards, possibly entailing banking or personal references, identification
and most certainly minimum deposits. Requirements will vary slightly from
bank to bank, so check with the banking institution of your choice.
Permanent and non-residents may open a savings account in state and
private banks. All that is needed is a minimum deposit, in some cases a letter
of reference and a passport or cédula. To open a local checking account, you
have to be a resident and may be asked to provide a Costa Rican ID card or
passport as a form of identification.

You may be asked to show your water, telephone and electric bills in your
name to prove you live here. If you cannot provide these documents you will
need two references from banks in the United States or from two account
holders in the same bank where you wish to open your account. If opening
a checking account in local currency you will need an initial deposit of about
$500. A local dollar checking account may require an initial deposit of $2,000.

Here is an example of what some banks require for various services:
HSBC

Personal Accounts
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Checking Account:………………….. $ Account……………………….¢ Account
Transactional…………………………………none*……………………………. none*
Classical……………………………………… $1,000………………………..¢100,000
Savings Account:…………………………….none* …………………………… none*
*Must maintain a minimum balance to write checks
Requirements:
1. Must have resided at least 6 months in Costa Rica.
2. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
3. Letter of recommendation by a Costa Rican or a letter from the applicant’s
respective embassy.

HSBC Personal Accounts have 2 Checking Accounts:
.Transactional – fee $1 or ¢250 (respective of the currency of the check) per
check written.
Classical – up to 25 checks per month free. The penalty for not maintaining
the minimum balance in this account is $10 for the USD account or ¢2,000
for the colón account.
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit: (No Minimum Balance)*……………….. $1,500 / ¢250,000
*To write 50 checks
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica (no more than three months since issued).
4. Cédula Jurídica.
Checkbooks: Book of 25 checks……………………………..$3 (or ¢1,000)
Limit on checks written per month: none
Debit Cards: free
Online Banking
Issues Credit Cards

CitiBank
Personal Accounts

Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
$ Account………………………. ¢ Account
Checking Account:…………………………$300………………………..¢100,000
Savings Account:…………………………….$100……………………………¢5,000
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit: (No Minimum Balance)……………….. $500/¢150,000
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica ((no more than three months since issued)
4. Cédula Juridica.
Checkbooks: Book of 25 checks…………………………………………… ¢8,000
Limit on checks written per month:……………………………. none/Per Year
Debit Cards:………………………………………………………………………….. free
Savings Account:…………………………………………………………………¢1,200
No Web-based Online Banking Customers may purchase
PC software to view their accounts online for ………………………………$30
Issues Credit Cards

BAC
Personal Accounts:

Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Checking Account…………………..$ Account………………………..¢ Account
Initial Deposit:……………………………….$250 ………………………… ¢50,000
Minimum Balance…………………………..$250…………………………. ¢50,000
Savings Account
Initial Deposit:…………………………….$250…………………………….¢50,000
Minimum Balance:……………………….$100…………………………….¢25,000
Saving Money in Costa Rica 151
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Reference from another bank.
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit & Minimum Balance:……………………… $250/¢50,000
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica (no más de tres meses de emitida.
4. Cédula Juridica.
5. Reference from 2 other banks.
Checkbooks: ……………………………………………………… Book of 24 checks
Personal Account:………………………………………………………………. ¢1,250
Corporate Account:……………………………………………………………… ¢750
Limit on checks written per month:……………………… Arranged with bank
Debit Cards:…………………………………………………………………………… free
Online Banking
Issues Credit Cards

BANCO NACIONAL
Personal Accounts:

Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Checking Account…………….$ Account………………………………¢ Account
Initial Deposit:………………………$2,000 …………………………….. ¢300,000
Minimum Balance………………….$2,000 …………………………….. ¢300,000
Savings Account
Initial Deposit:…………………………..$30 ………………………………… ¢3,000
Minimum Balance:……………………..$30 ………………………………… ¢3,000
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Original telephone or utilities bill with the applicant’s name.
3. Reference letters from 2 people who have accounts with BN.
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit: (No Minimim Balance)……………… $2,000/¢250,000
152 The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica ((no more than three months since issued).
4. Cédula Juridica.
5. Original telephone or utilities bill with the applicant’s name.
Checkbooks: Book of 40 checks…………………………………………………. $5
Limit on checks written per month:…………………………………………. none
Debit Cards: ……………………………………………………………$7.50/¢2,500
Online Banking
Credit Cards:………………………………………………………….. No annual fees

SCOTIABANK
Personal Accounts:

Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Checking Account…………..$ Account ………………………………..¢ Account
Initial Deposit:……………………… $500……………………………………¢50,000
Minimum Balance…………………..none ………………………………………. none
Savings Account
Initial Deposit:……………………… $100 …………………………………….¢5,000
Minimum Balance:………………….none ………………………………………. none
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Reference from 2 other banks.
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit: (No Minimim Balance)………………… $500/¢100,000
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica (no más de tres meses de emitida.
4. Cédula Juridica.
5. Reference from 2 other banks.
Checkbooks: Book of 25 checks……………………………………………. ¢1,000
Saving Money in Costa Rica 153
Limit on checks written per month: 8 in conjunction with bank card use
Bank Cards:………………………………………………….8 transactions a month:
(in conjunction with checks written)*………………………………………. ¢600
Additional 20 transactions a month:…………………………………………. ¢500
* To avoid additional charges, bank card transactions and number of checks written per month
combined cannot exceed 8.

BANCO DE COSTA RICA
Personal Accounts:

Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Checking Account……………….. $ Account ………………………….¢ Account
Initial Deposit:…………………………….$500 …………………………….¢50,000
Minimum Balance……………………….. none ………………………………… none
Savings Account
Initial Deposit:…………………………….$100……………………………..¢10,000
Minimum Balance:………………………. none………………………………… none
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Reference from another bank.
Corporate Account:
Initial Deposit and Minimum Balance
Initial Deposit: ……………………………$500……………………………..¢50,000
Minimim Balance:……………………….. none ………………………………… none
Requirements:
1. Passport or Resident Visa or Costa Rican ID (cédula).
2. Carta de Constitución de la empressa.
3. Personeria Juridica (no más de tres meses de emitida.
4. Cédula Juridica.
Checkbooks: Book of 25 checks…………………………………………………. $3
Limit on checks written per month:…………………………………………. none
Free Debit Cards
Online Banking
Issues Credit Cards

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