As most people are aware, transferring money into Mexico, cashing foreign checks at Mexican banks, and avoiding ATM fees has definitely become more difficult since the USA Government enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in 2010, which originally applied to U.S. residents and also to U.S. citizens and green card holders residing in other countries.
FATCA is a United States federal law requiring all non-U.S. foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to search their records for customers with indications of a connection to the U.S., including indications in records of birth or prior residency in the U.S., or the like, and to report the assets and identities of such persons to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
FATCA also requires such persons to report their non-U.S. financial assets annually to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on form 8938, which is in addition to the older and further redundant requirement to report them annually to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Unfortunately, the law resulted in the Mexican Government as well as many other countries to cease accepting foreign currency and checks into the monetary system of Mexico.
The U.S. has yet to comply with FATCA itself because as of 2017, it has not yet provided the promised reciprocity to its partner countries, and it has failed to sign up to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). FATCA has also been criticized for its impacts on Americans living overseas and implicated in record-breaking numbers of U.S. citizenship renunciations since 2010. Bills to repeal FATCA have been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Due to the banking restrictions, most Mexican banks do not exchange foreign currency due to concerns about its origin, or only provide the service to their customers, forcing many people to exchange foreign cash elsewhere. This forces many people, including Mexican Nationals to go to the street markets, or other informal dollar exchange options, where the dollars are purchased for between 33 to 50% of their value. This accumulation of foreign cash disrupts the foreign currency markets and spurs the black market trading that prevents migrant family members from receiving a fair exchange of dollars to pesos. Additionally, tourism workers in Mexico, who often receive tips in dollars, also suffer from the existing laws.
Still, there are ways to legally transfer USD to Mexico.
Most ATM machines in Mexico allow you to use a debit or credit card on a foreign bank to withdraw up to $8,000 pesos daily (approximately $400 USD). Some ex-pats and Mexican Nationals who do not have a foreign bank but want to receive regular payments from a family member in a foreign country will have the family member send them a duplicate credit or debit card that can be used to receive money. While ATMs are still a good option for getting cash from a foreign bank in Mexico, we should note that just like in the USA and elsewhere, there have been sporadic reports in which ATMs were modified by thieves installing skimmers that can read your card and record the PIN number.
If you have a bank in the USA that is part of the same banking system as your Mexican Bank, you may be able to make bank wire transfers between the two banks without a processing charge. For instance, Bancomer is part of BBVA, which in the USA is USA Bancshares, Inc. is a Sunbelt-based bank holding company whose principal subsidiary, BBVA, operates 649 branches, including 336 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 63 in Arizona, 61 in California, 45 in Florida, 37 in Colorado and 18 in New Mexico. Other banks that have branches in Mexico include Citibank (known as Banamex in Mexico), HSBC, Mizuho Americas, Santander Bank, and Bank of America (through partnerships with Santander Bank).
Remote Image Deposit
If you have a bank in the USA and a check or a copy of a check made on a USA bank, you can normally use Remote Image Deposit (RID) with a mobile app on your phone to take a photo of the check and deposit the amount into your USA bank. This has been handy for those ex-pats who receive their Covid checks in the mail from the USA, as a way of depositing the amount into their USA bank. The banks in Mexico will not allow foreign checks to be deposited directly into a Mexican bank. Once the Remote Image Deposit is made into the USA bank, the money can be transferred into a Mexican bank by wire transfer. Some ex-pats or Mexican Nationals will have the person in a foreign country send them a photo of a check made out to them, which they then print on a regular color copier and then photograph the copy to make the Remote Image Deposit.
Average Money Transfer Exchange Rate
The World Bank’s most recent data shows that for transfers of $200 USD from the US to Mexico, money transfer companies charged a fee averaging 2.68% and marked up their exchange rates 1.36% over spot rates, for a total cost of 4.04% or $8.08 for a $200 USD transfer. That said, some services charge much more than the average but are not used as much, which tilts the scale.
Here are 8 of the companies that do transfers to Mexican Banks. In alphabetical order:
- Send money to any bank in Mexico with a Clabe Number
- Get a quote on the transfer fee upfront
- Will waive its 1% fee for your first transfer of up to $3,000 USD!
- Can take up to 4 to 5 days to transfer funds
- Familiar Brand name
- Expensive compared to other services when using credit or debit card
OFX (formally known as Ozforex) is the largest Australian-owned money transfer company. It launched in 1998 and grew rapidly until finally listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2013. OFX excels in 2 areas – Online experience and customer service. The company was born online and continues to develop easy, intuitive products. While OFX customers do most of their transactions online, they are backed up with exceptional customer service.
- Better exchange rates compared to banks
- Highly safe and secure transfers
- 1 – 2 days delivery times for most countries
- Quick response time
- Fantastic customer service
- Credit cards, checks, and cash are not accepted, only bank transfers
- Fees for transfers
- Smaller transfers
You can open a free PayPal Mexico Personal or Business Account and tie it to your Mexican Bank Account. With this account, you send money to anyone anywhere, and you can request payments from anyone by email, where they click on the PayPal link and deposit money into your account. You can use the mobile app to send and receive money, as well as apply for a PayPal Credit Card to pay anywhere they accept credit cards. If you have a website or online store, you can sell your products and collect the money with a PayPal link on your site.
- International transfers are charged a 5% fee when made from a bank transfer, PayPal account, Amex Send™ Account
- If money is sent using a credit or debit card the fee is 5.00% + 2.90% + a fixed fee (USD$0.30)
Remitly helps people send money internationally from a mobile phone or computer, going beyond the transaction to help immigrant communities thrive. Remitly also allows sending money to any of the 1700 Elektra stores in Mexico.
- When sending more than $500 there is no fee, and only $3.99 when sending less than $500
- The choice between Express or Economy Delivery
- You can pay by a card or bank transfer
- No minimum transfer size
- Recipients can receive money by bank deposit, cash pick up, mobile money, or home delivery depending on where you are sending the money
- Maximum transfer sizes for every transfer
- No physical locations
- No foreign currency account
- Takes 3 to 5 days or immediately when using a debit card
Transparency and an easy online experience are the 2 things that set TransferWise apart from the banks and other money transfer companies.
If you prefer to bank online, you’ll like TransferWise. Setting up an account and making a transfer is very easy. They are also very clear on the exchange rate and fees you’ll pay before you make a transfer.
- Clear and transparent exchange rates fees
- The online experience is first class
- Like the banks, they are regulated by ASIC and registered with AFSL
- Constantly bringing out new innovative products
- There are currently a number of global currencies they do not currently support
- Limited support based in Australia
- Percentage based fee can add up on very large transfers
Western Union (https://www.westernunion.com)
Getting cash to friends and family in Mexico fast is easy, even in remote areas. Transfer money to Mexico to help a friend who lost a wallet while on vacation. Pay a family member’s bills during an emergency. Celebrate a loved one’s special event with a monetary gift. When you need to send money to Mexico, Western Union can get your cash there, reliably, within minutes. Best of all, you can send money to Mexico using a credit or debit card, directly from your bank account, via Apple Pay®, or with cash at more than 55,000 agent locations in the U.S.
- A familiar brand that can be trusted
- Send and transfer money to most Mexico bank accounts, including Famsa, Banamex, Banorte, and BBVA
- Your money will get to Mexico when they need it most
- Send money to Mexico for cash pickup within minutes
- Convenient: Send money to Mexico using the WU® app wu.com or at one of 55,000 agent locations.
- Expensive compared to other transfer options
WorldRemit is particularly good for transfers under $10,000 to destinations across Asia, Africa, and South America. Sending money online is significantly easier than using companies like Western Union or Moneygram and their exchange rates and fees are clear and transparent. With 2 million users, WorldRemit has a focus on improving access to remittances for the billions of people worldwide who don’t have access to banking. Because of this, WorldRemit has a number of ways to both make and receive transfers. They concentrate on servicing individual needs as opposed to businesses.
- They have a great network in Asia and Africa and a number of receiving options like cash-pick up or bank transfer.
- They are clear about their exchange rates and fees
- No minimum amount
- Maximum transfer sizes for every transfer
- No support for business customers
- They are not licensed to provide financial advice.
XE is a well-known and trusted name in the money transfer industry. With over twenty years of experience, they now help 33,000 people and 2,000 businesses make transfers each year. Over 60 currencies can be transferred with XE and they pride themselves on the free tools and transparent rates they offer.
- Well-known and trusted brand.
- Very informative website. Extensive information on currency and money transfers.
- XE App is available on both iOS and Android. It allows you to see the interbank rate for over 100 currencies.
- XE themselves charge no fees for international money transfers.
- Offers support for both individuals and businesses when it comes to international money transfers.
- Cannot pay via cash or cheque. Must pay via bank transfer, BPay is also accepted in Australia.
- The maximum transfer amount is $500,000 USD.
- While XE compares more than 100 currencies, there are only 60 that are available for money transfers.
Xoom is a service of PayPal (mentioned above).
Get status updates
Stay current with text updates, email notifications, online access, or call our friendly support staff 24/7. They have clear, upfront pricing. With Xoom, you’ll always see your exact fee and the amount your recipient will receive. Xoom offers personal customer service. Contact them or visit their online Help Center to get the answers and information you need. There are 38218 locations in Mexico for Banco Azteca, BanCoppel, BANORTE, BBVA (Bancomer), Caja Popular Mexicana, Chedraui, Elektra, Farmacias Guadalajara, Farmacias Isseg, Intermex, La Red de la Gente, OXXO, Soriana, Telecomm Telegrafos, Walmart. You can find locations by city. Please select your recipient state to narrow down the list of cities.