Tag Archives: Banks

Another Living in Panama Experience

I thought I would tell you about an experience a friend of mine has recently had buying a car in David.

After shopping for several months she found a car meeting her needs and started the process. It was priced at $8,000.

She spent a week trying to get the money transferred from her account in the U.S. to the Panamanian account. When the U.S. bank realized it was an internet request from Panama to the U.S. bank to transfer money to a Panama account the bank froze the account as a fraud case.

When she called, she was told she needed to appear at the bank with two IDs to reactivate the account. Obviously that was not possible. Her son lived in the U.S. and was finally able to convince the bank it was a valid transfer and reactivate the account.

He tried a couple times to make the transfer and each time the transfer didn’t take. The bank would not disclose why the transfer did not go through. After a week, it was determined that either the name on the receiving account or account number might not be exactly correct.

She decided to take a different approach. She had friends in Panama that were willing to give her a cashers check on their Panama account made out to the seller. She gave them a personal check on her U.S. bank for the same amount. They were willing to wait the 20 days for the deposit to clear.

However, when they tried to deposit the check, they learned that their Panama bank would not take a U.S. check for larger than $3,000.

It is becoming extremely clear that banks in Panama really don’t want to have anything to do with U.S. clients or even transactions from the U.S.

Banking in Latin America

If you use ATMs in Latin America to get your money from your accounts in other countries, expect to have periodic problems. It has happens to me twice and on Friday it happened to Lilliam.

Here is the scenario.

Lilliam made an ATM request to get money from her account in Costa Rica. The ATM went through the motions to give the money – noise giving the impression it was getting ready to dispense money, but alas, no money.

In my past cases, the ATM made sounds like it counting the money too, but then stopped because of a problem. Maybe it had less money that it thought it had. Maybe it had a hardware failure. For what ever reason it didn’t give money.

The latest problem happened to Lilliam at Banco Universal in El Rey. When it didn’t give the money, it put up a strange warning message saying not to reenter the pin number. The other ATM in El Rey afterwards said the daily limit had been exceeded, indicating that the first ATM had indeed posted the transaction.

When one of the ATMs erroneously posts a withdrawal, the only way to resolve it is through your bank. Even though the bank with the failing machine has a record of the transaction not going through and the daily balance being off, you have to resolve it by calling the bank having the account.

When I have had it happen to me, I have been able to call my bank in the US and talk to a real person and handle the problem over the phone. If memory serves me, the transaction was always corrected by the end of the phone call.

Lilliam’s bank was in Costa Rica. Multiple phone calls to the bank failed to get to a real person. The only thing left to do was to drive to the Frontera and go to the bank there.

The wait in the bank was about 2 1/2 hours. Then Lilliam was told the claim would be submitted to San Jose and it would take 22 days to process and at that time the money should be place back in the account.

The bank charged her $10 for this fantastic service. When you add to that $10 for gasoline to drive to the Frontera, it was a pretty expensive hardware failure. It will be interesting to see, when the transaction is reversed, if they also reverse the ATM and Clave charges. What do you think are the odds of that happening?

If you choose to live in Panama or any Latin American country, it is the bureaucracy that is the most difficult to get used to. I thought it was an annoyance when I had to call the US when I had ATM problems here. It was nothing compared to the problems Lilliam had to go through to fix the problem today and we won’t know if it is solved for 22 days.

Capital Bank – David

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a press conference and a follow-on inauguration party at Hotel Ciudad de David, for a new bank that has opened its doors in David.

I was invited by two very nice ladies from 24-7, who were responsible for the promotion.

The news conference took place in the new David facilities in Plaza GERABER on Avenida Obaldia across from the new Casa Gala and to the left of Optic Metro.

As I mentioned, I got there early and had an opportunity to check out the “good eats” that were being provided. Obviously, my being a jubilado on a fixed budget, I supplement my Blogging income ($0/ month), with any free meals I can come up with. Grand openings like this are heaven to me. Continue reading Capital Bank – David

PanaFoto And Banco General Coming to Plaza El Terronal

If you drive in front of the old ARROCHA, you will see that work is going on, Parts of the walls have been knocked out for windows and work is going on inside. This area will be the home of PanaFoto and Banco General.

To orient you, the previous photo was to the left of the following photo, which was the entrance to ARROCHA. Continue reading PanaFoto And Banco General Coming to Plaza El Terronal

David Banks

I am always receiving questions related to the banks in Panama and what is required to open an account. Today, I took a short drive around David and took photos of some of the banks that are available.

I asked a couple of the banks for information on their requirements, just to verify that each have their own requirements. You will need to ask for specifics at whatever bank you decide to use.

Opening an account is generally the same for all banks, but there may be exceptions. Below are the instructions for Scotiabank that will give you an idea.

As previously shown the banks offer both checking and savings accounts. Typically the checking accounts will require a minimum monthly balance of from $300 to $500. For example Scotiabank was $300 and Banco General was $500. If you go below that minimum in a month, you will be assessed a fee. Scotiabank’s fee was $10. Continue reading David Banks

Things Just Got More Expensive – Part 2

This is the second part of Things Just Got More Expensive. Today I tried to get money from the ATMs. HSBC’s ATM had a problem, but a different problem than the other day. Then I tried the two ATM’s in El Rey, The first ATM said the account didn’t have sufficient funds. I had asked for $500, since I didn’t want to pay $3 for less. Then I tried the other ATM. It said that the amount was too high. I changed the amount to $300 and it gave money.

So, that implies to me that the new programming change implemented by Clave has also limited the amount that can be withdrawn to $300.

The effect is that if you typically get $1,500 a month, it will not take 5 withdrawals vs 3 before. That will cost you $15. I am confident my credit union didn’t change my withdrawal limit, but I am going to send them an email anyway to verify it.

Want more – costs more. Want same – costs more. Want less – costs more.

Things Just Got More Expensive

I went to get money from the ATM today and learned that Clave is now charging $3.00 for each transaction that is for banks outside of Panama.

I still think it is better for me than having an account in a Panama bank, but it does cause one to think about it a little more. Up until now, I was having no charges using any ATM. Oh well, nothing is forever.

I should add that none of the three different ATMs I tried today gave any money even though I authorized the transaction. This change in policy may be causing other problems as well.