Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bank #6

I have mentioned before that I have a lot of bank accounts here. At last count, I had five accounts at five different banks. Yesterday, in my quest to either try every bank in Costa Rica or to find just the right one (still haven't figured out which it is), I opened yet another account, this time at Scotiabank.

I wrote about the final straw with BAC, so I started asking around with my friends about which banks they used, and if they liked them. A friend from Canada mentioned that she and her husband have had an account at Scotiabank since they moved here (which is about as long as I've lived here, a little over 8 years), and that they met both of my criteria. (And, like someone who's dated a lot of frogs, my banking criteria have been drastically lowered over the years. All I need is a bank that will cash an international check in a timely manner and give me a debit card that I can use outside of Costa Rica. And someone who will say "Salud" when I sneeze, though I prefer "Bless you." That's not asking much, is it?)

So I went over to Scotiabank in Escazu (figuring that that particular branch deals with a lot of expats and wouldn't make me jump through too many hoops to get an account) after dropping son off at school on Wednesday morning. I spoke with the branch manager, who was friendly and nice and gave me a list of documents I'd need to open my account, and which ones I didn't need to worry about. I gathered said documents, brought them back on Friday morning, and in about half an hour, they had opened my account, given me a temporary debit card, and deposited my check (which will be cashed in 9 business days, as opposed to 15-18 at BAC). By comparison, when I opened my account at BAC, I had to bring a three months' printout of transactions from my previous bank (then Cuscatlan, now Citi), which they said weren't valid because they weren't "official" (though I got them directly from the bank itself), then they kept losing my paperwork, and asking me to submit the same documents over and over, and eventually I had a bank account there in a month, and debit cards a week after that. Scotiabank, like a bank anywhere else in the developed world, opened my account the same day! And I deposited my international check the same day! I was ecstatic! See, I told you I'd really lowered my expectations!

We'll see how it goes with Scotiabank. Since I've so far worked my way through half of the banks in this country, I'm holding out high hopes.


  1. I live my life like a French movie.

    Do they have Credit Unions there??? I am sick of banks here in the states even.. I got my car loan thru a local CU here in town and have been nothing but pleased with them for the past umm.. two years now I think.

    Glad you found a good banco sweets.

  2. I knew if anyone would get that movie reference, it would be you! :-) And yes, we will always go out dancing!

    As far as I know, the only banks that offer services that I need are the big ones. The state banks (Banco Nacional) take 30 days to cash an international check, and that's the most important thing for me at this point. So I'll stick with Scotia for a while and see how that goes.

  3. I've enjoyed your blog thoroughly since I found it. We've checked out some of your recommended eateries, and have experienced some of the same fun and exasperating aspects of our new home. Scotia was the first bank where we established our account in Costa Rica, but we decided on it after numerous lousy transactions with the other large banks here. So, I think you have finally found the bank most willing to accomodate us foreigners!

    I have an eighteen year old who is in his first year of college, and two younger kids who are six and eight. Our kids have always been very social, so home schooling would never have been a great fit, and my experience was, once you get through the first couple of days of feeling a bit adrift, you will love and fiercely protect your "me time!" Our children have attended three schools since we arrived, not ideal, but it's working out well. The costs have run between $350.-130. per month, per child, and although the private schools may sound similar, they can be VERY DIFFERENT. I discuss in more detail, our experiences on my blog, but we are thrilled with their current school in Grecia, as are they!

    I hope our paths will cross before long.


  4. Hi Penny!

    I have to admit, I do like having that four hours to myself every morning! The jury's still out (well, I should say, MY jury's still out) on whether or not the school my son's at is a good fit for him. He loves it, I'm just not so sure. It's funny, we're actually doing homeschooling as well. A friend of mine just started a homeschool group, so I thought, why not? LOL... He's been with a really nice group of kids basically since he was born, so he gets lots of social interaction, especially since we moved back to the metro area. But, I work from home, and I definitely get more done without him running around driving me nuts every morning! But, on the other hand, private school is expensive (we pay $260 a month).... But, but, but... see what I mean? I'm still not completely sold! :-)