Do NOT Open an Account at HSBC Mexico

(Post 136 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

I have been banking with HSBC Mexico for four years now and it has been a nightmare that I’m glad to finally start to put behind me.

I’m getting entrenched here and the banking system is going more and more digital — I need a reliable electronic payment method. HSBC’s debit system goes down frequently and it is always denying my online and debit purchases, refusing automatic payments to services, cancelling bank transfers after telling me they went through (to the point that I’ve been accused of being a thief/scammer by a Marketplace seller), and even denying me cash withdrawals at ATMs. It wasn’t until very recently that I finally had the good sense to talk to Mexicans about this and see if I just have unreasonable expectations or if HSBC is a bad bank. The consensus is that HSBC is the bank you go to if no one else will have you…

The last major debit outage was my last straw. I’ve got a bit of a “HSBC is a crap bank” support system on Twitter and everyone told me to give it about a week and then move to another bank as there was going to be a flood of folks wanting out in the days after the outage. All the advice I got was to move to BBVA, Mexico’s most technologically advanced bank. As it turned out, an ATM-only location nearish me just finished a remodel and is now a small full service location that is easier access and much less intimidating than the main branch all the expats go to. Today was the day I had all my paperwork in order and was ready to go.

Today is also the day that HSBC rejected payment requests from my internet and power providers, would not allow me to transfer money from my savings account to my chequing account so I could pay my mortgage, kept timing out when I tried to pay at the dentist, and would not let me take out all the money I wanted at an ATM. Just a normal day banking with HSBC Mexico! They’re like the Hotel California, happy to take your money but not let it leave!

I did not have an appointment at BBVA, but decided to try to open an account as a walk-in. No problem, they weren’t busy, and I was promptly served. What a difference being a permanent resident makes — my being a foreigner wasn’t an issue. Quick interview (including that I have no tax obligations to Mexico) and I was offered the right product for daily needs, told to come back in a month or two once I’ve fully closed out HSBC so I can open a new investment/savings vehicle, and was advised that I should plan on coming back in six months for a credit card, something HSBC keeps offering and then denying me. The agent said that I was one of several dozen people he’s switched from HSBC in the last couple of weeks and that he cannot believe that they won’t give me the time of day considering the amount of money I put through my account every month. He was appalled that I’ve been here four years and still have no credit history. He’s hopeful that six months after I get my credit card (so a year from now), BBVA will consider refinancing the house mortgage in my name so I can take control of it. Fingers crossed!

I’ve started the labourious process of switching everything over to BBVA. I had initially thought to keep HSBC as a “backup,” but based on today, that’s a laughable thought. I’ll make sure all my preauthorized debits have transferred to the new account and that I’m able to successfully transfer money in, and then I’ll go close the HSBC account. As a backup and to help with budgeting, I’m going to use a fintech account, a digital account that you can load with small amounts for daily use. I’ve had one for ages but HSBC won’t let me make transfers to it (but of course!) so it has had limited use. I like the idea of being able to transfer a set amount per month to use with food delivery and ride share services to keep me on budget.

Other advantages of BBVA include that the app is much easier to use since it doesn’t make you jump through hoops to get a “token,” the app generates disposable debit cards for one-time purchases, you can make withdrawals without your card at ATMs (as long as you have your phone), you can create virtual partitions in your accounts (rather than have multiple accounts) for budgeting purposes, and you can “turn off” your card on your own if you notice any weird activity on your account. I also like that if you have to go in person, they have a numbering system and chairs so you don’t have to stand for hours if they are busy.

I had to take a photo for facial recognition by the app (separate from Apple’s Face ID) and it was probably the first time in my life I was happy to have my picture taken. Can you tell why?

Yep, BRACES ARE OFF!!! 🙂 Took twice as long as we’d hoped, but it was so worth it. I never thought I’d be happy to show my teeth! I get a week’s respite and then I have to start on the retainer, but at least, eating is going to get easier again!

Today was another Good Day.