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BAC San Jose – A total joke! Their New Rating? ZERO

September 8th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I wrote about three banks here in Costa Rica and how they compare. You can review that post HERE if you wish.

In that post, I left readers hanging a bit regrading BAC San Jose and their policies regarding the depositing of checks from outside Costa Rica. You may recall they have this little “gotcha” policy that prohibits the depositing of any check from outside Costa Rica for the first year, a truly stupid and needless policy for most people and for businesses especially. After 18 months of 100% trouble free banking, I asked that my company accounts be allowed to deposit checks, all from the USA. Here is what I was told:

“BAK San Jose no longer permits the depositing of checks drawn on foreign (non Costa Rica) banks.”

“HUH”, says I. “That makes no sense. I maintain a large balance and have been a totally trouble free account for almost two years. I am a legal Permanent Resident and own multiple businesses”.

“Sorry”, says she, manager of the branch. No explanation.

“Does this affect all account holders or only me?”

“It affects everyone”.

I believe that statement to be 100% false, but have no way to disprove it. With no other options, I transferred nearly all the money to Banco Nacional who had no problems accepting foreign checks. I left open the accounts with small balances so my Costa Rica customers could continue to make transfers.

As this bank policy is so utterly STUPID and devoid of any logic whatsoever, I now change my rating of BAC San Jose to ZERO and would caution all to be cautious in their dealings with them. Something is amiss I fear!

13 Responses to “BAC San Jose – A total joke! Their New Rating? ZERO”

  1. Saratica on September 9, 2007 9:57 am

    BAC San Jose made it SO impossible to open an account – not to mention requiring a copy of my US tax return even though the account would be in my S.A. – that I finally gave up in frustration and left. The teller actually looked PLEASED! That was a few months ago.

    I have accounts at several other banks, including Scotia, which we are now leaving: we have wired money to the states twice now, from the Escazรบ branch. Not only were we treated openly as suspected drug dealers, even though our account is almost two years old and has so little activity as to be laughable… But they also screwed up the transfers, requiring several trips.

    And we have a Banco Nacional. BN, famous for its long lines and no one speaking English, is the most trouble free bank so far. And don’t tell anyone, but the BN in Multiplaza during the week is practically line-free!

  2. Tim on September 9, 2007 8:11 pm

    Well hopefully, the few thousand folks who visit this BLOG and the 30,000 or so who visit The REAL Costa Rica each month will now know that BAC San Jose is to be avoided at all cost. especially by anyone trying to run a business.

    Scotia Bank is a pain… though my problems went away after the second year and a rather “in your face” meeting with management. As I mentioned, their senior management sets the tone and it is distinctly xenophobic.

    As for BN… always trouble free and now that I can get around in Spanish, they are a walk in the park!

    Actually, many BN branches have no lines… just at different times of day. Mine in Belen is very fast if I go between the hours of XX and XX. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Gerard on October 3, 2007 10:14 pm

    I’ll need to open an account in Costa Rica sometime and find this info very useful. What puzzles me is why a Canadian owned bank, Scotiabank, would engage in xenophobic behaviour? I would think that they would be a truly ‘international’ bank. Last time I was in ScotiaPlaza in Toronto, they had the flags of every country they operate in, including Costa Rica, in the lobby. Maybe the suits in Toronto need to send a terse memo to management in San Jose reminding them of their mission statement.

  4. Tim on October 4, 2007 9:56 am

    Remember that Scotia Bank is NOT owned by the folks up North. They are only part owners.

    This bank is Costa Rica controlled, and in more than six years, I have never seen a Canadian anywhere near a bank (except as a customer of course). I do not think SB has much control here if any at all.

  5. Mike on January 8, 2008 5:29 pm

    That’s right – Scotia bank is not the same as the one in Canada – loosely affiliated somehow, but absolutely NOT the same.

    I’m surprised you have had problems with BAC SJ – they are my favorite bank in Costa Rica! You have to remember that customer service people in Costa Rica will tell you anything just so that they don’t have to do any extra work, so you will find that you will get a different answer each time you ask a different CS person the same question. Banks are even more frustrating since it’s your money they’re dealing with.

    You must always escalate your issue to upper management as nicely as possible. I have had strange things happen to my accounts at BN and BAC SJ before, and if you speak directly with an actual manager, you will have your problem resolved the way you want it in 99% of all cases. If you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, go as high as possible in management, and whatever you do – never lose your patience!

    I would suggest you stay away from using checks in Costa Rica – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody uses them! And traveler’s checks – like paper from Mars to most Ticos! Bank wires are more common for transferring money in and out of the country, and bank employees are more experienced in processing EFTs. You are not in the US where the check clearing house is an institution! Where do you think your check has to go when you deposit it in Costa Rica? Back to the US! Do you know how much risk and cost that places on a Costa Rican bank? If you need the money in Costa Rica that much, they know you will figure out the easiest way to work within their system!

    And because the US has a hand in all bank wires internationally now, you will find that moving money is more difficult no matter who you are or where you are! Get used to it – everyday is one day closer to 1984.

    Start a relationship with your bank manager – it definitely helps your daily life in Costa Rica!

    Pura Vida!

  6. Fernando on April 4, 2008 9:53 am

    Well think about this… in order to understand the problem you have to go deeper.. after many years of relatively lax banking policies the SUGEF (the regulatory agency in Costa Rica in charge of banking) swung the pendulum to the other extreme. The reason? The United States! and pressure from the Bush administration to track the financial movements of all American citizens living here. It’s easier for the banks to implement those policies across the board than to selectively try to enforce them on a certain number of individuals. Before you go ranting and raving and INDIRECTLY calling Costa Ricans stupid consider the following:

    1.) The number of Americans engaging in activities that while legal in Costa Rica are clearly felonies in the United States (for example: all sportsbook, casino, and casino online operations).

    2.) The number of Americans using Costa Rica for tax evasion purposes (you know how much you gringos are selling this country for! you are now regularly selling real estate that you bought for a few dollars for millions! are you reporting those gains to the US government and to the Costa Rican government? (the silence should be deafening right about now).

    3.) The mounting pressure by the US Government on the Costa Rican government to put a handle on narcotics and trafficking related activities stemming from South America (mainly Colombia). Unfortunately as you all know Costa Rica is a way station for that drug traffic (fueled as much by the overwhelming demand for those products in the US as it is by the overwhelming greed of the cartels that produce and distribute it).

    4.) Canada and its influence is also to blame (admittedly a lot less). Remember when the Canadian Mounties investigation led to the shutdown of The Brother’s illegal investment operation? Well Canada then asked that the Costa Rican government take a much more drastic approach and more carefully observe banking rules.

    So as a country we’re stuck in the middle between doing what we think is right and doing what the ‘powers that be’ are telling us to do.

    (As a side note, since the US basically controls our banking policies there is a ‘de facto’ embargo between Costa Rica and Cuba as well as no bank in Costa Rica really dares to do any financial transaction with the country of Cuba so as not to anger the Bush Neocon Regime)

    So I’m going to leave you with an ugly phrase coined by some people in the United States: (and I hate to use it by the way, I think it offensive as I think a lot of the policies of your government offensive): “America, love it or leave it!” (substitute Costa Rica for America and see how that shoe fits you now).

    Don’t tell me now about all the BS arguments that foreigners have for doing us the ‘favor’ of being here: ‘we bring employment’ ‘we spend our money’ etc. What you do bring are $1 per hour jobs and you take obscene profits that you fail to report to any country.

    I’ll leave you with a better and more reasonable saying (that actually a more enlightened gringo once said): “Costa Rica, you don’t have to like it, you do have to respect it”

    Good day gentlemen… I’m sure you won’t be trading our paradise anytime soon for the bleak reality that your country is becoming.

  7. John Wood on August 30, 2008 10:05 am

    When you deposit a check in a Costa Rican bank the cash is not available for 45 days!

    Does this policy also apply to electronic transfers or is it possible to access the transfered cash immediately?

  8. Joe on January 7, 2009 9:28 am

    I agree 100% with the first post, BAC San Jose should be avoided at all costs.

    It took me 5 visits to the bank before I was able to successfully open an account there. Each time they would give me a new list of documents I needed to provide. Why they couldn’t just tell me everything they needed the first time i went in is a mystery???

    When my account was finally opened I waited over two weeks for a call from them telling me my card was ready to pick up, then when I went in to pick it up I was told that there was no card ready and they asked if I’d like to order a card for my account??

    I was unable to access the account for a further 9 days.

    This might not sound like such a big deal but being that my business was processing orders with a BAC San Jose / Credomatic credit card machine and depositing money into the account, not having any way to access those funds seems ludicrous to me.

    Scotiabank is also terrible. Every time I deposit a cheque they demand to know what is was for. I cant make a withdrawal without my passport (even though a have my I.D., bankcard and password), and they have NO real internet baking solution.

    A new problem I have just encountered with Costa Rican Banks is that it is impossible to open a joint account ??? Does anyone know WHY this is or where me and my partner can open one?

  9. Ivone on August 4, 2009 4:50 pm

    Great blog. I am glad to see I am not the only one who does not like BAC.

    Have dealt with them for past 9 years, but it’s going from bad to terrible.

    They are ignorant and arogant at the same time.

    Problem is that we really don’t have to many options to choose from. They all suck and plus SUGEF it’s just a bad combination.
    Very little curtesy and professionalism is another thing. It’s just insane how they treat clients with large sum of money deposited in the bank. I am fed up.

    I am thinking to move my account to Panama or Belize.

    I like to have have simple S.A. account in dolars and one credit card attached to it so I can spend the money. Must have electronic access and pain free.

    Any sugestions?


  10. Max Jones on September 5, 2010 8:46 am

    That’s so funny ๐Ÿ™‚

    I moved to France and work from Switzerland, I can’t believe the nightmare between the countries even though I bank with HSBC in the UK.

    I would love to live in Costa Rica now having been there for four weeks, just another challenge ๐Ÿ™‚

    Money is MONEY wherever you are!

  11. Debbie on December 5, 2012 4:03 pm

    Well, I’m looking to going to Costa Rica in Jan. Possibly move there. Sounds like I should start a bank there.

  12. marlane on February 3, 2013 8:13 am

    What are the highest interest rates available in Costa Rica and which banks offer them? I have heard of interest rates as high as 11-15% – anyone else know of this? Thanks

  13. peter trombetta on July 16, 2014 8:06 am

    Banks in Costa Rica are now requiring that you have a tax ID number issued to you by the USA IRS. With that number you will be allowed to open an acct. Only problem I see is that the IRS will like to locate all the people living outside of the country to later, I assume, to pass a new law enabling them to tax these people with a living out of country tax. Use your debit cards to withdraw funds when needed. All banks will allow you to draw out in dollars or colones.