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      The Boquete Feria de Las Flores y del Café   01/12/2017

      The Boquete Feria de Las Flores y del Café begins Thursday, January 12th and runs until Sunday, January 22nd. For those who have not yet seen -- and experienced -- this magnificent fair, you are in for a treat, and some inconveniences. Most importantly, you must see all of the flowers and the tiendas at and around the Fair Grounds here in Boquete.  During these eleven days you also need to be extremely careful, especially while driving and in planning your activities. In recent years there have been well in excess of 100,000 visitors to Boquete. Last year that number was closer to 200,000, and some predictions for 2017's Fair are closer to 300,000 people coming to our area to see the Fair. Traffic congestion will be the norm. Getting seats in restaurants will be difficult at times. Parking spaces will essentially be nonexistent. Buying groceries may be difficult and time consuming. Busses will be parked on the side streets, making driving difficult. There will be lots (as in LOTS) of people walking, standing around the bridge and the Feria and the many tiendas (small shops and stands [kiosks]) while taking pictures, talking, viewing the scenery, etc. Please be extremely attentive while driving, and drive slowly. Some streets will be blocked and require passes to use them. Other streets will simply be blocked based on congestion. Please be careful of your personal items, such as purses and wallets. Having so many people in one area creates a prime target for pickpockets and other maliantes to do their thing. To repeat, most importantly, you must see all of the flowers and the tiendas at and around the Fair Grounds here in Boquete.  Three closing thoughts. First: enjoy. Second: be safe. Third: you might wish to post your pictures, comments, reviews, etc., here on CL (start a topic or reply to an existing topic in http://www.chiriqui.life/forum/118-boquete-feria-de-las-flores-y-del-café/).   To provide general feedback or ask for help regarding Chiriqui.Life, please leave a posting in Problems, Feedback and Suggestions or email support@chiriqui.life or private message to @Admin_01.
Dennis Philpot

Why is a Boquete Bank Account Needed?

24 posts in this topic

Just looking for a little input here from long timers in Boquete.  I've only been here since June 2016 and one of the first things I did was open a bank account -- a savings account with a $1,000 minimum balance, debit card and no service fees.  In these 7 or so months, the only transactions have been to deposit checks from my US Wells Fargo account, and then sometimes use the local bank's ATM to get cash.  However, I've no problem getting cash on my Wells Fargo debit card ($2.50 fee) and all other transactions (rent, lawyer, stores, etc.) are easily handled via PayPal or Wells Fargo Visa Credit Card.  So far it appears to me that I don't need the Boquete bank account, so I'm wondering if and when and why I'll ever really need it, even with it's good service, friendly staff, online banking, etc.?  Thanks in advance for any education you can provide me.

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Dennis,

One suggestion...get a Charles Schwab account! They reimburse you for all your ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees, from anywhere in the world and their service is bar none! They have no monthly fees and are highly rated! Why give your money to Wells Fargo? One of the worst rated banks, IMO, and from experience!

As far as credit cards go we use Barclay bank...no foreign transaction fees anywhere in the world and again outstanding customer service!

We own our home here, and find it very convenient to have a local account ( checking with debit card ) that we have with Banco General. $300 min balance and no fees!  When we have repairs,upgrades, services, done, we like the fact of having a check as a paper trail should the need arise. Going to the ATM and getting cash especially large sums when needed, is neither convenient or wise.

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We second Schwab. And the few times we have needed a large amount of cash, we have called them to have the daily limit raised for the day without issue. We use Chase for credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. In 7 years, we've never needed a local account.

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Thanks for this conversation. We are getting our ducks in a row for a potential move, and after a few visits using ATMs we had a similar question about why have a local account. Two Sailors makes a good case to have one if the fees are right and the required balance is low.  We also appreciate the idea of a Schwab account and a Barclay or similar account.  These are mostly things we can do before a move to ensure the greatest financial flexibility we can get moving to a new country.

 

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But having a Schwab account doesn't solve the problem of perhaps needing to pay by local check occasionally, does it, as Schwab is U.S. based? Most vendors will not accept a U.S. check because it takes too long to clear the bank and because they are unfamiliar with the bank.

I initially had a checking account with a Panama bank but gave it up because of the required balance, the surprise charges, and the tendency for them to refuse a check because they don't recognize your signature--leaving YOU to pay for the the extra charges associated with a bounced check. However, there are times when I miss not having checks such as when paying a large labor cost or buying something significant from someone who doesn't accept credit cards. It requires some planning and several trips to the ATM.( I always get a signed receipt so I have a record.) Overall, though, I think I'm better off without a checking account, but I do keep some money (less than $10,000) in a savings account here for emergencies. Panama pays much better interest than the U.S., too.

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After having a checking account with MultiBank for at least 12 years, I just recently closed it. I figure if I need a check I'll pay the fee for a cashier's check ($5 at Banco General and $10 at MultiBank). I was hit with about $100 worth of low balance fees in my account at MultiBank a couple of years ago and should have closed the checking account then. Of course, they don't tell you that your balance is low so the fees just keep accumulating.

I now have savings accounts at both Banco General and MultiBank. My account at MultiBank allows me to deposit a U.S. check of up to $3000 once a month with no charge and a 5 day clearing period. This is a special deal for folks who own a house in Panama.

Fidelity has the same deal as Schwab. I use their debit card for purchases wherever Visa is accepted. No foreign transaction fee and they immediately reimburse all ATM fees . . . which have gotten pretty steep lately.

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We have been with Banco General a year and as long as we keep a $300 balance in the checking account....no fees. There is a 10 cent per check fee when cashed.

 

Bonnie what bank are you with that has better interest rates then the US? What is the interest rate?

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I use an online bank, USAA, for all my transactions.  Because they do not have brick and mortar locations, there are no fees.  They even refund me $15.00 per month for ATM charges.  The cheapest way to go.  I did however use the Banistmo ATM in Mandarin last Friday and it told me my request was over my limit only to have the amount deducted from my bank without receiving the cash.  Has anyone else had this kind of problem?

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32 minutes ago, TwoSailors said:

We have been with Banco General a year and as long as we keep a $300 balance in the checking account....no fees. There is a 10 cent per check fee when cashed.

 

Bonnie what bank are you with that has better interest rates then the US? What is the interest rate?

I have a CD at Global Bank, and I am getting 3.25% interest.

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That is a great rate! I will go and see what terms they offer.

Thanks!

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4 hours ago, MarieElaine said:

I use an online bank, USAA, for all my transactions.  Because they do not have brick and mortar locations, there are no fees.  They even refund me $15.00 per month for ATM charges.  The cheapest way to go.  I did however use the Banistmo ATM in Mandarin last Friday and it told me my request was over my limit only to have the amount deducted from my bank without receiving the cash.  Has anyone else had this kind of problem?

A few years ago I did have this problem a couple of times.  What I did is to see my bank account online first.  If the funds were deducted from my account I placed immediately a claim to my bank with all the information about the ATM's Bank Owner, day and hour of the transaction, etc.  I got my funds back some days later.  My bank contact directly to the bank in Panama and when they do the balance on the ATM machine they confirmed that the transaction was not right and return my money back with no fees or charge... and my US Bank is not so good on customer service and they charged me for all transactions done in Panama through ATM and using my debit card.  

Roger

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6 hours ago, TwoSailors said:

We have been with Banco General a year and as long as we keep a $300 balance in the checking account....no fees. There is a 10 cent per check fee when cashed.

 

Bonnie what bank are you with that has better interest rates then the US? What is the interest rate?

Who wants to pay 10 cents per check to access your own money? This is almost as bad the bank credit cards here where you're required to keep on deposit the maximum spending amount. Plus fees. What a joke.

I have the same deal at Global as Judy does. I'm not sure what interest regular savings account pay, but it's my understanding that even those pay more than similar accounts in the U.S.

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Regular savings accounts pay about 1.25 or 1.5 at Global.  There is a $300 balance requirement for checking, and I notice 10 cent service charges on my bank statement.  I guess that is for a check cashing fee.

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Wow!!  What great input from so many.  Thanks and really appreciate it.  As always it seems like different folks need different bank deals.  So I didn't see any reason for me to keep my MB account open, but will do so for another few months just in case I learn something.  And if not, then I can further simplify my life.  Thanks again to all.  Dennis

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An article in Newsroom Panama today indicated that about a dozen Panama banks have been fined for irregular practices. The two banks in Boquete that are included are Global Bank and the government bank Caja de Ahorros.

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It's a frustrating article (like many from Newsroom Panama) because tells only half the story. Why were the banks sanctioned? That's what people want to know.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Bonnie said:

It's a frustrating article (like many from Newsroom Panama) because tells only half the story. Why were the banks sanctioned? That's what people want to know.

A publication from the Superintendent of Banking of Panama explaining the sanctions is here.  https://www.superbancos.gob.pa/superbancos/documentos/leyes_y_regulaciones/comunicados/2017/aviso3-2017.pdf

“We must emphasize that behind each of these sanctions there is a genuine effort on the part of the bank sanctioned to adopt the necessary corrective measures and to fully comply with the applicable rules,” said the regulator, adding that the publication should not be interpreted as an opinion on the banks that are sanctioned.

Sanctions are here. Search by year. https://www.superbancos.gob.pa/es/sanciones?field_sancion_anio_value=All

Edited by Keith Woolford
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20 hours ago, Roger B said:

A few years ago I did have this problem a couple of times.  What I did is to see my bank account online first.  If the funds were deducted from my account I placed immediately a claim to my bank with all the information about the ATM's Bank Owner, day and hour of the transaction, etc.  I got my funds back some days later.  My bank contact directly to the bank in Panama and when they do the balance on the ATM machine they confirmed that the transaction was not right and return my money back with no fees or charge... and my US Bank is not so good on customer service and they charged me for all transactions done in Panama through ATM and using my debit card.  

Roger

Thanks Roger.  I have never had this problem before.  I paid my rent today and that pretty much cleared my checking account so if Banistmo does not verify the problem and sends it back to my bank, they are out of luck!  My online bank does not charge me.  If you are a vet, you may want to switch over to USAA.  No fees ever!

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7 hours ago, Siempre Soluciones said:

 

One good reason is if there's an outage within the ATM network.  In October of 2013 there was a one week outage where ATM machines in Panama couldn't access banks outside the country.  It's well documented here:

 

http://boquete.ning.com/forum/topics/atm-s-so-how-do-we-get-money?

 

I use Multibank too, no charge for depositing US checks up to $3,000 every 15 business days.

 

Yes this had happened to us a couple of times so we are now careful not to run completely out of cash. We've also experienced the ATM not dispensing cash to us and having the funds deducted from our account. One call to Schwab and they credited our account the same day.

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On 1/7/2017 at 7:29 AM, Bonnie said:

It's a frustrating article (like many from Newsroom Panama) because tells only half the story. Why were the banks sanctioned? That's what people want to know.

Bonnie

In plain english ( or my bad english LOL)  they were sanctioned because they fail to complain with the regulations that have to do with the controls on Money Laundering.  They were not enforcing the law that have strict requirements on this matter.  It is funny that an stated owned bank was fined and sanctioned.

 

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