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I want to write a cheque on my Canadian U.S. dollar account for deposit in a bank here.  I hoped it would be easy, after all, Scotiabank Canada to Scotiabank Panama....silly me.  The bank here wants $300 for a $3,000 cheque.  Not gonna happen.  Is there any other bank (and yes, Scotiabank Panama may lose my business over this) that will accept such a cheque without exorbitant fees?  Looking  for a different way to get money down here without doing a large transfer every year or so.  Would like to write monthly or quarterly cheques.

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There's no charge at my bank (Global) for deposit of a check from a U.S. bank account, but it takes three weeks to clear. But, of course, there's no currency conversion. Still, that seems outrageously high to me.

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Bonnie, this is my U.S. $ account, so I do not understand their fee.  I'll try Global, thanks.

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I believe most other banks are the same as or similar to Global in this regard. Scotia Bank is the outlier.

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2 hours ago, JohnF13 said:

I want to write a cheque on my Canadian U.S. dollar account for deposit in a bank here.  I hoped it would be easy, after all, Scotiabank Canada to Scotiabank Panama....silly me.  The bank here wants $300 for a $3,000 cheque.  Not gonna happen.  Is there any other bank (and yes, Scotiabank Panama may lose my business over this) that will accept such a cheque without exorbitant fees?  Looking  for a different way to get money down here without doing a large transfer every year or so.  Would like to write monthly or quarterly cheques.

John, I discovered that I can transfer from HSBC in Canada to a number of banks here online in less than a minute once I set it up. Wondering if Scotiabank Canada offers that service

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We deposit our US bank checks here at Multibank (also have an account at Scotiabank, but it is only for backup purposes). There is zero fee for this service, and the hold time is only five business days. The short hold time was pre-arranged because we are long term customers, limit our checks to no more than $3,000.00 USD, have cedulas, and they know (copy of the escritura was requested and provided) that we own our property and are full-time residents. Couldn't ask for better service from any bank.

In asking around we have not found any other bank to be this "friendly" about transferring funds from the US to Panama.

We likewise have a Canadian bank account that is denominated in USD, but were told that the same funds transfer service would not apply to a Canadian bank check even though it is in USD. Dunno.... Some Canadian banks (e.g., RBC) have US bank affiliates that would overcome such constraints.

P.S., the checks we deposit in Multibank clear the US bank typically in two days. That is fast.

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Using the ATM and withdrawing at a cost of $5.25 per transaction is the way I do it.  I did have a bank account at Banistmo before they left Boquete but the fees were exorbitant.  I have both my Canadian and U.S. pensions deposited to an online bank, USAA which, because they do not have brick & mortar locations, have no service fees for international transactions or transfers.  Internet banking is safe and service charges are practically non existent.  Just a thought.

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Thanks folks.  Looks like SF plaza Scotiabank is way out of line.  Will figure something out from all the helpful suggestions.  Great community!

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We have Banco General. If you get a Charles Schwab account you can access your money at any ATM's in the world and get reimbursed for all ATM fees. And no foreign Transaction fees.

Banco General fees:

the charge to wire fund from usa  per receive in your account  is : $37.45

 And the charge to deposit for USA is $21.40 and is available in 15 working day.

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I had always used a combination of XE.COM (Based in Toronto) and Banistmo. The conversion spread that XE offers is very advantageous - usually no more than 1.5% over the wholesale rate (also called the mid-market rate) on the Canadian dollar amount, with no fees whatsoever. On the Panama end, Banistmo charges a flat 35.00 plus tax (2.35 I believe) for any amount that is deposited into their bank. I imagine the other banks (Banco General etc) are pretty much the same. XE is fast, safe, secure and Canadian. One of the big benefits is they assigned me a whopping huge maximum transfer amount. The way they work is that you pay Custom House LLC (in Vancouver) as a bill payment at your bank from your Canadian $ account, and Custom House takes care of paying XE etc.

So, for instance, I you wanted to transfer 25K Canadian today, you would be charged 1.25% on the Canadian dollar amount plus .185% on the deposit fee in Panama, for a total of 1.435% of the transferred amount, or, $ 358.00 CAD in total. I found that this was by far the cheapest and fastest way to get money from Canada down to Panama.

Taking money out of a machine is hyper expensive. You will pay at least 5% and sometimes as much as 7.5% on the transaction. Hope this helps.

It isn't advisable to create a transfer order on the weekends as they raise the rate by 1/4% to offset any currency jitters, but if you put your order in Monday morning you will often have your funds in your account by close of business Wednesday.

Edited by Roundabout

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Just curious if you Canadian expats would get better service at the banks here in Boquete if you wrote checks instead of cheques?

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14 hours ago, BD said:

. . . better service if you wrote checks instead of cheques?

 

Depends on whether you want dollars or balboas.

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John – we had the same setup: deposit from Scotiabank Canada (U.S. dollar account) to Scotiabank Panama. For $6,000 cheques, we were charged $16.15 ($15 +7% tax + 10cent timbre).  

Although it’s been about 4 years since we’ve made a deposit there, it’s stunning that it would have increased that much. Maybe inquire again?

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Most online banks reimburse withdrawal fees.  I get a max reimbursement of $15.00 per month from USAA.  There are no transfer fees either.  The fees in Panama are outrageous!  Multibank is charging $250 per year to expats with accounts at their banks and then they are still subject to transfer fees, cheque, minimum balance fees etc.

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4 hours ago, MarieElaine said:

Most online banks reimburse withdrawal fees.  I get a max reimbursement of $15.00 per month from USAA.  There are no transfer fees either.  The fees in Panama are outrageous!  Multibank is charging $250 per year to expats with accounts at their banks and then they are still subject to transfer fees, cheque, minimum balance fees etc.

I don't believe its true that most banks reimburse withdrawal fees. Many do not charge a withdrawal fee back home, but very few that I know of reimburse the Clave fees here in Panama, Charles Schwab being one of those.

I don't bank at Multibank, but I have friends who do. Frugal friends. None of them have ever mentioned a $250 yearly fee. A yearly fee for what?

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35 minutes ago, Bonnie said:

I don't bank at Multibank, but I have friends who do. Frugal friends. None of them have ever mentioned a $250 yearly fee. A yearly fee for what?

That fee does exist. Multibank started about two years ago charging a $250.00 fee for each account. The charge is assessed in the spring time (at least for our account). When I sought clarification (actually, I was complaining!) I was told that it is a FATCA compliance fee. From that explanation I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the fee applies only to accounts held by US citizens. I never tried to clarify further.

This fee has only been on our Multibank account. Our backup Scotiabank account has incurred no such fee [yet].

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15 hours ago, Bud said:

That fee does exist. Multibank started about two years ago charging a $250.00 fee for each account. The charge is assessed in the spring time (at least for our account). When I sought clarification (actually, I was complaining!) I was told that it is a FATCA compliance fee. From that explanation I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the fee applies only to accounts held by US citizens. I never tried to clarify further.

This fee has only been on our Multibank account. Our backup Scotiabank account has incurred no such fee [yet].

I would take my business elsewhere, which probably is exactly what Multibank wants you to do. I can't fault them for resenting the work required to comply with FATCA, but I see this as another example of Panama's failure to understand the concept of customer service. Compare this to Mailboxes, etc., for example, which has had to hire additional staff to comply with the new drugs and cosmetics regulations but see it as necessary to meet the needs of their customers.

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