California to Puerto Rico

FAQ’s – How are the banks in Puerto Rico?

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Stefan and I get a lot of emails with a lot of questions regarding Puerto Rico, so I figured that we should start posting them here, so our answers can possibly help out someone else, and because the people that read this blog tend to know a lot about the island and can be very helpful regarding things that Stefan and I don’t know so much about. So, here is our first question:

“My question is – how are the banks (in Puerto Rico)? I’m worried about the moving money process. What is the best way to tackle this problem???

Answer: The banks here are fine. They are all FDIC insured by the US government. You have two options Banco Popular and Western Bank (we use Banco Popular) and we just showed up with a cashier’s check from our old bank and opened an account/deposited the check at Banco Popular. No problemo! We also have a mortgage here, and while that was kind of a pain in the ass (more so because the house we bought is wood construction versus the typical Puerto Rican cement construction), it works just like the mainland here when it comes to banks. Well, for the most part at least!


12 thoughts on “FAQ’s – How are the banks in Puerto Rico?

  1. Ivan

    I may add that there are more banks than just those two. There is BBVA, Santander, FirstBank, Eurobank, RG Bank, Scotiabank, etc. All of them have mortgage operations also.

    Popular is the biggest of them all, it bought all the Citibank operations in the Island. It has operations in the mainland, and it received nearly $1 billion from the US treasury from the TARP program.

  2. katrinakruse

    Our mortgage was with Oriental Mortgage. Just a note about relocating funds. When we moved here we carried a few thousand in 100 dollar bills because we didn’t know how long it would take for checks to clear. We had a check from Charles Scwab and Banco Popular wanted “proof” where the money came from. It was in Charles Scwab from the house we sold in Washington State and Charles Scwab is in San Juan. It took some talking and all we wanted to do was DEPOSIT it! It cleared in 3 weeks or so. The 100 dollar bills? Still have a few – all the stores look at them in the light and don’t really want to take them. If you are relocating…bring 20s and expect to not have access to your funds for a few weeks! We picked Banco Popular because they have branches everywhere, ATHs, and direct deposit. katrina

  3. Minerva

    Having travelled the world I am used to using plastic for always accessible funds – in any currency that is needed – instead of using bills. ATM or their equivalents (in PR they are called ATH) are accessible in practically every country now and your bank will usually let you take out about $ 500 a day – and if you need more American Express will let you buy practically whatever ( I once bought a Mercedes in Germany) if you only have a history of similar spending. Then you have 20 days to pay them back from whichever account in whichever country. So why carry bills?

  4. Eric

    The other option is to keep your money where it is. When we moved down here my wife switched to Banco Popular and I kept Wells Fargo and banked online. Because of the hassles with her bank she has since switched back to Wells Fargo so the only accout we have in PR is our mortgage. I haven’t had any problems with checks, and the deposits that aren’t direct can easily be sent. I do pay more in ATH fees but I don’t take out cash very often.

  5. Jenn

    Thanks Summer! And thanks everyone for your responses! They have definately helped. I have alot to figure out. Move furniture or buy new… move cars or buy new…. time to do the wash.. it all comes out in there!

  6. Rob

    I’d watch out with Westernbank and RG at the moment, as those two seem the most likely PR banks not to make it. Doral isn’t doing too well either

    Personally, I’m with BBVA. I wouldn’t do business in the states with BoA, and I won’t do business in PR with BPPR (their BoA)

  7. Sandra

    we moved here about three months ago and decided to keep our credit union in chicago, and open a local account at the RG Bank, it was easy and smooth…. now, we just transfer the money….

  8. Frank Graff

    Hi Summer or Stefan, I think. I want to get a mortgage for a condo I like in Luquillo. Do you know if Banco Popular gives loans on mortgages? Any additional help you can give us, would be appreciated. We are not strangers to Luquillo, and have been going there seven years now. All help we need, is the mortgage stuff. Thanks Frank

  9. Summer

    Frank – Yes, you can get a mortgage for a condo through Banco Popular. That is who we have our mortgage through. Getting our mortgage was a bit of a pain (because the house was unfinished and wood construction), but I’m sure a mortgage on a condo would be much easier.

  10. Benito Juarez

    Here is a report dated February 2009 that rates banks;

    The “X” List Report, Strongest Banks and Thrifts in the United States

    FDIC Insured Banks
    1 Banco Popular de Puerto Rico
    2 Firstbank of Puerto Rico
    3 Westernbank Puerto Rico
    4 Doral Bank
    5 Banco Santander Puerto Rico
    6 R-G Premier Bank of Puerto Rico
    7 Oriental Bank and Trust
    8 Eurobank
    9 Scotiabank de Puerto Rico
    10 Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Puerto Rico
    State = Puerto Rico

    Cheers, Benito

  11. steven berrios

    I have a typical debit account with wachovia, will I just be able to walk into a bank in puerto rico and take out money? how does that work

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