1. Just to comment that I am a Panamanian residing in the U.S. and stories like these are the ones that keep me from returning to live there. Cost of living might be lower, but there is a high price and lots of patience needed. I am type “A” personality and just cannot live with the idea of not having good customer service. From my experience in Panama over the last few years I have visited, peoplel are just laid back and don’t care about satisfying the customer like the U.S. I have no patience dealing with contractors who take your money and disappear and you having to hire someone else and no recourse at all. Naturally, we have such problems in the U.S. but there are remedies such as going to court. I will visit, but to live and not having banking services the way I have it now where the bank pays all my bills, is just unthinkable.

    • hi Celmira, thanks for stopping by the Gringo Guide to Panama blog! I appreciate your comments. The idea of the information I share here is based on my own experiences (with the exception of other expat interviews) and while it is not always the rule of thumb, sometimes it is.

      Customer service in Panama generally – as you describe it- is lacking as a whole. However, there are some places that will knock your socks off!

      And, as for recourse, I understand what you are saying. The judicial system in the U.S. and many other places does function more smoothly and more consistently that the system here in Panama. The new government has made a revamp of strengthening the judicial system a priority for the next five years, but that said, nothing changes overnight.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Stephanie says:

    My advice for expats is to not even try with Banco General. I gave them every single requirement they needed and they kept coming back with excuses like, “Ohhhh, well I don’t like this signature…” Ohhhhh, but you need another letter.” And I did everything that they wanted. Finally, they straight up told me that they don’t open accounts for Americans because the process is too difficult for them.

    The best thing you can do is find a friend that “Knows somebody” that works at a bank. If you pay them, they’ll create an account for you. If not, it’s almost impossible as an American to get an account. I also got an account at Banistmo. I’ve heard Credit Unions are another good option for Americans.

    • hi Stephanie, how are you? How is life in Panama treating you?

      Thanks for your comment here. As I mentioned in this post, it’s often the case that most banks don’t want to open new accounts any longer for Gringos because of all the US government paperwork related to doing so. It does make it a bit tough.

      I hate to hear you had to pay someone! That’s a little scary, but it sounds like for you it was a reality. Unfortunately, that type of activity isn’t really helping Panama’s anti-corruption rating decrease. :(

      Thanks for stopping by and my best to you!

  3. OMG Elizabeth Vance! Just tried top open an account today at Multi-bank based on what they said we needed. Nope, not today. Got the expat run-around and were told we need more reference letters. Tried Caja de Ajorres here in Pedasi…even more hoops! ARRRGGGHH!!! TAKE MY MONEY!!!!

    • hi Al,

      Of course, your comment made me laugh, sorry. Meanwhile, three weeks later – I still don’t have a debit card yet from Banistmo! The good news is that it’s turning into lots of fodder for sharing here (and on social media). Let me know where you end up, as I can always share that too, in a future post. :)

      I still want to interview you guys! Later this month?

      Best to you!

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