Navigating Mexico: Scoring a Line of Credit
By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
So you finally made it to Mexico. You have a real adult job, a decent income, legal status as a resident, an RFC number, a CURP number, a residency card and you have navigated the multiple trips to open a bank account. You feel like you won a Nobel Prize by completing the process. But what about credit?
Even for some simple things in life like contracting an internet provider, companies want you to have a Mexican credit card in lieu of a hefty deposit for the “box” they leave next to your TV. Some landlords require a sort of insurance policy to guarantee the rent. And some of those services require a Mexican credit card.
So how do you begin to get a credit card in Mexico?
Unfortunately, credit only crosses borders for companies and not for individuals. So while you might be well into your 30’s and no longer a kid, with excellent credit in your home country, you are essentially starting from scratch in Mexico.
If your salary comes from a Mexican company and you have payroll deposit slip, within four or five months, you will likely be eligible for a credit card, especially if someone from your company’s human resource department has a bank contact.
The limit will be laughingly low at first, but will quickly go up. Spend up to the limit and pay it off outright.
Try to go over the limit and ask for an increase. Check your bank’s online page for your account and request a limit increase every four to six months. If you pay on time, you will get it.
If you are paid from a Mexican company, you are also establishing credit in your contributions to your retirement fund, known as your Afore, as well as your contributions to Infonavit, for a real estate purchase. While you are not eligible to use these funds today, they are establishing assets for you.
If you are a legal digital nomad, without a payroll deposit, it will take longer.
Put a chunk of funds in a fixed investment account and let it sit and gather interest. Deposit every month your source of income into your Mexican account. Pay everything possible from your debit card to establish expense patterns.
Avoid paying for big-ticket items like rent in cash. Get your landlord to give you an official receipt, a factura, as you transfer your rent from your Mexican account to the landlord’s, so as to establish your creditworthiness with the Mexican credit bureau.
After about a year, visit your bank and begin to make your case for a credit card and probably, within six months to a year, you will have one.
Gym memberships, cell phones and the like, while small, eventually add up.
Utilities would help, but they can only be in the landlord’s name.
Try to get any revolving payments in your name.
Some department stores will also issue your credit based on what you can prove on bank statements as consistent monthly income.
So if you are not employed by a Mexican company, always transfer into your Mexican bank on the last day or some consistent day of the month, and claim it as your “salary.” This will show a pattern over time.
Even if you are in your 30s or 40s, or possibly having arrived as a retiree, having credit in the country where you live will be important.