Banking in Panama
Panama has no Central Bank.
Banking in Panama
The official currency in Panama is the Balboa. The US dollar is the accepted legal currency in Panama, making it easy to do business here. Panama uses both Balboa coins and US coins. The only paper currency used in Panama is the US Dollar. The Balboa circulates alongside US dollars at an exchange rate of 1:1.
Another positive point to be aware of is that Panama has no central bank. This creates a completely market-driven money supply. The country must buy or obtain its dollars by producing or exporting real goods or offering services; it cannot create money out of thin air, as many other countries do. However, it still buys “Thin Air Money.”
Panama is open to attracting foreign investment; foreign investment accounts for 10-15% of the GDP! Panama has made opening a bank account as a legal resident relatively easy. There are now over 130 international banks in Panama, making it one of the largest banking sectors in the world. However, banks in Panama will not open an account for a foreigner unless you have a permanent residency visa or a letter from your immigration lawyer that you are in the process of getting a Visa. That's another good reason to get a residency visa.
The Pensionado Visa (for retirees) is the most popular permanent residency visa, and it's easy to apply for this Visa. Most banks in Panama pay 1.75% to 2.5% interest (Feb. 2023) on savings accounts - without getting a CD. You can also get a debit card and a credit card. And all banks have online banking. When selecting a bank in Panama, unless you are fluent in Spanish, it is important to open an account at a bank with online banking in English and Spanish. Having a bank account in Panama makes it much easier to pay bills online and have ready access to cash.
There are two ways to get money from your Panama bank accounts. You can wire money, or if you have a US bank account, you can deposit a check from a US bank into your Panama account. If you wire money, the fee will be about $50. If you deposit a check, most banks have a $3000 per month maximum and do not charge a fee. It will take about 7 days for your check to clear.
If you do not open a bank account in Panama, you will need to use an ATM machine to get access to cash from your bank. All banks have a $ 250-a-day limit and have a $5 international fee when using a foreign debit card. ATM machines are readily available throughout Panama. Considering the proximity to North America, easy accessibility to an account, and the economy's stability, Panama is one of the safest and best places to open your offshore bank account.
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