Opening a bank account in Chile can be difficult, especially if you are a foreigner without permanent residency. And if you have just arrived and do not have temporary residency, it is even more complicated. This is mainly due to the fact that bank accounts are systematically opened with one or more credit lines. Therefore, banks prefer to open bank accounts only when they are sure to get their money back.
Here are your options, depending on your status:
Student doing a 6-month semester in a Chilean university
Don’t bother to open a bank account. The best option is to negotiate with your bank in order to get a discount on withdrawal fees. Most banks have plans for young people, especially if you are a student in a good university/school.
If your bank does not have any plan already in place, there is no need to switch banks just for that. Start by giving a call to your bank to see what they can do. Everything is negotiable with a bank. Of course, the bank will be more willing to negotiate if you or your parents are good clients (account always having a positive balance, no problem with the account like rejected cheques…)
If you need to switch banks, look at worldwide alliances between banks.
For example, ScotiaBank is member of GlobalAlliance, like Bank of America (USA)/BNP Paribas (France)/Deutsche Bank (Germany)/WestPac Australia’s First Bank (Australia)/Barclays (UK)/Scotiabank (Canadá). They have agreements regarding withdraw fees.
Interns/Working holiday visa
You are in the same situation as above, do not waste your time with Chilean banks.
If you need to get paid, you can open a cuentaRUT as soon as you have your Chilean ID card. Your employer can pay you on this account if they don’t want to pay you in cash.
If you do not yet have a Chilean ID, your employer can issue a “vale vista”. It’s a document that works like a cheque. You show up at the bank and you can withdraw in cash, or deposit in an account the amount displayed on the “vale vista”.
Banks should accept to open you a bank account, but it really depends on your salary. Below $600,000 to $800,000 of monthly income, it’s complicated. Above $1,000,000, you should not have (too much…) problem.
Sometimes, banks ask you to have a contract for at least 3 to 6 month with your current employer. This is mostly to ensure that you are not anymore on trial. They want to be sure you have a recurring income, to guarantee the credit lines that come with the account.
If your employer has a Finance department, it is best to ask them if they can help, or give you a contact. If you are recommended by your company, the bank will open an account without problems, and you can even get a better deal if your company has an agreement with the bank.
This is one of the most complicated cases. You need often a personal bank account, but also a company bank account.
Whether or not the bank accepts really depends on your project, of your current assets in Chile or abroad. If you have enough savings, and if your business project is credible, you should be able to open one. Most of the times, the banks will ask you to do a short-term deposit to guarantee the credit lines, notably if you do not have recurring income yet.
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