How to open a bank account in Chile as an expatriate. What you need to know.
A cuenta corriente is the equivalent of a checking account. It is more difficult to open one in Chile than it is in most countries in the world.
This is due to the fact that in Chile, a cuenta corriente is almost always opened with one or more credit/overdraft/emergency lines. In other countries, banks will offer you these lines if they estimate that they can get their money back if you decide to use them. If you can’t, they will not allow overdraft, but it does not generally prevent you to open a bank account.
In Chile, it is not conceivable to open a checking account without credit lines. And if you stay sometimes in this country, you will easily see that everything is done to push people to get into debt.
Therefore, if you do not have enough income and/or credit history to prove that you can repay your debts, it is difficult to open a checking account (even for Chileans).
Before reading any, further, you should have a look at our article “Should you open a bank account?”
Basically, if you are not already working for at least 4-5 months with a permanent contract and a salary above 800,000 pesos, it is going to be difficult to open a checking account. Have a look at the CuentaRUT that may fit your needs. Of course, the more you earn, the less problem you will have to open an account.
One solution, notably useful for entrepreneurs, is to offer a guarantee to the bank. You can do a “deposito a plazo” (a term-deposit: your funds are “locked” for a pre-determined period. The norm is a 30-day rollable deposit. Once you have done it, you need to authorize the bank to use this term deposit as a guarantee for the credit lines it wishes to grant you. To give you an idea, banks usually ask between $400,000 and $1,200,000, based on your income (the less income you have, the higher the deposit).
Basically, you lend them the cash to guarantee a credit line you might not use. From your point of view, that’s not a good deal, especially as the interest rate is quite low. Yet, if you REALLY need an account, this can be the solution.
First step: look for someone you know/a friend/a colleague, who already has a cuenta corriente in the bank where you want to open the account. And ask him if he can recommend you to a relationship manager. In Chile, your need your network for everything. You will get more answers by going through a friend, than by applying on the bank website. Either the website form does not work, or no one answer.
If you reach the step “meeting with a relationship manager”, documents to provide are quite standard. A “new client” form, a copy of an ID card/passport, a proof of address. And some documents to justify your financial credibility (salary slips/foreign bank account statements)