My credit report

new-imageMY LATEST credit report arrived in the Yule email.

Mexico has a credit bureau, and it’s totally disconnected from credit bureaus in the United States. When you move over the Rio Bravo, you leave your credit history behind.

Depending on your deadbeat quotient, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it was bad.

Unlike above the border where credit bureaus are a dime a dozen, there seems to be just one credit bureau in Mexico, which makes more sense to me.

That’s my latest credit score above from the Buró de Crédito. I am more reliable than 85 percent of other Mexicans. That score should have me tying with 100 percent because I have never missed a payment here or paid late.

I would have a higher score were I addicted to debt, if I made car payments, had a mortgage, etc. All I have is a couple of Visa cards. Both are paid in full, monthly.

For my first 14 years in Mexico, I had two U.S. credit cards that were paid automatically in full every month via a connection with my U.S. bank, Banamex USA, the American outpost of the Mexican financial behemoth Banamex.

In 2014, a U.S. law known as FATCA caused Banamex USA to unceremoniously cancel my checking account, leaving me with no way whatsoever to pay my U.S. credit cards.

I opened accounts at HSBC-Mexico and BBVA Bancomer. I now have credit cards from both. Getting one from Bancomer was easy. Getting one from HSBC was like pulling teeth.

I use credit cards 99.9 percent for online purchases, and my credit score is inching up slowly. For easy access to your credit bureau score, the Buró de Crédito requires an account with them, which costs about 200 pesos a year.

After a few weeks of sleepless nights after Banamex USA zapped my only U.S. bank, I was back in business with the Mexican banks and credit cards.*

FATCA also threw a wrench into my PayPal account.

PayPal is not the same everywhere. Previously, I had the U.S. version. I canceled it and opened a Mexican PayPal which, like Mexican credit cards, works anywhere.

Again, everything is back in order, working smoothly, and I now have almost no financial ties with the United States, which puts a smug smile on my Mexican mug.

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* We have three credit cards. One with my name from HSBC. Another with my name from Bancomer, plus a third, piggybacked on my account, with my wife’s name and a different card number. She’s never used it. She’s as averse to debt as I am and has never used a credit card in her life.

(NOTE: The United States is the only nation in the world that wants to  suck tax earnings from what its citizens earn in other countries while living in those other countries. In other words, if you move to Ghana, open a store, earn a few Ghana bucks, Uncle Sam wants a cut! Freaking incredible.)

Mexican mail


MEXICO’S MAIL SERVICE works fine, but plenty of people don’t trust it.

This distrust is a holdover from the old days when lots of stuff did not work too efficiently, but Mexican times they are a’changing, amigos.

A few months ago, there was a post on a Yahoo forum populated primarily with Gringos who live near my mountaintop. A fellow was asking if anyone was driving to the United States who would be willing to carry a letter to be dropped into a U.S. mailbox.

I responded that the fellow could simply drop the letter into a local mailbox, and it would be delivered with no problem. Thousands of Mexicans do it every day, I pointed out, and I have been doing it for 14 years. I know of just one lost letter in all that time.

That’s pretty good, and as good or better than the U.S. Mail.

The forum moderator emailed me. It seems I was deemed inadequately nice. Then the fellow who had posted the initial question emailed me, also unhappy. How could I suggest such a ridiculous thing? The letter he wanted toted contained a check!

He had not mentioned that detail previously.

People still write checks in 2014? And drop them into snail mail? I haven’t written a check in years. PayPal and other aspects of cyberspace move money beautifully.

I admit that sending checks in the Mexican mail likely is not the best idea, although I imagine most would arrive at their destination intact. I have received a couple of checks from above the Rio Bravo in the Mexican mail with no problem.

Better to use PayPal or a credit card.

During the presidency of Felipe Calderón, the mail service was upgraded. The employees reportedly got a salary increase, and a new garish color scheme was slapped on uniforms and post office walls.

My downtown post office box* has served me very well for over a decade. It costs about 23 bucks a year. The postmaster is a chubby, young fellow named Mario who smiles a lot. I never knew anyone in my post office in Houston.

I also rent a mailbox in Miami, a forwarding service that I use solely to express mail a new credit card to me every few years. It also gives me an address above the Rio Bravo for that same credit card. Some online purchases require a U.S.-addressed credit card.

But 99 percent of my mail comes and goes through Correos de México, which works great. The next time you need to mail something here, drop it into a mailbox, for Pete’s sake.

Then wait the typical two weeks.

If you want speed and/or more assurances, register it or use MexPost, the express arm of the Mexican mail. You get a tracking number to follow its travels via the internet.

I’ll be going to the post office today to mail my Form 1040 to Barry’s outpost in Austin. It will cost me about 20 bucks, and it will get there in about three days. Barry owes me a $700 refund, and I hope he still has that much in the till.

The refund will be delivered electronically, not by check.

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* I highly recommend a box instead of having mail sent directly to your home.