What Banks to Avoid in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Estatal Banks offer a Full Range Services
Costa Rican state Banks offer a Full Range Services

Your retirement plans in Costa Rica should not include Scotia Bank. The Bank of Nova Scotia, is the second oldest bank in Canada, was the second largest Canadian bank in 2003 in term of assets (trailing only Royal Bank of Canada).

Don’t confuse the local branch with Scotia Bank in Canada. First, it is a franchise here. Second, because of the political and economic chaos that followed Argentina’s defaulting on its foreign debt in December 2001, the operations of Banco Scotiabank were suspended by the local government because of liquidity problems, after Scotiabank refused to inject more capital into the troubled bank. They were one of the first banks to pull out of Argentina when things got tough. Third, your money is not insured in any of the private banks in Costa Rica.

“We have heard many foreign retirees and residents complain on various Internet forums about unfair treatment at this bank. They complain about having to open their safety boxes for random inspections (which is illegal without a court order) and general lack of privacy at this overly intrusive  bank.

Here is what one resident said about Scotiabank, ”I was with Scotiabank for over a year. They were awful. And I mean bad. Their statements were impossible to read. But worse is they didn’t know how to read them and often took two months to research the problems. The worst was telling me they would have a decision for a home loan in two weeks and then taking three months. In the end they said the property was worth $4 per square meter when all other sales in the neighborhood are $25 to $35. I moved to Promerica and they have been tons better. Not to say they are perfect. But compared to Scotiabank, they are amazing.”

Another local who works in the real estate business said about Scotiabank:  “Atrocious service, and they outright mislead. I have seen them pull the rug out of a sale at the last minute, when sellers and buyers both had their house packed up to go.  No good reason.  I have heard this tale from others, too. Overall, I regard them as the worst because they seem so up-to-date and modern with the fancy air conditioning and slick offices.  I avoid them like the plague and have no clue why they behave this way.”

This is another bad experience a local resident had at Scotiabank. “I have a good excuse to report an experience at Scotiabank from several years ago (downtown branch).  I withdrew some money, which the teller gave me after opening an unusual number of drawers (not all at his window) and roaming about a lot. Within 10 minutes of leaving the bank, I discovered I had been given a $100 counterfeit bill. I returned and they wouldn’t do anything about it saying, of course, “You left the bank.” Whenever I had occasion to be in the bank, I would look at him in passing and he would duck his head and look away. I think he was just waiting for someone to pass it to. I avoid Scotiabank every opportunity I get.”

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