One of our more popular posts is regarding our trials and tribulations of paying our CFE (Electric) bill online in Mexico.
In that post, I provided some ways to pay a Mexico electric bill (CFE) online. There are definitely some challenges paying Mexico utility bills using a non-Mexican credit card. This includes not only CFE (electric), but also water (Aquakan), internet (Izzi, Telmex), and cellular bills. Sometimes, a non-Mexican credit card just doesn’t work. Frustrating, but, ¡Bienvenidos a México!
I’ve recently found another option – using a Mexican Visa card. But how do you get a Mexican credit card without establishing credit in Mexico? One solution to this is to setup an account with Cuenca.
Cuenca is an online Mexican bank, and as part of that, you get a Mexico-based Visa card that makes it easy to pay bills in Mexico online.
Pretty much anyone can setup an account with Cuenca. It’s all done online – so much easier than setting up a traditional bank account. They do verify your ID, but that ID can be a Mexican passport or voting card, a Mexican Resident card, or a foreign passport.
Once you sign up for an account, and they verify your ID, you now have a Mexican bank account, which means you can transfer money in or out, pay bills directly, or use the Visa card that they provide.
All of the interaction with Cuenca is done through their mobile app, and although it’s all in Spanish, it’s pretty straightforward to use.
Transferring money to your Cuenca account
As I talked about in my last post, I’m a big fan of using TransferWise. I can use TransferWise to transfer money into my Cuenca account. Cuenca provides a CLABE, which is the standard for bank account numbers in Mexico. In US terms, it’s basically one number that combines your routing and account number together into one long number.
So, in TransferWise, I add my Cuenca CLABE as a recipient, and then I can easily transfer money, which all happens in just a few minutes.
Pay bills online using Cuenca
Now that I have money in my Cuenca account, I can easily pay my Mexico utility bills from the Cuenca app. I can either pay directly through the Cuenca app, or I can use my Cuenca Visa number to pay on the utility web site (CFE, Aguakan, Izzi, etc.)
One downside of Cuenca is that the Visa card is a virtual one. In order to get a physical card, you have to go to their office in Mexico City. I hope that changes in the future. But, for me, this isn’t a big deal. I just want a Mexican based credit card so I can use it online. I use my US based physical credit cards all the time in physical stores, without an issue.
Even in the year 2020, online financial stuff in Mexico can be somewhat challenging. So I like to have options, so I’m not stuck.
I now have a number of options for paying my Mexico utility bills online:
- Pay on the utility provider’s website using a US credit card
- Pay on the utility provider’s website using a Mexican credit card, such as a Cuenca Visa card
- Pay using an app, such as Cuenca, Xoom, Pagamobil, Mercado Pago, UnDosTres, etc.
Easily add money to someone’s debit card
One thing that seems fairly common here in Mexico is the ability to put money onto someone else’s debit card. I never saw that in the US.
Someone else will tell you their debit card number (or share a picture of their debit card), and then you can put money onto it. This still seems a bit odd to me, but, hey, when in Rome!
Cuenca makes it easy to do this as well. When setting up a recipient, you can enter their CLABE (basically a bank account number and routing number), or you can enter a debit card number. Enter an amount, and then Send – super easy.
I just did this recently. We have a local group in town, the mexiCAN Compassion Project, who recently started a food drive here in Puerto Morelos, and they were taking donations. One of the ways you could donate was to send money to their Bancomer debit card – so I did just that from my Cuenca account. It was super fast and easy.
And please do consider making a donation to the food drive – our little community is certainly feeling the pinch due to so many hotels, resorts, and restaurants closing due to the Coronavirus.
Open Source Code
As a software guy, I do like that Cuenca is also contributing back to the community by open sourcing many of their libraries. They also use the MIT license, which allows anyone to re-use these libraries.
You can access their open source projects on GitHub.
Some of this additional options for paying bills online may seem like overkill. After all, if I need to pay a bill, I could just walk down to Oxxo and pay it. But, I do prefer the convenience of paying online – especially in our current Coronavirus pandemic state where social distancing is important!
Most of the time, things just work as they always have – but I have run into scenarios where one of my credit cards or payment options just doesn’t work (even though it may have worked perfectly last month). Hence, having additional options is helpful.
There’s a lot of exciting things going on in the FinTech space (Crowdfunding platforms, mobile payment apps, robo-advising, online-only banks, etc.). Now, we’re finally seeing some exciting FinTech happening here in Mexico – and Cuenca is a good example of this.
Note: I do not receive any commission or affiliate money from recommending Cuenca – I’m simply sharing it to provide some helpful options.