There are two large banks in Puerto Rico, Banco Popular and Citibank, and a number of other banks and "Cooperativas de Ahorros" (Credit Unions or Savings and Loans). Both large banks have branches in Arecibo. Hopefully this page will be filled in by people who know about each of them.
Make sure they get your name right. Now is the time to figure this out, not later. When they ask for your mother's maiden name, it's likely to appear on your checks; it's not for security. Apparently, the "First M. Last" convention is a good one to use, rather than spelling out a middle name. Both of the banks accept direct deposit, not all Cooperativas do. They will want to know your mailing address and where you live. I gave the Observatory for both. But I had to give them the "street address" for the second.
We're far from the US in some ways. My bank put a 8-day hold on traveller's checks! They claimed they would honor a cashier's check though (backwards of the way it usually is). According to their literature, they shouldn't have put a hold a traveller's check's either, but it's hard to argue with the bank about that, at least until you've read their brochures.
Banco Popular is the largest bank; there are branches everywhere (but not within 10 km of the Observatory).
Citibank is related to the New York City bank of the same name. If you keep a $1000(?) balance in savings, and a combined balance of $3000 between saving and checking, there is no service charge. Their ATM card works in at least some Banco Popular machines. It's on the Cirrus network. There is a branch (with an ATM) in the Plaza del Atlantico shopping center (towards Hatillo on Rte 2). There used to be a branch on the Plaza de Arecibo, but supposedly that is now closed. Most (but not all) Banco Popular ATM's work, too.
Citibank wanted me to have precisely two names (Michael Nolan), no mother's name, and no middle initial. You might be able to get them to print your statements in English, if you ask.
The new accounts people speak English.
The telephone banking line people speak English.
The name may be more familiar to people in the States (people report having difficulty cashing a check from Banco Popular in the midwest), but this may just be a rumor.
Only one branch in Arecibo, and about a dozen on the island.
Last modified: Wed May 19 15:18:18 AST 2004