Last year I wrote an article about how Paypal is working on Nicaragua, and its 2016 and we are still on the same place: we can get money in, but we can’t cash it out locally 😦 , we need to spend it again via Paypal, which on my particular case has come in handy when paying for servers in Digital Ocean (please use this affiliate link – thanks for using it), Domains & Hosting in Site5 (please use this affiliate link), Games on the XBOX store (I’m a HUGE batman fan).
But at the end of the day you need hard, cold cash. So below are some options you can use instead of Paypal if you work with foreign customers.
This is a very known Mastercard debit card that is used by many freelancers who work and get paid via UpWork.com and other similar sites. This is a service that provides you with a US based checking account in Bank of America that companies on the US can deposit money and it will be linked to your card. Unfortunately that only works to get deposits from business or corporate accounts.
They do offer however a credit card based service, which it was suspended a couple of years ago and it seems is working again. The service will basically send an email to your client and they will go to a page from Payoneer where they can put their credit card information and perform the payment. They can even decide who is going to pay the fee for the transaction.
In Nicaragua, you can use this card on any ATM from banks who take Mastercard, I have being told by some freelancer friends that ProCredit ATMs offer the lowest fees, followed by BANPRO and lastly BAC being the most expensive one.
Debit Card Annual fee: USD 29.95
Deposits to US Checking account: 1% (if you get paid 500 USD, they will charge you USD 5). Maximum is USD3000 per transaction.
Credit Card payments: 3% per transaction, the only take MASTERCARD & VISA, Maximum is USD2000 per transaction.
ATM Withdrawal fee: 3.15% per transaction (some ATMs add another charge on top of this percentage)
As a conclusion, this is a very good solution if you are getting payments from different customers and your transactions are below the USD2000. My suggestion is to use it when you can and instead of cashing out, to avoid the fees, try to use it as a debit card to pay for stuff like groceries, internet, gas or entertainment!
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This is a solution that has been suggested to me recently and for which I am still on the process of requesting it to LAFISE, since they are a regional bank with offices in Panama, you can open a bank account in LAFISE PANAMA without ever even leaving Nicaragua. You will have to go to your nearest LAFISE branch and talk to Customer Service (servicios bancarios in Spanish) and they will provide a list of the requirements to do so. Once you have filled all the requirements they will give you the bank account information. It cost around USD 20 since you are required to get LAFISE ID, which is their security method to login plus around USD200 cash to have there to keep your account opened.
They you will need to open a new Paypal account, but open it as if you were living in Panamá. After that you will link your LAFISE PANAMA Bank account to Paypal so you can start getting payments. Since LAFISE also has offices here, the transfers between countries are free.
All normal Paypal fees apply.
A friend of mine, who owns a business directory website, has used their service for many years now. What they basically do, is they provide a back end so your customers can login there, put the credit card information and process the payment. 2checkout would then give you the option to wire you the money to your Nicaraguan bank account.
They do ask a lot of questions and are very strict about knowing exactly who you are, so they will ask you to provide a lot of documentation, but in the end you will be able to get payments internationally, so on my humble opinion, it’s worth it.
Credit Card Transactions: 3.9% + 45¢
Wire Transfer cost: USD40-65
There are some options I didn’t include on this list because they would need you to open legal companies in other countries or ar alternative methods of sending money to Nicaragua so I am just going to list them briefly:
- Open a US company or LLC on any state, file with the IRS to get EIN, open a bank account on the business name and then start using services like Stripe or Authorize.net.
- Open a bank account in Costa Rica, in Banco Nacional and create a Paypal account as if you were living in Costa Rica and link it to that account.
- Use Western Union, Moneygram, Xoom, etc.
If you have any tips or other ways that we as Nicaraguan Freelancers and entrepreneurs can benefit from, please let me know!