Banking in the Philippines, Transfers & Access; 2of2

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112 comments

  1. First time I went to the Philippines I brought Traveler’s Checks. Big mistake. I was able to exchange them for cash at a bank, but nobody else will accept them, and the bank will charge a hefty fee.

    1. @LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines I used to use XOOM but the fees are high so I use Metrobank remittance that can be done electronically via bank to bank.  Just make sure you have a dollar account to save on exchange rates. or both us and peso accounts. $5 dollar fee could be eliminated by having both peso and dollar accounts in Metrobank so I just move the dollar to the peso saving any fees.

    2. yah.. traveler’s cheques don’t go over well here.  even at the money changers they scrutinize each $100 bill carefully.  much better to move it electronically to a ph bank yourself electronically with Xoom.

    3. can you still get travelers checks???? i don’t think so.. what i did was send myself money western union but i think that was easy but risky when i left the western union the guy id the place was watching which way i went.. cuz i had 200,000.. paso in my pocket . dumb on my part.!! 

  2. Great video I had a problem a few days ago I used my debit card not knowing the atm pin is 6 digits not 5 bank of america locked my card I spoke with them so they unlocked the card but I can’t withdraw cash from atm I use the debit card like a credit card now

    1. Im just sending my gf funds via zoom here in the phillipines so we can have money not all places use credit cards.
      When I return back to the Usa I will change my pin to 6 digits lesson learned now 

    2. I had a similar thing happen.. but with my American bank online.  I accidentally put in the wrong password (with caps-on) and was locked out of my bank online.  To regain access I needed my PIN.. which I could not remember since it had been 2 years since i last used it!  So I called the bank online and they asked for my ‘verbal password’.. i didn’t even remember setting up a verbal password and was only allowed 10 guesses.  What I eventually had to do was talk the to Fraud Department of my bank, report my online account as ‘compromised’ and then re-affirm my identity by literally answering a dozen questions formed from a printout the read off of my credit report.  It was like passing an exam, but I finally got access again and made myself a coded ‘cheat-sheet’ just in case I ever forgot them (again).  For two days I was cut off from moving any money from the US to PH.. not fun.

    1. Yes.  When you check-in, they just need any legal ID.  Your travel passport or driver’s license are fine.  They just need to confirm who is on board in case.. well, something goes wrong and they know who they’re looking for.

    1. no1: YES there will be fees, same as any foreign card used in the PH.  HSBC is the only PH bank left that does NOT charge fees for using their ATM’s to withdraw money with your foreign ATM card.  The problem is that HSBC has very few locations in the NCR, much less in BFE.  

      If you spend any significant amount of time in the PH, you will want to have a trusted asset or a PH bank account, as foreign fees will kill you.

      Policies re a foreigner opening a PH bank account will very by branch as the manager can bend “official” rules.  Be persistent and just keep asking/checking around until a manager agrees to open one with just your passport and a PH mailing address. 

  3. Canadians: TD Canada Trust Visa and TD Bank Cards work at RCBC and BDI even though others have BankNet, they don’t seem to work elsewhere.  Fees are about 5.00 Cdn   Max 300 CDN per day (12,000 Peso).  BDO is the place to go for Canadians to use your MasterCard.  Everyone, be sure that you call each of your Banks and Card Issuers to let them know you are traveling in the Philippines for however many days.  If you extend, don’t forget to call again to update.

  4. When we went 2 years ago we opened a BPI account. I am hoping that we will be able to transfer our Canadian dollars from our credit union to our peso account..

  5. Speaking of ATMs. In the past I used them often, sometimes everyday or twice a day Philippines so as to avoid carrying too many pesos with me.  Never a charge added to my account either in Phils or at my home bank. The fun is all gone now as there is a hefty, I think $4. charge per transaction for all debit withdrawals no matter what bank branch one uses in Phils.  Radically changes the way of doing things where money is concerned there.

    1. Having a local, PH, bank is essential if a person plans to stay long term.  I do the same, only carrying at most 1,500P in cash for misc things like bbq, taxis, buko juice, etc.  The rest I get from my PH bank account, not my American bank.. too expensive with the fees.

  6. Hello Henry it is safe to give your bank information once you set up at xoom.com? and how about when you transfer your american dollar to philippine bank using xoom.com, do you use your personal computer there with your local internet provider, and I also wonder if it is safe to use it? I am just worried some hackers in the philippines. I am from canada I also wonder if it can be done(transactions) with my canadian bank account? Thank you.

    1. I have found Xoom to be very reputable and secure with my banking info.  Same protocols as my bank.  As for using net cafes, I’ve only done it when absolutely necessary.  I prefer to use my own laptop for money exchanges.  I also prefer net cafes in the mall.  The mom-n-pop ones I don’t enter any critical info.  One more thing, any net cafe I use, I only use Chrome pages ‘Incognito’ Mode.  Nothing is perfectly secure, but these things help your chances.  If you ever think you’ve been compromised.. just change your password asap.

  7. Henry, What about USA banks with branches in the Philippines ? Any in Bohol ? I thought I saw a Nationsbank last time I was visiting but cannot be sure. Thanks.

  8. Nice video and great help, but you left out a part about withdraw money from ATM, some banks ONLY lets you withdraw like 5000 or 10000 pesos a time, and so if need some amount of cash, there will be fee on it everytime, but in CEBU the HSBC bank near AYALA mall you can take out 40.000 in the ATM to the RIGHT and it all is in 1000 pesos notes, and the LEFT on you can only take out 20.000 and that will com out in 500 pesos notes, strang thing yes, but that how it is, so to save withdraw fee, people come there and take out for like a month´s so no need to pay to much fee….but i enjoy your video, know it all so well been there now 5 years…and i love the country

  9. I was able to open an HSBC sterling (UK pounds) account – no ACR card or photos needed. I can use the AM card to get pesos at HSBC and the exchange rate is quite good. It is also possible to withdraw UK pounds and convert them at the many smaller outlets at a slightly better exchange rate.

    1. somatotrophin1 in Davao HSBC you need an ACR card and a deposit of ₱100.000 as it is premium Branch however if you have a HSBC account in the UK you can withdraw your cash from the UK up to your Daily Maximum allowance which is usually £300 or ₱20,000 + with no ATM charge in one transaction which saves your Card wearing out also the ATM machines are brand new and are inside the Bank they also have a Bank official who Will Help you if you need Help

  10. I visited the Philippines in both 2013 and this year and when I used my Bank of America ATM card at a BDO ATM machine, it charged me $5 (aprox. 200 peso) withdrawal fee for each time I used it. Then BofA I think, charged me something like $2.50 for each withdrawal, so you end up paying total of $ 7.50 per transaction and the maximum withdrawal amount  per day is $300 and like you said, it comes out in Phil. peso (aprox. 13,000). And by the way, you won’t be able to get any cash from the ATM machines after dark, especially at the ATM machines on the streets. That was at least what I found out when I was there. I think the ATM machines at the malls may still be open until the mall closes?? 

  11. Using your foreign CC/debit cards is silly in the PH.  Not only will you be shanked in the exchange rate (1%+), you may charged “convenience” fees by your bank ($1+)
    AND/OR the ATM in PH ($4+).

    If you don’t have a trusted asset in the PH, use will be forced to use cash and your foreign debit card.  Do your homework and figure out which banks shank you the LEAST for foreign fees and any fee, for that matter.  Usually your best bet is not the big, criminal, RICO banks that almost destroyed Amerika.  Check out a local credit union. 

    The problem with Xoom is that they are expensive, have horrible customer service and will arbitrarily close your account for no reason and without explanation, even if you’ve been a long time customer.  Try Remitly: no fees and superior customer service.  They make the same 1% as Xoom for their services, you just don’t have to pay another $7 dollars for it.          

  12. Okay, when you said the use of the debit card, the first time, for food, markets, mall, that is the USA debit card or local debit card? I understand the second example, yes foreign card banking is a painful experience…Debit care local, or debit card USA? for purchases?

  13. Well, I just got to Davao intending to live full time so, the money issue was something I had to figure out. Here is what I did and it worked feelessly… I mean… flawlessly 🙂
    1- For credit card expenses, I use Capital One. They don’t charge you Foreign Transaction fees, no exchange rate fees and they email you right away when you use it. No Fees!
    2- For ATM, I use Charles Schwab debit card. They pay you back whatever fees the Phili bank charges you and no exchange rate fees. No Fees!
    3- Open two kinds of accounts (Foreign and Peso) in a Philis bank. I chose BPI and within the first week I went to BPI Family (it’s not BPI by the way but uses it) and opened two accounts. One in USD and one in Peso. They waived the ACR requirement! So, just wanted a copy of my passport and didn’t care about references 🙂 Later, I intend to use that to open a real BPI account. The do BPI online too and have an iPhone application.
    The Peso account required 1000 P to open and comes with ATM card after a week.
    The USD account required $500 USD but you can do $400 check and $100 cash.
    It takes 6 weeks for a US check to clear so later, I intend to deposit a check with just my monthly expenses.
    NEVER put too much money into your Philis account. Safer!

    And… if all else fails, there is xoom.com (backup) where you can wire yourself whatever money you need from your USD account in the US and pick up the Pesos from 1000s of places in the Philis. It’s instant.

  14. Henry…I agree with almost everything you said here.  A lot of good practical advice…thanks.   I have both a peso and dollar account with BPI. I have been very happy with them.  But do remember that the deposits are insured for a lot less in the Philipinnes than in the USA.  In USA your accounts are insured for 250K against bank failure, in my bank in Cebu…only about 12K (USD).  Of course that doesnt affect me much unless I am dealing on a house or something and have a lot of money there.  
    The IRS requirments are getting more strict.  As I understand it now …..it is like you said as long as your account doesnt have more than 50K in it at any time during the year you dont get too much scrutiny…but proposed laws may decrease it to 10K soon. And your foriegn accounts do have to be reported to the IRS…even for smaller accounts. If you make money in the Phillipinnes there are tax obligations in both nations. This is important. If you dont report it you can get nailed.  I know a filipina woman who moved to the USA to live with her daughter.  She is a highly paid proffessional and did not report the money she made in USA to the Manila gov. She was suddenly presented with a bill for $90,000 USD for income tax in Manila.  They were going to sieze her house if she didnt pay up.  She has a lawyer and is trying to get it straightened out, but it looks like she will have to pay.  Similarly American citizens are obligated to pay taxes in both the USA and Philippines if they live in Philippines and make money there.  In some cases you can renounce your USA citizenship and avoid this…but it is complicated.   This includes money made in stocks and bonds in the Philippines..  My post is way too long…but the key point is be careful and be transparent.  The Philippine banks are required to report the IRS all transfers, deposits, and withdrawals.   Likewise they have to report to the USA your physical address, your FICA number and your phone number.  So it is best to comply if you are one of those unlucky ex pats with substantial enough assets to have a problem in this area.

  15. For those of you who bank with Wells Fargo they have an agreement with BPI, BDO and Metrobank that allows transfers from your US account to your account in the Philippines with ease and all done online. I just talked with a Wells Fargo associate and transfer fees vary. For my type of account it would cost me only $3.00 with discounts for an account to account transfer. There are daily and monthly limits but they are pretty high. Here is the link to the Wells Fargo site

     https://www.wellsfargo.com/international-remittances/asia

  16. Phil, Skank of America, other than Wells, is one of the WORST places you could possibly bank.  They will fee you to death–especially overseas!  And the sad part of it is one of the biggest banks in the PH, I believe BPI, is one of their “allied” banks.  Don’t do me any favors, LOL!

    If you must use a foreign card, try one from a credit union.  They will generally shank you for the LEAST fees. 

  17. Yeah Henry it is Charles swab bank they reimburse all the fees charged with other banks and atms. Ialsohaveadollar account and a peso account at BPI bank. 

  18. Citibank has branches in Manila and Cebu. Wells Fargo has about 4 branches in Metro Manila area. Wells Fargo has a remittance plan with Bank of the Philippines, but need someone to send you money from the States which is a hassle to me. I think I will go with the Citibank route because I see a lot of nice condos/apartment near IT park where Citibank is located.

  19. What I used to do though was open up an account with Metrobank. Metrobank has international branches in Canada and the U.S. as well.

    https://www.metrobank.com.ph/ViewImage.asp?id=2880

    What I would do is keep my regular bank (for example: Bank of Nova Scotia). You have to ask the Metrobank in whatever state there is one and they will tell you which banks they have accounts in to transfer funds from (just to save in transaction administrative fees especially if you do transfers a lot). So I get the account number. I have online banking with my own bank. I go online to my bank and transfer an amount to the Metrobank account number given to me then call Metrobank to transfer the amount I deposited into the metrobank account to the local account in the Philippines which you will open here. Then in the Philippines,  you can access your money through your ATM bank machine card. Usually when you transfer your money from your bank to the Metrobank branch abroad, there would be a box to fill in where you want to deposit the amount through bank to bank transfer (which is from your online banking). You indicate that you want to place it into your Metrobank account branch abroad. From that bank, you can access it here.

    Remit to Metrobank Account
    Express transfer of funds to a Metrobank Philippine Peso or Dollar account. This allows your beneficiary to withdraw funds from a Metrobank branch or through online ATMs nationwide, usually within 24 hours from the date of the transaction.

    When I was doing this, it was almost instantly like a Western Union. I used online banking from my own bank account in (different bank than metrobank) Canada, transferred it to the Metrobank account number in my own bank in Canada (they will give the account number of metrobank that has an account in your bank) and from there, I call Metrobank to deposit it into the Metrobank Account here in the Philippines and I have my money instantly. Sounds complicated but it can be done that way.

  20. Question When I was in Manila I saw a Chase bank there and we have them here in the states also. Will a chase bank account here work with the chase bank there that way no transfer fees ? Not good at explaining hope you understand my question 

    1. I heard another expat say they used their Chase account to move money between US and PH without fees.  So I’m guessing that is viable.  I’ve just not used Chase myself so I can’t verify that.

  21. Also one time i was there and needed cash and i use western union and have a online account and just wired myself money there and with a wu promo code it cost nothing. Confused the girl at the western union there but it worked lol

  22. Thanks for this valuable information! You really make things clear! Also good advice on Xoom and American credit cards.

    How about mail?
    Whats your experience sending and receiving mail?

    I’m thinking how will I continue to do my business here in America?
    Things like property and real estate taxes? (be nice to NOT have these)
     (I will keep my home and autos here till I’m sure about the Philippines)

    Do you still have those ties in America or have you pretty much severed those?

    Currently it’s my biggest concern of coming there (not enough to deter me)

    OK Reekey keep up the good work and ENJOY life while you can! Nobody gets out ALIVE!

    Don

    1. @LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines Amen.  Mentioning using the PH postal service to many Filipinos they will look at you like “…are you crazy…”.

    2. Also, addresses here are often ‘sketchy’  (ex;  Dauin, near SMonica street, contact Joy, Mgr.)  So.. if you plan to receive mail, you can get a postal box in the mall for about $20 a year.  Or, other online services will receive your mail for you in your country, scan and email it to you then shred the paper.

    3. Rule #1 about mail:  Don’t use the PH postal delivery service.  Instead, go with DHL, LBC or FedEx.  This way you can track the item and be fairly assured it will get delivered.  I’ve tested the PH postal mail.. it’s been over a year and my test letter never arrived.  Others have complained about money being removed and packages ‘disappearing’.  So, go with a private delivery like DHL, LBC or FedEx.

  23. I have a BPI account in PH and keep a Wells Fargo account in US.  Wells Fargo has ExpressSend, and works with both BPI and BDO.  Transfers can be done online and have very low fees and good exchange rates if you are going USD to Pesos, and can also be in straight US dollars for dollar accounts.

  24. I have xoom and sometimes send money to the lady I hope to meet early next year. How do you transfer money from your California bank account to your account in the Philippines?

    1. @Larry Johnson if i can, i’ll try to cover this in a video in detail tomorrow.  it’s more than i could just put into a comment.  so stay tuned.  🙂

  25. If you’re sending your money to a pretty girl in the Philippines, then you are being scammed. Period. That country has gotten as bad as Nigeria in bilking Americans out of their money, which goes so much farther in their own country. Nigerian men scam American women, and Philippino women scam American men, especially older men.

    1. @jonathan brock you’d probably have to get their policy straight from the bdo branch there in TX, to be sure.  i’ve also heard that Chase has branches in usa/ph as well.

  26. When I’m in the Philippines, I use my Visa debit card from my home account, without any fees. Visa is accepted in most countries. All I need to do is tell the bank my travel dates, and what countries I intend using the Visa card, for security reasons, as I found out when I tried to use my card in Kuala Lumpur airport between flights. The bank blocked the transaction immediately. Lesson learnt, so now I make sure I notify the bank of stop over countries as well. For cash, I just send it to my trusted friend via Western Union. I have it in minutes.

  27. So somebody knows a way to open a bank-account faster than after 60 days of staying in the PH?
    (because it takes that long to get an ACR-card)
    I want to go to the PH and open if possible directly an account. Any chance i can?
    I would also prefer BDO or BPI. I heard also that Landbank should be a good alternative.
    Thanks advising me.

    1. @James Spangler there is also xoom.com which has lower fees than w.u. it will direct deposit between ph and non-ph banks in either direction.

    1. @LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines p.s. this includes any “instrument” that is convertible to cash, such as cashier’s checks and other bearer notes.

    2. @Wil Flores the standard maximum amount of cash you can bring with you is under $10,000 USD. anything above that, you need to declare on a form that is handed out during the flight and turn the form in to immigration of your destination, there at the airport.

  28. Thanks for the xoom, i had a account at PNB, but in my long stay had to get someone to send my money to me.as only i could wire money from my US banks.
    xoom is Instant deposits to BDO, Metrobank and PNB so that is a good option.
    Still my plan is to try and get a retirement visa, but you do have to put a large amount in a time deposit. but you get free import on personal items and you do not have to renew your passport

  29. Why does Ned from Philippine dreams not recommend Xoom.com or Pay Pal ?? I mean i have a debit card with my bank it’s a master card. He says to write checks and deposit them but it takes two or three weeks to get your money or more ?? Or he suggested Swab but there is no Swab bank near where i live here , i bank with my local bank ? But plan to also open bank account in the Philippines when i get there, or at least get the ball rolling, to get it set up after i get my ACR card.

    1. +Garry Lewis i don’t know his reasons, you’d have to ask him. but i’ve been using xoom.com since i arrived in the PH over 3 years ago. and i’ve been using paypal since the 3rd year it was online. have had zero problems with each. another online trasfer method is http://www.remitly.com

    1. @Garry Lewis –  Yes, for $5 you can use Xoom to send money from your US bank to your dollar account at BDO or BPI.  Then, you can transfer it into your peso account when the exchange rate is most favorable.  As far as using your US debit card in the PI, yes, you can do that, but they will charge you fees on every purchase, and sometimes they will freeze your account even if you tell them of your travel plans in advance; it would help if you know a banker personally, and can communicate with them frequently while traveling, rather than talking to some unknown customer service rep on the phone.  Believe me, that can make all the difference!  I’ve had my account frozen before, and it took several days for them to “fix” it.  BIG problem!  It’s better if you can use a debit card drawn on a Philippine bank.

    2. But you can use xoom.com to transfer from your US bank to your bank in the philippines right ? My bank told me a could use my debit card in the philippines , just to let them know when i’m getting ready to fly out. I also signed up for online banking so i can keep track of my balances back home and know when my social security has been deposited into my account back home.

    3. +LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines – I know CitIBank is in Manila and Quezon City, but you cannot transfer money from your US CitiBank account to your PH CitiBank account. Don’t know why – but they treat them as if they are 2 separate companies. Strange…..
      Todd.P

  30. what kind of visa do you have, and do you have to have 10,000 dollars in an account over there to be able to stay? I plan to get married eventually i was just wondering. Does the Manlia Embassy help you get all this set up as far as getting hold of your pension place visa’s medical exam etc ?? I truly appreciate your time and advice. Thanks again for all the good info on the move to Philippines .

    1. +LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines hi i really enjoy watching your video .. it is more fun in philippines and im originally from cebu. but i have my friend live there im plan to visit there soon. enjoy guys and god bless you! and infact i miss philippines because right now im in the states with my hubby and have one beautiful daughter!! have a great day guys there!

    2. you only have to have 10,000 dollars in your bank account only it it applies for residential visa, if your on tourist visa you can simply just have an account for your retirement check is that correct? 

    3. +Garry Lewis i have a standard ‘tourist visa’. i simply renew every 2 months. if i were to say up to 3 consecutive years, i exit for 24 hours and then return again.

  31. Has anyone had the following situation or have any advice? My gf came to America in November on a fiancee visa.
    We got married in December. Up until she came here she had a job in the Philippines. They have now issued her the final paycheck.
    The company she worked for uses BPI and that bank is on the check. The check was sent to her sister but she can’t cash it at BPI.
    They are asking for my wife’s signature which is impossible since my wife is in America now and the check is in the Philippines.
    She even got her sister the power of attourney which they said would allow her to cash the check but BPI says that’s not good emough.
    I would think with all the OFW and all the Filipinas going to other counrties on fiancee and marriage visas my experience is a common one

  32. I use a credit union here in Jax, Fl, and I used my CC at a dive shop in Dauin, and the only fee my CU charged was .58 cents for “foreign trans fee”….so not too bad and was convenient at the time.  Be safe always with money there. Have a great NY there Henry.

  33. Hi Reekay! Attention span of a squirrel? LOL – I’ll have to borrow that one! 😀  
    The Alien Certificate of Registration identification card is required for all foreigners who stay in the P.I. longer than 59 days. I didn’t know it cost $200 though, and has to be renewed annually! It is part of the UN push to have everyone globally have a photo-ID card with a microchip in it, what the USA calls a “Real-ID card”. Sad to hear it is already in the P.I. and mandatory for foreigners. In the USA, it is gradually replacing the Driver’s License as a photo ID. I’ve heard that in some states, you must have it or a passport, as a traditional Driver’s License card is no longer accepted as identification (scary). Also, in the USA, most credit/debit cards already have a microchip in it for the same reason – and that let’s them track your every purchase.
    Todd.P

  34. would it be safest to write a check to your self and let your philippine bank take care of the transaction between your u.s bank and the philippine bank over xoom ,com

  35. this and Part 1 is super helpful! one more question: Are you able to open a BDO account without setting foot in the Philippines? I’m off next week to go to the Philippine consulate here in Toronto to ask a few more questions.

  36. Reekay I see that Robinsons mall in Duma also has a bank called Robinsons bank would I be able to open account with them using just my passport and Drivers license

    1. i haven’t checked with that bank in particular. but with most of the other major banks require an ACR card, which you apply for with your 59th day visa renewal. it takes about a month get it after that. so once you have your immigration ACR card, then you could for sure open an account with the major banks.

  37. Tell them to keep American Express travelers checks instead of large sums of money.. If they are lost or stolen can be replaced. Also, American Express Gold Card has no international fees but must be paid at the end of each month. There is an annual fee.

  38. Your right about being hit with fees etc as other ATM machines Will hit you for ₱250 a transaction and as most machines other than HSBX Will only give you ₱10,000 max in one transaction its gonna cost you during the course of a month if you Just use cash some guys are now being hit for ₱1000 a month Just on ATM fees , dont do it guys use HSBC it Will save you money if there is a HSBC Bank where you stay as they never have stand alone machines in malls as they are usually BDO and some of the other banks in the Philippines

  39. I moved $ online from my bank account to my visa , so its not a cash advance , then just take cash from my visa without exceeding the amount I put in.  Worked well ,

  40. I’m a foreigner still living in my country. I have a baby in Negros Occidental, Philippines. I intend to retire in The Philippines someday.

    Can I open a bank account in the Philippines while I’m still a foreigner and can I keep depositing money in it until my retirement?

    Can I open this account on my son’s behalf even if he’s still underaged?

    It would be great to make it an investment account that will gain some interest.

    I’m afraid to live in the Philippines without any income.

    Thanking you kindly and in advance.

    1. in order to open a PH bank account, it needs to be in your name and you will need an ACR card. an ACR immigration card can be applied for at your 59th day of stay in the PH.

  41. Still vague on money transfer. What do you suggest for a two week stay. Bring cash, credit card? Or is it possible to have U.S. bank transfer money some kind of way?

    1. for a short visit, set up a free http://www.xoom.com and/or western union account online. or use a bank that reimburses you for atm-fees while traveling and you’ll be fine. can always wire yourself money if you set up the account ahead of your traveling.

    1. some want a local bank, i had one for about 5 years in the PH. but i’ve found it much easier to do atm-pulls using a card that reimburses me for the fees.

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