It has been said that money is the root of all evil but that is not exactly how the saying goes and it is often misquoted. “The love of money is the root of all evil” is correct. What about, “I would love to have more money?” I don't think that is wrong, as I think we all can use more money in our lives. Many expats are married to wonderful Filpinas but let's face it, we cannot live on love alone! Man, oh man, if we only could. I would be a billionaire!
A few days recently, the exchange rate was P45:$1 for several days. Today, it is down to P44.7:$1, which is still around the highest it has been since 2009. When we first moved to the Philippines it was P50:$1 and at one point in 2013, the poor exchange rate to U$D was P39.8:$1. Those was sad days! Where you actually exchange your foreign currency can either put more pesos in your pocket or else leave you very disappointed when you find the REAL exchange rate. I don't like to throw money away and I know you don't, either! Philippine banks do not always have the best exchange rate and in Bacolod City, many of the private licensed money changers have the best rates of currency exchange. It pays to shop around. My benchmark on any given day about foreign currency exchange is the rate listed online in the Business News of the Philippine Inquirer. I have found them to be highly accurate more times than not!
One burning question that many expats who retire to the Philippines have is “How do I cheaply transfer my money to the Philippines?” The best method requires having a checking account at a bank in your home country and having a bank where you live in the Philippines. There is not a charge in the Philippine banks for writing a check on a foreign bank and depositing it on this end. My bank in Florida, USA, also does not charge me a fee. This method must take some financial planning in advance because if you need money within a few days, you will be hungry, sick, sober and sorry before your money is available in the Philippines! On average, it takes 14-21 days after depositing your check in a Philippine bank before your money has cleared all the banking policy red tape and you have the cold hard cash in your hands. We make sure we have enough cash on hand to last us until the check clears all the hurdles and is available to us in Bacolod City. It works!
Xoom is one of the more popular ways many expats wire money to the Philippines when they need cash within minutes. The fee is $4.99 for transferring up to $2,999 per month to the Philippines.
Western Union is probably the most expensive method to use when wiring money to the Philppines.
I use an ATM card in the Philippines but my card was issued on my bank in Florida. Each time I make a withdrawal with my card, it costs me $6 total. The Philippine banks ATM charge is P200 each time your foreign ATM card is used. If you have a Philippine bank account with an ATM, some banks do not charge a fee if you use their card at their ATM. Once you get here, you can ask around to learn which banks do not have a service charge with their ATM.
There are several Philippine banks in the USA, which can be an advantage for you to open a bank account there and here in the Philippines where you live. for money transfers. Since I am an American, I am familiar with the Philippine banks there but I would imagine there are Philippine banks in other countries as well. In America, there is Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Metro Bank, RCBC of North America and Philippine National Bank (PNB).
While there are certainly other methods for wiring and receiving money in the Philippines from your home country, I am not an international banker but what I have written in my article are more common ways and means! No, I haven't ever heard of Pinoy Express or Zip It To Me Fast remittance companies but I feel quite certain there are probably hundreds of such companies, if not thousands. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, so please use caution when transferring your hard earned money. Happy Shopping!
Dale Weber says
I’ve been using my US bank and write checks to my BDO account. It’s takes almost a calender month before they release my money. It clears my US bank in 3-4 days. My no fee minimum deposit requirement is $200.00 at BDO. Recently i re-activated my Xoom account which i used for several years without any problem. As the exchange rate has been going up, i opted to send money here in Dollars. They charge $7.99 for that since they don’t take a cut on top of the $4.99 if you send it in Pesos. It only took a few days of the rate going up before i recovered the extra fee amount. I’m thinking about closing my BDO savings account since i really don’t need it anymore. I don’t use an ATM so that’s one less thing i have to deal with. My wife has other accounts, ATM, credit card. I let her deal with the hassles.
I will be receiving my first Social Security payment near the beginning of March. That will be direct deposited in Dollars in a separate BDO account that i set up. I could have also had it deposited in Pesos but chose Dollars instead. I’m officially retired.
Gary McMurrain says
Congrats on the official retirement. I am still 2 years from that point.
Thanks for the update on how things work for you. Too bad it takes so long about writing your check at BDO to receive the money. I know banks earn % on money and it is why some
hold out so long to release the money but banks are in the business to make money,
My wife does not have credit cards and neither do I.Although, I have thought about getting one! Just for emergencies.
It will be the latter part of 2016 before i can get early Social Security. Our son can also get his share until he graduates high school.
Have a good one!
~ Gary ~
We use iRemit to transfer money from Australia. Very similar to Xoom I suspect but we can transfer up to $9999. Averages around .25 peso penalty on exchange rate and costs $8 per transaction to a Manila bank or $12 to a provincial bank. As you said Gary there are many remittance services and they are all similar. And of course door to door and pawn shop pick is available.
I plan to look into opening an AUS$ account at RCBC and use the check method. Not sure if such an account is available, but any saving on exchange dollars is worthwhile.
Will post any information found.
Gary McMurrain says
Thank you for sharing your very helpful information. That would be a great idea about opening an AUS$ account at RCBC, if it is available and I would imagine it is. We look forward in your update on the availability when you find out. Thanks!
Have a great day!
~ Gary ~
I have been using WU Pay through Western Union online for two years now. I place an order on the western union website, and then use my online bank to pay it. It takes longer, 2-3 days to be available for pickup, but it has always had a zero fee for me. I’ve sent myself money while vacationing in the PI several times, because some places don’t have foreign card ATMs but they all have Western Unions. I have been using it every month for two years, and have never been charged for this service.
Gary McMurrain says
I’ve been using my ATM card from my Florida bank for 5 years now and never a problem using it at most ATMs in Bacolod. The exceptions have been Land Bank and Coconut Planters Bank but that is because they only accept their own ATM card and won’t even accept one issued locally by another bank, such as BPI and RCBC.
There is P200 fee for using a foreign ATM card but never a charge from my bank in Florida.I always withdraw the maximum allowed to cut down on the usage fees.
~ Gary ~
Red Davis says
I have a US dollar account at BPI where my military retirement goes along with a ATM card. I also have a US dollar account with BDO where my veterans disability and social security goes with a passbook. A BDO peso account with ATM. I have never had a problem with either bank. I withdraw dollars and exchange with a good money charger at a better rate that the bank.
Dr. Akos says
I finally get early SS retirement and will be getting direct deposited into my US bank account starting March 1, 2016. .Here’s my dilemma, I have credit cards issued through my US bank (chase) and I pay them each month from my US bank account with a click of the mouse from my Chase Bank website, how do I open a Remittance account here, for direct deposit, and still be able to pay my credit cards back in the US since there will no longer be funds going into that account? I currently have an account with my wife at BDO, wire transfer will be to costly.
As of 3:21am EST, the Philippine Peso is 50 (actually 49.92) to the US Dollar. As long as the Peso number keeps increasing, it looks better for expats (current and future).
Stefan Galow says
Thanks for the great info! Looking forward to more updates on this.