1. Great piece Henry. If I may suggest to those that come to live, that they learn how to think in pesos, not dollars. It helps to simplify everything if you only have to deal in one currency. The easiest way to learn to think in pesos is to initially sit down and develop a 'complete' monthly budget – in pesos, with a complete understanding of your spending limits. Because the exchange rate fluctuates, the budget should be planned with some variance built in. I also recommend reviewing and adjusting the budget as necessary. Once you can think in pesos, you will more readily recognize good and bad pricing and you will become more efficient at spending.
    We use XOOM online to transfer money to relatives that oversee the house we are building. It only costs us $4.99 (plus the cost of the conversion to pesos) and is available in less than 15 minutes for pick-up at any ml lhuillier financial remittance facility (they are everywhere), or at any participating bank. Transfers can be done in dollars at a slightly higher price.
    Whenever I had dollars to convert to pesos, I would find it easier just to give the money to a niece or nephew and have them do it for me.

    1. Hi Randy, good suggestions. One thing I did not specifically cover is that it’s also good to have more than one way of getting to your money overseas. Just in case a password is forgotten to an online account, pc glitches, whatever.. it’s good to have a backup plan for accessing money.

  2. Hello again Henry it’s Mark from Vancouver Canada. Another great article and one that is especially interesting for me. I have been to Philippines many times in last 5 plus years and made many ATM withdrawals and it’s always interesting noticing the people around those machines. When I was in Zamboanga city I would have a driver in afternoon and night who always had my back so I felt safe. As I am planning my retiring there next year I will have to arrange to have my annuities and pensions from Canada deposited directly into a Philippine bank so I am now starting the process to see how difficult this will be especially with governments. But I like the conversion methods you have come up with. Simple but very effective. I truly enjoy reading all your articles and am awaiting your update on the piggies. Till then take care.
    Vancouver BC

    1. Welcome back Mark! Yes, I’m the type that does NOT like to pick up cash and then carry it for deposit. Too much can happen between. Or someone notices your pattern of deposits. For me, moving everything electronically is the way to go. My g/f has an account in U.S. and I’m setting her up with Xoom this weekend. She deposited a check from her U.S. account to her Philippines account and it’s been over 3 weeks still waiting for it to clear.. might be another two weeks. Xoom is much, much better. And the PayPal debit card I figure I’ll have set up as a backup plan soon. For now I leave the balance in there so I can make purchases online.

    2. p.s. Three of our Mama-Piggies had their litters so I plan to make a trip in two weeks to take photos and check in on the new stalls being constructed. I’ll do an update with photos when I return. 🙂

  3. I like the 40 + 2, but I think I might do 40 + 2 and a half. So, at 2.5 the chicken skewer would be 30 cents instead of 24, the trike ride would be 63 cents instead of 50, and the water would be 45 cents instead of 36. But this is just me being anal retentive, You may consider your advice heeded, as I wil lnot be holding up any lines doing these calculations. Thank you for the wonderful information.

    1. Yah, I just needed a quick way to get a ballpark figure while grocery shopping or comparing prices. I was looking at a handmade bamboo bench the other day and I was thinking it was worth about $75. I asked the price and the guy said, “400 Pesos”. Wow!! That’s like.. $10 or so. For a handmade bamboo bench. Incredible deal. I plan to get one when I have my g/f’s van with us to move it with.

  4. Just learned that foreigners can open a bank account over there so easily. How about getting back the minimum deposit or rather part of the minimum deposit of $100 when one decides to close their account? How much do they have to lose forever?

    1. It’s my understanding that when you close the account you receive your entire balance back at the time of closing, including deposit. If the minimum balance falls below the $100 then I believe there is a small maintenance fee for that month. Same as U.S.

  5. Good info Henry

    Another important reason for not keeping more than 10,000 USD in your RP accounts is that their deposit insurance only covers about 11,000 USD.

    Just a thought

    1. Ron.. thanks for catching that. In the US we’re accustomed to being covered by the FDIC for up to $250,000. But.. as you mentioned, it’s a lot LESS coverage here in the Philippines. Glad you mentioned that.

  6. Great article. One question: Is there an exchange fee using a Philippine bank debit card if you have a dollar savings account? I assume the dollars will be converted to pesos at an ATM. Also, as you state, Xoom charges a transfer fee. Does it matter if the Philippine bank account is dollars or pesos? Is there an exchange rate associated with the transfer?

  7. Lots of useful info: One point to watch out for. I married a filipino lady and we opened a joint account with a local bank. Sad to say my wife died. When I went to the bank they would not allow me to withdraw funds even tho it was a joint account! There was a mass of paperwork to go through to get my money. As there was only P5000 in the account I decided not to bother. Just angry the b******s screwed me. Just something to watch out for. “joint account” does not mean the same as it does outside the philippines.

  8. hi, im coming to the phils for my first visit. i will have my debit card and credit cards. how much cash should i bring. do travelers checks work there. ive heard of people having there cards denied even if they tell their banks they well be traveling, fraud protection.

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