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Street Smarts And Money

So its best to bring some cash with you. But always use a money belt and don't show it around. As a foreigner, you will be considered wealthy even if you are not. And you could be a target of a pickpocket. Every one here thinks you are a millionaire just because you are a foreigner. So do be careful. I carry my wallet in my front right pocket, with a chain on it, connected to my belt. I am perceived as a very wealthy man here, so am a target. But no one has ever tried to get my wallet from my front pocket. In Manila someone got a note book I carry from my right rear pocket full of useless information, but no cash. After running about a hundred meters he realized what he had, turned around and gave me a sickly, disgusted look.

Travelers Checks

Traveler's checks can be cashed at decent rates only at American Express offices, and even then, the rates are not good. Some other places will cash them but at an even lower rate. They know they have you in a corner and take advantage of it. I know of only two American Express offices, one in Manila and one in Cebu, and they are not open on weekends or in the evening. Banks don't want to cash traveler's checks. You have to set up an account, deposit them and wait for them to clear. You can go to American Express and write a check on your personal account in the US. They will give you pesos right away, but at a poor exchange rate.

How To Access Your Money From The Bank

My Filipina wife and I are not yet there full time, but will be soon. This is what we have pretty much decided:

My US pension funds will go in our US bank.

Advantages:

No fee accounts, FDIC insurance that covers the total amounts we'll have on deposit (remember the peso limits on PDIC) and convenience in writing a check/making an on-line bill pay transfer for bills we have to pay in the US.

We'll have both dollar and peso accounts at Philippine bank.

Advantages:

Ready access, Easy to pay Philippine bills with local checks or Philippine-issued credit cards and/or Philippine on line bill pay (see BPI as just one good choice).

ATMs, Banks And Money Changers

You will need go get money when you are here. ATMs are available. You can set up a local account in U.S. dollars or where ever your hard currency is. Just deposit a check in a local bank here, from your foreign account in the US or where ever you live now. It will take twenty five to thirty days to clear. Check with the bank to be sure. Some will take 45 days, to make money on the float. So do check. I recommend Metro Bank or Philippine National Bank. HSBC is highly recommended but has very few branches here. Citibank, a US chartered bank requires a 10,000 US Deposit, and give very low interest rates. PNB requires $200 in cash to open a saving account. A savings account is all you really need. You need to maintain that balance to keep from paying a service charge.

Philippines Commercial Banks

1. Bank of Commerce
Telephone #: 810-0672,  812-0000,  817-4906,  817-4905

2. East West Banking Corporation
Telephone #: 830-8999,  816-0603, 815-0233,  816-0609

3. Philippine Bank of Communications
Telephone #: 830-7288,  830-7000,  893-3448

4. Philippine Veterans Bank
Telephone #: 902-1700,  902-1708,  894-3919

5. Asia United Bank Corporation
Telephone #: 636-6107,  636-6888,  631-3333

 

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