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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.
If you want the best rate of exchange take your dollars to the closest legal money exchanger. In the cities they are everywhere. Do not change money on the street. Again, do not change money on the street. Street money changers in the Philippines, will offer you 55 to one, 70 to one, 100 to one what ever it takes to get money out of you pocket. Then, like magic, your money disappears and so do they. One scam is to pay you too much. You count it with them. It is too much! So the take it back to give you the proper amount of money. Through slight of hand, they are able to make you think you are getting back the correct amount. When you count your money, later, you find it short.
Again, do not, under any circumstances deal with money changers on the streets in the Philippines, even if he is your brother. But the ones in buildings are quite honest and stable as the banks are. But the bank rate is low because of overhead and the way banks are. When you bargain with a money changer, you won't be able to bargain except maybe for five centavos on a dollar, so why bother, unless you like the game.