Bank of Philippine Island

Banking System in the Philippines

Money is definitely important when you travel or if you plan of staying long in one place. That is why foreigners who plan to stay long or even decided to stay for good in the Philippines should do their research well regarding Philippine Banking system. It is important that you know all information to avoid any problems in the future. Ere are some helpful information regarding banking in the Philippines.

Compared to other countries, Philippine banking system can be considered above-average. Most banks here already participate in cell phone or internet banking. Cell phone banking is specially widespread thus if you open account in these banks, then you can activate cell phone banking and this can let you pay bills through cell phone, reload your cell phone direct from your account instead of using phone cards or you can transact money transfer to another Philippine bank. Some of these banks are also affiliated with Smart Money Debit Card, a Master Card that is intended for domestic use only.

Most of these Philippine banks which hold modern bank features like cell phone banking and internet banking have branches in all provincial cities all over the Philippines. So wherever you are in the Philippines you can avail of these services.

Most banks have ATM and you can withdraw cash any time of the day. But take note there are days when you cannot withdraw because the machine is out of cash. This often happens during payday that is every middle and end of the month and sometimes on weekends.

Generally ATM withdrawals is limited to 4000 php every withdrawal and you can withdraw up to three times a day. Bank of Philippine Island accepts withdrawals of 20,000 php in their ATM in major branches and 10,000 in all their other branches. Their sister bank that is BPI Family has a withdrawal limit of 10,000 php for every withdrawal. Both BPI and BPI Family is just one of the best if you talk about ATM transactions. You will find them in major cities and even provincial cities all over the Philippines.

These two banks accept ATM card that is Master Card, Cirrus, and Maestro. Other ATM networks with 4000 php limit per withdrawal are VISA cards and a few American Express Cards. The most used cards in the Philippines is Master Card, Maestro, Cirrus and VISA.
Eurocheques may be known in other Asian countries like Thailand and is widely used in Europe, but unfortunately Eurocheques are not known here in the Philippines. But your EC-Card may be link to Cirrus and Maestro and if you enable this feature in advance in your bank back home then you most likely are able to use it here in the Philippines.

Smart Money Debit Card is quite popular these days especially since this card is linked to the Smart cell phone network. This comes with a SIM pack which includes the smart money card at no cost at all. All you have to do is activate the card and you can start reloading the card at any of smart centers or even by using cell phone banking that is if your bank participates with smart money system. This debit card is accepted at any establishment having the Master Card sign and the ones using an electronic terminal. It is also accepted at all establishments that have the Smart money sign in their counter or doors.

Benefits of owning a smart money card includes the following:

  • It can be use as regular ATM card where you can withdraw money at all machines that has the Master Card logo. Service charge per withdrawal is 10.00 php.
  • If you have the Smart Money card then it is easy for you to open a saving account (Smart Money) even if you are a foreigner.
  • This debit card is for all and it is use within the Philippines only.
  • You can reload your own cell phone with your Smart Money card. You do not need to go to a store to buy loads but you can have your load in seconds with your debit card.
  • You can easily transfer money from your Smart Money card to another. Very convenient for the whole family for you can easily transfer money to your kids smart money account in case of emergency.

Credit Cards

Another product the banks have is credit card where you can advance cash from any ATM machines or you can use it in any establishment where you are purchasing your item. Most foreigners do use their credit cards here in the Philippines and they can advance money in some of the ATM that carries the logos in their credit card. The downside of it is they are charge about 7.5% of it. The same percentage is charge when using your credit card in purchasing tickets, paying for hotels or paying for your restaurant bills. Most credit cards accepted in any tourist facilities are Master Card, VISA, American Express and Diners. It is still best to use cash or ATM cards to save.

How to open Bank Account in Philippines

Opening a bank account in the Philippines is fast and easy even with foreigners as long as you have the right documents required from you then it should only take an hour for you to open an account. The following are the common steps in opening a bank account:

  • You have to be present in the bank where you plan to open an account. Foreigners who wish to open an account needs to present their ACR-I Card (Alien Certificate of Registration), a photocopy of two valid identification cards, three 1×1 photos and a minimum amount deposit required by the bank. Most banks require 5,000 PhP for opening of new accounts.
  • Fill out the account information form as well as the three signature cards provided by the banker. After the forms has been validated then you will received your account number. You can now fill-up the deposit slip for your initial deposit amount and give it to the banker for processing.
  • After the processing you get back the signed or stamped deposit slip confirming your first deposit. If it is cash then you can see your deposit posted but if it is a local check deposit then it takes three days for the check to get cleared. Regional checks takes more days cleared thus it usually takes seven banking days for it to get posted in your account.
  • Passbook savings account or checking accounts provides you with an ATM if you choose it. There are banks which can issue your ATM cards immediately but there are banks where you need to go back five to seven days for your ATM card.

Sending/Transferring Money to Philippines

If you plan to move in the Philippines or you are a retiree and planning to stay for good in the Philippines then you have several options in transferring your money. One is opening a local bank account where you can transfer your money or pension regularly. Another way is by using International card in withdrawing your money. This is more convenient since you can immediately withdraw the money the moment it is available in your account unlike bank transfers where it takes one to two weeks. Just make sure to choose a network that offers high transaction limit if you opt for ATM withdrawals.

Foreigners who plan to stay long or even decided to relocate to the Philippines should be familiar with the Philippine Banking system.

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