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Foreign residents may open an account in the Philippines by presenting their ACR- I card or Alien Certificate of Registration. Some banks may allow you to open an account without the ACR- I card, but you have to check which ones will do so. Different banks have different requirements.
International Banks in the Philippines
Local Philippine Banks (Private Universal Banks)
Allied Bank Banco De Oro (BDO) Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) EastWest Bank Metrobank Philippine National Bank (PNB) Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Security Bank UnionBank United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) Sterling Bank of Asia Real Bank Robinson Bank Allied Savings Bank Bank of Commerce CitiBank City State Bank Veterens Bank Isla Bank
This list is not exhaustive.
Government-owned Universal Banks
Review the Philippine Central Bank Monetary Policy
Philippines Real Estate Mortgage Lenders & Escrow Services
Click on the above-mentioned Philippine bank links to learn more about Philippine real estate loans, their application requirements, and Escrow services.
The currency used in the Philippines is the Philippine Peso (PHP). In 2010, the paper bills underwent a redesign. The bills with the old designs are still in heavy circulation so this may cause confusion, especially for foreigners. The good thing is they did not change the colors assigned to each denomination, so it is still quite easy to spot which is which. It is also useful to note which faces are on each bill.
Paper Bill Denomination – Color – Face
20 - Orange – Manuel Quezon
50 - Red – Sergio Osmena
100 – Purple – Manuel Roxas
200 – Green - Diosdado Macapagal
500 – Yellow – Benigno Aquino (OLD BILL) / Benigno & Corazon Aquino (NEW BILL)
1000 – Blue – Josefa Escoda, Vicente Lim, & Jose Abad Santos
For Philippine coins, each denomination has a different front face, while all—save for the 5 cent coin--have identical backs, bearing the seal of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (or the Central Bank of the Philippines).
Coin Denomination – Color – Description – Face
5 cents – Copper – has a hole in the middle, says “5 SENTIMO”/ 10 cents – Copper – says “10 SENTIMO”/25 cents – Dark yellow gold – says “25 SENTIMO”
The above coins are rarely used. 1, 5 and 10 pesos coins are normally used.
1 – Silver – says “1 PISO” – Jose Rizal
5 – Light yellow gold – says “5 PISO” – Emilio Aguinaldo
10 – Silver outer border, gold middle – says “10 PISO” – Apolinario Mabini & Andres Bonifacio
The 5 and 10 cent coins are of the same size and color, just remember that the 5 cent coin has a hole in the middle. The 5 and 10 peso coin are of the same size and look very similar, just remember that the 10 peso coin has a silver outer border and a gold middle circle.
A few establishments will accept foreign currency such as the US Dollar & Euro but most will deal only in Philippine Pesos.
Most business establishments in Metro Manila and in other major Philippine cities accept credit cards. Some will display an “Accepts VISA or MasterCard” sign at their entrance. Some may also be "offline" so be sure to ask first if they accept credit, especially before dining. However, note that there are a few establishments that will have a minimum purchase requirement before accepting credit card payments. Others will only honor Philippine-issued credit cards. Smaller establishments and those in rural areas operate on “cash basis only,” which means they only take cash.
TRAVELER’S CHEQUES AND TRAVEL CARDS
Most merchants don't take them. Few banks will cash them. Some money changers will take them. Also, expect to pay commission on buying and cashing.
Foreign ATM cards..... (with the logos of visa electron, plus) can be used in Philippiens bank ATMs that carry the Visa electron, plus or Bancnet logos. (BDO, BPI, etc)
However, an additional surcharge of 200 pesos is levied per transaction
You won’t have a problem finding an ATM in major Philippine cities, especially in Metro Manila. Your best bet is to enter any mall and you’ll find at least one ATM there. It is wise to look for available international bank ATMs such as Chinatrust, Citibank, HSBC, Maybank, & Standard Chartered Bank, as they DO NOT charge for withdrawals using a foreign/overseas card (info is inaccurate: as per 2013, at least Citibank and Chinatrust DO charge 200 peso commission for foreign cards of any other bank). Be aware that when withdrawing from LOCAL / Philippine bank ATMs using a foreign/overseas card, you may be charged an extra fee, over and above your home bank’s fee (ranges from Php150-200 per withdrawal). Some local bank ATMs will also have a withdrawal limit, which ranges from Php4,000 to P20,000 per withdrawal, and may also impose a limit of 2 withdrawals per day.
Some ATMs may run out of money on weekends, paydays (10th/15th and 25th/30th of the month), just before and during national holidays. There are also long queues on the mentioned days.
A lot of the newer machines will return your card right after you enter your PIN, before your transaction is complete. Keep your card and continue with your withdrawal.
Bring cash in the local currency to all remote places. Some rural areas may not even have a bank.
Money changers in the city offer better rates than those at the airport and hotels. A tip is to change only as much as you’ll be needing for transportation, then change the rest when you reach the city center. Bring large bills! You'll get a better rate for a $100 bill than you will for five $20 bills.
Review the TA Forums for reliable money changers in your area. In Manila, try Edzen, Czarina or Sanry’s. Never use money changers that employ touts. Be wary of their offers of higher exchange rates, as you may be robbed by sleight of hand! When they count your money and put it on the counter, make sure you count it again yourself before you put it in your wallet.
MONEY TRANSFERS / REMITTANCE
In case you run out of money: There are Western Union branches all over the country, even in remote places. There may not be any banks in rural areas, but there will most likely be a money transfer/remittance station or branch. Another reliable local remittance chain is any Lhuillier company: Cebuana Lhuillier Pera Padala, M Lhuillier Kwarta Padala, Palawan Padala, LBC
A new problem is skimming or copying of ATM and credit cards. It is difficult to identify the source because banks hide behind confidentiality laws which also hinder police investigation. However, it is not difficult to defeat.
It is unlikely to happen in malls or any other place where your card is presented at the point of sale and so it is never out of your sight. The most likely place for it to be done is in restaurants where you hand your card over and it is taken out of your sight to produce the vouchers.
To defeat the skimmers, just pay in cash if you cannot watch the online transaction. You can also ask your bank not to pay any transactions not needing a signature.
The card slot on modern ATM machines is almost flush with the machine. If the mouth for the entry for your card is not flush with the machine, it is possible it has a card skimmer attached. Other clues for the presence of a card skimmer are unnecessary mirrors and/or brochure holders. These may have cameras attached to pick up your PIN. If you see any of these, do not insert your card.