Money on my mind

There are many ways of getting money from your home country to the Philippines, and over these many years I’ve tried them all. Before electronics we sailors used to send money to the Philippines from the ship with a shipmate who had been paid off and was on his way home using a system referred to as the “Envelope”. LBC or other companies that would door to door your remittance was another way for sending money or one could find a bank that had an office in the Philippines and make your deposit wherever you were in the world.

The Navy Federal Credit Union’s (NFCU) new call center in Pensacola, Florida,.
The Navy Federal Credit Union’s (NFCU) new call center in Pensacola, Florida,.

After the envelopes’ carried by shipmates, I went to wire transfers from my Navy Federal Credit Union to a dollar account in a Philippine bank, it seemed the easiest way. Until I found that the bank I used here in the Philippines charged me $20.00 to accept my transfer. This went on for a few years as I’d never paid any attention to their rules. Then I found out that my Credit Union had a deal with Western Union and I could send myself or my wife cash for only $14.00 every transfer. If I transferred money every three months the yearly cost was only $56.00.

The way it works is I request the Credit Union to transfer the fund’s, they, do it through Western Union, or as Mayang says “Western Onion”. Or the Credit Onion and they will ask me a few secret questions to verify its Paul contacting them. Then I’m provided with a control number that must be presented to the Onion to release the monies. If it seems like a lot of steps remember it’s only done 4 times a year, if I need extra I’ll use the ATM. We do all our major-major shopping using a NFCU Visa debit card (No fee here or there) and I can refill that card online monthly.

May I help you
May I help you

As I said there is a myriad of other ways this can be accomplished and whatever works best for you, is the optimum way for you. But this is the way I do it and have for over 7 years and I’m not offering this as the way it should be done. (That was my disclaimer)

The Western Onion will give me the cash in dollars or Pesos (I never take dollars) I receive the pesos at the official exchange rate for that particular date and time of pick up.

Well now that I’ve explained all of that stuff I get on to my reason for writing this. I’ve found that when I call the Credit Onion, I could be connected with any of the fifty states (I know the president thinks there are 58 states, but I’m older and they taught geography when I was a school boy) plus, I’ll have a great chance of talking to a Filipino or Filipina on the other end of the line. The minute I say the Onion is sending the funds to the Philippines, their questions will start, and remember I’m paying for the call. Oh they’ll asked me the Credit Onion’s required questions then we go into where their family lives, what the weather is like and so on. I’ll gladly chat and answers any and all questions they might have, and for the most part we’ll also joke and kid each other as to where we live. One young lady lived in Montana and I asked if she got to speak Tagalog very often, she told me that 600 miles away she had a Filipina friend and that was the only person she knew about.


How long have I lived here, am I married to a Filipina, do we have kids, do I like it here. What’s the cost of living now (Kano standards), and other questions too many to mention. But I understand the reason it happens, a few minutes during the work day and they are connected to home. Someone albeit it’s a Hey Joe their talking to, but they all tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the call.

I called this week, and by the recording you’re informed that a supervisor could be listening in to check that you are being waited on with courtesy. The Filipina who answered was living in Florida, and satisfied my banking needs with professional decorum. When we were suddenly interrupted by a supervisor from Washington DC, whose mother lived in Olongapo and she was worried about the flooding and had not been able to reach her by phone. I explained to her, after asking the street her mother lived on that that section of the city was doing fine, only a few inches of water on the street. I knew this as I have a friend on that same street. So there I was in a three way chat with folks I’ve never met, nor would I likely ever. But for those few minutes our paths had crossed, and we shared a moment. The supervisor was quite pleased with the information I relayed to her, and I was happy to have been able to rest her fears.

It’s always amazed me that it’s the small kindnesses it life that seem to have the most value. As we travel though this life, it’s surprising how those little moments can seem so important to you, it makes me realize that if you have made someone feel good, and it was returned in kind (Or not), you’ve just had another very successful day. So even if I’m still stuck on the mountain, with a new storm, that had just moved into the area to deposit more rain on my roof I’m a happy camper living in the Philippines.

Storm Update

The power went out in my purok at 11:30 on Monday; it was restored at 16:30 on Friday. Friday I went to town and 95% of the city was back to normal. But I did encounter something I thought was odd, and it also explained to me the reason I was encountering internet problems. Mayang and I stopped into the (NEW) SM Mall in town to pay our Globe cell phone and dongle bill, but alas we could not, as Globe was offline. But if we went to the SM Dept. store’s customer service counter (in the same building) we could, it didn’t seem odd to anyone but me that the internet provider I used was offline but the SM store was not.

The rain has stopped, we are back to normal, all the dogs will have a bath today because they all smell a bit musty after all that rain. My man cave will be used today, as the generator has gone silent, the beer is still cold, and I deserve a break. During my generator duty for the past few weeks, I’ve curtailed my consumption of the golden elixir of life known as SMB, all stops are off now!

Post Author: Paul Thompson (313 Posts)

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. Neal in RI says

    Paul, Nice article that is one of the details I am going to have to iron out. Getting my $ from my US bank accounts into my hands there in RP. Western Onion is almost as funny as Sams Feetza.

  2. Paul Thompson says

    Hey I like Sam’s Feetza; we have a new one on Subic Free Port. There are many ways to move money her, but make sure you check all the small print before you decide. If you never joined the NFCU, it’s never too late; there is an office there in Newport. There are more Western Onions here than Sari-sari stores, one every 50 feet.

  3. Paul Thompson says

    Than check with your credit union and see what services they provide. I would think that a former Marine would have been welcome to join. Hell they took me!

  4. Don says

    A first for me, all of Bonafacio Global City electricity went out last night. Kind of strange to try to drive home without any streetlights/stop lights (yes we have them in BGC). But traffic was light due to Sunday evening.

    Tropical depression Helen should arrive on Tuesday. Keep the beer stocked.

    • Paul Thompson says

      In Olongapo we have a stop sign, but it doesn’t work very well. I’m starting to get hard rain from Helen this Monday morning, even though its way north of us. Re-stocked the beer last Friday, all is well on a mountain in Bataan.

  5. Miss August says

    I recently started using Xoom to transfer/send funds. I pay 4.99 up to $2,999.00 and that’s so much cheaper than Western Union and I find their exchange rates to be a little better.

    I’ve used Western Union and PNB RCI in the past, and still do use them occasionally when the person I’m sending to doesn’t have a bank account. Western Union charges more and with PNB RCI I have to wait several days before the funds are available in my Philippine bank account and the amount I can send/transfer per month is limited to $500.00. So far, I really like Xoom the funds are available in minutes, it’s cheaper, I can send up to $6000,00 a month and little better exchange rate than Western Union.

      • Paul Thompson says

        Miss August:
        My credit onion and Western Onion have a special deal between the two, since members of NFCU life in every part of the world; it works the best for both active duty and retired military.

    • says

      Xoom is great for something like that. But, if you are trying to do what Paul is doing… i.e. you are an expat living in the Philippines and want to send money from your US account to your Philippine account.. Xoom will not allow that and will drop you as quick as they can. They suspect fraud in such cases.

      • Miss August says

        Bob, I transfer money from my US account to my PNB account thru Xoom, every month. I haven’t had any issue with Xoom. I don’t know why they would not allow you to transfer funds between your US bank to your Philippine bank accounts if you live in the Philippines. I guess I’ll find out when I move to the Philippines.

        In thirteen months, my hubby will turn 50 and is eligible to retire! Woohoo!

          • Mark G. says

            Make that seven others you know, Bob. XOOM dropped me and wouldn’t even provide an explanation…and it was my wife’s account!! PNB RCI was shut off by the state of Ohio for not having a license to operate a bank in Ohio (not sure how that works when they are online), so for the time being I was stuck with Western Union. Well not really, I sent the wife an ATM card from our Ohio bank and established another account at my bank that has direct deposit every Friday. The fees the bank charges for ATM withdrawals in the Philippines are minimal compared to Western Union.

            • Miss August says

              Mark, I used PNB RCI online and so far not have any problems with them. In regards to your wife’s ATM card, just remember to tell your bank that ATM card is being used in the Philippines. A few years ago, my niece forgot to tell her bank that she was going to the Philippines for a visit and will be using her ATM card; her bank denied all transactions since they thought it was stolen.

            • Dan says

              Mark please read my post actually I found out the ATM fee charged by filipino banks is a lot, I tried one time and it shows there is a charge of 250 peso if I go through the withdraw. I found out that no ATM fee from the bank I withdraw from if I use ATM at HSBC or Citibank. The only problem is there are very few. I use the one in Binando Manila.

              • Mark G. says

                We usually withdraw at PNB or Metrobank and generally any fees are easily lower than the Western Union fees (p480 to p950 depending on amount transferred). I liked using PNB RCI but I guess the state of Ohio is looking for another income stream and closed access from Ohio.

              • Paul Thompson says

                As I said above: Then I found out that my Credit Union had a deal with Western Union and I could send myself or my wife cash for only $14.00 every transfer. If I transferred money every three months the yearly cost was only $56.00. That plays out to $ 4.60 per month to bring money from the states to the Philippines. So do I pay to much for Western Onion?

    • Paul Thompson says

      Miss August;
      There you go, another way to move money in the Philippines. If it works for tou that’s great. I’ll stick with the NFCU using it every few months, as I like talking to the folks there. (LOL)
      As I said above there are many, many good ways to do it.

  6. Tony says

    My asawa has a dollar bank account, I write her a check from my US account and she simply cashes/deposits it. Normally there is a charge but since she maintains a healthy balance she always gets the fees waived. The only drawback is that it takes usually 3 weeks or so to clear even though the cancelled check will show as cleared in one week or so.

    • Paul Thompson says

      They are using your money interest free for that two to three weeks time; of course they’ll waiver the fees. I done it that way also and if you’re happy, than it’s the best way for you. After I pick up the money from the western onion, we deposit it into a peso account in a local bank where we earn interest every month, as with you, we keep the account full up to the insurance limits.

      • PapaDuck says

        Thanks so much for another great post. I think i will be doing what Tony is, just writing a check and waiting for it to clear. Like you said whatever works best for you. I think Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao are supposed to get the brunt of Helen according to the Inquirer.Net. It’s nice to share some of that weather with them lol. Take care

        • Paul Thompson says

          I agree what ever way works for you is the best for you, and no particular way is perfect. God I love it here the PagAsa has Helen running to the North of Luzon vice to the south. I’m in the middle either way and will get rained on. Last night it got so cold we were under a blanket, no fan and windows closed. Wind was pumpin’ rain was bangin’ on the glass and I slept like a baby! (Waking up every few hours, just like a baby does)

  7. Bob New York says

    Very informative article Paul. I have enjoyed similar conversations sometimes when speaking to represantitive in a call center. Whenever I use a toll free number to contact a company I always ask where the preson I am talking to is located. The cable company I have here uses a call center somewhere in the central area of Ph who handles after hours ( USA Time ) phone calls. I usually add a few comments of how much I have enjoyed my visits there. Upon conclusion of the business part of the conversation they always ask ” Is there anything else I can help you with ? ” I reply yes, and ask the rep that the next time they are at a shopping mall or walk by one of their locations to say Hi to my friend Jollibee for me ! That usuallg brings a good chuckle or laugh.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Thank you for understanding the point of my story! Because high finance it was not about. But I agree it is so much fun to chat with the other person about shared interests. The one you use about Jollibee I know will get you a laugh every time.

  8. jonnijon says

    I transfer with HSBC to my GBP account here in the Philippines, then just drop them a secure message to say transfer to my peso account and the cost is 5 GBP.

  9. Scott Fortune says

    I have a question regarding the philippines banks. DO they have an insurance policy against loss, like they do here in the U.S. called the FDIC? if so, what is the amount? I’m considering putting a sum of money into a Philippines account before I move there. I’ll just travel to Chicago to open one beforehand. There is a lot of questions I’m going to have for the banks!! I need to start with the one I have right now. The tellers at the bank were at a loss for my International questions. I need to call the main office.

    • Miss August says

      Philippines has PDIC (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation) and the maximum amount insured is 500,000.00 pesos. Some people think it’s per bank and not per account. So if you have more than 500K, you might want to deposit it at another bank.

      Here’s a link to their website:

      • Miss August says

        I found this on their website:

        • Bank deposits are insured up to P500,000.00 per individual depositor by the PDIC.

        Is this mean that, if you have a second account (or more) each in a different bank. And both banks lose your money, you would only be insured for one account?

        • Miss August says

          I did a little more research and answered my own questions! Here’s what I found from PDIC FAQ’s website:

          • If I have deposits in several different insured banks, will my deposits be added together for insurance purposes?

          No. Deposits in different banking institutions are insured separately. However, if a bank has one or more branches, the main office and all branch offices are considered as one bank. Thus, if you have deposits at the main office and at one or more branch offices of the same bank, the deposits are added together when determining deposit insurance coverage, the total of which shall not exceed P500,000.

          • Can PDIC insurance coverage be increased by having several accounts in the same name in an insured bank?

          No. Deposit insurance coverage is not determined on a per-account basis. The type of account (whether checking, savings, time or other form of deposit) has no bearing on the amount of insurance coverage.

          • Paul Thompson says

            Miss August;
            Thank you very much for taking the time to research this PDIC information and posting it. I’m going refer other posters to this to answer that question. Again, Thank You!

  10. PalawanBob says

    First question :
    Does anyone have any experience sending or transferring money via PAY-PAL to Philippines?
    Second question :
    What is the best way to transfer money from a Canadian bank to a Filipino bank.
    Up to $100k in one shot that is.

      • PalawanBob says

        Hi Bob
        Thanks for the answer about PAY-PAL.

        Hi Paul
        The money (around $75k) is for building a BIG church.
        That is not my money.
        No need for insurance, it will be put to work immediately.
        That is next year’s project.

      • Neal in RI says

        I am looking into this as a alternate route to the writing a check and waiting 1 month for it to clear routine. Is it a big process to set up transferring PayPal $ to a Filipino Bank.

        • says

          It is easy to do, Neal, but you do need a Philippine Paypal account. The writing a check to yourself works great too though. I would recommend setting up several different ways of getting money, just so you have no worries if one of them fails.

          • Neal in RI says

            Thanks Bob. I will look into that as well, I am guessing that is something that needs to been done once I am there in the RP instead of remotely from here in RI

        • Let says

          Neal, HOLD UP! Sorry guy! You say you are an OPM Annuitant but not a DoD Annuitant! Sorry. You are right; you do not meet the requirements. It’s just that I have gone from being a Civil Service Service employee (back long time ago with OPM was called CSC) to Army civilian, Navy civilian, HHS, Air Force civilian and so many Federal Agencies in between. I read the eligibiity too quickly and made a mistake. Sorry, you are right–you do not qualify! Sayang!! Let

          • Paul Thompson says

            OPM: Office of Personal Management
            CSR: Civil Service Retirement
            FERS: Federal Employees Retirement System

            FERS replaced the CSR because it saved the government money; it isbasically just a 401K plan, whereas CRS was a real retirement plan. If the government comes up with a new plan, grab your ankles. FERS is such a plan.

  11. Dan says

    When I was in L.A. I found the cheapest way to send money and received in US Dollar is MLhuillier, it is located in Eagle Rock Plaza bordering Glendale. And now I am in Manila the most cost efficient way is to withdraw money from HSBC or CitiBank, I always use HSBC because the limit is 40,000 pesos and Citi is only 15,000 peso. It is better or very close to the market exchange rate I guess it is due to Visa’s wholesale power in the foreign market. The only down side is there is $5 charge by my bank WellsFargo for using ATMs here. But I think there was no charge when I had a HSBC account before. And local banks somehow charge their own expensive ATM fee so only HSBC and Citi work for me. But they close down HSBC in Ermita and Mall of Asia the only one left is in Binando.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Are you living here full time? We have one MLhuillier here in Olongapo I think. but no HSBC or CITIBANK. I don’t know anyone in LA that would send me money door to door but I wish I did. If it works for you, stick with it.

      • Dan says

        Hi Paul

        Thanks for asking. Yes I will be here for a while. My wife gave birth here to our baby boy three months ago and I am starting some business here(I posted in John’s link on fish pond but it seems not many people return and reply their posts). It is kind of strange that the bank I use to withdraw HSBC doesn’t charge any fee but my bank in US Wells Fargo charges $5 on none Wells Fargo withdraw. Does Wells Fargo need to pay HSBC for using its ATM? Maybe I will see if Paypal will work, I never use Paypal before.

        • Paul Thompson says

          Congratulation on the birth of your son, there is no better joy in the world than that. My grandson was born May 13, and I’m in the clouds over that.
          I’m happy that Bob jumped in with his advice on PayPal, as I haven’t a clue on how it works. But Bob is very knowledgeable on stuff like that. That’s odd on the ATM fees, but it works well for you, so never question the why of it. (lol)

          • Dan says

            Hi Paul congratulation on your grandson, my son was born on May 14, I guess he might be born on the same day because of the time difference if your grandson was born in the States. Why did you choose Subic to settle? Is it safe there? I live in Manila and my wife would not even let me walk around the neighborhood alone. I have never been to Subic even passed by a couple times on my way to north but my wife told me it is a nice area. It seems you’ve been in this country many years do you speak the local language?

            • Paul Thompson says

              With that dateline involved you might be right about that Birthday. I live in the Subic area because everything I like to eat is available here, plus the high population of Kano’s in the area so I have many friends both Kano and local. But, mostly because I don’t like cities, or flood zones. My wife and her family are from this area and I sailed in and out of Subic Bay over the last 40 years on my ships. It’s a small town that has everything you need, sans the traffic, pollution and crime that Manila has. Subic Free Port is a major-major tourist destination and the beaches, hotels and fine dining are very popular, with the weekend visitors from Mega Manila. I can drive here, walk anywhere in perfect safety, and the local people are very friendly and pleasant. Some guys like to shut themselves off from everything and “Go Native” but I’m too fond of the creature comfits I grew up with. I am not a Tagalog speaker at all, but you pick up a few words, enough to be polite.

  12. Roxas Ron says

    ok what about this senario? you are building a house say million six peso ($40,000).
    what would the best way be to pay the builder in 3 installments without paying high fees and exchange rates…and not drawing undue attention to your self and money?


    • Paul Thompson says

      I’m confused which is it $ 40,000.00 or 6 Million Pesos there is quite a difference between the two. When I built my house I had a contract for labor only, and my wife would provide the materials as needed. We provided the materials so the contractor could not cut corners and build our house using inferior products.
      My advice is to give them some smallest amount down, then pay every month a certain amount but be sure you always owe the contractor the lions share. Because if the contractor has all the money up front he’ll slow down work on your house and finance another project on your dime. I worked it out so that I owed them
      P 150,000 which I paid on the day we turned the key. If they did a good and fair job, a party at the end for them and your new neighbors is a great idea.

      • Roxas Ron says

        Sorry for the confusion Paul. I meant 1,600,000 peso or about $40,000. So you would suggest to only transfer monthly payments for the contractor to your bank as to not make the bank think your rich etc. thanks

        • Paul Thompson says

          Are you or your wife here in the Philippines while your house is being built? Someone must be watching out for you to ensure you are getting everything you are paying for. They built my friends house using 10MM rebar, which would not support the medal roof trusses. He paid the contractor up front, and the house took a year to build as the contractor used my friend’s money to a small strip mall. My friend had to reinstall all cabinets and doors in his house as 1 1/2 inch screws will just not hold them up. I’ll skip the electrical and plumbing problems this is what I’m talking about, not banks.

          • Roxas Ron says


            my wife and i will be there 24/7 during construction and the move in the next day…property is bought, roads paved, sewer, power and water done.
            we are just getting all our ducks in a row before our move…1 Jan 2014.

            • Paul Thompson says

              That is the best way. Now to the money part, bring in what you need but read ABOVE Miss Augusts’ post on banking and the PDIC. If you are here on site I can foresee no problems in the building of your house. Be fair with the contractors and make them be fair with you. My contractor was as good as we could find, and he tried and tried to get us to pay off the money before we turned the key, we refused with a smile and he understood with a smile. BTW my house is 12 years old now, and besides painting we have not had a major problem to date, and we’re still friends with the contractor, and I’ve sent 5 Kano’s to him to have their houses built. Best of luck and enjoy your new home when it’s completed!

  13. Murray says

    For all you Kiwis, Aussies, and Poms living in the Phils, check out You can use this service to transfer to BDO banks for a cash pick up, transfer to nearly any bank account in the Phils, or transfer to your credit card. Very good rates and very reasonable fees. Every 10th transaction is free. The site is actually advertised on this website.

  14. says

    I’ve only used Xoom twice since moving here to transfer money from my WFargo account to my BDO account here. If that gets shut off I guess I’ll have to use Western Union or Sigue.

    What sucks is that starting last week I’ve had trouble with Paypal processing a few payments online. Everything else works, bank transfers, access, receiving money, etc. Just not payments online to GoDaddy. Spoke with WFargo, they confirmed my new IP address here overseas and made a notation to not limit my account. Same with Paypal.. they now know I’m here in the Philippines, yet still problems. Frustrating.

    I only transfer once a month and could go longer if needed but I like having the money here with me in case of emergency.

  15. ABB says

    I am planning on moving to the Philippines and had thought I would open up a bank account with PNB RCI out of Jacksonville, FL or even NY. Reason being, most all my clients pay me by debit or credit card and the processor deposits it into my bank account within 2-3 days.
    Thinking is, if I have an account with them, and have my processor deposit it there, then I could access it easily in the Philippines.
    Also, of course, I could have all my other banking done there as well.
    Wouldn’t this work and wouldn’t this also take care of having to “transfer” money? This seems “awful easy” as we say here so I’m sure I’m missing something.

    BTW: Did enjoy this article!

    • Paul Thompson says

      I’d be way over my head to try and answer that one, but my advice would be to go to that bank and sit down and ask the questions to them. On your next visit here go to the local bank and see if you can withdraw money without a fee or some other clever way they have to extract money from the American guy.

  16. Paul Thompson says

    It will take time to get things working the way you want it, I tried a few ways before I settled on the way I move money. Like I mentioned above I bring in 90 days budget at a time and put it into a peso account, and use that banks ATM when I need cash (no fee) I use a debit card from my Credit Union, for shopping or large purchases, and refill it online. Twenty years ago the only ATM was in Manila a 5 hour drive away, it’s improved a lot since then.

  17. Rovineye says

    We send from BPI branch in San Diego. $7. Not sure of upper limit, we have sent large sums, with legit exchange rate. Ready in the account in 15 minutes.

  18. Paul Thompson says

    You send money from BPI in San Diego to BPI in the Philippines and they charge you a fee? Are they not the same bank, and don’t their computers talk to each other? My Western Onion transfer for $ 14.00 every three months is sounding better and better to me.

  19. Nina says

    My daughter opened a checking account at the PNB branch here in New York, we inherited some money from the Philippines, and she told her aunt to deposit in her account in the PNB Philippine branch I’m planning to go to the Philippines by next year, my daughter told me to use the money and she is willing to lend me her ATM card so I can withdraw, to use for fixing her dad’s tomb. she opened this account so the money she inherited can deposit it.. I’m hoping this won’t cause any problem, by taking out money in her account . although my name was not in her account..NEED help and suggestion,thank you..nina

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