Sending money to the Philippines is not difficult. There are several websites setup for this specific purpose. If a Filipina asks you to send her money, she probably already knows how you can send it. If she does, that should give you reason to pause. While Western Union is always an option it is an expensive way to send money to the Philippines. Also, when I tried to do it online with my Philippine IP address they blocked me. I tried Moneygram, they also blocked me. I called them and they told me that I must be in the USA to use their service. I didn’t bother with them again. In my next article I will provide some help in getting around this Philippine IP problem.
My experience with sending money to the Philippines is limited to sending from the USA. I don’t have any experience from other countries so that’s really all I can talk about. Many of the services I am going to discuss will likely apply to your country too but you’ll have to confirm that.
On my last topic, I mentioned I would cover this and a lot of people already have but I’m going to try to do so anyway. Hopefully even more people will comment and tell of us ways to send money to the Philippines, either to yourself or to someone else.
Sending Money To The Philippines
You can use an ATM but for many of us, that is expensive and I don’t know of any place in the Philippines were you can withdraw more than P10,000 (about $200) in one transaction. The last time I did that, it cost me $9.00 to send $200. Not a staggering fee if your thinking in terms of US cost of living but I can go out to eat three times on that amount of money and take a guest with me! That’s for pork chops and beer and chicken and rice. That’s real money in the Philippines. If one of your reasons for coming here is the lower cost of living, it wont take you long to think in terms of what things cost here and that’s too much!
Some people that have considerable cash in the bank can avoid those fees. HSBC is one such bank, I think the balance requirement is $70,000 but I’ve also read $100,000. I didn’t delve into those options as I’m in no danger of needing their services.
Another problem with ATMs is there are often long lines at ATMs. This is especially true in smaller towns of the Philippines. I have also seen times when all the ATMs in Bogo City were down for four days. When they do go back online, there are very long lines, in the hot Filipina sun beating down on you while you wait. For me, ATMs are not the way to go.
If you do use them, you should probably use MetroBank or Banco de Oro ATMs as they have a maximum limit of P10,000. There may be other banks with the same limit but these are the only two I’ve been able to find, in part, because there are only three ATMs in Bogo City! There may even be ATMs where you can withdraw more but I have not been able to do so.
I strongly encourage that before you leave your home country to check with your bank about sending wire transfers. Some banks will require you to come into the bank in person to set it up. They will then give you a PIN that you can use to initiate wire transfers. International wire transfers are usually expensive and can take longer than is acceptable for me. Still, I would set this up as an option in case you need it. If you loose your ATM card, it may take a couple of weeks or longer to have another one sent to you!
I use RemitHome and have for about three years now. I have sent a transaction at least every month except maybe, one month was skipped. They have a flat fee of $8.00 if you set it up as recurring and they don’t seem to care if you cancel it before you send the next month. It is $10.00 for non-recurring. They have several ways to deliver the money to you. The fastest way is to use cash pickup. With this method, they will send money to a bank in the city you choose. There is a hidden cost when using RemitHome. I have complained about their exchange rate but they give excuses, which I don’t buy. The exchange rate is usually about 1 peso less than the official rate. They also have a limit of $1000 per day. Remit Home points out these features.
- Send money online from any computer
- $10 flat fee for Philippine Peso transfers ($8.00 Recurring)
- High Peso/Dollar exchange rate
- Bank deposits to all major banks in the Philippines
- Door-to-door delivery for no extra charge
- Cash pick-up at bank branches throughout the Philippines
- Guaranteed delivery
- Better Business Bureau accredited
- First Transfer Free!’
If you’re sending money to the Manila area, delivery can be extremely fast. I tried to use home delivery in Leyte and it was not available at the intended location.
For me, they have been reliable. I wish they would raise their transaction limit and improve their exchange rate to equal what I get with my ATM. If you send less than P10,000 it may be cheaper to use your ATM card.
Xoom looked promising to me. I recently discovered them and they have been a huge disappointment. I may use them for small amounts as they have some lower rates for smaller transactions. So far I’ve had little luck in using them.
With my first transaction, I sent myself $25.00 just as a test. They promised it would be ready in 2 hours. I checked back four hours later to find the transaction had been canceled. I checked email, including spam folders and there was nothing. I sent three support tickets over several days asking what happened. I never got a reply.
So last week, I thought I’d try them again. Again I tried $25.00 test transaction. This time instead of two hours, I got a message saying it would take four business days. That was on the 27Th. They promised the funds would be ready by Jan. 3rd.
I called on the 3rd to ask why it was not ready. They say that the FDIC has not yet released the funds. The money was withdrawn from my account on the 2ND. They said the funds would be ready on the 5Th. The 5Th is not yet over but it is noon and I still don’t have the money.
When I had them on the phone, they said it will always be four business days for me to send money to myself. In that case, using Remit Home works just as well for me as Xoom too has a $1000 transaction but they will increase it in some cases. So I followed their instruction and called regarding increasing my limit. The CSR told me she would send an email and I should reply to that asking for an increase. I got the feeling since I was a new customer, I wouldn’t get it and I could understand that. However, when I sent the email, I got a reply quickly asking me too call the same number I had just called. I told them I wouldn’t be calling as that number told me to reply to this email. They wrote back saying they would close the ticket in seven days. I came close to telling them what they could do with their ticket but then I remember if I insulted a Filipino, I could be deported so I just let it go.
You may want to do a search on Google.com for Xoom Fraud and see what comes up. I don’t think they would defraud you. They have been around to long and I know people that have used them but say they are more problematic than they use to be. Still there are a lot of people complaining about Xoom. But its the net, I’ve known competitors to post negative information about other companies that is totally made up.
My conclusion is that this company does not care about their customers, only one place has ever treated me this badly and that’s PayPal, I wont go into PayPal as that’s next to impossible for Filipino to use. If that has changed, I’m sure someone will let me know. Though I may try again, at this time I doubt I’ll use them again. If you have a problem it seems to me you’re going to have major problems due to their extremely poor customer service. Their poor customer service probably comes from being ripped off over and over.
Chikka is not bad for sending small amounts of money. You can find it at Chikka.com and if you have a Paypal account you can use that to fund it. It has become more complicated since I signed up for it. I think now you have to pay for an ATM card.
Forex has a service that allows you to send yourself money. They will call you to complete your application. They claim no fees and the best market rate. I signed up for them but they don’t trade online for the Philippine Peso, only by phone and they have a minimum of $2000 per transaction for telephone calls. I’ve researched them on Google and found nothing but good things being said. I just tried to log into my account and found my login is not working and I can chat with someone for assistance. If your sending large amounts, this is likely the way to go.
I’m sure there are many ways to send money to yourself or to someone else in the Philippines. I know of a few more myself, Western Union is possible. I know someone that had the FBI show up asking questions about why he was sending so much cash to the Philippines via WU. That is likely the most expensive way to send money to the Philippines. Certainly not for most expats that have come here to have a lower cost of living.
I would love to hear of things I can do better. I’m sure some have used Xoom without any problems. Someone may know how to get a usable PayPal account. I can get money into Jessie’s account but we can’t get it out.
Be sure to send it to yourself in your official name on your ID and they prefer that you use your passport. Take a copy of everything as they may need a copy and they may not have a copy machine.
I want to stress again, to check with your financial institution and you should let them know you’re going to be out of the country so they wont automatically decline transactions and to find out if you need to setup wire transfers by phone before you leave.
Rusty Ferguson is an American Expat living in Bogo, Cebu.