Yesterday, Rusty wrote an article about sending money to the Philippines by a number of different methods. He pretty much covered all of the money remittance services, so I won’t be going into that. However, a number of questions have already come up in the comments section of Rusty’s article that I want to address with my personal experiences. Having lived here in the Philippines for nearly 9 years now, and having most of my income process through my US bank account, I think I have seen a lot of different situations occur that will be of interest to any foreigner who has plans to live here in the Philippines.
The first thing that I want to look into is a comment that Tyleen made after reading Rusty’s article:
Can you tell me what would happen if suddenly your card didn’t work?
Demagnitized or eaten or ???
Where do you go for help??
I am thinking of using my CDN ATM card the same as you do on your stateside accts.
But what do I do if the card doesn’t work??
Well, this is indeed something that you should be concerned about. I have had situations where there have been problems accessing my money, and I will address a number of different issues and solutions that may be helpful to you.
In my opinion, the first thing you need to do is to set up multiple ways to access funds. Tyleen mentioned, what if her ATM card becomes demagnetized. Well, there are ways to fix this, but what if you need money right away? Why not set up more than one bank account in your home country, each with ATM access? For example, let’s say that you have an account at “First National Bank” and that you have your Social Security Funds deposited there monthly. Suddenly, the ATM machine in Manila eats your ATM card for your First National Bank account! You’re in trouble, right? Well, if, before leaving to live in the Philippines, you also set up a bank account at “Trust Bank” and kept funds there with ATM access, you have a lifeline while you are waiting for your new ATM card to reach you for the first account. Set up multiple funds sources, so that if one fails, you have alternatives.
Now, what happens if your card becomes damaged, stolen or inoperable by some other means? Well, it is really no different than if you were back home. Pick up the telephone and call the bank. Explain to them that your card has experienced a problem and that you need a replacement card. They will send you a new card, a new PIN number, etc. Keep in mind, though, that you are overseas and it might take a week, even two weeks before you receive this new card. In that case, having that alternate account in another bank will be really helpful to you.
Another thing that is important is that you need to tell your bank in your home country that you will be living in the Philippines. This is important for them to know, and it is something that they will know anyway. I mean, when they look at your ATM transactions, or Card purchases and they all show up in the Philippines, it will be obvious. If you do not tell them in advance, they may cancel out your card because they will suspect fraud – somebody might have stolen your card number and duplicated it in the Philippines. This happened to us at one point, and it was not fun. So, let your bank know!
Another thing that is very nice these days is that you can take care of so much of your banking and bill paying right on the Internet. It is convenient, but it can also lead to problems for you, I know that it did for me. You see, although I had informed my bank that I was living in the Philippines, after using the online banking, they would regularly lock my account. I would call the bank and ask why and they would say “because there are suspicious logins from the Philippines.” Well, I already told them that I lived here, so there should be nothing suspicious about it! But, they told me, “that is a different department, we did not know.” I would explain it and everything would be OK for 6 months or so, then they would shut down my online banking account again! Same problem, same solution, I just got tired of repeating it. Because of this, I now only access my US bank account through my proxy server, so that it looks like I am in the USA. I’ve been doing it this way for 5 years or so, and they have never again locked me out of my online banking!
Another tip, if you are planning to make use of the ATM network in the Philippines, if there are holidays getting near, start building a stash of cash! For example, during Christmas, and during the Holy Week (Easter), ATMs will run out of money regularly, and may be out of funds for a week or more before being refilled. So, in the weeks preceeding the holiday, start building up cash, so that you will be OK if the ATMs are all down. This is something that happens very regularly. Even if they are not out of cash, many times the ATMs will simply be “Off Line” and you can’t get your funds.
Another way to broaden your resources where you can access cash is to open up a Philippine Bank Account after you are living here. If you are here simply on a tourist visa, it can be difficult to open a bank account, but if you are a legal resident opening an account is simple. So, open a local bank account and put a little money in there to build up a stash, for any time that you cannot access your money in your home bank account.
If you can build up some kind of online business to bring in a few extra dollars, there are usually ways to get additional sources of money too. For example, for credit cards processed on my various online stores, I have some stores where the money goes into my US account, I have Paypal (which ends up in a Philippine account),and I have something called Payoneer, which is a MasterCard branded debit card where funds are deposited to. Be redundant as much as you possibly can!
OK, what about Paypal? If you are living in the Phlippines, you will need to close your US (or whatever country you are from) Paypal account (or leave it dormant), and open up a new account here in the Philippines. I have written a series of articles on my Virtual Earner Website on how to get a Paypal account set up and working in the Philippines:
This series of articles should tell you everything that you need to know on how to get a working Paypal account in the Philippines. I hope that it will be useful for you if you intend to live here.
So, I hope that this article has helped clear up a few questions that you may have about getting your money while you are in the Philippines. My most important advice is that you should diversify your sources of accessing your money. If one of your cards is damaged, or something happens to one of your accounts, at least you would have backups!