Feyma and I make heavy use of the ATM network here in the Philippines. With my various online businesses, mostly I get payments from credit card purchases on my site, and from Advertisers who buy ads on my various sites. Almost exclusively, these payments get paid into my bank account in the United States. Because of this, when we need money, we generally just go to an ATM machine at a Philippine bank and withdraw funds from our US account. It’s a system that has worked fairly well for us over the years.
About a week or two ago, though, Feyma told me that she had some trouble getting money out. We generally use BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) most frequently. The reason for this is that you can get out up to P20,000 in a single transaction. Most other banks limit ATM transactions to only P4,000 or P5,000. If you need a serious amount of money, it is a hassle (and more costly in ATM fees) to have to do multiple transactions in order to get the money that you need. Because of this, we always go to BPI as our first choice.
Anyway, as I said, Feyma recently told me that she had trouble at BPI. We’ve been using BPI for years now with very few problems, so I was surprised. Feyma told me that she was only able to get P5,000 out from the BPI ATM machine. When she tried a follow-up transaction, it was denied with the message that she had reached her daily transaction limit. Very strange, because in the past we have gotten out up to P50,000 on her card, and another P50,000 on mine (all in a single day), if there was a need for some serious money. I went to BPI to try it out myself. I had not done any transactions that day, so my card was “fresh.” When I tried to get any money I got declined saying that I had already reached my transaction limit for the day. Very strange. I knew that there was money in my US account, and that my ATM card limits were well beyond what they were giving me.
I did some checking into this and found that BPI has recently changed their limits on ATM transactions. Only a maximum of P5,000 can be taken from an account in a day. Even if you have two cards that each access the same account, the total limit is P5,000. Frankly, with a number of businesses that I run, there are days that I need a lot more money than that in order to keep my businesses going.
Since finding out this information, we have been doing some checking to find better options for us. We had gotten to the point where we had not really kept up on this, since BPI was always reliable for us. As of now, the best option that we have found for accessing a US account through the ATM, with a higher transaction amount is through BDO (Banco de Oro). Through the BDO ATM network you can get up to P10,000 per transaction, and you can do multiple transactions up to the daily limit that your bank allows you on the card. This is a lot better than the P4,000 and P5,000 per transaction limits that most banks have.
While the new rules at BPI have made life a little more of a hassle, we are still able to access our US funds as needed. I just hope that BPI goes back to it’s old policy again, and soon!