Best US Banking Service for Phils

Hi.. y'all..  Which is the best US Banking Service to use in the Philippines?  A service that doesn't charge for foreign transactions- that has a debit card that can be used in PI with ease- and a service that can offer you a Visa or MC credit card with no yearly fee.  Seems like most of these banking services in the US fee ya to death.  So, let's see what US Bank service y'all are using there in the Phils.  Thank you in advance.   Toneman

Whatever bank you are using in the states can be accessed online in the Philippines. I can use all my stateside charge cards and my debit card at ATM's, but pay a 3% transaction fee. I can use my cards at any business that accepts charge cards.

Here a fee, there a fee, everywhere a fee, old McDonald had a fee.

You will need your cards as it is difficult to open a bank account in your name in the Philippines upon arrival.

got ya.. thanks bob

e i e i o


Hi Guys,

My experience here in Davao City is that the banks ATM usually charge PHP 250 when using my US debit card. That is $5 per transaction at PHP 50 conversion rate. The max you can withdraw per transaction seems to be PHP 10, 000 which is around $200. If you need more money than that you can do multiple transactions but every transaction charges you the PHP 250 transaction fee that can add up quickly.

Lucky for me I have been a member of a Credit Union  for a long time and hold a certain amount in my account so I get all ATM fees reimbursed including foreign ATM fees. I know this is unsual so I don't have to worry about transaction fees at this time. That may change in the future and if it does I will need to come up with a new strategy.

I have heard of some money market accounts not charging fees. See the post below about Fidelity.

"Direct Deposit of Social Security
Posted by: lancelotlinc
Yes, Paypal is useless. Fidelity is great as the exchange rates are better than market and they reimburse for ATM"

In another blog Posted by: Asawa

He said... "my favorite bank is a Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account. You can set it up with as little as $1, and they give you an ATM Card that has zero ATM Fees or Exchange fees ANYWHERE in the world. It comes as a combo Brokerage Account and Money Market. When you set a "Schwab One Brokerage Account", it comes automatically paired Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account. Charles Swab gives you a debit card to draw on your investments in over 200 countries with zero ($0) atm Fees. They are one of the only "No Fees/Exchange Rate" banks I've ever found: If you ultimately decide to have a "Philippines Only Bank", I do not recommend keeping more than 3-6 months expenses in a "Philippines Only Branch". Should you ever leave, your money may be permanently stuck outside of the Philippines."

I hope this information helps.


Jeff.. thank you so much.. that was one of the banks I was just looking at charles schwab .. I have a capital one quick silver card I just got but not sure about the fees and I wouldn't want to use it to draw cash.  I need to check with my local bank tomorrow to see it they reimburse atm fees.. if they do I might as well stick with them.. or I get the CS account going.. thank you for the info.

Do note maximum one can withdraw over ATM is ₱10,000 on most ATM using a card not of same bank, Citi, HSBC, etc on BDO for example. So if  need more, you'll  end up getting hit by multiple ₱250 fees.

Just for reference: Local bank on another ATm like BDO withdrawing from Metrobank ATM cost is ₱20 IIRC

The exchange rate are better if just TT over to a local account and withdraw using local ATM bank card (Free).

You may want to set up online and ability to transfer money over wire, then it's just a matter of using a swift code, account number and name/address.  One time fee and no limit on how much you send. + Local bank and ATM usage and your cost should be minimal.

If I recall correctly, the only requirement for opening a savings here is you will have to stay in the country for 60/90 days or something similar, can't recall exactly. Standard utility bill for proof of address, I used my lease. ID usually passport and or your alien card, usual stuff. I was asked to provide proof of source of Income, I just gave them my bank statement.

This may vary depending on the teller you talk to as each one has their own guidelines and procedures. Life is better in the Philippines  :D

Daily withdrawal or transfer limit is set by your bank, regardless of the 50K limit set by local banks

Most banks offer premium accounts which everything is free if you meet their minimum balance.

for rental Condo, I was required to make post dated checks for 2 years. Plan accordingly. I use my wife's checking for this. You may have to talk to the owner if you don't have access to checking. Some owners only require 6 months or none.

Don't bother with Paypal, they are a ripoff. My $0.02

Do remember that here in PH, Cash is King and like I said, paying anything in cash except in supermarkets do leave room to haggle. Your cost for item from expensive to cheapest are

Foreigner +40%  :D
Interest Free monthly installment - Why people fall for this I don't know.
Credit Card
Filipino with wad of Cash

My .02 Peso experience.

I bank at Citibank in the states. Before moving to the Philippines I got a Citibank charge card. If I remember right it was interest free for two years if paid in full. How it worked, you did not have to make monthly payments but interest accrued each month. At the end of two years if the card was paid in full, you had no interest. Also this charge card paid 1% on purchases and 1% when you made payment.

Also Citibank has a few ATM's in Manila, I remember using one at a mall. At this ATM you could withdraw up to 15,000 PHP.

I'm pretty S'pore DBS ATM card still enables me to withdraw upto 20,000p@BPI (with a fixed ATM fee of 250p/transaction)...the exchange rates are pretty decent & definitely better than what the local money changers provide.

An interesting and timely post as the largest US bank JP Morgan Chase has just launched a new Debit card cashback facility here in the UK accompanied by a smartphone app.

Like many of these bank cards they all have some common denominators. What struck me about their new debit card is that it is highly secure; there is no number on the front of the card and you can use your smartphone to may payments similar to Apple pay.

My current so called 'Premier' debit card from HSBC charges me an ATM transaction fee abroad which has always bugged me. Whenever I'm in the Philippines I use an HSBC ATM as these always work. It's hit and miss with Filipino banks. But then I guess everything is hit and miss in the Philippines   :(

No transaction fees and their card uses MasterCard ATM's which give a better exchange rate than Visa - I always thought the 2 were on a par but Visa has a much bigger share of the market than Mastercard albeit outlet availability is more or less equal.

I applied for one a week ago but my iPhone 5S is just out of compatibility with the app so a good excuse to upgrade my phone to the Mini 13 - xmas comes early :D

I would be interested to hear from our American friends as to whether US banks customer service is highly regarded. UK clearing banks enjoy a cosy oligopoly broadly speaking and need a good kick up the backside which Chase are well positioned to exploit. I rang their customer service bassed in Scotland and it was a breath of fresh air. As soon as they roll out a checking and savings account they can count me in and its goodbye to HSBC.
The Chase name has not been mentioned on this topic so I would be interested to hear any feedback.