Practical Life in Manila

Bank services in Manila

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Philippine currency is the Philippine Peso, commonly called the peso or PHP. It is symbolized by ₱.

ATM and Credit Cards

ATMs are abundant and can be found almost anywhere, especially in bank branches and malls. Before making a withdrawal, check your surroundings for any suspicious persons or activities. It is best to withdraw from ATMs in crowded places such as banks and malls with security personnel guarding the area. Ensure to check the ATM for any skimming attachments on the keypad and card slot. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN. If you encounter any problems with the ATM, avoid asking help from strangers and immediately call the service number located on the ATM.

ATM withdrawals may be subject to fees, over and above your home bank's fees. There is usually a PHP 200 fee per transaction when using foreign ATM cards. Banks may also impose a limit on ATM withdrawals (usually PHP 10,000 per withdrawal and a daily limit of PHP 20,000 to PHP 50,000 per day).

Credit cards are accepted for payment in most shops and restaurants. You should be able to use Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Cirrus and Maestro cards. However, it is best to check with an establishment beforehand if they accept credit cards for payment, what type of credit cards they accept and if their system is online. Also check if there is a minimum purchase requirement for credit card payments. Some establishments only accept Philippine-issued credit cards so it is best to check before purchasing.


The best rates are by taking money from an ATM. This depends on your home bank but this continues to be the safest and cheapest way to exchange.

Money changers in the city usually offer better rates than those in airports or hotels. Only transact with reputable and reliable money changers such as Czarina Foreign Exchange. Make sure to count your money before leaving the money changer.

Electronic Transfers

International money transfers require some effort and can be expensive, with a fee and/or margin on currency exchange rate.

You will need the following information for an international money transfer:

  • Complete name of the bank
  • Branch name and/or branch number
  • Branch address
  • Branch's SWIFT number (this is an internationally used system of numbers which identifies each branch of a bank in each country)
  • Account name
  • Account number where funds will be deposited to

Open an Account

Foreigners opening a bank account in the Philippines are required to present the following documents:

  • ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card)
  • Passport or other form of photo identification
  • Passport-sized photo of yourself
  • Proof of address (current utility bill, rental contract, etc.)

You may also be required to present a bank reference from your home country. The Philippine bank may directly contact your bank of reference or may ask you to submit a written certification.

You will need to personally visit the bank and provide all your documents. You will fill out a few standard forms and will be required to make a minimum deposit for the account you are opening.


Standard banking hours are Monday to Friday from 9:00 until 17:00. Some banks remain open until 18:00. Some banks are also open on Saturdays. Banks in malls usually offer late banking hours and are open even on weekends.

Update 9/06/2016


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