Avoiding the 200 Peso ATM Fee for Foreign VISA Cards

HSBC Makati

10k Peso Limit + Fee

Philippines ATMs (BDO, PNB, etc.) all charge a 200 pesos ($4) additional fee for foreign bank cards and withdrawals are capped at 10000 pesos at a time.

BPI 20k Limit + Fee

One exception is the 20000 peso withdrawal limit at BPI ATMs (Bank of the Philippines Islands). The red ones. They also charge the 200 pesos fee though.

So using a foreign bank card to withdraw cash in the Philippines would cost you 1% vig with BPI and 2% with all other Filipino bank ATMs (200 pesos out of 10000).

BPI ATM

And then a couple % lost from whatever poor exchange rate your bank sets.

Hard to Open a Filipino Bank Account

At the current time it’s hard for foreigners to open a bank account in the Philippines due to money laundering regulations.

It at least requires having an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) card which you need to be living in the Philippines over 59 days to even apply for.

HSBC ATMs 40k Limit No Fee

Luckily for short mongering trips there’s HSBC ATMs. In the Philippines they allow you to withdraw up to 40000 pesos (~$800) at a time, with no fee on their end, any bank card including foreign VISA cards.

HSBC cashout

If you’re from the US and open a Charles Schwab account as Dante wrote about there’ll be no fees on your end either. With my Thai bank card I get a 100 baht ($3) fee.

Sadly HSBC ATMs are much less common than Filipino ATMs, you have to go out of your way to go to an actual HSBC branch. Unlike BDO banks which are everywhere. Even BPI ones can be a bit hard to find.

HSBC ATMs in Manila

Makati HSBC ATM

If you stay in Makati e.g. at Greenbelt Excelsior which I reviewed that’s very near the Makati Enterprise Centre, which is opposite Ayala Triangle Park.

There’s a HSBC branch there, walk into the Enterprise Centre. It has three ATMs, if one says it has a 10k peso limit try another.

If you’re staying at P Burgos or Gramercy it’s a nice walk down to that HSBC branch, past Ayala Triangle park which has some cute chicks walking around.

Big sidewalks, monuments, and you can use Legazpi underpass to cross the road.

A post shared by @nomadphils on

Ayala Triangle Park

A post shared by @nomadphils on

Gabriela Silang monument, first Filipina to lead the revolt against Spain

A post shared by @nomadphils on

Don’t go past this monument, hang a right out of the underpass

HSBC in Angeles City

The nearest HSBC to Angeles City is in San Fernando, will cost a few hundred in trike fees the get there and back so best bet is to withdraw in Manila before going.

Or use the BPI ATM opposite Casino Filipino to get 20k.

BPI bank on MacArthur Highway

HSBC in Cebu

There’s a HSBC in Cebu business park near Calyx Residences which I reviewed.

Bitcoin

Another option is open a wallet with Coins.ph, send bitcoin to it, then cash it out using the eGivecash option.

That allows you (or your FilipinoCupid girl) to withdraw cash at any Security bank ATM with no card or fee, all that’s needed is a code sent by text message.

But the spread they charge is equivalent to around 170 pesos fee depending on the day, and it’s limited to 10000 pesos at a time.

Coins.ph cardless withdrawal

There’d always be some fee in converting Bitcoin to cash via an exchange though so that’s still better than using a foreign card at a Filipino ATM.

Or post an ad to sell BTC on LocalBitcoins.com, find an individual buyer in the Philippines, meet them in person and make a profit on the trade for pesos.

Can’t Bring More than 10k Pesos In or Out

Without prior authorization you can’t bring more than 10000 pesos into the Philippines, from previous trips, or leave the Philippines with more than that.

If you do and are caught it’s subject to confiscation by customs. Although I’ve never had my wallet checked at airports. You can bring in up to $10k USD without declaring it, or more if you do declare it at customs.

13 Responses

  1. Roger says:

    Really well written as was the last article about apartment renting. Useful information for me and other travellers. Funny thing is that Filipino people don’t seem to know this when I asked in Angeles previously. Will try to open a bank account since I will be staying long term in Phil for the first time.

  2. Spirit maze says:

    That first pic – is that one of Normal Nomad’s harem members withdrawing cash at the ATM?

  3. bkkyolo says:

    Funny it was my exact routine whenever I needed to get more cash – From Gramercy, through the park to the ATM, then spew it in Burgos to reward myself saving those 200. I think they charge for Mastercard tho

  4. Anonymous says:

    Send yourself cash by Xoom or remitly. That’s what I do.

    • jspill jspill says:

      Thanks reading about it now. If I understand Remitly correctly to avoid fees you’d bring foreign currency with you, deposit it at a BDO or BPI bank, choose the cash pickup option, wait three banking days then pick up the pesos from a bank of your choosing? Their exchange rate looks to be better than Xoom.

      And doing it instantly with debit card would come with a 200 pesos fee ($4), and require you to have a Philippines bank account to receive it in?

  5. profits101 says:

    I have an account and ATM card with Charles Schwab and they remit the ATM fees at month’s end – I use the card mostly at BDO and BPI. I opened that account in the US based on similar ex-pat blog-posted advice prior to coming here. Also, I have no philippine bank account, and not much interest in having one – has not been a deal breaker, but at times I might end up carrying quite a bit of cash for rent deposit or something… At one time, I thought having a stash of $USD on hand was not a bad idea… but I haven’t prioritised that, and no events have come up where that seemed to be very important…

  6. RealGuy says:

    In Manila theres also a HSBC in BGC on 4th ave. And one in Ortigas center on ADB ave.

  7. sled mobiles says:

    Related question here – Is there a way to open a safe deposit box here (will be living in Makati) without having a bank account? What would be the best way for a grinder to store some cash if sdb isn’t an option?

    • jspill jspill says:

      If you mean poker grinder Solaire and Resorts World let you store winnings there, and / or some Airbnb rooms and hotels have safes. Or you could trade pesos for poker site funds / bitcoin / neteller etc. on 2+2 forum or localbitcoins.com to get rid of spare cash, charge a few % vig. Hopefully someone reading this can give a better answer

      • sled mobiles says:

        Thanks for the info, may have to go the store at the casino route. How safe is that? Any horror stories? Maybe I should look around 2+2 for that. Do they only allow strictly winnings to be stored or can I just open one with some of my br beforehand?

        Anyone else have any details on safe deposit boxes in banks in Makati or just the Phils in general?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.