If you’re an expat living in the Philippines, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) or just someone who needs to transfer money to the Philippines, today’s post is for you.
The subject of transferring money to the Philippines comes up pretty often in online forums and on social media, which is why I thought I’d give a brief overview of three money transfer services that I have personally used, as well as providing you with my personal recommendation: TransferWise.
The timing of this post is actually pretty ironic. That’s because when I first wrote it back in June 2016, I did so on the very day that my home country (the UK) chose to leave the European Union. It was an event that triggered the pound to spiral downwards out of control and hit a 31-year-low!
When I woke up that morning, the first thing I did was check the exchange rate. You could get 69 Philippine pesos to the pound. That afternoon, it went down to around 64 and at one point it even dropped as low as 62!
Anyway, this post isn’t about exchange rates. They are one thing few of us living here in the Philippines can influence, and we must instead make informed decisions when we transfer money to ensure we get the biggest bang for our buck (or pound).
So exchange rates aside, it’s interesting to learn about the different methods that expats living in the Philippines and OFWs use to transfer money here.
The purpose of this post is to inform you about three ways you can transfer money to the Philippines. I will tell you the one I personally use, but it’s by no means “the best” and other people are very happily using other methods.
Nevertheless, I’ll start with the one I use and explain why it’s my personal preference.
I use Transferwise on a monthly basis to transfer money from my UK bank account to my Filipino bank account. It’s a relatively new service, and many people may not have heard of it. That’s why I’m pleased to be sharing information about it with you.
With Transferwise, you can move money from pretty much any country in the world to any other. It’s simple; the rates are extremely competitive (both fees and exchange rates); and I usually get my money within two days.
All you need to do is go to Transferwise.com and create an account. You can then setup a money transfer from your home country to a bank account in the Philippines.
Note: For full transparency, the link to TransferWise above is my own referral link, but you will get a free international transfer of up to £500 by using it.
While I was still on a tourist visa here in the Philippines, I was able to open four Filipino bank accounts using nothing more than my passport an ACR-iCard. So if you’re worried about sending to a bank account that you don’t have control of, open your own. It won’t take you long to do and it’s something that is handy on a number of levels.
During the TransferWise send money process you’ll be asked to input all the relevant bank account details and then given a choice of payment options: bank transfer (what I use), debit card, credit card and Android Pay. The reason I use bank transfer is because it doesn’t incur any additional fees.
The best thing for me about Transferwise is that your money gets transferred at a decent rate and the fees are low (compared to many direct bank-to-bank transfers). For example, the fee for transferring £1,000 to pesos today is just £6.97 and the rate is calculated in line with the markets (69.79 at time of writing) – unlike many other transfer companies that make money by giving you a shit rate.
Western Union has obtained a rather bad reputation over the years (rather unfairly) for being the go-to money transfer company for international scammers. But apart from being a favourite of Nigerian secondhand car dealers, Western Union is actually a pretty solid way to transfer money to the Philippines.
Simply head over to westernunion.com and take it from there. You’ll need to create an account before you can send any money, but once you have there are a number of options available in terms of how your recipient can actually receive the funds.
I’ve used Western Union a bunch of times in the past, but found that my credit card provider often declined the payments (maybe because of WU’s reputation?).
The great thing about WU, though, is that you can choose to send to a bank account or as cash. Today, a £1,000 transfer via WU will cost you £4.90 in fees (which is lower than Transferwise), but the exchange rate is quite a bit lower at 68.2.
If you choose the cash option (for the receiver), however, while it’s fast (literally minutes) the fee is £14.90 for a bank transfer payment and £24.90 for a credit card payment.
The bottom line is that with Western Union you can send money to yourself in minutes and get given cash at various locations across the Philippines.
WorldRemit is another big player in the international money transfer market, and was definitely worthy of a mention here.
To try it out, head over to WorldRemit.com and create an account. When you select that you want to transfer money to the Philippines you are greeted with a plethora of options:
For some reason when I selected a cash pickup at Cebuana Lhuillier, it wouldn’t let me send an attempt larger than £726, so that’s the only example I have for the associated fees etc.
The fee for a £726 transfer to the Philippines as a cash payout was £6.99. The exchange rate, though, was slightly better than WU at 68.79, but still lower than TransferWise.
With a bank transfer, on the other hand, I was able to send £1,000 and while the exchange rate remained the same, the fee was £1 less than a cash payout at £5.99.
A few people have mentioned Xoom, so I thought I’d add it in here for comparison purposes.
First and foremost, all Xoom transfers are paid in US dollars. This is obviously great if you’re American, but not so intuitive for us Brits. So, to provide as accurate a comparison as possible, I’ve used XEcom to tell me exactly how much £1,000 is in USD.
Interestingly, for a transfer of $1,301.70 (£1,000), there appears to be zero transaction fee. However, the rate is pretty crap at 1 USD = 52.0400 PHP (or 67.74 pesos to the pound). However, if you then change how the receiver will actually get the money to cash, a $4.99 (£3.83) a fee is slapped on the top.
Now you might be wondering how Xoom can offer a service and not charge any fees. The answer is all in the exchange rate it offers. Remember TransferWise’s exchange rate was 69.79 (pesos to pounds). Xoom’s is significantly lower at 67.74 and even though it’s “only two pesos”, that makes a big difference when you’re transferring large amounts of money.
For example, if you were transferring say £2,000, the lower fee would mean the recipient gets almost 2,000 pesos less! That’s why I’ll still be sticking with TransferWise for the foreseeable future.
Do you have a different way of sending money here? I know there are many other ways to transfer money to the Philippines, but I’ve only written about the ones that I’ve had direct experience with. I’d love to hear about your own experiences.
NB – The Transferwise links featured throughout this post are referral links. You will get a free international transfer of up to £500 by using them.