Money Transfer within and to the Philippines

(For Money Transfer Offices in Germany, click here!)

Everybody who is married to a Filipina sooner or later learns about the way how the family responsibilities work in the Philippines. The most important thing is, as there is no State controlled pension system for the old people, it is the responsibility of the children to support their parents or other family members when they do not have any money available. Of course every Filipina married to a foreigner is considered to be wealthy and everybody will ask her to bear the majority if not all of the support now.

So, even when it is possible to make it clear to your wife and to her family that you have earned or are earning your money still the hard way by doing some work, you still will be required to take part in the support of the family of your wife. So you will soon find out that it is quite difficult and quite expensive to transfer money to the Philippines using the normal banking system.

Problem 1: The family does not have a bank account at all. This is quite common as in the Philippines every bank request a minimum number of Pesos to stay in the accounts. When this money is withdrawn, the account is closed. This is the typical situation when there some urgency coming up, after that there is no account left anymore.
Solution: There are services available which accept money and do a door to door delivery. One example is PCI Padala, located in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Similar services are available in other countries as well. Other possibilities are "Postbank" and "Western Union".
Problem 2: The Philippine account handling bank does not have any relation with your local bank. So a direct bank transfer is not possible.
Solution: All transfers to local banks can be accomplished via the PNB, the Philippine National Bank. A similar service is offered through the PCI Padala Bank as well. Simply specify on the transfer form that the receiving bank is different, specify the name and the correct account number, and that is all. This will take a bit longer then to arrive, but it does.
Problem 3 All money transfer abroad is monitored through the banks. In case that you transfer more than the equivalent of 2500 Euro the banks and the State becomes suspicious and will contact you if there is some money laundry going on.
Solution: Never transfer more than 2500 Euro per month
Problem 4 The account number your family gave to you was not the account number but the card number. Most accounts are handled via ATM machines in the Philippines, and the account owner have corresponding cards which they can use to withdraw the money. The number on those cards of course is different to the account number. Unfortunately, when asked for the account number, most Filipinos simply take their card and give you that number. Consequently your money arrives in the Philippines correctly, even at the right bank, but is never assigned to the correct account.
Solution: First thing of course is to avoid that problem by asking explicitly for the account number, and tell them not to read from the card. But when it has happened, the card owner has to go the branch or to the main bank office and explain what has happened. Normally this is sufficient to route the money to the correct account.
Problem 5: You have transferred a lot of money to the Philippines which should last for at least three month. You did this to save the expensive fees for the money transfer. You will soon find out that after one month all the money is gone. There is always some kind of emergency which forces them to withdraw more and more of your money until all is gone.
Solution Well, the first solution is to transfer the money piece by piece, but this is very expensive. The other solution is to transfer money to an account which can only be handled by you. This means that you still can forward within the Philippines the necessary money to the corresponding target accounts.
Problem 6: The money transfer is quite expensive, and this does not depend on the amount to be transferred but is the fee for the handling of that transaction. In our case we have to pay around 30 Euro per transaction.
Solution 1: Again PCI Padala in Frankfurt offers a lot cheaper money transfer to the Philippines. Transfer to a target account will only cost you around 7,50 Euro. To open this possibility you have to register with PCI Padala the target accounts in the Philippines. For each of these accounts you will get a corresponding "ID" number, which you have to use when you transfer money to the Padala account. Via this ID you can even identify a door to door transaction.
Solution 2: There are more and more companies available to arrange money transfer to the Philippines. We just found a new company which will transfer money via Internet to the recipient within 12 hours. The money is deducted from your credit card account (based on USD!), the transfer will cost you 14 USD. The Internet address of that company is:
Problem 7 You have an account in the Philippines, you have transferred a lot of money there, but now nobody can access that money as only you in person can withdraw or transfer money to other accounts.
Solution: PCI in the Philippines is the first bank to offer accounts which can be handled through the internet. This means that you can transfer money to your own account, and then forward portions of that money to all target accounts within PCI just using the internet. Access to these features is secured by a "Fastphone" Access Number (PAN) which you can change as you want and which can be used as well for phone access to your account.


Of course nothing works as originally understood. When I opened my internet account at PCI, I first had to deposit a avarage daily balance of 10000 Pesos or its US-Dollar equivalent. OK, this is quite a lot of money which you will not be able to use as long as you keep that account open. Then I had asked for the possibility to transfer money to any of the PCI accounts without the requirements to register them first. This was confirmed but does not work like this. You still have to register the target accounts. This might cause a problem as these target accounts have to be registered personally at the branch which is handling your account.

By the way, to open up such an internet account with PCI you have to appear in person at your PCI branch. So better plan for your next trip to the Philippines a visit to some PCI branch which is close to the places you typically will stay for most of the time.

In case of problems or questions you will have to communicate via fax or email with your account manager. My experience here was very positive. Emails are answered within one day, and required actions are performed with the same speed. The transfer worked typically within one bank working day, i.e. it was available the very next day on the target account. Now I am able to handle my money myself and distribute as needed and as decided by me.

News about PCI: The internet accounts do now only need a deposit of 3000 Pesos, not 10000 Pesos as mentioned before. Furthermore are all accounts registered within PCI automatically open as targets for any fund transfers from your account. 

Some more news: it is possible too pen a PCI account with only 50 Peso. See the comment of Werner down here.

But be careful when you open an account with PCI for your family and you are planning to transfer from your PCI account to that account. We have encountered many cases where the target account was a <Cash Deposit only Account>, so it was not possible to send money to that account. You have to make it very clear when you open an account that this should not be a cash deposit only account. Usually this is done when you can provide as many identification papers as possible. The typical papers required are:

Comment of Werner (June 4, 2004). When you visit the PCI Padala Office in person, you can get an advertisemnet sheet,with a stamp, which enables you to open an account in the Philippines with a minimum deposit of 50 Pesos. When you want to open an account for your girl friend, remember that you need to of these forms.  And remember, you need 2 IDs. As address you can specify the address of your local hotel, it should be an address in the environment of your bank.

Money transfer via the German Postbank:

You have to open an account at the Postbank (Spar plus), Then you will get a Sparcard with Pin which works a Visa card. This means you can get access your account on any ATM with Visa Plus and withdraw money. There are 600,000 ATMs available worldwide. Prerequisite of course is that there is money available on that account. The first 4 withdrawals per year on that account are free of charge for the other you will have to pay 5,50 Euro. This is one of the fastest methods to send money to the Philippines. Of course the Sparcard has to be available in the family in the Philippines. The advantage is as well, this account cannot be used when there is no money available, so there is no risk that somebody could misuse that account. But typically within 1 hour after you have transferred money to that account it will be available in the Philippines. 

Comment of Peter Birkenstock(31. July 2002): Six month after I opened my account on the Postbank they wrote me a letter and threatened me to close my account. According to them I was abusing this account. Such an account was not intended to transfer money but to save money. (Need comments?)

Comment of Gunter Spranz (4. September 2002): Basically the Postbank is correct. It is clearly stated in the rules for the account chapter 1.2: Money on this account has to be used to earn  interest, but cannot be used as a business account or for money transfer purposes. Therefore you should not expect that they will tolerate the use to transfer money to the Philippines in that form for long.  

Kommentar von Werner (4. Juni 2004) Postbank Sparcard erlaubt 4 kostenlose ATM Abhebungen pro Jahr, was beim Transaktionslimit von Peso 4000 bei Metrobank oder Peso 5000 bei PCIB nicht viel Sinn macht. Wer z.Bsp.  16000 Peso am  Metrobank ATM abheben möchte, hat 4 Transaktionen, danach wird es teuer.

Money transfer via Western Union

Just as fast works the transfer via Western Union. This is called "Minute Transfer" and works without any account. It is person oriented. The receiver has to show his id card or a similar identification to be able to withdraw the money. The procedure is as follows: You deposit money in the Postbank. In every Postbank there is a terminal with a direct connection to Western Union. Here you have to enter the recipient (as exact as possible) and the amount. You will get a 10-digit code which you have to forward to the recipient. With this code and his ID the recipient now can go to the nearest Western Union Agent in the Philippines and claim the money. There are lots of agents available in the Philippines (typically these are banks). For instance in Daet there are 8 of these. You can find the list of agents as well via the Internet. Go to the following address: Western Union, and then to the Agent Locator. Works great, but is expensive (25 Euro per transaction up to the amount of 250 Euro, then by percentage)

Kommentar von Werner (4. Juni 2004): Inzwischen wird bei Bezahlung mit VISA Card eine Gebühr von Euro 5,50 von der kreditkartenausstellenden Bank erhoben, da Western Union den Geldtransfer als Barauszahlung bucht. Also 5,50 + Western Union Provision pro Transaktion.

Geld Transfer über die City Bank

Kommentar von Werner (4. Juni 2004): (Gehatls-!) Konto in BRD ist \"kostenlos\". Für die Überweisung nach den Phillipinen werden in BRD keine Gebühren berechnet. Citibank Cebu City berechnet aber satte Gebühren und das Konto ist das nicht gerade günstig.

Address of the PCI Padala Office in Germany:

Equitable PCI Express Padala (Deutschland) GmbH 
Contact: Dante G. dela Cruz, or Ronald R. Yap
Große Friedberger Str. 6 
60313 Frankfurt 
Tel. 069-7200700 (For the current exchange Rate)
Tel: 069-720070.. 12-14 (For the Hotline)
Fax 069-72007070
Website (German Padala)

List of Philippine Banks

And some information about Phishing:

Phishing is done via emails which look like official emails from respective money institutes. The recipient is typically asked to visit a website which again looks very close like the official website of the institute and to enter there personal data. This is typically a credit card number plus the associated PIN. It could be a social security number as well. All these data will then be used in a criminal way to steal your money or even worse, steal your complete identity.

All money institutes never asked for PIN information or other personal identification information. So whenever you recieve such an email, even when it says, the service for you would be terminated, just ignore it.