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JonnyBravo

Retiring to the Philippines. Do I switch banks?

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JonnyBravo

Greetings,

I'm about two years out from retiring from the USAF. I'm looking to retire permanently in Cebu and visiting the US on occasion, among traveling to other countries. I'm looking for advice as far as do I direct deposit my retirement checks into a Philippine bank such as BPI or do I keep my current bank and transfer over. I currently bank with USAA. Is there any hidden fee's I should know? Other notes - I normally use a credit card to make all my purchases. I completely try to limit my use of debit cards anywhere because of thieves getting ahold of it, at least with my credit card they won't have direct access to my bank accounts. I know from visiting Cebu and across the Philippines, most transactions are done with cash but it's whatever. I'm looking for some constructive feedback and I'll answer any questions that are relevant. Thanks in advance! 

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Chris24

You are probably going to want both a USAA account (for your main banking, to receive any direct deposits and to take care of any US bills or transactions), and a Philippine bank account to keep maybe 1-3 months living expenses and to use for local bills, local ATM transactions and to have a local bank (and relationship with a banker) you can visit in person .  Maybe start off relying  on your USAA ATM card until you choose which P.I. bank to open an account, that will also give you time to obtain local documents such as an ACR card as some banks require it.   A few years ago for my own planning I had settled on BPI for the Manila area and BDO for the Cebu area, but that was "planning only", not direct experience, and things may have changed since then. 

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Salty Dog

I had no issues keeping an account with USAA. I used a U.S. based BOA credit card for most purchases while living in Cebu City and when I was in Dumaguete. I took out money from the ATM to pay rent and small stuff where cash was needed.  I opened a local bank account with BPI and BDO to keep some emergency cash and monthly spending money. I felt BDO was a pain in the ass and eventually closed it. BPI seemed much easier to deal with. I paid my electric, Sky Cable and Globe online using my BPI account. Many make a deposit with a U.S. check each month into your local bank account and just wait the 3-4 weeks for funds to be available. After the first time, it will be like you're getting it every month.

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liquido

IMO I hate the banking system here..long lines and so archaic.ok seniors get to go to the front of the que...I have been here 10 years  and use my  Fidelity ATM card all the time only for withdrawls or purchasing airline tickets..Using your credit card here is risky and pisses people like me off standing behind you cause I know the poor cashier will be punching all kinds of buttons and you signing carbon paper which all takes up my valuable time..haha ..Since im such a great customer of Fidelity they pay the ATM fee's..I know I get dinged a little money conversion fee's just like most others here using ATM..I know Shwaab  and possibly your USAA may cover the fee's also..Nice peace of mind to have your loot in your own 1st world country using modern banking principals..Im sure others here have there own opinions...   

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Jawny

While you wait for the flood of opinions, check the archives for this topic.  Banking queries like yours comes up frequently enough there will be lots to read, and recent. 

You don't need for your annuity to come to a Philippines bank, but can use an allotment to a Philippine bank.  That way you have more control over the actual annuity. There are many banks that can accept USA annuities.  The older threads usually cover a wide range of banks, and opinions about which one is best.  I’ve used Metrobank for many years and am generally satisfied.  

Most banks here will have a fee for the acceptance of the allotment. A few dollars, usually. The deposit is almost same day.  Pretty reliable. 

A lot of the banks operate like franchises, so opening an account in one branch does not mean you’ll have access at another branch. Passbook savings as an example.

you'll need to keep track of how much of a balance you accumulate in banks here.  If there is total of all accounts that exceeds $10,000 this needs to be reported using an online system. Lots of threads about this in the archives. 

 

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Headshot

I have an account with a US credit union and an account with BPI here in the Philippines. All incoming money goes to my US credit union and then I have my credit union wire as much as I need each month to my BPI account. Wiring money from my credit union to BPI is simple because I had personal relationships with some key employees at my credit union and because I set up a system in advance. Since you are in Guam, you might want to set up an account at Navy Federal Credit Union. They have no ATM fees, and they cover any overseas withdrawal fees rather than allowing them to be withdrawn from your account by other institutions. USAA used to have the same policy, but they recently limited the amount of fees they will cover.

BTW, if you have USAA auto insurance, but you will be moving to the Philippines, they will not insure your vehicles in the Philippines, but they will insure you anytime you are renting or borrowing a vehicle during a trip to the US. It costs $24US per year for this insurance, but more importantly, it keeps your account active with USAA. That keeps your dividends coming each year, which in most cases will be far greater than the paltry insurance payments you make. 

Edited by Headshot

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JonnyBravo

Thank you for the replies thus far. Liquido I'll try not to piss you off with the whole credit card thing but at least you can have the warm fuzzy it's me lol. I mainly use the credit for dining out and I keep cash on me for the convenient stores and theaters, etc. I agree with you on the banking hubs there, I've had the pleasure of waiting on my wife to get information from one. It looks like the line to get on space mountain, Disney World on a 50% off admission day. The only difference is the line for space mountain moves at some points of time.  Anyways, it seems like a good many of you keep your money back in the motherland and send it (transfer) what you need to a Philippine bank. I will read more in the archives about it. Thanks again. 

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Dafey

Before coming here I started a Schwab 1 account. It's free and you get savings, (never used it), and checking/debit card. You can withdraw cash from any ATM with no international fees anywhere in the world. If an ATM charges you, (normally 250 pesos), they refund that money at the end of the month. And...they pay interest...not much but is is something. 

You can also transfer from and to other banks with Schwab. If you transfer to Schwab they put a 4-5 day hold on it but going from Scwab to say USAA it's instant.

They also have wire transfers but I've never used them so don't know the fees.

We've bought a vehicle and a house withdrawing money from Schwab. You're allowed $2000 a day but they can bump that temporarily if needed. The exchange rate is pretty close to the current rate.

I've never had an issue with fraud or hackers at an ATM anywhere but I try to use the ones with a security guard standing close by. It would be hard to install a skimming device at one of these.

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JohnSurrey

I don't know how big your retirement checks will be but keep in mind deposit insurance here is limited to 500,000php http://www.pdic.gov.ph/index.php?nid1=6

Set up an account with BPI or similar and get a local currency credit card that you can top up online/using your phone

Try not to use your us a/c's or cc's - leave your information and source of money in the US :D

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Jawny

BTW, the banking system is overseen by a federal agency (BSP) that sets rules and various guidelines that the banks follow....while some banks interpret the same rules.  For example a clerk opening your new account may tell you there are many hoops to jump through.  If you speak with a bank manager, the hoops may disappear as they want your business.  The clerk wants to keep their job.

It is quite likely you’ll be expected to provide informations such as SSA tax number, source of income etc.  The banks are required by the BSP to collect this as part of anti-money laundering rules. 

incedentally,, banks will accept overseas checks from your USA checking account, or third party such as from an insurance company etc. There is a time delay while the check clears as well as a fee.  However, this is one way to plus up an account balance.  Keep in mind the need to report if accounts exceeed $10000 only require the balance to be in excess for one moment.  

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Kabisay-an gid
On 2/21/2019 at 10:47 PM, liquido said:

IMO I hate the banking system here..long lines and so archaic.

 

With BPI, you can book an appointment online in advance, and bypass the line to make your transaction when you get to the bank. 

Of the big three banks, (BPI, BDO, Metrobank) BPI is the only one that lets you make transactions at any branch in the country without any hassles.

With BDO and Metrobank, you have to make transactions at your 'home branch' (the branch where you opened your account) - unless of course you like having to pay a transaction fee.

If your BDO home branch is in Ormoc, and you need to make a transaction when you're in Manila, the Manila branch will charge you a transaction fee - P100 last I heard.

With BPI, you can walk in any branch in the country to make a transaction, with no transaction fee.

BDO's only real advantage is that the branches located in SM malls are open on weekends. BDO branches not located in SM malls are not open on weekends.

But with BPI's over 3000 ATM's nationwide, I don't very often have to go to a physical branch to make transactions, so BDO's additional SM branch weekend hours don't really offer me any real benefit.

BPI also has considerably more readily available cash deposit machines nationwide than BDO.

Of all the banks in the Philippines, BPI is the one that is closest to the operating and technological standards of your better Western banks.

 

 

 

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to_dave007

I assume you'll want to be able to manage your accounts..  to the max..  via the internet.  If you need extra money in PI for an emergency, you may want to be able to bring it by logging on via your browser and simply sending it.

And a small story...

One Austrian friend of mine..  living month-to-month on limited pension..  just scraping by..  had his pension deposited to Austrian bank.. then transferred to PI bank that was no longer convenient for him to get to, as he gets older.  So he opened a new PI account at a new bank, and needed to instruct his Austrian bank to direct the transfers to the new bank.  They requested the instruction in writing, and he sent it off..  with an error in the papers.. in the account number.  So his pension did not arrive in PI at all the next month.  And he then began a 3 to 4 month ordeal to get the error corrected..  many phone calls and with multiple paper documents being couriered to Austria..  all while borrowing money from friends to survive.  The story had a happy ending for all concerned, but does illustrate one of the banking challenges involved in living here.

Edited by to_dave007

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Jawny

FWIW, I have not been inside the Metrobank branch I use for many years.  In fact, the only times I went in was to chat a bit with the assistant manager.  When he left to another branch, I stopped going in.  I am able to make withdrawals by filling out the forms and my wife goes in to complete the transaction.  This is not in compliance with any BSP rules, but when you have a branch that knows you, it works fine.

I've had checking, passbook savings, ATM accounts dollar passbook accounts,, peso passbook accounts all at Metrobank.  I’ve not had any occasion to use a different branch. 

Also, during the bad storm a few years ago, the banks were all off line.  The assistant manager I knew took my passbook to Cebu along with other business and I had cash right away.  

Having a local branch is not bad for myself. I only use the bank to get cash, deposit checks occasionally and have a credit card with them.

i have no confidence in their online systems. Besides, some accounts are restricted to which transactions can occur.  I recall getting a notice by email once about my online account and there were several hundred other account holders email addresses as CF.  Whoops.  Not the kind of security I was hoping for.  Even to read my credit card statement online, they require the use of their assigned password....my date of birth.  Can’t be changed.  Hence, I avoid online accounts entirely for other accounts. 

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liquido
6 hours ago, Kabisay-an gid said:

 

With BPI, you can book an appointment online in advance, and bypass the line to make your transaction when you get to the bank. 

Of the big three banks, (BPI, BDO, Metrobank) BPI is the only one that lets you make transactions at any branch in the country without any hassles.

With BDO and Metrobank, you have to make transactions at your 'home branch' (the branch where you opened your account) - unless of course you like having to pay a transaction fee.

If your BDO home branch is in Ormoc, and you need to make a transaction when you're in Manila, the Manila branch will charge you a transaction fee - P100 last I heard.

With BPI, you can walk in any branch in the country to make a transaction, with no transaction fee.

BDO's only real advantage is that the branches located in SM malls are open on weekends. BDO branches not located in SM malls are not open on weekends.

But with BPI's over 3000 ATM's nationwide, I don't very often have to go to a physical branch to make transactions, so BDO's additional SM branch weekend hours don't really offer me any real benefit.

BPI also has considerably more readily available cash deposit machines nationwide than BDO.

Of all the banks in the Philippines, BPI is the one that is closest to the operating and technological standards of your better Western banks.

 

 

 

The last time I was in a bank here(2 years back) was when i needed a U.S. DOLLAR DEMAND DRAFT to pay for my passport renewal..I signed more papers for that draft than I did when i bought houses in the USA..Either that or going to the embassy in Manila..I rather fly back to the USA and renew than do that..

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Yikes! the universe
On 2/22/2019 at 4:47 PM, Dafey said:

Before coming here I started a Schwab 1 account. It's free and you get savings, (never used it), and checking/debit card. You can withdraw cash from any ATM with no international fees anywhere in the world. If an ATM charges you, (normally 250 pesos), they refund that money at the end of the month. And...they pay interest...not much but is is something.

Could you please offer me some clarity on this. When I go to BPI and withdraw 20k PHP the ATM charges me 250 PHP, so that's 250 extra pesos that's deducted from my bank acct., and if I convert that it's roughly $5.00 USD. Then on my bank statement it looks like this.

ATM transaction fee $3.00

INTL CURR CONV FEE $.77

MC Intl Fee $3.50

Foreign ATM W/D $389.40 (I think this includes the 250PHP)

My question is "if" I get a Schwab 1 acct. will I be getting back the $5.00,  or all of the fees which adds up to $7.27?

 

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