Best Way to bring Money to the Philippines

money to the philippines

Bringing Money to the Philippines

So, you’re looking to plan a trip to the Philippines and are having some financial concerns. Are you concerned about bringing money to the Philippines? Do you bother exchanging your United States Dollars to Filipino cash? Actually…What is the currency in the Philippines anyway? These are all great questions and we applaud you for doing your research in advance, before your trip begins. In fact, planning your finances ahead of time is the best way to ensure that your vacation will be relaxing and stress-free, and that’s how all trips should be…right? So without further ado, sit back, grab a pen and paper to take some notes, and enjoy our top tips for the BEST way to bring money into the Philippines!

Filipino Currency and Exchange Rate

To get started, we know it can be hard to begin planning exactly how much money to bring if you’re not even sure what money is used in the Philippines. So, keep reading below to find out more about the Philippine Peso.

The Philippine Peso, also known as the “piso” by locals, come in 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 banknotes and 1, 5, and 10 centavo, or “sentimo” in Filipino, coins. Their currency code is PHP, and at the time this article was written, 1 PHP equals .02 USD. (However, as you may already know, currency exchange values are constantly changing. So you can keep track of the most up to date exchange rate by clicking here: Philippine Peso

The BEST Way to Exchange the US Dollar to the Philippine Peso

While there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to exchange currency prior to traveling, there are certainly ways that are “better” and “smarter.” So keep reading below to find out our “Dos” and “Don’ts” when it comes to exchanging money for your next trip to the Philippines.

DO– Plan ahead by calling your local bank branch. Tell them you are traveling to the Philippines and how much currency you are looking to convert. Big banks are likely to give you the best exchange rate if they have the currency you are looking for on hand. And, if they don’t have it in stock, they will most likely refer you to the next closest branch that does have some Philippine Pesos on hand. Also, keep in mind, aside from getting a better rate by exchanging your money at the bank beforehand, you are also setting your trip up to be a stress-free success.

With your Philippine Pesos already in hand when you land, imagine that you can go straight to your lodgings*** and start enjoying the gorgeous culture and sights of the Philippines immediately. Doesn’t that sound better than waiting in a long exchange line or stressing about where you can purchase this foreign currency for the best rate?

Exchanging money beforehand is also especially helpful if you find yourself running into an unfortunate emergency such as a lost bag. There would be nothing worse than needing to buy some new undergarments and toothpaste and having no money to do it with!

(***By the way, when it comes to lodgings, we recommend renting or leasing a condo for your stay in the Philippines. Check out why renting or leasing a condo is the way to go here:  Renting a Condo in The Philippines AND once you’re convinced that condos are the way to go, check out this link for the BEST condo listings in the Philippines:

DON’T– Exchange your US Dollars to the Philippine Peso at the airport. While it might seem “convenient” at first thought, consider this: what if you’re running late to the airport and run out of time to exchange before getting on the plane? Or what if your plane is delayed, your luggage is lost, and the last thing you want to do is stand on a long currency line? By exchanging money beforehand you are saying goodbye to stress and hello to the best exchange rate!

Credit Card? Debit Card? Or Cash?

Again, when it comes to exactly how you plan on handling your money while traveling to the Philippines, there isn’t really one right or wrong answer. Because all banks and credit card companies have different policies when it comes to international spending, you’re going to have to do a little bit of investigating in order to answer this question for yourself. Here’s our guide of questions to ask your personal banking and credit establishments and things to do so you can best prepare your money for your trip to the Philippines.

DO– Call your credit card and debit card companies beforehand. It’s possible they might cite their international policies online, but sometimes it’s better to call a representative and ask them specific questions, such as: “Do you charge a fee for using my credit card internationally? What is your policy on foreign ATMs? Does my card have a built-in limit on international spending?”

DO– Go into your trip with two forms of finances you feel prepared to use, if necessary. A spending “Plan A” and “Plan B,” if you will. The reason we say this is because it would be awful to call your bank, be told your debit card should work internationally, and then be faced with a “Card Declined” message! Or perhaps you’ve decided you’re going to only use cash on this trip, and then your cash clip gets stolen! As we all know, life can be unpredictable, and so it’s best to plan ahead for anything that might happen by having two sources of money ready to go at all times.

DO– Have cash on you, no matter what. You most likely are going to find yourself in situations where you will need small bills, even if you have access to your debit or credit card. Whether it’s tipping a taxi driver or purchasing something small from a street market, it’s never a bad thing to have cash on you. Even if you don’t plan for it to be your primary source of spending on your trip, at the very least you know you’ll have money to get by in the Philippines whenever you may need it.

DON’T– Use your debit card for every purchase. Because your debit card directly accesses your checking account, it can be risky to solely use your debit card abroad. Instead, use your debit card as your primary access to ATMs, and take necessary precautions whenever you dip your card and take money out. Such precautions include: covering up the keypad when entering your PIN number, making sure you completely log out once you’ve finished your transaction, and dipping your card appropriately. (Did you know that grabbing your card too fast can trigger the machine to withhold the card permanently for security purposes?! Not the best way to start your vacation!)

Are There Limitations on Traveling with Money?

Believe it or not, when it comes to limitations on traveling with money, there is a policy- and it’s not just exclusive to the Philippines. The current law enforced worldwide is this: you may not travel with more than $10,000 US Dollars (cash) on your person. While the typical vacationer might not find a need to carry this much cash to the Philippines, if you do, you’re not exactly out of luck.

Just the same way that you would have to fill out a customs declarations form if you intended to transport a live animal or plant across country borders, you’ll have to do the same for your currency in excess of $10,000. On the declarations form, you will have to mention the exact reason as to why you need to carry this much cash and a legitimate, honest reason explaining how you earned this money. If all of this checks out, you won’t be inconvenienced beyond a few questions with Customs and Border Patrol, but in our opinion…why even bother?

Aside from the Customs hassle you will run into, it also just isn’t safe in general to travel with that much cash on your person. Especially when you consider how often you are separated from your bag in the airport and random searches you may be subject to. Our advice is to travel with a reasonable amount of cash (no more than $2,000) and consider spending the rest in credit cards or utilizing ATM machines. And besides, remember that $10,000 American Dollars does not translate the same way in the Philippines. In fact, that $10,000 dollar limit equals over 500,000 PHP! Odds are that’s a bit much for the typical traveler, don’t you think?

We hope you found our guide to managing your money when traveling to the Philippines helpful. It’s important to keep in mind that just like you’ll want to rent or lease your condo in the Philippines far in advance of your trip, you’ll want to figure out your money game plan ahead of time too. Doing so will make your trip more enjoyable and can even save you from unnecessarily high exchange rate or foreign credit card fees.

If you have traveled to the Philippines before, let us know in the comments below! Do you have any travel tips or tricks? Did you discover your own hack when it comes to bringing money into the Philippines? We’d love to hear all your stories!

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