The Best Way to Send Money to the Philippines

Do you know how to send money to the Philippines while saving the most money? Read this guide to find out the best way to send money to the Philippines.
A hand fanning Philippine Pesos.

Still wondering how to save the most money on exchange rates and transfer fees when sending money to the Philippines?

If you think sending by banks is the cheapest way, think again. After a certain amount, you lose money on poor exchange rates and transfer fees by using a bank.

In this guide I’m going to break down the cheapest way to send money to the Philippines.

To make things easier for you and me, I use a sample transfer of $1,000 US Dollars throughout the guide to see which method saves you the most money on exchange rates and transfer fees.

In the tables at the end of this guide, I also use two transfers of $10,000 and $100,000 to see how things change as your transfer amount increases.

I use XE.com for exchange rates. At the time of writing this guide they list an exchange rate of one US Dollar to 52.52 Pesos.

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A Quick Summary of This Post

If you have a Metrobank or Land Bank account, transferring $1,000 into the Philippines through either of those accounts would get you the most Pesos in return.

If you have an account in the Philippines with a bank other than Metrobank or Land Bank, your next choice to send $1,000 should be TransferWise.

The other method that would save you more money would be to come to the Philippines with cash and exchange it here.

But with the number of robberies in the Philippines it’s risky to walk around with a lot of cash.

If you want to exchange more than $1,000, TransferWise should be your next choice.

They beat out their competitors for transfers over $1,000, which you can see in the tables in the Overview section.

For a detailed look at sending money to the Philippines, keep reading.

What to Watch Out For

When you send money to the Philippines you need to consider transfer fees, exchange rates, taxes, and transfer speeds.

Transfer fees, exchange rates, and taxes affect how much money it costs you to make a transfer and how much the receiver in the Philippines gets. Transfer speeds are more about convenience.

Let us take a closer look at each one.

Transfer Fees

When you send money to the Philippines, you pay one of two transfer fees:

  • Fixed amount fees
  • Combination fees

Fixed Amount Fees

Fixed amount fees are what a company like TransferWise would charge you. You send a certain amount of money to the Philippines, and TransferWise charges you based on the total amount and how much they expect your bank to charge.

Combination Fees

Combination fees are what a company like PayPal would charge you. They charge you $0.99 flat fee along with a 2.5% fee to convert your currency into Pesos.

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are important to keep in mind because that’s where you lose the most amount of money during a transfer.

A little further down this guide, you can see all the money transfer services offer different exchange rates. And even those that offer “free” transfers make their money in exchange rate fees.

Whenever you transfer money into the Philippines it’s important to check the current exchange rates. I use XE.com.

XE offers up-to-the-minute exchange rates on currencies from all over the world before the exchange rates are marked up by banks and transfer services.

At the time of writing this article, the mid-market exchange rate for US Dollars to Philippian Pesos is $1 to 52.52.

Maybe you’re okay with a lower exchange rate of one US Dollar to 49.89 Pesos if you transfer a $100 into the Philippines and get 4,989 Pesos using a money transfer service with poor exchange rates.

But when using a money transfer service with poor exchange rates for a $1,000 transfer at one US Dollar to 49.89 Pesos, you lose 2,630 Pesos at that exchange rate or just over 5% of your total transfer.

With a $10,000 transfer you lose 26,300 Pesos.

Taxes

If you’re American, you must notify the government if you send over $10,000 to the Philippines. You must add that money to your annual US income and possibly pay taxes on it.

If you send over $14,000, you must notify the Philippine government as well. And if you’re working legally in the Philippines, they may consider it income. In this case, you must pay taxes on that money.

If you’re a Filipino working outside of the Philippines and you send money to your family back home, you’re exempt from paying taxes.

Similarly, if you’re a non-Filipino and you send money to a dependent in the Philippines, like your child or spouse, you also exempt from paying taxes.

So how do you know if you must pay taxes? You should talk to your accountant. He or she can let you know if you must pay taxes and which form(s) you have to fill out.

If you fail to tell your accountant that you transferred $10,000 or more into the Philippines and the US govern finds out, you have to pay a 25% penalty.

If you have an accountant in the Philippines, you want to let them know as well.

Transfer Speeds

Transfer speeds are unrelated to how much you spend on a transfer or how much the receiver gets in the Philippines, but it could be inconvenient if you have to wait a week to get your money.

Because banks are connected online, most transfers to the Philippines clear within a few days.

Sending Money Online

If you have a bank account, making online transfers is easy. Two popular online money transfer service providers are TransferWise and XendPay.

TransferWise

TransferWise charges $12.41 in fees. $1.50 is what your home bank charges and $10.91 is what TransferWise charges. They show fees up front and they match XE’s exchange rate of 52.52 Pesos to one US Dollar.

TransferWise usually transfers money within three banking days. And in the rare case that it takes longer, they give you the next transfer free.

To set up an account with TransferWise, head over to their website and sign up. TransferWise makes it easy for you to confirm your ID. You can start sending money at once.

If you need help creating an account, check out our in-depth guide to using TransferWise.

XendPay

You can set up an account with XendPay just as easily. But you have to wait a bit longer for XendPay to verify your ID. This means you can make transfers after you send ID like a passport or other govern ID.

XendPay lets you send your first $2,000 in transfers without fees. Instead, they let you pick what fee you want to pay—you could choose $0.

That may sound as sweet as flan, but you still lose money when using XendPay.

XendPay hides their fees in their exchange rates. For example, you get 49.89 Pesos to one US Dollar. With a mid-market rate of 52.52, that means you lose 5% of your transfer.

XendPay’s transfer speeds can be hit or miss. But it seems like the more transfers you make with XendPay, the quicker they transfer your money.

If you need help creating an account, check out our in-depth guide to using XendPay.

Sending Money with Credit Cards

You may be tempted to use a credit card to send money to the Philippines. But think about all the fees and interests rates you have to pay.

When you use a credit card to transfer money online, your credit card company charges you a fee for using your card, similar to when you buy something at the store.

According to ValuePenguin, Visa and Mastercard charge 1% to 3% of your total international transfer.

When you tack that fee on to what Western Union, PayPal, or other money transfers providers charge you in transfer fees, you lose even more money.

And what happens when you can’t pay the balance of your credit card right away and you’re charged interest on that money transfer? You lose even more money.

There are two case when it makes sense to use your credit card to send money to the Philippines: in emergencies situations and if you have the right card.

If you or someone you love needs cash quickly, take the hit and use your credit card.

If you have a credit card that waves foreign transaction fees, you can use that card while you’re in the Philippines and save some money—not a lot, but some.

There are many cards that wave foreign transaction fees. American Express has nine credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

If you want an more in-depth look at credit cards that waive foreign transaction fees, check out this post by the Points Guy’s.

Sending Money through International Banks

When you make a transfer through a bank, you do the same thing as when you make a transfer through an online service.

A bank with the word Philippines written across the front.
Some banks in the Philippines have branches overseas, making international money transfers cheaper and quicker.

Through a bank transfer, though, you’re charged twice: once by the bank you send money from and once by the bank you send money to.

If you have an account with a bank in America that also has a branch in the Philippines, you’re only charged once.

Let’s look at using Metrobank and Land Bank for international transfers. They often have fair exchange rates and branches located all over the world.

Metrobank

If you have a Foreign Currency account with Metrobank, you pay a $5.00 fee for inward transfers. And you can transfer any amount you like into your Metrobank account.

Metrobank gives you 52.30 Pesos for each US Dollar. This means Metrobank give you 99.5% of the mid-market rate. Or in other words, you lose 0.5% in exchange rate fees

If you use a Metrobank branch or partner in your home country, your transfer will be ready at once.

If you transfer from your non-partner bank into your Metrobank account, your funds will be ready within 24 hours.

You can also ask the bank to deliver the transfer to your house. This takes three to five business days.

Land Bank

Land Bank, another popular bank in the Philippines, charges a 50 Peso bank commission and a fee of 0.60 Pesos for each 200 Pesos you transfer.

Land Bank gives you 52.24 Pesos for each US Dollar. This means Land Bank gives you 99.4% of the mid-market rate or a loss of 0.6%.

Land Bank can handle international transfers on the same day if you’re transferring on a business day.

Sending Money through Other Methods

Aside from banks and online transfer services, you have a few other choices for sending money to the Philippines.

You can use companies like Speed Send, Western Union, and PayPal.

Western Union

You can send money to the Philippines through Western Union. They offer three separate ways for the receiver to get their money.

  • Pick up in person
  • Transfer through bank
  • Send to a mobile wallet

If you decide to send money to the Philippines through Western Union, check their exchange rates and fees.

A Western Union sign hanging on a wall.
The Philippines has Western Unions all over the country.

At the time of writing this guide, they’re giving an exchange rate of one US Dollar to 51.43 Philippine Pesos or 97% of the mid-market rate. If you use Western Union that means you lose 3% on exchange rate fees.

Western Union also charges between a $4 and $10 fee.

PayPal

PayPal charges $0.99 as a flat fee to send money to another PayPal address in the Philippines. They also charge a 2.5% of your total transfer amount to convert your currency into Pesos.

That means is you transfer $1,000 to the Philippines through PayPal, you lose $25 in exchange fees.

Cryptocurrencies

You may have a cryptocurrency wallet or account and wish to send cryptocurrency to the Philippines. Because of all the information online, it would take an entire article to cover this topic.

If you want a good place to start, check out Bitpinas.com.

In a nut shell, it makes sense to use either a bank or online transfer service instead of cryptocurrency to send money to the Philippines.

Even when using an established company like Coinbase you have to pay a $25 fee, plus the amount of money you lose you in exchange rates and fluctuating cryptocurrency rates

Bringing Cash

One final way to send money to the Philippines is to bring cash.

A stack of Philippine Pesos fanned across a table.
Exchanging cash in the Philippines still gets you the most money in return, but it’s not a good option if you’re already in the country or need over $1,000.

If you fly into Manila, you have two places to exchange your cash:

You can find the most competitive exchange rates in these two areas.

Whatever you do, avoid exchange kiosks at the airports and malls. You get poor exchange rates at these places.

For a more in-depth look at where to exchange cash in the Philippines, check out this post by Travelvui.

Cheapest Way to Send Money

If we take our sample $1,000 transfer and consider what you’ve learned about transferring money to the Philippines using the current mid-market rate of one US Dollar to 52.52 Pesos, here’s what it comes down to:

Exchanging $1,000 in cash in the Philippines gets you the most money. For exchanges over $1,000 you save more money using TransferWise.

Transfer Method Amount Sent (USD) Transfer Fees Exchange Rates (Pesos) Amount Received (Pesos)
Cash $1,000 52.36 (average) 52,360
Metrobank $1,000 $5 52.30 52,039
Land Bank $1,000 $3.95 52.24 52,033
TransferWise $1,000 $12.41 52.52 51,868
Western Union $1,000 $4 – $10 51.43 50,916 – 51,225
PayPal $1,000 $26 51.21 51,184
XendPay $1,000 Free for first transfer 49.89 49,890

If you want to send $10,000 to the Philippines, the next table shows a breakdown of the numbers.

You can see the more money you transfer, the more things change.

For a $10,000 transfer, TransferWise saves you the most money, unless you show up with $10,000 cash.

But do you want to carry around that much cash? I think not.

At this level, we also lose the choice to transfer money through Western Union because they have a $5,000 transfer limit.

Transfer Method Amount Sent (USD) Transfer Fees Exchange Rates (Pesos) Amount Received (Pesos)
TransferWise $10,000 $73 52.52 525,127
Cash $10,000 52.36 (average) 523,600
Metrobank $10,000 $5 52.30 522,995
Land Bank $10,000 $7.90 52.24 522,392
PayPal $10,000 $251 51.21 511,849
XendPay $10,000 Undisclosed 49.50 495,000
Western Union $10,000 n/a n/a n/a

And finally, a $100,000 transfer to the Philippines.

At this stage you lose the ability to transfer money through Western Union and PayPal.

And again, TransferWise beats their competitors—unless you show up with $100,000 cash, which is illegal.

Transfer Method Amount Sent (USD) Transfer Fees Exchange Rates (Pesos) Amount Received (Pesos)
TransferWise $100,000 $700 52.52 5,251,300
Cash $100,000 52.36 (average) 5,230,600
Metrobank $100,000 $5 52.30 5,229,995
Land Bank $100,000 $10 52.24 5,223,990
XendPay $100,000 Undisclosed 49.49 4,949,000
Western Union $100,000 n/a n/a n/a
PayPal $100,000 n/a n/a n/a

Now, on to You

If you’re looking for a Transfer method that saves you the most money on exchange rates and transfer fees when sending $1,000 to the Philippines, come here with cash in hand and exchange it at a currency exchange office.

If you’re already in the Philippines and looking for a way to get $1,000 into the country, use Metrobank or Land Bank if you have an account at one of their branches in your home country.

If you don’t have an account with Metrobank or Land bank in your home country and the Philippines, or you want to transfer over $1,000, send money to the Philippines with TransferWise. They are usually the cheapest way to send money to the Philippines in these two cases.

Images courtesy of Irina Slutsky, Michael, and thus.

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