Money in the Philippines

An overview of currency and banks

Money in the Philippines

As an expat moving abroad dealing with local currency and banks can be daunting at first. This guide will help you learn what you need to know to confidently negotiate the financial system.

Currency in the Philippines

The official currency of the Philippines is the peso (Filipino: piso) which is divided up into 100 centavos (Filipino: sentimo). Before 1967 the language on the currency was English so peso was used, since the language has changed to Filipino piso is now written on banknotes.

Coins available are in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 centavos and 1 and 5 pesos. Notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 pesos. Though the 5 and 10 peso notes are no longer printed they are still considered legal tender. In 1997 all currency was replaced with new designs and these are the only ones legal now, you cannot use your pre-1997 currency.

In December 2010 a new series of notes were announced with new coins planned for 2012. The old notes will still be valid until December 2013.

Banking in the Philippines

There is a wide range of banks available in the Philippines from large international banks to smaller, rural ones. All banks are licenced by the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas). Most large banks have Internet and cellphone banking with many branches across the country.

ATMs are found in most major branches and are open 24 hours a day. One important thing to note is that they often run empty. Most local workers get paid twice a month and around these local paydays the ATMs are often empty. It is best to get your money for the weekend before Friday or wait until after Monday morning.

There are about three ATM networks in the Philippines, some only accept local bank cards while others take international cards. A tip would be to open a local bank account that uses a different network to your international card. That way you have another option when looking for an ATM that works. Most ATMs are also limited to P4,000 per withdrawal apart from some Bank of the Philippine Islands machines which have limits of P10,000 or P20,000. The most commonly used cards are Maestro, Cirrus, MasterCard and less often, Visa.

Further reading

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