DIRECT DEPOSIT You can set up a dollar account and arrange for direct deposit of your pay in one of several Philippine banks with branches in the USA that are authorized to receive direct deposit. The funds are transferred electronically to one of their branches in Olongapo City or SBMA at little or no cost. For these accounts, there is no minimum balance. You can then withdraw your money in dollars and exchange them for pesos at the local money exchanges (see below).
As a holdover from the days when direct deposit was not available, some retirees still use NFCU or other U.S. banks for direct deposit, then write personal checks to shift the money to their local bank account here. The only "costs," which vary with a particular bank, are the amount required to open the account, the required minimum balance, and a hold placed on the check for 23 - 30 days by the bank when the check actually clears in about 7. But.... they have to make money, too. Another method is to transfer money by wire, but there are associated charges.
EXCHANGE RATE The exchange rate at the money exchanges (Arlene's, DBS, April Mae, etc.) now hovers at 49.78 pesos/dollar, generally much better than the rate in the banks. For reference, San Miguel beer in the Barrio bars was raised to 50 pesos.
MONEY CHANGERS Unlike Thailand, money changers here will only take cash or, in some cases, checks. Therefore, to get cash using a credit card, you must have a PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your card and use it in an ATM.
ATMs here are now three ATMs on SBFZ (Prudential Bank, CocoBank and the Philippine National Bank) that will process an NFCU CUCARD, VISA card or ShareChek card (PLUS system). CIRRUS system ATMs are also available in Olongapo and on SBMA.
NFCU NFCU CUCARDs, VISA cards and statement, and boxes of replacement checks can now be mailed to the FPO.
The RAO has a good working relationship with NFCU and can send faxes (at your expense) for you to check balances, obtain funds, arrange loans, etc. This information is now available via the Internet. Loan applications can also be made via the Internet. NFCU now has a bill payment service on the Internet for a monthly fee.
INTERNET BANKING Many U.S. banks can now be accessed on the Internet for fund transfer, balance checks, payment of bills, etc. TRAVELERS CHECKS American Express Travelers Checks can by cashed at the Prudential Bank on SBMA for a fee of about 170 pesos.See Also Sources of Banking in the Philippines