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Got some basic Philippines survival questions

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Got some basic Philippines survival questions

Postby MrBlueLight » Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:12 am

I will be heading over to the Philippines shortly and will be staying there for a few months. So I have some questions about basic living that I hope guys here can answer.

Money: What is the best way to transfer money over to the Philippines? What is the best wayto access my US bank account without incurring fees? I sure am not going to carry a bunch of cash on me, but I will need some easy way to withdraw money from my US bank account without being charged.

Dental: How are the dentists in the Philippines? Are their skills comparable to American dentists? Is it better to get my teeth taken care of before I go or should I wait till I get to the Philippines to do it?
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Re: Got some basic Philippines survival questions

Postby Hero » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:41 am

MrBlueLight wrote:Money: What is the best way to transfer money over to the Philippines? What is the best wayto access my US bank account without incurring fees? I sure am not going to carry a bunch of cash on me, but I will need some easy way to withdraw money from my US bank account without being charged.

There is no easy way. You'll just have to suck it up and pay the fees.

MrBlueLight wrote:Dental: How are the dentists in the Philippines? Are their skills comparable to American dentists? Is it better to get my teeth taken care of before I go or should I wait till I get to the Philippines to do it?


I would say that it depends upon which procedures you want to get done, and whether they are covered by your insurance in the USA. If it's something simple and cheap like a cleaning or filling a cavity, I'd say get it done in the USA. If it's some sort of fancy cosmetic dentistry, it may be worthwhile to get it done abroad. I know that Ladislav had a lot of dental work done in the Philippines, you should PM him if he doesn't see this thread.
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Re: Got some basic Philippines survival questions

Postby Yohan » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:16 am

MrBlueLight wrote:Money: What is the best way to transfer money over to the Philippines? What is the best way to access my US bank account without incurring fees? I sure am not going to carry a bunch of cash on me, but I will need some easy way to withdraw money from my US bank account without being charged.


I am a Citibank/Citigold cashcard customer in Tokyo.

When I am using my Japanese Citigold cashcard with the Citibank-ATM in Ayala in Cebu/Philippines, I can withdraw money from my Japanese Citibank Yen-account in Philippine Peso free of charge.

I do not think this service is available totally free of charge for customers who are not Citigold qualified, but it is better to pay some fees than to carry cash with you. International cashcard fees for ATMs in Philippines are not so high (USD 4,- per use and you can withdraw about USD 200,- or so) - for Citibank if taken from overseas Citibank accounts it is USD 300,- per transaction.
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Postby MrBlueLight » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:22 am

So if I put my American debit card into one of their ATM machines there, I would be expecting a a charge of about $4 per withdrawal?
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Postby Yohan » Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:16 pm

Yes, there is a fixed fee per withdrawal, regardless the amount for any foreign cashcard. Most ATM give php 10.000,- ( should be about USD 220,-) as maximum amount.

Citibank ATM in Cebu gives php 15.000,- per withdrawal for Citibank Cashcards, local or foreign.

I think, ATM fees are something around php 180,- per withdrawal, maybe somebody else can confirm that.

In Philippines, in Cebu, my hotel is always prepaid by Agoda using my creditcard, my airticket is an e-ticket. And for payments to my fosterdaughter for school etc. I am going to Ayala to the Citibank and transfer it to those banking accounts.

I never carry more than php 10.000,- in cash and I have 2 wallets, one with not more than php 3000,- and another in hiding with the rest and my cashcard.

I am rarely alone while in Cebu, usually with my Filipina fosterdaughter and some other people I know with me. So far never a problem with pickpockets or robbery.

However my Filipina fosterdaughter and 2 of her friends (all 3 of them girls 19 y/o) were robbed at gunpoint in front of the Sto. Carlos University last year during lunch time while eating in a restaurant. Mobilephone, some money etc. all gone.

The worst robbery I remember was in the Robinson Department - cashiers filling up ATMs were robbed at gunpoint a while ago in morning, the robbery failed and was ending with gunfire by police, private guards and criminals next to Fuente Osmena Circle, where I stayed overnight in the pension house, several people died or suffered serious injuries.

It's not every day like that of course, no reason to be afraid, but for sure there is some criminality going on in Cebu City. It is good to be careful and never carry too much money with you. Better lock your cash you don't need immediately in a safety box in the hotel, same with passport, creditcard, other documents.
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Postby davewe » Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:25 pm

MrBlueLight wrote:So if I put my American debit card into one of their ATM machines there, I would be expecting a a charge of about $4 per withdrawal?


Yes, most cards or ATMS will charge you. But if you do some research you can find some that don't. I know that Bank of America has a no fee International credit card now. Maybe some others do.

I usually just bite the bullet and pay the fees. OTOH guys who live in PI open a local bank account and just deposit a check from their U.S. bank periodically. Of course the check takes a month to clear but it's a good long term solution for many.
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Postby In2dadark » Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:39 pm

Best travel card I've found, as I mentioned in the other thread.

http://www.barclaycardarrival.com/arriv ... card&pmt=p
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Postby hammanta » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:21 pm

Another tip is that if you are carrying a large amount of cash don't exchange it at the airport, go to one of the malls, exchange rates are usually a little cheaper. If taking out money at an ATM, to avoid a lot of fees take out a lot of money. It's usually 150-250 peso fee you have to pay, not to mention your own bank fees. That can add up quickly.

Make sure you try and exchange big bills for smaller increments as taxis and other forms of transportation will run up a lot. Many cab drivers don't have change or say they don't have change to get you to give them a bigger tip. I'm talking get plenty of pisos, 20 and 50 peso bills along with 100's.

As the other poster mentioned Barclays usually has the best deals and perks. I'd try and go with them if you can.
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Postby Ghost » Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:07 pm

The ATM charges in the Philippines were one of the worst parts...Over $4 to withdraw. Loco.
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Postby Falcon » Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:44 pm

Sign up for a bank card that will actually reimburse your international ATM fees, like Charles Schwab. Search online to get the best deals.

ATM's in Thailand charge $6, so the Philippines isn't that bad!

Do not use Bank of America ATM cards, which are some of the worst.
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Postby MrBlueLight » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:01 am

How about just using my American debit card to pay at the stores? I remember in Taiwan, there was a fee every time I paid something using my debit card.

And how about American checks? Do I have to incur a fee paying with American checks? And do Filipinos even accept American checks?
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Postby Yohan » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:15 am

Falcon wrote:ATM's in Thailand charge $6, so the Philippines isn't that bad!


Yes, but Thailand's ATM give you more money, up to baht 30.000,- (USD 930,- approx.) if you use Kasikorn Banking, and there is no Thai bank ATM I know which will give you less than baht 20.000,-. (USD 620,- approx.)

It is always good if you withdraw the maximum amount from ATMs, in Philippines or in Thailand, banking fees will not change if the sum you take out is small or large.

As I am using a Japanese based Citibank Cashcard, the Japanese-owned AEON-bank ATMs in Thailand will not charge me any banking fee, but Citibank will refund Citigold Cashcard customers 50 percent of charges if any, regardless if local or overseas.

I never had any problems, neither with my cashcard nor with my creditcard.

ATMs are operating well in Thailand, Cambodia and Philippines. I never had any problem with them, but I recommend to use those which are located within a banking branch during office hours - for example in shopping malls. Do not use ATMs during late night located somewhere outside in the street to avoid criminals.
Last edited by Yohan on Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Taco » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:18 am

ATM's charge 200 pesos. Make sure you tell your bank and credit card company your going to the Philippines or they might think your card is stolen and cancel it which would not be good. Western Union is a good way to get money if your in an emergency.

I had 11 fillings replaced 2 years ago with white composite it cost $50 a tooth(Green Apple Dental, Cebu). I haven't had any problems with the fillings. Before you get any dental work done you have ask how much they will charge you or you could get stuck with a big bill. Doctors and Dentists charge foreigners more than locals, there's nothing you can do about it. There are foreign trained doctors and dentists they seem to have their act together.
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Postby Bao3niang » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:46 am

Why go abroad just for a few months? I thought you are going to teach TEFL there. Is TEFL still the best route for living abroad? ( other countries in the Anglosphere do not count as abroad)
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Postby In2dadark » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:36 am

Taco wrote:ATM's charge 200 pesos. Make sure you tell your bank and credit card company your going to the Philippines or they might think your card is stolen and cancel it which would not be good. Western Union is a good way to get money if your in an emergency.

I had 11 fillings replaced 2 years ago with white composite it cost $50 a tooth(Green Apple Dental, Cebu). I haven't had any problems with the fillings. Before you get any dental work done you have ask how much they will charge you or you could get stuck with a big bill. Doctors and Dentists charge foreigners more than locals, there's nothing you can do about it. There are foreign trained doctors and dentists they seem to have their act together.



Better than what I paid in Tampa back in 2001. Getting the price upfront is true for dentists in the U.S. as well. Good idea to get that mercury out of your mouth. I cringe when I see dentists offering low income families deeply discounted mercury filling for their children, as if they're not being oppressed enough.
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