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Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

florida
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Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

I am traveling to the Philippines for 2 weeks leaving this Saturday. My wife is staying for 1 month. Does anyone know the best way to have money available for spending while we are there?

According to the Universal Currency Converter website, $1 US equals 47.19 Philippine Pesos

Western Union's conversion rate is $1 to 45.80 PHP in addition to 3% total fees to send and receive combined.

Detroit's Metro Airport's conversion rate is $1 US to 42.4 PHP. (FIGURES ACCURATE AS AS YESTERDAY)

I already notified a credit and debit card company that we were traveling, but I wanted to use local currency primarily.

We don't want to risk carrying large amounts of cash, but want to minimize the amount of money we lose due to currency exchanges.

Here are the options I thought of:

1)Take US currency with us when we leave the US and exchange it once we arrive in the Philippines.

2)Send multiple Western Union wire transfers to ourselves before we leave the states to pick up as needed in the Philippines.

3)Purchase US Dollar AMEX traveler's cheques and exchange those once we arrive in the Philippines.

4)Use our credit union debit card at Cirrus ATM's when we can in the Philippines and pay a 1% international fee.

This is my first trip overseas and thought someone here may have experience traveling and exchanging currency. Any input will be great.

San Jose, California
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1. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

I been to the Philippines many times and this is what I normally do. First and foremost I try and guesstimate how much I would be spending approximately per day. Obviously my calculations are never correct. But with that said I'll exchange that amount of money into pesos. Then if the hotel has a safe box I leave the large amount of cash in there and then just take how much I think I will need for the day. For me this is good too because I know how much I have in my pocket and know how much I can spend per day. Again, sometimes I will splurge but in that case I use my debit or credit card. Best of luck to you.

Manila, Philippines
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for Manila
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2. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

It's cheaper to bring cash and just exchange it into local currency. The best and safest place to exchange your currency is at any SM Mall (currency exchange counter at SM Department Store or SM Supermarket or SM Hypermarket) Go to www.bdo.com.ph for current rates.

And you might want to try buying Pesos at your airport of origin's currency exchange. They just might have Pesos there too.

When I travel, I also bring most in cash and just leave them at the safety deposit box and just bring whatever I'll be needing for the day.

Eastern Shore of...
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3. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

Western Union and (some) crdit cards, ATMs will give you surprisingly poor exchange rates (and fees).

The most economical way is to do straight currency exchange as Pepperchip said. SM's are very good for this but make sure you have crisp, new $100 bills. They will refuse any torn or damaged bills as well as the older $100 bills.

In a pinch, you can find ATMs everywhere, but as you noted...there are additional fees.

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

Note if you are planning on bringing Pesos into the country the maximum you are allowed officially to bring is 10,000 Pesos (Around 150 Euro/200 US Dollars). Not sure if excess can be confiscated by customs if you are searched or if you are fined a percentage of it.

Australia
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for Cebu City, Cebu Island
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5. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

My experience making regular comparisons over the years is that the best rates are always at the ATM machines and the bank with the best echange rate at the ATM is Citibank.

So, that in mind, what you need is a bamk that will charge the least fees for your ATM withdrawals and definitely avoid bank's that think they are entitled to a percentage.

Regards: Jim Sibbick

Australia
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for Cebu City, Cebu Island
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6. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

Note if you are planning on bringing Pesos into the country the maximum you are allowed officially to bring is 10,000 Pesos (Around 150 Euro/200 US Dollars). Not sure if excess can be confiscated by customs if you are searched or if you are fined a percentage of it.

---------------------------

I don't think they care how much you bring in, so long as you declare it!

I have declared stuff in the hundreds of thousands of pesos and they just said "OK"

Regards: Jim Sibbick

Gig Harbor...
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7. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

I've been there three times in the past 4 years.

The first time, I took Traveler's Checks... those were a pain to cash... and the exchange rate wasn't as good

The second time, I took mostly cash with me and exchanged as I needed...

In Feb 08 I took some cash with me but then used the ATM network. My Credit Union debit card only charged me 1%. The local ATM use was free.

Be forewarned that whether you select Checking or Savings your withdrawals could all come from Checking.

I discovered this with hours of making the withdrawal from Savings... and discovered they had taken it from Checking (The receipt said Savings)

Pawtucket, RI
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8. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

I bring cash and only new bills in good condition. Travelers checks are not as good for returns as you get in Thailand. In a pinch I have cashed in travelers checks in a casino when banks were closed on Sunday and Monday was a holiday.

Several years ago I opened up a credit union account solely for my international travel. My credit union sells travelers without commission. Depending on the country I bring $100 US denomination TC's.

This same credit union also pays for ATM withdrawals even when OVERSEAS! When I am in the PI I use that debit card in an ATM and out comes the pisos. After around 5 or 7 free withdrawals there is around a $2 ATM fee. Look around for a federal credit union and open up an account. You could open two accounts in different names. I usually take out 10,000 pisos via ATMs.

I can access my bank account and transfer money from that bank account to the credit union account if I need more to spend. You have to set all of this up ahead of time but it is easy. Works for me!

Cash always works but make sure those bills look good they are pretty fussy! Oh yeah, make sure you notify your bank or CU that you will be using their cards out of the country and identify what country or an ATM withdrawal may be denied!

Good luck.

Pawtucket, RI
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9. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

"....You could open two accounts in different names. I usually take out 10,000 pisos via ATMs."

*

What I mean by this you could have an account in your wive's name and one in your own name and get double the amount of free ATM withdrawals.

These free ATM withdrawals overseas are on a monthly calendar - so if you get 5 free ATM withdrawals from the 15th to the 30th of the month you will get another set of free ATM withdrawals after the first of the month. This is a lot of money coming out of ATMs in 30 days!

I don't keep big balances in my debit card accounts because I believe them to be less safe than a regular account. That is why when I need extra money I first transfer money from my bank account to the credit union debit card account.

Be careful of who is watching over your shoulder when you are accessing bank accounts via the internet overseas! Clear your private data before you leave the computer if you are using an internet shop! I use a Flash Drive for my banking needs.

Good luck.

10. Re: Best Method of Spending/Exchanging Currency???

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