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Having enough small change

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16 posts
6 reviews
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Having enough small change

Not having enough suitably small change while in the Philippines was my biggest problem.

Even the banks had difficulty changing the 1000p and 500p notes from the ATM into something that I could use at food stands, on local transport etc.

After withdrawing 10,000p

The bank was able to change 1000 into 2X500, 1000 into 20X50 and then the lady announced that she had no change.... what?

So, what on earth are the rest of you guys doing, to ensure that you don't get stuck giving the taxi driver 200P for a 150P journey... because oh would you look at that, the taxi driver has conveniently misplaced his change.

Giving the jeepney 100P always seems like I was taking the mickey.

If a london bus can't cope with a £10 note for a £2.20 trip, I don't want to be the only stand out white girl on the bus handing over 100P for a 7P trip

Any advice on what I was doing wrong?


Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines
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10,896 posts
1,993 reviews
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1. Re: Having enough small change

Nic, one has to plan a bit for this. However you have hit the 'nail on the head.'

My strategy is very simple. In Manila, if at all possible I make a beeline for the favourite moneychangers of TA stalwart FSRP01 in Ermita - near Manila Bay. When I change money inside one of these shops such as Edzen, upon being handed a stack of P1000 bills I push some back under the grill and ask for small P100 and P50 (or even P20 bills). this works without fail.

Then it's a matter of when climbing into a taxi, use a P100 bill if the fare is P75 and you will have more change.

Supermarkets are also good: they always have change.

At one's hotel, I also change some money if needed but with careful management, one doesn't have to do this often.

Yes, Phils. is friendly and safe, but shops and others do tend to use the 'no change, Sir' mantra so often that it become a little irksome. Try to beat 'em at their own game!

Mactan Island...
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302 posts
6 reviews
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2. Re: Having enough small change

This is one of the major so called " Standard Operating Procedures " here in PI.. It would be amazing to calculate how much we expats who live here, spend extra, because of the " No Change ". I can imagine how much more aggravating for tourist it is..

The advice Victorianlad gave you was very good.. For the taxi, i always find if i do not have change, I ask first the driver... Do you have change for ????? before taking off.. You will also find gasoline stations have a lot of small bills for change.. Seeing as how most transportation vehicle drivers here on put small amounts of gasoline or propane at a time..

For the jeepney's, for sure make sure you have coins... I do understand that their fares are so cheap, that it is very hard for them to change larger bills. Mostly they only carry very small bills and coins.. If you do insist hard enough, then you will get a large hand full of coins, in which will be aggravating to carry.. But will also come in handy...

So its not just you, this happens everyday, everywhere here in PI.. Its just another way to get that little extra.. But also, I do know that even ATM machines are always out of small bills, if even they have any at all.. Not for sure the reason change is so hard to get here in PI.. Its a problem everywhere..

Destination Expert
for Cebu City, Cebu Island
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9,167 posts
49 reviews
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3. Re: Having enough small change

No matter how many small notes and coins you have, always be looking for more. They run out VERY quickly.

Always pay with the largest note you can.

Take away shops, restaurants, bars and supermarkets generally have no problem with change. So when they ask you for P142 for your Orange Chicken Lauriat at Chowking, whip out a P1000 note to pay for it. Be happy to wait while they arrange your change, if they don't have it immediately available.

At the bar, pay for each drink as you go. This also helps to make sure you are not being overcharged.

Watch your grocery bill in the supermarket. No point arriving at the check out with P495 of groceries. Buy something else that will put you over P500 then give them a P1000 note.

When you leave the Philippines, take your small notes with you as you will need them as soon as you arrive back.

I hope this helps!

Regards: Jim

Destination Expert
for Manila
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3,495 posts
133 reviews
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4. Re: Having enough small change

The shortage of coins came about because of the increasing value of Nickel about 3 years ago. A container load of P1 coins was found being exported to China because the value of the metal content was more than twice the face value!

You will now see that all coins in circulation are mostly 2009 and 2010.

Paper money has now has lower purchasing power and so whereas a P20 would have had a life of 3 years only 5 years ago it is now less than 2 years.

To save money, less notes are printed and more old notes are put back in circulation. Because they are harder to count, banks are reluctant to issue them and businesses are unwilling to accept them from banks.

If you ask for P2000 in P20, often the bank will suddenly find that they do have some available!

After 10am, Jeepneys will not have a problem giving change for P100 or P200 notes but wait till 11am to reduce the number of coins you receive!

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16 posts
6 reviews
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5. Re: Having enough small change

Really useful advice guys.

I'm hoping to head back to the Visayas in August for 4 weeks so this is all extremely helpful.

Presumably this is a problem for everyone then, not just tourists.

I will be sure to ask for 20P notes in the bank, although any change will do!


6. Re: Having enough small change

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