Opening a bank account in the Philippines use to be a real challenge for most expats on a tourist visa. I tried to open one a couple of times when I first started living in the Philippines. I  ran into red tape and road blocks so I just gave up.  Mostly, I was told I needed an ACR-I card. Most of us expats believed we couldn’t even get an ACR card but that was inaccurate.  It was always available, even for those of us on a tourist visa.  The problem was we had to personally appear in Manila to get one.

Expats Opening a Bank Account In The Philippines

Last year the Philippine Bureau of Immigration began to require it for those of us in visitor status. A tourist visa is also called a visitor visa by some. It really means you’re here with just your passport. It is issued when you arrive in the Philippines by placing a stamp on your passport. The ACR card comes soon afterwards.


Rusty in Cebu

Today, I finally went to Banco de Oro (BDO) today to see if I would still run into red tape or be able to open an account. The bank officer looked at me a little odd and said something like “Sir, you will need an ACR card.” I told him “No problem, I have one.” He then asked if I had my passport and a 2×2 picture, which I did.  He then got the necessary forms for me to complete.

He asked if I just needed a savings account or an account to transfer money to.  I think they are the same. I think he was asking if I wanted a checking account.  Banks in the Philippines usually don’t issue checking accounts until you’ve had an account with them for some time. Using a check in the Philippines, well, I’ve never seen anyone do it! You’ll see a few people use local credit cards but that’s very rare.

Opening  my Philippine bank account wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected it to be. Three years ago, I tried to open a bank account in the Philippines and finally just gave up as something I didn’t really need.  Not having a bank account was a new concept for me  I’ve had one since I was 16. Less than an hour after starting my last attempt, I walked out of the bank with my new Philippines bank account.

UPDATE: A few months later I was offered a credit card from the bank. Now I also have a Philippines based credit card which can make life easier. More information is  available at expat gets a Philippines based credit card.

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Filed under: Expat FinancesExpats in the PhilippinesLiving In The Philippines

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