Philippine Expats – Which is the Best Local Bank for You? (2020)

Philippine Expats – Which is the Best Local Bank for You? (2020)

If you are an expat in the Philippines, you need a bank that will meet all of your banking needs.

You’re in luck because there are quite a few global banks that have branches in key cities here, as well as local banks that provide world-class services. This certainly makes it easier for you to manage your finances and stay on top of your spending.

Opening a bank account is quite easy and only takes a few minutes, especially if you have complete documents required for account opening.

Read on to find out what you need to open a bank account and which are the best banks for expats.

But first, here are some things to consider when choosing a local bank

  • In general, larger banks are the safer option compared to smaller rural banks. The latter usually offer limited services and may not be easily accessible because of their small banking network.
  • You can also do online banking any time and any day with major local and international banks.
  • Most banks are open from 9am until 5pm on weekdays. But there are also banks that have Saturday banking, which is a bonus for people who can’t do their banking at the branch when they’re at work.
  • Your deposits are insured up to 500,000 PHP by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Commission.

What you’ll need to open an account

You need to make a personal visit to the bank of your choice with your documents and valid identification cards. The most common of which are the following:

  • Passport
  • ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card)
  • 1X1 photo
  • Proof of address

HSBC Foreign Currency Savings Account

With HSBC, you can enjoy world-class banking and and safe banking transactions.

You can keep your savings in a secure bank and have a foreign currency deposit account in 11 different foreign currencies:

  • (AUD) Australian Dollar
  • (CAD) Canadian Dollar
  • (EUR) Euro
  • (HKD) Hong Kong Dollar
  • (JPY) Japanese Yen
  • (NZD) New Zealand Dollar
  • (GBP) Pound Sterling
  • (CNY) Renminbi
  • (SGD) Singapore Dollar
  • (CHF) Swiss Franc
  • (USD) US Dollar

Other Features

With this account, you also get a contactless foreign currency debit card which you can use for debit transactions in the Philippines and abroad.

If you have an HSBC Advance or HSBC Premier account, you don’t need to worry about minimum maintaining balance.

Also receive text alerts whenever a transaction is done on your account, like deposits/credits and withdrawals/debits, or just a text alert letting you know of your account balance limit.

You will also receive a monthly statement of account that consolidates all your HSBC accounts if you have more than one.

Get 24/7 access to your accounts with the help of the Online and Phone Banking services. No need to queue up at the bank to do bills payments or funds transfers.

With the Express Banking Centre, you can also do your banking transactions even on weekends or after banking hours.

HSBC Foreign Currency Time Deposit Account

You have the option to lock up your funds in terms of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 months or 1 year.

Foreign currencies you can transact with for this time deposit account include:

  • (USD) US Dollar
  • (CHF) Swiss Franc
  • (CNY) Renminbi
  • (GBP) Pound Sterling
  • (NZD) New Zealand Dollar
  • (HKD) Hong Kong Dollar
  • (EUR) Euro
  • (CAD) Canadian Dollar
  • (AUD) Australian Dollar

The table shows the minimum balance requirements for the Foreign Currency Savings and Foreign Currency Time Deposit accounts.

Image screenshot from HSBC as of 8 February 2020

You can make over-the-counter withdrawals for foreign currency notes, but you need to make the request at least 3 working days in advance.

How to apply for a HSBC Foreign Currency Savings or Time Deposit Account

To qualify for these accounts, you need to have at least 3 million PHP or its foreign currency equivalent in Total Relationship Balance (or your deposits and investments), or at least 6 million PHP in mortgage loan.

You can also be an HSBC Advance customer by maintaining at least 100,000 PHP (or its foreign currency equivalent) in Total Relationship Balance, or at least 2 million PHP of mortgage loan.

Citibank Foreign Currency Account

This account is linked with one Debit Mastercard via the Citibank Global Wallet, saving you the time and hassle of switching to different accounts.

If you do a lot of traveling for work or pleasure, you have the convenient option to switch your Citibank Debit Mastercard to the currency you need, depending on which country you will be visiting.

When you shop at stores or online, you won’t be charged for currency conversions. Withdrawing money at Citibank ATMs are also free of charge, and you can send and receive funds with your account without paying for transfer fees.

Available foreign currencies for this account include USD, EUR, AUD, GBP, JPY, HKD, and SGD.

Global Banking Services

Citibank will help you open an account even before you get to the Philippines, giving you one less thing to worry about.

And because your Citibank Debit ATM card is accepted both locally and internationally, you can enjoy worldwide acceptance anywhere and withdraw in the currency of the country you are currently in.

For Citigold clients, you can enjoy the global status you enjoyed in your country when you open an account with Citibank. Find out more about how to apply for a Citibank Foreign Currency Account here.

BPI Foreign Currency Savings

Enjoy convenience while monitoring your transactions and letting your foreign currency savings grow with BPI.

Its Foreign Currency Savings Account is available for the following foreign currencies:

  • USD
  • JPY
  • EUR
  • GBP
  • CHF
  • AUD
  • CAD
  • CNY
  • HKD

You can choose from their Foreign Currency Passbook Savings account or the Express Dollar ATM Savings and open an account at any branch of BPI Family Savings Bank.

The Express Dollar Savings offers convenience and flexibility so that you can send and receive money via telegraphic transfers.

You can also receive dollar checks, cash, travelers checks or demand drafts.


To help you decide, know which things are important to you when it comes to banking services.

Are you looking for banks that have low fees or maintaining balances? Do you put a premium on the accessibility of the bank and their ATMs?

Or will you go for a bank with competitive interest rates, secure banking experience, or topnotch customer service?

The Philippines has more stringent banking requirements and regulations. Whichever bank you pick, make sure to read the terms and conditions before signing anything or handing over your hard-earned cash.


Are you an expat with a bank account at any of these banks?