Cheapest Way to Send Money to Philippines

Foreign employers who outsource some jobs to Filipinos try to make the most of their revenues by finding the cheapest way to send money to Philippines. Most of them hire Filipinos because aside from we have the skills, employers don’t need to pay too much to get the jobs done.

On the other hand, it seems that Filipinos are coining money nowadays, and it is not just because they have relatives in other countries sending money to them, either! Many Filipinos are making good money by simply staying home and working for foreign employers online. You will usually get paid in foreign currency. In either case, one major issue is how to get the money coming to them. There are quite a few easy options available nowadays, and some more popular than others are.

However, what you see is not what you get in most instances. Just as there is no such thing as a free ride, there is no such thing as a free remittance. When money moves, somebody pays. The question is, what method will give you the most bang for (or the least bite from) your buck.

Two things will have an impact on what you finally get in your account (or your cash remittance):

  1. Transfer, remittance, or withdrawal fees
  2. Foreign currency exchange (FCE) rate

Depending on the method, and where your money is coming from, you can pay as little as a flat fee of $3 (with a $3 hidden cost for FCE), or as much as 8% of your remittance! This is mostly because of what some call hidden fees, which are not really fees at all but a percentage difference in the FCE.


For example, if the current exchange rate for US$1 to Philippine pesos is 47.05, you could be getting your pesos at a FCE rate of 45.65, instead. You might think that the PhP 1.40 less is peanuts. However, if you compute it, that is a 3% difference. For every $1,000 remitted, that’s $30 or about PhP 1,400 less than you should get. Those are expensive peanuts.

This is what happens in many widely used payment services such as PayPal and Xoom. Aside from the remittance fees (which in the case of PayPal is may be for the receiver’s account), typically 2.2% to 4% which is declared, they have lower FCEs than the mid-market or “honest” FCE rates which they simply slip in when you make a withdrawal to your local account. In effect, these are expensive ways to get your money. What, then, are the cheapest ways to send money to the Philippines from other countries?

TimeDoctor created an excellent article breaking this down. In summary, based on country of origin and per 1,000 of the appropriate currency (US$ for US, £ for UK, etc.):

US: PayPal, bank wire transfers, Transfast, Lucky Money, LBC Home (fast), and Skrill are the most expensive, ranging from $35 to $80 in declared and “hidden” fees. The cheapest methods are Ria Money Transfer (it of the $3 flat rate for slow, $7 for fast), TransferWise, USForex, LBC Home (slow), PNB Home Remit (slow and fast), and Wells Fargo.

UK: PayPal, bank wire transfer, and Travelex get frowns, with total charges ranging from £45 to £80. Fetch a smile for the cheapest providers, which include Small World FS, TransferWise, UKForex, Azimo, MoneyGram, and Western Union.

Canada: PayPal, bank wire transfer, Skrill, and Travelex are again at the bottom of the list, with total charges ranging from $45 to a whopping $130 (Travelex, so don’t use it). Best guys are Transfast (slow, lol), CanadianForex, Xpress Money, MoneyGram, and Qicsend.

Western Europe (Germany, Italy, France, etc.): Avoid PayPal, bank wire transfer, Skrill, Travelex, and Xpress Money for thumbs-down total charges ranging from €42 to (Travelex again!!!) €182. Save your money and go with Small World FS, TransferWise, UKForex, MoneyGram, and Western Union.

Australia: Boos for Fast Remit, PayPal, Western Union, bank wire transfers, Skrill, and Travelex for total fees between $45 and $128 (guess which one…you get a cigar!). Ozzie favorites are TransferWise, PinoyFirst, PhilExpress, (goes to show how many Filipinos are there!), OzForex, MoneyGram, Orbit Remit, BM Express, iRemit, Exchange4Free, and XE Trade.

As you can see, the service provider can move up and down the list depending on the country of origin. In general, however, you get the best rates with TransferWise and the country Forex. You want to avoid PayPal and Skrill, and definitely Travelex! The actual fees for bank wire transfers will vary from bank to bank, but they are never the cheapest options on the block.

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