How to open a bank account in the Philippines

Tommy Buckley

If you’re thinking of moving to the Philippines for work, study or just an adventure, you’ll need to work out how best to manage your money. It can be handy to have a local bank account, but how easy is it to open one?

In this guide, we’ll run through all the essentials you need to know about opening a bank account in the Philippines. This includes how it works for foreigners, the documents you’ll need, an overview of Philippine banks and whether there are any fees.

But it’s also useful to know that a traditional bank account isn’t your only option. If you want a quicker, more convenient way to manage your money, check out the Wise multi-currency account.

You can open and manage it all online, and then send, spend, convert and receive over 50 currencies all in one place.

Wise only charges low, transparent fees, and you’ll always get the mid-market exchange rate. If you want to manage your money between countries, Wise can be much cheaper than using a bank.

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But for now, let’s focus on how to open a bank account in the Philippines, starting with the basic documents you’ll need.

What documents are needed to open a bank account in the Philippines?

If you’re opening a bank account in person in the Philippines, you’ll need to bring documentation to prove your identity and residency.

If you don’t have the exact documents the bank specifies, it may still be possible to start the process. But you’ll need to contact the bank and perhaps even meet with the bank manager to talk through your personal circumstances.

While it can vary from bank to bank, the documents you’ll likely need are¹:

  • Proof of your right to be in the Philippines - usually an ACR (Alien Certificate of Registration) Card. Some banks will accept the Immigrant Certificate of Registration instead.
  • Photo ID like your passport or national identity card.
  • Proof of address, such as recent utility bills or your rental contract.
  • Passport-sized photographs.
  • Minimum deposit (the amount varies from bank to bank).

Some banks also require a reference from your previous bank. They may contact your home bank directly, or ask for statements that show you were a good customer. This is less likely if you are opening an account with an overseas branch of your own bank or have been introduced by an existing customer.

Some American expats in the Philippines have experienced problems opening accounts with local banks. Although not official bank policy, local branches might be wary of opening accounts because of the stringent anti-money laundering laws that are applied to U.S. citizens, even overseas. If this is the case, you can open an account with an international bank such as HSBC more easily.

Open a bank account online in the Philippines

In the Philippines, it used to be the case that you had to visit a bank branch in person to open an account. But things appear to be changing, and some banks now accept online applications.

For example, one of the country’s major banks BDO lets you apply online and participate in a Zoom video call to verify your identity. Here’s how it works²:

  1. Visit the BDO website, choose an account and start the online application process
  2. Upload a valid photo ID, a selfie of you holding your ID and a photo of 3 signatures.
  3. Participate in a Zoom video call with a BDO representative
  4. Once your account is approved, you’ll need to find it within 7 days to avoid closure (you can send money online to do this).

However, not every applicant will be eligible to open an account online. You’ll need to check with the bank whether this service is available to non-residents and non-citizens.

Can I open an online account in the Philippines from abroad?

You can technically apply for your new bank account from abroad, if the bank accepts online applications. The only sticking point is that most banks will require you to have a local address in the Philippines³.

This is no problem if you’ve already sorted your accommodation. But if not, you may have to wait until you’ve moved to the country before starting the process of opening a bank account.

Luckily, you can open a Wise multi-currency account online while still in the UK, in just a few easy steps.

And you can start using it even before you set foot in the Philippines. It’s really useful for covering those initial costs, such as paying university tuition fees or the deposit on your Philippines rental accommodation.

As soon as you land, you can start spending in Philippine pesos (PHP) using your Wise multi-currency debit card.

So if you’re waiting until you arrive to open a Philippines bank account, Wise gives you a convenient way to manage your money in the meantime.

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Eligibility is subject to verification of customers identity

Opening a bank account in the Philippines

Before you start researching Philippine banks, it’s useful to know a little about the different account types available. Depending on your circumstances, you may not be eligible for some accounts.


Without a local residential address in the Philippines, you may struggle to open a bank account there. You may also experience this difficulty if you’ve only just arrived, as foreigners living in the country for less than 180 days are classed as ‘non-resident aliens’¹. However, it depends on the bank.

There may still be some options though. You may be able to open a foreign currency account as a non-resident, or open an account with an international bank with a presence in both the UK and the Philippines. If possible, they can help you transfer your account over when you move.


Once you’ve been living in the Philippines for at least 180 days and have your local address, your status will change to ‘resident alien’¹. This will give you the right to open most bank accounts that are available to Filipino citizens.

This includes checking, savings, time deposit and investment accounts. You should also be able to apply online (where available) and access debit and credit cards.


Some Philippines banks also offer accounts for students, often in the form of savings accounts.

For example, there’s the Spark Savings Account at Metrobank, another of the country’s major banks. Available for applicants aged 7 to 21 years old, this account offers 24/7 access, a debit card and has no initial deposit⁴.


Planning to stay in the Philippines for a while? If you’re working and earning money, you may want to look into getting a savings account.

Nearly all Philippine banks offer savings accounts, and there are a few different types. This includes easy access, time deposit/fixed, regular savings and high yield interest savings accounts.

Which Filipino bank is best for foreigners?

Banking in the Philippines is advanced, with a network of international banks as well as regional institutions.

For foreigners opening a new account, it’s probably a sensible idea to stick to an international bank or one of the country’s large national banks. You’re more likely to find English-speaking services, while regional banks can be more difficult to use and only offer limited services.

To help you start your search, here’s what you need to know about the country’s largest banks. These include BDO Bank, Metrobank, Landbank and BPI.

BDO Bank

BDO is one of the largest banks in the Philippines, with over 1,600 branches and 4,500 ATMs⁵ across the country. It also operates internationally, with full-service branches in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

The bank offers:

  • A choice of checking and savings accounts, including a Peso Checking account and interest-earning Smart Checking account. Both come with a debit card, and have a minimum initial deposit of 5,000 PHP⁶.
  • A wide range of credit cards, starting from 150 PHP a month⁷.
  • Digital banking services and the option for online account opening.


Another of the country’s big banks, Metrobank was established in 1962 and is partly public-owned. There are more than 950 branches and a network of 2,300 ATMs nationwide⁸. Metrobank offers the following:

  • A range of savings, checking and time deposit accounts, including AccountOne. This is an interest-earning account with a debit card, with an initial deposit of 25,000 PHP⁹.
  • A dedicated student account - the Spark Savings Account⁴ for people aged 7 to 21 years old. It offers 24/7 access, a debit card and no initial deposit.
  • A selection of credit cards with no annual fee, including the Metrobank Rewards Plus Card and the Metrobank M Free Card¹⁰.
  • Digital and mobile banking services.


The government-owned Landbank started life as an agricultural bank. Even today, it fulfils its goal of promoting countryside development - while still offering a range of accounts and services for retail and commercial customers. Landbank has over 600 branches and 2,800 ATMs¹¹ across the Philippines. It offers:

  • A wide range of checking and savings accounts, in pesos and US dollars.
  • This includes its Regular Current Account, with a minimum initial deposit of 5,000 PHP and a service charge of 200 PHP if your account falls below the minimum balance of 5,000 PHP¹².
  • A number of credit cards, including the Landbank Classic Credit Card (annual fee of 1,000 PHP) and Landbank Gold Credit Card (annual fee of 2,500 PHP).¹³
  • A range of e-banking services, including a dedicated mobile banking app.


One of the oldest banks in the Philippines, BPI offers both consumer and business banking services. It has a network of 1,173 branches and more than 2,700 ATMs across the country¹⁴. BPI offers the following products and services:

  • A choice of checking, savings and time deposit accounts, including a Regular Checking Account with a minimum initial deposit of 10,000 PHP¹⁵.
  • The Maxi One Account, which combines the features of a checking and savings account. It has a minimum initial deposit of 25,000 PHP, and an interest rate which varies based on your daily balance¹⁶.
  • A selection of credit cards, including the BPI Visa Signature Card. It comes with a range of rewards and perks, for an annual fee of 5,500 PHP (free for the first year)¹⁷.
  • Access to digital and mobile banking services.

Banking in the Philippines

The Philippines banking system is made up of national and international banks, along with smaller rural banking institutions. The Philippine peso (PHP) is the official currency.

Most banks offer online banking, with many having their own dedicated mobile banking apps too. If you want to visit a branch in person, you’ll usually find them open between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. Philippine banks tend to be closed on weekends and public holidays¹⁸.

Like many traditional banks, transfer times can be a little slow with Philippine banks - especially if you’re sending money internationally.

With Wise, you can send money worldwide within minutes. Wise charges low, transparent fees and you’ll always get a fair exchange rate, so it could even save you money compared to using a bank.

The speed of transaction claims depends on individual circumstances and may not be available for all transactions

Banking fees in the Philippines

Now, how much does it cost to bank in the Philippines? There are a few key costs and figures you need to know.

The first is the minimum initial deposit required to open the account. This varies between accounts, with ‘premium’ accounts usually requiring a higher deposit. For standard checking accounts, you can expect this to be set at around 5,000-10,000 PHP.

You may also be required to maintain a minimum daily balance, which is often similar to the minimum initial deposit. If you fall below this, you may be required to pay an account maintenance fee of around 200-300 PHP¹⁹.

There may also be other fees to pay, such as for closing the account¹⁹, inactive accounts¹⁹ and for using debit or credit cards in other countries.

There also may be fees for withdrawing cash from an ATM operated by a different bank or using ATMS in the Philippines

If - like many expats - you need to regularly move money between accounts which use different currencies, you’ll want to find the most cost-effective way of doing it. Usually bank fees are very high for this service. As well as a charge for processing the transaction, the exchange rates used can be far from favourable because banks tend to add fees as well as their own profit margin into the exchange rate they offer. This isn’t transparent and is rarely the best deal for the customer.

To get the best deal available, find an exchange service that uses the mid-market exchange rate when they convert your money from one currency to another, like Wise.

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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Sources used:

  1. B2B Pay - How to open a bank account in the Philippines
  2. BDO - Online account opening
  3. Exiap - How to open a bank account in the Philippines
  4. Metrobank - Spark Savings Account
  5. BDO - Business Operations
  6. BDO - Checking accounts
  7. BDO - Credit Cards
  8. Metrobank - About us
  9. Metrobank - Checking
  10. Metrobank - Credit cards
  11. Landbank - Find us
  12. Landbank - Regular Current Account
  13. Landbank - Credit cards
  14. BPI - Who we are
  15. BPI - Regular Checking
  16. BPI - Maxi One
  17. BPI - Visa Signature Card
  18. Expat Arrivals - Banking, Money and Taxes in the Philippines
  19. BDO - Peso Checking

Sources last checked on date: 21-Feb-2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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