Insights Blog
May 14, 2024


If you are looking to escape this current heatwave and set your sights on cooler horizons abroad, make sure you bring enough pocket money to truly enjoy the trip. Fortunately, there are several ways for you to access your funds or easily do some shopping on credit even while overseas.

Have your Philippine Peso exchanged before your trip

Even if technology now makes it possible to access your accounts online from pretty much wherever you are in the world, having a bit of cold hard cash (in the currency of your destination) on you is still advisable. This means exchanging enough of your Philippine Peso (PHP) before you even leave.


When exchanging your peso, it helps to be a little familiar with the current conversion rates which ultimately determine how much cash you will actually get.


Conversion rates depend on several factors and would require an entire discussion in itself. For the purpose of this article, however, it’s good to at least be familiar with the Indicative Foreign Exchange Rates of the day.

Foreign Exchange Rates can simply be understood as the buying and selling rates for several currencies as of a given date. If you visit BPI's Indicative Foreign Exchange Rates page, for instance—you will see a chart indicating the currency, the buying rate, and the selling rate for the day. 


If you are looking to exchange PHP 10,000 to, let’s say, USD for a trip to New York, look at (using the sample chart above) the ‘Bank’s Selling Rate (in PHP)’ column in line with the row indicating the US dollar to get your rate. Based on the sample rates, your PHP 10,000 then will get you roughly USD 174.


Before going to your local bank to exchange currency, make sure to call ahead in case your specific branch does not have the currency (or amount) you need on hand and require several days to produce it. Some banks, especially the larger ones however, offer instant conversion of Philippine peso to foreign currency (usually US Dollars) if you have an account with them.

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When exchanging your peso, it helps to be a little familiar with the current conversion rates which ultimately determine how much cash you will actually get.

Withdraw from ATMs abroad

When you’re already well into your vacation and are in need of cash, it’s useful to remember that many ATMs abroad allow you to withdraw directly from your Philippine bank account. 


Remember that when you withdraw from a foreign ATM machine, you get to choose whether you prefer to be charged in the currency of the country you are in or in PHP. 


While it seems more appealing to choose PHP, make sure you read all the fine print before doing so. The internet is replete with travelers sharing their experiences choosing to be charged in their home currency only to be peppered with additional fees and hidden charges later on.


Ultimately, the lesson is to be mindful of the details before choosing and also to do a bit of research on whether your bank has tie-ups with foreign banks to get preferential rates or even free withdrawal fees. If you have a BPI Debit Mastercard®, for instance, see to it that you withdraw from Mastercard-affiliated ATMs.

Use your credit card

One of the more convenient ways to shop, especially when abroad, is via credit card. Widely accepted almost everywhere, charging your purchases frees you from the many hassles and dangers of bringing large amounts of cash as you go around a foreign country. 


Another credit card feature you can take advantage of is earning points from purchases. Make sure you are aware of your specific credit card’s features to make full use of its deals or rewards.


Much like your debit card, you can also choose to be charged in the currency of where you are currently vacationing or in PHP. The lookout is likewise similar—make sure you’re aware of your bank’s foreign exchange conversion rate and fees before using it.


If forced to think of a counterpoint to using your credit card abroad, it would probably be fighting the tendency to overspend since you don’t see actual cash leaving your hand or being deducted from your account. In the end, awareness of the conversion rates and fees you are paying for every charged purchase will go a long way in tempering your shopping spree to a level you can afford without (much) regret.

Traveling, experiencing new locations, meeting new people, or even just escaping this scorching summer we are in right now can prove to be a wonderful way to recharge yourself. Balanced with careful preparation and planning, you are guaranteed a truly amazing experience that will be with you forever.

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