Transferring Money To The Philippines From US Banks

Transferring Money To The Philippines From US Banks

For years and with only a couple of exceptions we have used one method to transfer cash from the US to the Philippines. It takes 4-6 weeks for a check from our US bank to clear in our PNB dollar account. The cost is 200PHP per deposit and there is a limit of $2,000 per check. Sometimes they wave the 200PHP fee.

A PNB Dollar Account requires a $500 opening deposit and $500 is also the minimum maintaining balance. When we opened our account they gave my wife the OFW dollar account, which has a $0 minimum maintaining deposit.

The long wait for the checks to clear is ok with us. We plan ahead. But in the event that there is a rush we have some options. One option that I am considering now is Wells Fargo ExpressSend

ExpressSend Single transfer limits:
M Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier: $1,000 (cash pickup only)
Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO, Unibank, Metrobank, Philippine National Bank: $3,000
Additional ExpressSend transfer limits:
The minimum amount you can send is $25.
The maximum daily amount that you can send to all beneficiaries using multiple Wells Fargo ExpressSend Service Agreements is $5,000. The maximum total amount that you can send during any consecutive 30-day period using the Wells Fargo ExpressSend service is $12,500. You cannot name the same beneficiary on more than one service agreement.
PNB Customer Care informs me that the fees for international transfer are as follows:
USD 8.00 - for credit to a PNB Dollar account
Php 450.00 - for credit to a PNB Peso account
Php 500.00 - for credit to a Peso account with other banks

Wells Fargo ExpressSend cannot send money to a USD account. ExpressSend can only remit to a peso account. To approximate the exchange rate WF will give you google "USD to PHP" and knock about one peso off of that.

It is odd that no one at Wells Fargo could tell me this at the time they set up the transfer agreement. And it is also very odd that WF Customer Care specifically quotes an $8.00 fee for ExpressSend to a US Dollar account at PNB.

Transfer Cost & Clearing Time Examples

Example #1:

A $3000 transfer by check requires 400PHP in fees (two checks x two 200PHP deposit fees) and a 4-6 week wait for the checks to clear in your PNB account.

For the same $3000 transfer by ExpressSend, Wells Fargo will charge $4.00 and PNB will charge $8.00, the total of which is roughly 600PHP. Your cash will be clear in about three business days.

Example #2:

A $20,000 transfer by check requires a 2000PHP in fees (ten checks x ten 200PHP deposit fees) and a 4-6 week wait for the check to clear in your PNB account.

For the same $20,000 transfer by ExpressSend, presuming $3,000 transfers ($2000 for the last one), seven separate transfers will be required. Each transfer will cost about 600PHP for a total of approximately 4200PHP. You can have the first $12,000 within a few days, but you will have to wait 30 days to transfer the remainder.

Setting Up ExpressSend With Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo recommends that you should allow up to five (5) Business Days for the Beneficiary account details to be established before you make a Remittance to be credited to an account.

If you do not already have a Wells Fargo account, then you may have problems setting up ExpressSend according to the FAQs:
The first remittance sent under each service agreement must be completed in person at a Wells Fargo branch. Customers with an existing checking or savings account may be able to complete their first remittance by calling the Wells Fargo Phone BankSM, subject to caller authentication requirements and additional fraud prevention controls. Subsequent remittances may be completed at a Wells Fargo branch, calling the Wells Fargo Phone Bank, or through Wells Fargo Online® at wellsfargo.com.
If you are in the Philippines and you do not already have an account, then it may not be possible for you to enroll in ExpressSend. Wells fargo does have a presence in Manila. If you Google it you can find several Wells Fargo hits:
Wells Fargo Bank N.A.Makati, Metro ManilaOpen now · (02) 884 8426
Wells Fargo ExpressSend Quezon City, Metro Manila(02) 8712 4774

I have not contacted either of those above. If you click on the ExpressSend link in Google locations it shows this location info:
Banco de Oro, 202-204 Banawe Avenue, corner Agno Street, Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila
Also, from the ExpressSend FAQ above, part of what is meant above by, "caller authentication requirements and additional fraud prevention controls" is using your credit file to verify you are who you say you are. This is why it is important to maintain a US credit card and a US address. Without doing so, there may not be enough information in your credit file for your identity to be verified by asking you questions about this data.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for me on this issue is that ExpressSend will never save money on fees, but if you need money fast and within certain limits, then ExpressSend might be a good option to take.

I will attempt to set up an ExpressSend transfer sometime this month and post back the results.

UPDATE 2-10-20

I contacted Wells Fargo at 1-800-556-0605. The automated system requests your account # & last four of SS#. When it asks what you need say "other options" and then specify "Express Send."

The account rep will verify your ID through various questions and you account will be set up. You will see the option for international transfers in your online account, but you will only be able to do the first transaction by calling Wells Fargo again and initiating it that way.

The rep told me that it may or may not work and we will not know if it is allowed until we try it that first time. If it does not work, then I would have to go into a branch for that first transfer. That's not an option and I did confirm with the rep and her supervisor that the Wells Fargo presence in Manila is NOT able to help out with this.

Service reps are live 24/7 at the 800 number I gave above for Wells Fargo. However, to execute the first ExpressSend transfer you need to call when the sales dept. is open so you must call from 8 AM to 10 PM Monday-Friday.

So we will know in a few days if it works when I attempt the initial transfer.

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