Sending money from the United States to the Philippines can be a royal pain if you do it a lot. If you do it often, like when my wife used to send me money, it makes sense to send money as cheaply and easily as possible.
Money transfers are never free – the only way to move money for free is if a particular bank exists in both countries, and even that usually isn’t completely free.
Cheap vs. Convenient
When you factor in the cost of fuel to get you from point A to point B and the wear and tear on your car, in addition to the money transfer fee, a trip anywhere just to send money to the Philippines costs a bit more than you might realize. If my wife sends me $1500 by Western Union, Western Union charges an $18.00 money transfer fee. Then, on the Philippines end, I have to pay a “documentary fee” of 100 pesos to receive that money. Wouldn’t it be easier to cut out some of the steps?
Going to the Western Union office, whether it’s located inside a supermarket or it’s a regular office, isn’t convenient because it requires a special trip. It’s much more convenient to set up an account with them and draw it directly from your bank account. If it can be deposited directly to another bank account, it’s even more convenient.
What about Currency Conversion?
Money can be both sent and received as US dollars in the Philippines. Sending it as pesos involves a currency conversion that may not be beneficial. It’s best to send dollars from the US and receive dollars in the Philippines. Of course, if a bank is involved, the recipient needs a dollar account at a Philippine bank.
There are several companies that can send money from country to country, Western Union being the oldest of the bunch. My wife’s aunt sends money to BDO (Banco de Oro) through Xoom.
In the end, it’s up to you to investigate and find out which way is the cheapest and easiest way to send money to the Philippines (or anywhere, for that matter) and weigh all the factors involved. No one can tell you – you have to see it for yourself as you check out the various websites that support money transfers.
Update – November 20, 2013
I missed a message from a person named Angelico F. Evangelista on my old site. He mentioned Qwarta Padala and I looked it up. That service charges 200 pesos per transaction (or the USD equivalent) for every transaction. That’s pretty cheap considering the alternatives.