They are pretty much giving ACR cards out to anyone these days including people on extended tourist visas. Using an ACR and your passport is pretty much enough to open a bank account in the Philippines. If you can bring along something with your address such as an electric bill it all helps. Personally I am not registered on any of the bills here as its just been easier to use other peoples names.
In the last couple of months or should I say now three months I have been trying to sort out activation of my paypal account which has now got me 2 bank accounts and about 80% to getting my money from the UK. The system here is antique at best and all its problems have been inherited from the U.S. with restrictions due to trying to be “anti money laundering”.
So going into the bank go to to the information/new accounts section which is normally fairly empty compared to the people wanting regular bank usage and you should be well on your way to open an account within 20 – 30 mins. as long as you have your ID’s I stated above you are unlikely to have problems. Once its approved they will tell you to call/come back in 1 – 2 weeks to collect your bank card and they will give you the details of your new account.
*IMPORTANT BIT OF INFORMATION*
Do not PRELOAD your bank account with more money than is needed to open the account. The reason is that when you go back in 2 weeks time to get your card they will give your pin number with it at the same time. Its just a simple signing process and you can change your pin at the bank machine. The reason this is important is I know of 3 cases now of people being robbed by bank employees one of which was at a main BDO branch in Cebu. The bank took no interest and simply moved the employee to another branch. The Norwegian Expat lost P250,000 as he returned to the bank a few weeks later after he realised the bank hadn’t been in touch to find someone had already signed for the ATM and emptied the account.
Once you get your account sorted an got your ATM card I would advise transferring money into it as and when you need it rather than filling it up. I have serious concerns over the banking safety here and its been proven several times. Getting your account to work online now is another kettle of fish, for the BDO account I have to “send” a letter of request why didn’t they just get me to do it when I opened the account I will never know!
My Union bank E-On account doesn’t work because its coming up “Third party E-On account” which is great as i need to verify my setup numbers from paypal all I can hope is that telephone banking works.
So all in all banking is tedious, if its not the setting up and the fact a lot of the accounts are pretty useless in comparison to international standards its the fact long queues at ATM’s in the cities on payday will leave many empty.
But I am allowed to grumble.. three months to verify a Papal account is a joke and I am still trying to do it. Wanted internet banking but looks like that is also too much to ask here for the account I will have. Only option is like I said empty the account on a regular basis the service is poor so no point rewarding them for it by letting them gain interest on my cash.