Again and again and again I get these messages, or read them on someone else’s site …
Hi ….where do I go to get answers to my husband’s queries on banking here in our city.
He’s a retired xxxx and depends solely on his pension from bank of America for a living.
Lately we cannot make one time cash advance from his bank of America debit card at Banco de Oro. We need to get one time cash advance…
Well let me take this opportunity to pass on a tip or two about Living in the Philippines. You can find plenty of cries for help like the one I quoted above, any day of the week. Here are a few rules and suggestions that can help you avoid being one of the ones in dire straights asking for help.
As a general observation, Americans in particular need to get their banking terms straight … because when it is your money, you need to use the proper terms. A bank ATM card gives you cash by withdrawing it directly from your bank account. This is Not a Cash Advance. A Cash Advance is the use of a credit card to obtain cash where the money goes into your credit card account the same as a purchase. Fees are imposed and you have to pay back the debt, and interest if applicable. Some bank ATM/debit cards are ‘dual purpose’, they can function as either a debit (direct withdrawal) or a credit (Cash Advance) card. Don’t go into a bank, or use a teller machine, and use the term :Cash Advance: unless you mean to incur the fees and the debt. Most banks will happily process the request as a “Cash Advance” instead of a “Withdrawal”, if you say so, because typically they make a lot more money on the deal … so, precision in speaking is required here if you ant to save yourself money.
First a Rule: (No it isn’t really a rule documented anywhere, but it’s “Dave’s Rule” and it has served me well so far). Do not attempt to live here on one ATM card. It is like playing Russian Roulette without even knowing how many cartridges are in the cylinder. Why?
ATM cards can get lost or stolen. Shouldn’t have to expand much on this, but if you have only one card and it gets stolen, have you any idea how long it will take your bank in the US to send you a replacement? Will they even send a replacement to the Philippines? Have at least another, independent card (that you don’t carry with you)as a backup.
ATM’s here in the Philippines may ‘eat” your card, capturing the card and refusing to return it. This is a common anti-fraud measure. If you committed no wrong doing, can you get your card back? Normally, yes, through the head office of the bank who runs the ATM. How long? Figure weeks, not days.
For some reason unknown to you, your bank may terminate or suspend your account. especially in today’s “War On Terror” hyperbole, foreign money transactions are always monitored by various agencies of the US government and by commercial security agencies, perhaps under contract to your bank and/or the card issuer. How could this happen if you do nothing wrong?
No way I can say, but if it happens, do not expect to get the matter resolved via a simple phone call. My advice. Have more than one bank or credit union, either in the US or here and in the US so that one “backs up” the other.
Your bank may be totally out of line in taking such an action, and maybe you can sue tem, and write your Congressman, etc., but the bottom line is, if this happens to you, you ain’t getting cash
ATM’s here in the Philippines are sometimes notorious for “Failure to Dispense”. You card is accepted, the transaction is processed and charged to your US account but no cash comes out. If you asked for cash up to the limit of the card, guess what, you can’t even try again until tomorrow.
Will you get your money back? Most likely yes. But here’s the way it works.
The bank here who owns the ATM which failed to dispense is acting solely as a service provider to your US bank. They are not responsible to give you a refund, and they certainly won’t. They are required, and normally will, report the “no dispense” to your US bank, and the end of the next banking day here in the Philippines.
Your US bank them, is responsible to credit your account for the money erroneously charged. How long will this take? Last time it happened to me, it was back in my account in three days, with only ne phone call to the States. Got time to wait for that before you go to the grocery store?
What do I recommend? belt and suspenders, or even multiple belts.
Carry a US bank debit card. Also carry a US “name brand” credit card, like Visa or MasterCard. If your US debit card fails, you can try the Credit Card, either in a machine or an over the counter cash advance from any major bank.
There are fees that come with a cash advance, but hey, you can still eat while you straighten out the mess.
I go several steps farther. I have a bank account here in the Philippines. I carry an ATM card for that account. No fees and much easier to straighten out any screw ups that might occur.
I also carry a Philippine-issued master card, and I could buy groceries, go to the drug store or even get a cash advance on that card if I was in those “dire straights” we mentioned earlier.
But there is another pair of suspenders which I highly recommend. It’s free, and I wonder why more long-term visitors don’t take advantage of it.
Not only do I r3ecommend you have a bank account here, I highly recommend you introduce yourself to, and take time to notice and act courteously to the branch manager, his or her deputy, the chief security guard, etc. Do I mean be an asskisser? Those who know me will quickly realize I don’t mean that.
But these folks are fellow humans, and they control, to a great extent at times, just how easy (or hard) it is to live here. My branch manager is Mr. Favro. It costs me nothing to pass by his desk on the way out and say hello. Matter of fact, he often has something interesting to say. And recently, when I came back from Florida, he and I had a very interesting conversation for about half an hour regarding the real estate credit crunch in the US, how things were similar and also different here, and so on. I know I certainly learned some things of value. I hardly consider enjoyable conversations like that currying favor, but hey, as we say here in the Philippines, ‘Sup to you’.
All can say is, works for me … instead of having the adversarial relationship so many foreigners seem to have with their banks here, why not find yourself one managed by humans, and, in turn, treat them like humans in return. For me, it has paid dividends in convenience and peace of mind. Thanks to all the great folks at the SM Marilao branch of BDO, who help me out most every day.