RT Cunningham

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Moving Money With Western Union and Sendwave

Tagged with gcash, money, sendwave, western union on April 2, 2024

moving money Moving money from financial service to financial service is something the majority of Americans who work for a living don’t have to worry about. If money needs to be moved, it’s usually to a specific digital wallet, like Apple Pay or Google Pay. Things are a bit more complicated when Americans, like me, live overseas.

My pensions come from the United States federal government in the form of United States dollars, or USD. They’re deposited to a single financial institution in the United States. I have to move money from there to either a financial institution in the Philippines, a digital “wallet” of some kind, or immediately convert it to currency.

That currency has to be converted to Philippine pesos, or PHP, at some point because very few places will accept USD in the Philippines. I only know of one, Royal Subic at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. I’m talking about cash, not credit cards, because I’ve found quite few places that will accept credit cards that deal in USD.

Banks in the Philippines

Although they call it direct deposit, it really isn’t. I had my first pension being deposited monthly with Philippine National Bank, or PNB, for several years. It was treated as a remittance because they charged $7.00 USD per deposit. It wasn’t even deposited directly to PNB, routed through some American bank in the United States.

My pension was rarely deposited on the date it was issued, the 1st of each month or the Friday preceding it if it fell on a weekend. One time, I had to wait until the 5th of July. PNB only had one branch, in Olongapo, that dealt with USD.

I closed the account at PNB at some point and opened an account at BDO. Their remittance fee was $4.50 USD, but that wasn’t the reason. Every BDO branch, whether in Olongapo or at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, dealt with USD.

I closed the account at BDO just before I started receiving my second pension and had both pensions redirected to my American financial institution. Dealing with banks in the Philippines is a pain, regardless of how simple it should be.

Moving Money with Western Union

I’ve been using Western Union to send myself money every month for more than a year. It’s sent as USD and I receive it as USD. Then I take it to a foreign currency exchange agent and convert it to PHP. The currency exchange always gives a better exchange rate than both the banks and Western Union.

Moving Money With Sendwave

Sendwave is actually a part of WorldRemit, which has been around since 2010. I only recently started using Sendwave to send small amounts to my GCash wallet in the Philippines. My daughter-in-law, Cathy, has been using Sendwave for a few years to send money to her parents due to issues with Western Union in that area of the Philippines.

I pay for “loads” from Smart Communications, for my phone, using GCash. I also make purchases from the Lazada online store using GCash, but only in small amounts. Sometimes I even order food from delivery services and pay for it with GCash.

Sendwave doesn’t charge fees. It gives a lower exchange rate, which effectively amounts to the same thing. I’ve done the math. If I send myself $1000 USD with Western Union, the fee comes out to about $10. If I send myself $1000 USD with Sendwave, the difference in the exchange rate comes out to about $20. That’s why I only use it in small amounts.

Do the Fees Matter?

As my mother used to say, it all comes out in the wash. If I have to go somewhere to pick up USD and then go somewhere else to convert USD to PHP, I have to pay for transportation in one way or another. It may be inexpensive in the Philippines to get around, but it isn’t free. I usually combine trips like that with shopping trips, so I only have to pay one taxi driver, who happens to be related to me.

If I didn’t need cash, using Sendwave to send money to GCash would be the way to go because I wouldn’t actually have to go anywhere. Physical shopping would be minimal because a lot of grocery stores deliver these days.

Image by Precondo from Pixabay

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