Sunday, July 19, 2015

Challenges in Maintaining a US bank Account

In the beginning of last year, we were surprised with the increase in remittance rates charged by the US bank - about $80. Now for a couple receiving only a small amount of money in monthly pension, $80 a month is a big thing. Based on my estimate, I might as well buy a plane ticket for the cost of a yearly remittance sent every month. In our case, we retained the US bank account, precisely for the possibility of going to America, and re-establishing residency, but the cost is such that we are starting to re-evaluate the process.

Now, with my salary and his $1,200, it would be seem that a monthly reduction of $80 would not be so much, but 1) we have a child to support; 2) two senior citizens (my husband and my mother) who both go ill once in awhile and require either medication or hospitalization, and 3) we live in expensive Metro Manila.

With the increasing cost of living, I had to be more creative.  So while we were at the U.S. Embassy working on my son's CRBA and U.S. Passport, the consul reminded us to report the birth of my son to the U.S. social security.  I began to think of the possibility of my son receiving US social security benefit, being then a full-fledged American citizen.  After all, he does not require residency to receive social security since he is a US citizen.  And I learned on the internet, that if the principal member is either retired or disabled, the dependents who are US citizens can receive benefits.

So we filed together, and the account was opened under my name as my son's principal guardian.  It turned out that he was entitled to $787 and that since we only filed last October, and he has been a US citizen for about a year or so, we received back pay.  (A word of note.  The background investigation took almost a half year.  So don't rely on the benefit, until it is actually granted.  If your son/daughter doesn't qualify for CRBA, he/she most likely won't qualify for SS benefit.)

So it pays to do research and to always think of possibilities.  Never rely on other people for answers, find it yourself.

Now we are doing fine.  Although I am still contemplating having my husband's social security directly deposited into a Philippine bank.  US banks are ripping us off in remittances! $80 a month is still too much, if it can still be avoided.  I plan to do some more creative planning to keep the US bank funded even while my husband's US social security is directly deposited here in the Philippines.


  1. Claudette, I had the same issues when I first moved here, and bank remittance fees have only increased since the. My current method (for the last 8 years now) has worked very well and has cost me zero dollars or Pesos'.

    All my US income (pensions, business profits, whatever), go to my US Federal Credit Union. Once a month I write myself a check from the US credit union account.

    I then deposit that check in my Philippine BDO dollar account. Then I withdraw from my BDO dollar account and convert to Pesos as required. It's simple, reliable and best of all, free.

    See for further explanation:
    When You Need Money Just Write Yourself A Check

  2. Bobby is going to the US soon. So we will explore that possibility.