best bank in the Philippines l Moneymax

Ever since your parents read you the story of the ant and the grasshopper, the importance of preparing for the rainy days had been instilled into your young and impressionable mind. And as you grew up, the value of that fable could easily be seen in how you saved up your baon so you could buy toys, comics, or whatever that would make you happy.

Now that you’re a young professional, you’ve come to realize how important it is to save. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself planning your first trip abroad, your wedding, and even your retirement. All these goals require a large reserve of cash, which will only exist if you’ve had a good head start. 

Kickstart your savings journey with the right bank―one that understands your needs and suits your lifestyle. If you don’t have an idea about choosing the best bank in the Philippines, this guide’s got you covered! In case you’re an expat who has stumbled upon this article, stick around as you’ll also benefit from this list. 

6 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Bank in the Philippines

The following factors will help you determine if a bank actually offers an exceptional service. Of course, you can always include other criteria that your experienced friends or family members have recommended.  

1. Types of Bank

The first thing to consider is the type of bank you’re going to work with. Banks in the Philippines can be commercial, thrift, rural, or digital. Each type of bank has its pros and cons.

Universal and Commercial Banks

Best Bank in the Philippines - Types of Bank
Photo by Hans Olav Lien via Wikimedia Commons

Universal and commercial banks provide the widest range of financial services for individuals and businesses. Customers can deposit money, pay bills, send and receive remittances, invest, get a credit card, borrow money, and more.

Pros of Commercial Banks

Commercial banks allow customers to transact through physical locations and ATMs all over the country (some banks even have overseas branches). These banks also have online and mobile banking channels for their customers’ convenience.

Cons of Commercial Banks

Because they serve many customers, queues in the branches of larger commercial banks can get very long. Customer service also tends to be unsatisfactory. These banks typically offer less competitive fees and interest rates compared to other types of banks.

Largest Commercial Banks in the Philippines

These are the biggest universal and commercial banks in the country based on total assets, according to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This metric is an indication of a bank’s financial stability.

  1. Metrobank
  2. LANDBANK
  3. BPI
  4. PNB
  5. China Bank
  6. Security Bank
  7. DBP
  8. UnionBank
  9. RCBC

Thrift Banks

Best Bank in the Philippines - Thrift Banks

Thrift banks, also known as savings banks, specialize in cash deposits. Many thrift banks in the Philippines are run by the same corporations that own commercial banks.

Pros of Thrift Banks

Thrift banks offer better interest rates than commercial banks. It’s also more affordable to open a bank account with them because of their lower initial deposit and minimum balance requirements.

Cons of Thrift Banks

Thrift banks focus on basic financial services for individuals and families—they’re not as suitable to businesses as commercial banks are. Also, their branches are fewer, though ATM transactions can be done using the ATM of their respective parent banks.

Top 10 Thrift Banks in the Philippines

Here are the leading thrift banks in the country based on BSP data.

  1. BPI Family Savings Bank
  2. PSBank
  3. RCBC Savings Bank
  4. China Bank Savings
  5. Philippine Business Bank
  6. City Savings Bank
  7. PNB Savings Bank
  8. Sterling Bank of Asia
  9. Bank of Makati
  10. Producers Savings Bank

Rural and Cooperative Banks

Rural banks are small banks located in the provinces that provide basic, customized financial services. They help promote the economy in rural communities by lending to farmers, for instance.

Pros of Rural Banks

Operating on a much smaller scale enables rural banks to offer personalized customer service, so they build more intimate banking relationships with customers compared to bigger banks. Rural banks also have more competitive interest rates and fees.

Pros of Rural Banks

Financial services are limited to just the basic ones like savings and checking accounts. They’re not as varied as the product offerings of commercial banks. Rural banks are also not as accessible as the larger ones, so it could be inconvenient, especially for frequent travelers, to perform financial transactions like cash deposits and withdrawals.

Digital Banks

Best Bank in the Philippines - Digital Banks

Online-only or all-digital banks are an up-and-coming banking trend in the Philippines. They operate over the internet without any physical location. Most transactions (such as account opening, fund transfer, and bills payment) are performed through a mobile app.

Among the pioneers of digital banking in the country are ING Philippines and CIMB Bank.

Because of the rising popularity of digital banks, commercial banks in the Philippines have started to offer digital platforms or products with almost the same services as all-digital banks. Examples are Maybank iSave, UnionBank Online, and PNB Digital Banking.

Pros of Digital Banks

Among all types of banks, digital banks offer the most competitive interest rates and fees. This is because they’re able to save on overhead costs from the absence of brick-and-mortar branches. They’re also more lenient when it comes to savings accounts, as digital banks typically don’t require any minimum deposit and maintaining balance.

Cons of Digital Banks

The absence of physical branches and lack of face-to-face interaction with bank personnel may pose some challenges for customers. Depositing and withdrawing cash can be inconvenient. Customer service is limited to in-app chats and phone calls.

2. Financial Products and Services Offered

Think about your short-term and long-term financial goals, and what you need to achieve them. The best bank in the Philippines has exactly something you need right now or will need in the future.

For example, when choosing the best bank for a savings account, you might want one with a low maintaining balance and/or one that yields high interest. This way, saving money becomes affordable for you.

Looking for the best bank for personal loan, auto loan, or home loan? Check for low interest rates and flexible loan terms.

If you’re trying to find the best bank for credit cards, choose one that offers low interest rates, low or no annual fee, and the kind of rewards programs that suit your spending habits.

3. Bank Fees

The best bank in the Philippines is one that doesn’t charge too many and expensive fees.

Typically, banks have fees for various transactions, services, and penalties. For example, banks commonly charge a fee of at least PHP 300 for every month a customer’s account falls below the maintaining balance. There are also fees to be paid for every check encashment and over-the-counter cash withdrawal.

However, some of the major banks charge a fee per inter-regional deposit. If your branch of account is in Metro Manila and you make a deposit at a branch in a different region like Bicol, you’ll be charged a certain amount. This is one of the bank fees you should watch out for when choosing the best bank in the Philippines.

Other fees to consider include ATM balance inquiry and withdrawal fees and late payment penalties for loans and credit cards.

Information regarding bank fees can be found at the banks’ websites, though it’s better to personally ask the bank, as certain fees may not be posted online.

Read more: ATM Service Fees Cardholders Need to Know

4. Accessibility of Branches and ATMs

Best Bank in the Philippines - Accessibility of Branches and ATMs

For busy and on-the-go people who need to perform financial transactions often but barely have the time to do so, the best bank in the Philippines is the one with a branch nearest their home, office, or place they often visit or pass by. Having ATMs and branches in malls that open on weekends also makes banking a lot convenient.

5. Bank Security

A critical factor in choosing the best bank in the Philippines has to do with safety. Does the bank have security features in place to ensure that its customers’ personal data is protected from hackers? Can you trust the bank to keep your money safe?

However, don’t expect to find a bank that’s totally hacker-proof. No matter how advanced a bank’s security technologies are, the risk is always there. Everyone is at risk of identity theft, and in some cases, carelessness or lack of awareness on the part of customers increases that risk.

What matters more are the pre-emptive actions the bank takes to keep your account secured, as well as what it does when your account is compromised. Does it notify customers right away when there’s any suspicious activity on their accounts? Does it promptly investigate any fraudulent transaction and provide updates?

It’s also important to ensure that you’re signing up only with a bank that’s a member of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). This way, you’re entitled to a maximum of PHP 500,000 deposit insurance coverage should the bank close down.

6. Customer Service

Best Bank in the Philippines - Customer Service

Customer service spells the difference between an excellent and horrible banking experience. Bad customer service manifests in different ways, from unresponsive hotlines to tellers who lack empathy and professionalism. Avoid starting a banking relationship with a company that treats its customers poorly.

Ask family and friends for feedback on a certain branch where you’re planning to open an account. Look for online reviews, too. Better yet, visit the nearest branch of the bank and observe how the staff interacts with customers. Usually, smaller banks that deal with fewer customers tend to provide better customer service than larger banks that serve so many clients.

Read more: 5 Surprising Reasons 80% of Pinoys Have No Bank Account

Top 7 Best Banks in the Philippines in 2021

If you’re looking to open a savings account now, you might find what you consider the best bank in the Philippines below. Keep in mind that the banks in this list are either traditional or digital.  

1. Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

best bank in the Philippines - BPI logo

This list will not be complete without one of the oldest and most reputable banks in the country. BPI is ideal for savings newbies as it’s accessible, having more than 800 branches and close to 3,000 ATMs and CAMs (cash accept machines) nationwide.[1] Its savings accounts are primarily designed based on the current financial standing or capacity of the account holder. 

Top Savings Accounts

Regular Savings

This savings account comes with an electronic banking feature that will allow you to manage your daily financial transactions. It also comes with a debit card that’s compatible with ATMs accepting BancNet or MasterCard cards.

  • Interest rate: 0.0625% per annum
  • Initial deposit: PHP 3,000
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 5,000

Pamana Savings 

Just like the regular savings account, Pamana Savings is a card-based account. Its edge over the regular savings account, however, is that it has free life insurance worth three times of your account balance (or up to PHP 2 million). This is also available as a passbook or US Dollar account. 

  • Interest rate: 0.0625% per annum
  • Initial deposit: PHP 25,000
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 25,000

Maxi Saver 

If you’re making big bucks already, you may want to upgrade your savings account. Go for the one that yields high interest, such as BPI’s Maxi Saver. This card-based account gives you an incentive that lets you earn more as you save more; you may enjoy a 0.125% interest if you don’t make any withdrawals within a month.

  • Interest rate: 0.125%
  • Initial deposit: PHP 2 million
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 2 million

Read more:

2. Metrobank

best bank in the Philippines - Metrobank logo

You can safely say that Metrobank is not just an established bank but also among the most resilient in the country. Despite the pandemic, it has managed to bag the Best Domestic Bank in the Philippines award at the Asiamoney Best Bank Awards 2021. So, if you really want to make sure that your money is in good hands, this bank is the way to go.[2]

Top Savings Accounts

Spark Savings Account

This is the bank’s starter saving account, which accepts account holders, aged 7 to 21. Primarily, the bank has designed this card-based account to help people build a habit of saving. Young professionals and even adults who’ve never had a savings account in their life may opt for this one. 

  • Interest rate: 0.0625% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: No initial deposit 

Card Regular Savings Account

This is almost similar to the Spark Savings Account. On the surface, the only difference is that this account requires an initial deposit. However, the uses of the debit card are especially highlighted―from bill payments to load purchases. 

  • Interest rate: 0.0625% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: PHP 2,000

Passbook Regular Savings Account

If you’re looking for a tangible way of tracking your transactions, consider getting Metrobank’s Passbook Regular Savings Account. As highlighted in its name, this account comes with a passbook. This is also ideal for people who want to curb their spending since this requires the account holder to go to the bank to withdraw funds. 

  • Interest rate: 0.0625% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: PHP 10,000
  • Maintaining balance: No information provided

Read more: Save Early for Your Child With These Best Savings Accounts for Kids

3. Security Bank

best bank in the Philippines - Security Bank logo

Just like Metrobank, Security Bank is an award-winning financial institution. This year, London-based financial magazine Euromoney named Security Bank as the Philippines’ best bank at the 2021 Euromoney Awards for Excellence. Such recognition should be enough to convince you of how trustworthy this bank is. 

Top Savings Accounts

Easy Savings Account

This is Security Bank’s most basic account. Despite being an entry-level account, its interest rate is pretty high. It comes with a Mastercard debit card that can be used for shopping, paying bills, and dining. One stellar benefit of this account is that it doesn’t have interbranch fees. This means that you can transact with a Security Bank branch other than your home branch for free.  

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: PHP 5,000
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 10,000

All Access Account

Security Bank’s All Access is a savings and checking account rolled into one. Not only does it have a Mastercard debit card. t It also comes with a checkbook and a passbook. This means that you can access your money in more ways than one. What’s more appealing about the All Access account is that it comes with free life insurance courtesy of FWD. 

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum
  • Initial deposit: PHP 5,000 
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 25,000

Money Builder 

Dipping your toes into the world of high-interest savings accounts? For this tier, try Security Bank’s entry-level option called Money Builder. This is ideal for savers who want an account with a higher yield sans the lock-in periods. If you make no withdrawals within a certain period, you’ll receive a monthly and a quarterly bonus interest rate.

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: PHP 10,000
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 10,000

4. UnionBank

best bank in the Philippines- Unionbank logo

Over the past few years, UnionBank has taken the world of traditional banking by storm by offering a state-of-the-art online banking system. In a way, you can consider UnionBank both a full-fledged digital bank and a traditional bank. One of the best things about this bank is its app, which allows you to deposit your check or apply for a savings account through your phone. The bank also offers savings accounts that can be seamlessly managed with your app. 

Top Savings Accounts

Regular Savings Account

UnionBank’s Regular Savings account comes with a Visa debit card that you can use for everyday expenses. If you want to get a feel of the quality of services that UnionBank offers, don’t hesitate to try this account. Nevertheless, this account has a pretty high interest rate for its tier. 

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: PHP 10,000
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 10,000

Personal Savings Account

This card-based savings account comes with a Visa EMV debit card, which you can use for a variety of online and offline transactions. The most appealing feature of this account is that it doesn’t pressure you to deposit money regularly since it doesn’t require an initial deposit and a maintaining balance. 

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum
  • Initial deposit: Not required
  • Maintaining balance: Not required 

Savings +

No matter how large your savings are, they may get wiped out if you’re hit by life’s uncertainties. Thankfully, UnionBank’s Savings + account also offers free group life insurance. Just keep in mind, though, that you can only activate the life insurance if you maintain the required monthly average daily balance. 

  • Interest rate: 0.10% per annum
  • Initial deposit: Not required
  • Maintaining balance: PHP 25,000 (monthly average daily balance to activate group life insurance)

Read more: 16 Savings Accounts with No Maintaining Balance

5. CIMB Bank Philippines

best bank in the Philippines - CIMB Bank logo

Established in 2018, CIMB Bank Philippines has grown to become one of the fastest-growing digital banks in the country. It has since then onboarded more than 4 million customers. 

The bank also claims that it’s the Philippines’ most awarded all-digital bank, having secured 51 prestigious international awards. Just this year, it has been recognized as the Best Digital Bank by the Global Banking and Finance Review.[3] On top of these stellar recognitions, CIMB Bank Philippines’ savings accounts have high interest rates. Reputation and security? CIMB Bank Philippines has it! 

Top Savings Accounts

UpSave Account

The CIMB Bank UpSave Account is a high-yielding savings account that you can open online anytime, anywhere. If you maintain the minimum average daily balance for one month, you’ll be able to enjoy free life insurance.  Fees and charges, such as below minimum balance fee, monthly maintenance fees, and cash-ins, are all waived. 

  • Interest rate: 2.5% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: Not required 
  • Maintaining balance: Not required / PHP 5,000 as the minimum average daily balance to maintain to get free life insurance

Fast Account

Just like the UpSave account, the CIMB Bank Fast Account can be opened via the CIMB Bank app―it’ll only take 10 minutes to do so! It comes with a free Visa debit card if your Fast Account has been verified and has a minimum cumulative cash worth PHP 100,000. 

  • Interest rate: 0.50% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: Not required
  • Maintaining balance: Not required 

GSave Account

Got a GCash account? The bank proudly says that the GSave account is the first-ever savings account that customers can open and maintain straight from their GCash app. With this set-up, moving funds to and from your GCash wallet will be seamless and effortless. The GSave account also comes with a high interest rate, so it makes a good choice if you want to grow your money. 

  • Interest rate: 2.60% per annum
  • Initial deposit: Not required
  • Maintaining balance: Not required / PHP 5,000 as the minimum average daily balance to maintain to get free life insurance

6. ING Philippines

best bank in the Philippines - ING Philippines

ING prides itself in being a pioneer in direct banking. The bank introduced this concept back in 1997. Today, ING offers its direct banking services in 13 out of 40 countries it’s present in.[4]  Despite being part of the mainstream consciousness in recent years, ING has actually been operating in the Philippines since 1990. 

Top Savings Account

ING Save Account

ING may be the best bank in the Philippines that you should consider if you want to grow your savings. This is because its Save Account lets you get up to 10 times higher interest rates on your savings. And because ING is a 100% digital bank, you can easily open an account via its mobile app. 

  • Interest rate: 2.5% per annum
  • Initial deposit: Not required
  • Maintaining balance: Not required 

7. Tonik Digital Bank

best bank in the Philippines - tonik

Tonik Digital Bank is a neobank, which means that it’s a branchless bank made to be a digital-only bank from the very start. This is according to Greg Krasnov, Tonik’s founder and CEO.[5]  Tonik claims that it’s the first neobank in the Philippines to secure a digital bank license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Aside from its credentials that are all about modernity, what makes Tonik a good bank is that it offers high-interest savings accounts. It also has a feature that allows a group of people to save together. 

Top Savings Accounts

Tonik Account

The Tonik Account will be your main account. It allows you to create 5 Stashes and 5 Time Deposit accounts in your app. Stashes are actually different savings pockets in your account that you can dedicate to specific goals, such as vacation, education, and emergency, among others. 

  • Interest rate: 1% per annum 
  • Initial deposit: No information provided
  • Maintaining balance: No information provided

Solo Stash

Think of Solo Stashes as separate accounts within your Tonik savings account. The goal of this set-up is to allow you to save up for multiple goals at any given time. 

  • Interest rate: 4% per annum
  • Initial deposit: No information provided
  • Maintaining balance: No information provided

Group Stash

A Group Stash is a unique form of savings account as it allows you to invite family and friends to save together. This is an ideal savings set-up if you and your peers are raising funds for a common goal, such as a vacation or a big party. 

Interest rate: 4% per annum (default) / 4.5% per annum (account holder and at least two participants)

Final Thoughts

To find out the best bank in the Philippines for your needs, trim down your list by checking bank websites, contacting their hotlines, and getting information about the bank and the products it offers. Once you’ve selected a bank, choose the right bank account type to go with it.

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