Best Checking Accounts in the Philippines

Last Updated – Jun 23, 2020 @ 10:19 pm

Curious to know which checking accounts are worth your time and money? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about checking accounts.

We’ll also share our curated list of the best checking accounts in the Philippines right now so you can easily pick the right one for you. 

What is a Checking Account?

It’s a type of bank account that lets you deposit and withdraw funds without the typical restrictions found on savings accounts (no limit on withdrawals) and lets you issue checks. 

Also known as “Current Account”, checking accounts are favored by folks who engage in multiple daily financial transactions as there are fewer or no limits at all for withdrawals and deposits (versus savings accounts).

A checking account also lets you write checks which can be used for a variety of ways (e.g recurring payments that require post-dated checks, business expenses, etc.,)

What is it Used For?

You can use a checking account to set-up automatic money transfers to and from your account, access your funds by issuing a check or issue post-dated checks for recurring payments, among others. 

Its main purpose is to serve as an account for managing your money on a daily or regular basis.

Money that goes in is tagged as credit while transactions debits your account. Unlike a savings account, the purpose of a checking account is not for capital gain, rather, it’s for the utility and flexibility it provides for financial transactions. These include:

  • Recurring payments for various loans (auto loans, personal loans, life insurance, housing loan, health insurance, etc.,)
  • Payment for utilities and monthly bills (electricity, credit cards, internet, etc.,)
  • Payment for highly-priced transactions (tuition fee, downpayment for a car, etc.,)
  • For corporate accounts, payment for business expenses
  • Use it to monitor specific transactions through a monthly statement of account/bank online platform 

5 Reasons Why You Should Open A Checking Account

Most people feel that a good old savings account is sufficient for managing their money. But while that may be true in most cases, they’re missing out on a couple of advantages that a checking account provides. 

  • Checks are safer for large-money transactions

First off, a check discourages theft because it leaves a paper trail. Second, issuing a check for a large amount is safer than carrying wads of cash in your pocket. 

  • It provides proof of payment

When a check clears your account, a record of that particular transaction is created. You can see it on your bank statement, your checkbook, online banking platform (which can show you the front and back image of the check) 

  • No limits on transactions

The typical withdrawal limits found on savings accounts do not apply in checking accounts. Deposit or withdraw as often as you need, making it the perfect platform if you do multiple transactions on a frequent basis. 

  • Makes managing your finances easier

Having a dedicated account for making and receiving payments makes your overall budgeting more organized. You can designate the checking account for transactions that need to be managed regularly so your savings account(s) can remain untouched and solely-focused on building up assets. 

  • Overall flexibility for spending and getting paid

Even with the rise of cashless payment options, a checking account remains a solid way of receiving money and making payments. You can write a check, pay with a linked debit card, and even withdraw cash from an ATM. 

You can easily link a checking account to online payment platforms and apps too, making it even more convenient for frequent transactions.

Checking Account Pros and Cons 

What exactly are you getting if you open a checking account?

Pros:

  • Unlimited (or have high limits) on deposits and withdrawals
  • Perfect for making large-amount payments and recurring bills 
  • Meant for receiving and sending money easily
  • Checks are safer to carry than cash and leave a paper trail
  • Cleared checks can be used as proof of payments
  • Helps establish a good credit score with banks
  • Most types come with a debit card and passbook for easier access to your money

Cons:

  • Some types of checking accounts are not interest-bearing (not great for growing your money)
  • Most standard offerings require a bit of a larger minimum deposit compared to a savings account
  • Generally comes with a few more fees compared to a savings account

Checking Account vs. Savings Account

Checking AccountSavings Account
Unlimited number (or have high limits) on withdrawals and other transactionsYour withdrawals and other transactions have a limit
Entry-level ones do not earn via interestInterest-bearing (money earns from interest)
Usually comes with passbook and debit cardCan’t be used for direct payments straight from the account
Made for your spending and accessing your funds convenientlyMade for saving and growing your money

Types of Checking Accounts in the Philippines

Checking or current accounts can be classified based on how it’s going to be used and who’s going to use it. Here are the 5 main types of checking accounts in the Philippines.

  • Personal Checking Accounts

Perfect for individuals looking to open their very own checking account for personal use. 

  • Business Checking Accounts

Created to serve as a company or business’ main account for various financial transactions (deposits and withdrawals, issuing checks, etc.,). These usually have a higher initial deposit and maintaining balance requirement.

  • Dollar Checking Accounts

Specifically created for individuals who need to make financial transactions using US dollars. 

  • All-in-One Checking Accounts

More and more banks today offer a hybrid checking and savings account, merging the best features of the two to be your all-in-one solution to various financial needs.

These typically come with an ATM card, checkbook, and passbook while touting a decent interest rate.

Best Checking Accounts in the Philippines

The following is a shortlist of checking account offerings from some of the country’s top banks. We aimed to feature a balanced mix of options, from checking accounts that have low entry requirements up to those which offer a rich feature set and solid interest rates.

1. Security Bank All Access Checking Account

Savings and checking account in one. It comes with a passbook, checkbook and an ATM Mastercard. As a bonus, it comes with a free FWD life insurance coverage. 

  • Opening balance: Php5,000
  • Maintaining: Php25,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.10%

2. UCPB CheckStarter Account

UCPB’s offering is perfect for people looking to have a no-frills checking account with a very low opening and maintaining balance. You can add a UCPB Visa debit card for as little as 200 pesos.

  • Opening balance: Php1,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php1,000
  • Interest Rate: Non-interest bearing

3. EastWest Regular Checking Account

The EastWest Regular checking account starts can be had at an initial deposit of Php5,000 for individuals and Php20,000 for corporate use.  

  • Opening balance: Php5,000 (individual) ; Php20,000 (corporate)
  • Maintaining balance: Php5,000 (individual) ; Php20,000 (corporate)
  • Interest Rate: Non-interest bearing

4. Metrobank Account One

Few banks offer checking accounts with interest rates that match that of Metrobank’s Account One. At 0.25%, it’s almost as good as that of a regular savings account. It’s a passbook, checkbook, and debit card in one. It also gives you global access to Cirrus and Maestro POS terminals.

  • Opening balance: Php10,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php10,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.25%

5. BPI Maxi-One

The Maxi-One is a checking and savings account combined that’s available in two variants:

  • ATM – for individual accounts
  • Passbook – for Individual and Corporate accounts

Interest is based on the amount of money you have in the account (tiered approach). 

  • Opening balance: Php25,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php25,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.25% (for balance between 25,000 and 999,999 pesos)

6. China Bank

The ChinaCheck Plus is an interest-bearing checking account with a low minimum deposit requirement. 

  • Opening balance: Php5,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php5,000
  • Minimum balance to earn interest: Php50,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.125%

7. RCBC 

RCBC offers 4 types of checking accounts. Of the four, however, only the RCBC Dragon Checking account is interest-bearing (tiered) and offers the most features like ATM card, checkbook, and Transaction journal.

  • Opening balance: Php25,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php25,000
  • Minimum balance to earn interest: Php25,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.150% to 0.500%

8. BDO

BDO’s Smart Checking Account is offered in two variants: personal and business. It earns a fixed interest rate and comes with a BDO EMV Debit card (withdraw cash or pay bills) and passbook (top of the line variant)

  • Opening balance: Php25,000 (personal)
  • Maintaining balance: Php25,000 (personal)
  • Minimum balance to earn interest: Php25,000 (personal)
  • Interest Rate: 0.25%

9. Philippine National Bank (PNB)

PNB offers 4 types of checking accounts to choose from. The Priority Checking account is their most feature-packed option, providing individuals with an interest-bearing checking account complete with a VIP checkbook, PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles Priority Debit Mastercard, and a passbook. 

  • Opening balance: Php25,000
  • Maintaining balance: Php25,000
  • Minimum balance to earn interest: Php25,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.100% per annum

10. PBCom

PBCom’s Regular Checking account features a low minimum deposit and maintaining balance to earn interest. It’s a great choice for individuals looking for a “complete” checking account (it comes with ATM, SoA, and checkbook) at an affordable entry price.

  • Opening balance: Php5,000
  • Minimum balance to earn interest: Php10,000
  • Interest Rate: 0.100% per annum

How to Open a Checking Account in the Philippines

Opening a checking account is pretty much the same as opening a savings account. Let’s start with what you’ll need.

Requirements for Opening A Checking Account

  • Valid IDs (two)
  • Application form (can either be accomplished or downloaded online or provided at the bank)
  • Minimum initial deposit
  • Latest photo (1×1)
  • TIN

Steps for Opening A Checking Account

  • Step 1: Visit your preferred bank’s official website. Most banks will allow you to complete and print the application form online. 
  • Step 2: Present the completed form at your chosen branch. Alternatively, you can simply visit the bank and ask for a blank form to accomplish on the spot. Make sure to bring the required amount for the initial deposit.
  • Step 3: Submit the completed form along with the initial deposit to the bank personnel. 
  • Step 4: Confirm with the bank personnel when you will receive the checkbook and debit card. Some banks can issue the checkbook the same day.

Tips for Choosing a Checking Account

You can simply get the most feature-packed checking account from your preferred bank and be done with it—however—you could end up paying more and not maximizing all its bells and whistles.

As always, it’s best to analyze first what you’ll be using it for and base your decision on that. Here are a couple of suggestions when choosing a checking account.

1. Choose one that’s tailor-fit for your needs

Most banks offer entry-level checking accounts because some people just need an account that lets them write checks.

On the other hand, there are others who need more flexibility and need the additional features of some of the more high-end options.

The lesson here is this: Determine how exactly you’ll utilize a checking account and pick the one that ticks all the checkboxes of your must-have features.

2. Make sure to pick one with a minimum balance that you can maintain. 

Some offerings require at least 20k to maintain so if you think that’s a bit high for you then best look at other options.

3. Know the fees and charges. 

Scrutinize each detail when it comes to fees. Learn about overdraft charge and if they offer overdraft protection (most banks do). 

4. Do you need one that earns interest?

In most cases, the answer is no. If you’re looking to grow your money a little, pick a savings or a time deposit account instead.

However, more and more banks are offering interest-bearing checking accounts that can be useful if you have a considerable amount in there.

5. Bank’s location and accessibility

Is the bank near your place?

Can you easily get to a branch anytime?

While you can do almost everything using the online banking platform, having the option to easily drop by the bank for any number of reasons is nice. 

6. Write down a quick list of things to check/confirm before deciding. 

Here are some examples::

  • What’s the minimum deposit and maintaining balance required?
  • What are the monthly fees and charges? How much for the overdraft? Is there overdraft protection?
  • Does it come with a debit card and passbook? What else?
  • What’s the cost of ordering a new checkbook?
  • Does it earn interest?
  • Are withdrawals and how many checks I can write per month unlimited?

7. Ask the bank for promos

In the US, checking account promotions are quite common. Although, here these offers/promos are often not publicized as much as they should be. Try asking the banks you’re interested in or check their websites or Facebook pages if they have any existing limited offers for opening checking accounts.

Tips for Managing a Checking Account

Now that you know why it makes sense to have a checking account and how to open one, it’s time for a quick list of some of the ways to maximize its benefits and avoid potential headaches. 

  • Checks are as good only as the funds in the sitting in the account. Before writing a check or withdrawing money, make sure you have the necessary funds for it. If you issue a check and it’s less than what you have in the account, or withdraw money that’s more than what’s in there,  you’ll get charged with an overdraft fee
  • Keep a running balance of all monies coming in and out of the account. Link the account for the bank’s online access to easily track this.
  • To avoid fees, always maintain the minimum balance in your account
  • Utilize all payment options that come with the account (direct deposit and link to other cashless payments) so you won’t have to visit the bank often
  • Report it to the bank ASAP if you lose your checkbook or debit card.
  • Try to balance your checkbook regularly so you can compare records with the bank (online)
  • When writing checks, do it extra carefully to avoid having it voided. See the next section for a more detailed guide.
  • For your security, try to avoid or lessen issuing checks that are payable to cash
  • Always keep your checkbook in a safe place

How to Write a Check

The Philippine Clearing House Corporation has strict guidelines for writing checks properly. To make sure you won’t run into any delays or problems, refer to the following points on how to write a check.

How to write the date

Let’s start with writing the date. As of July 1, 2018, these are the approved formats when indicating the date on a check: (per PCHC Memos CICS-OM-18-021, MC-3436 and 3437)

FormatExample
AlphaNumericOctober  13, 2020
AlphaNumeric (Abbreviated Month)Oct 13, 2020
AlphaNumeric (date first)13 Oct 2020
Numerical format10132020
Numerical format (year abbreviated)101320
Numerical format with “/”10/13/2020
Numerical format with “/” (year abbreviated)10/13/20
Numerical format with “-”10-13-2020
Numerical format with “-” (year abbreviated)10-13-20
Numerical format with “.”10.13.2020
Numerical format with “.” (year abbreviated)10.13.20

How to write “Pay to the Order of”

This line refers to the recipient of the check. It can be a person or a company/organization. As an alternative, you can simply write “Cash” on this line.

However, doing this is risky since anyone who gets their hand on the check can encash it.  

How to write the peso amount in figures

To the right of the recipient name is the section for writing down the amount of the check in numerical format.

To avoid any potential alterations, try to write as close to the peso sign and/or write small dashes at the beginning and end of the numbers.

How to write the peso amount in words

Write legibly and clearly, with just the right amount of spacing. For added security, you can also write the word “only” at the end.

How to complete the signature section

No special instructions here, simply sign using the same signature found on the bank docs you completed when you opened the account.

Make sure to check all fields are complete before affixing your signature.

What to write at the back of the check

There’s a small space provided at the back of the check that’s used when depositing or encashing a check. It’s called the “endorsement area”.

It’s where you’ll sign and write your name when you’re in front of the teller as you’re having your check cashed, for example.

One last tip: Whenever you’re writing a check, make sure to not be hasty on completing the sections and double-check everything before handing it over. Write carefully using dark ink. 

Erasures are no longer allowed even if they are countersigned (ever since the Check Image Clearing System was established) as the checks are being scanned electronically (implemented in 2017).

How to Access Funds in a Checking Account

Checking accounts were created to serve as a convenient way of accessing your funds in the bank. In this section, we’ll take a look at the various ways you can access the money in your current account.

Write a check

Checking accounts were called as such because it’s the type of bank account that lets you issue checks. This is perfect for situations where you need to issue a large amount as it’s safer and leaves a paper trail for your records.

Via Debit Card

Almost all checking accounts these days incorporate a debit card so you can conveniently access your funds using partner ATM and POS terminals. Since it works like a regular debit card, all features are present and can be used for both online and physical transactions.

Over the Counter

You can visit the nearest bank branch and present your debit card/checkbook along with personal identification docs to withdraw your money.

Online funds transfer

When you open a checking account, you’ll have the option to access your account using your bank’s online platform.

You can easily link your checking account to various payment channels (GCash, Coins, Cebuana Lhuillier, etc.,) and make money transfers or cash out.

Checking Account Fees and Charges

As with most types of bank products, checking accounts has its own set of fees and charges. The following are some of the standard fees and penalties that are common among all banks.

Below Maintaining Balance Penalty Fee

Most banks charge a fee if your account balance falls below the minimum required value for at least two months. 

Overdraft Charge

When you withdraw an amount that’s more than what you have in the account, the transaction will push through, however, you’ll be charged with a corresponding amount. The same goes if you issue a check for more than the balance you have in your account. This scenario is called an overdraft.

New Checkbook Fee

Checkbooks are given free of charge when the account is new. Should you need to get a new one (which eventually will happen), however, you’ll have to pay for it. 

Charges for returned checks

When a check bounces (returns) due to insufficient funds or any other reason, you’ll pay a  corresponding fee.

Fee for Stop Payment Order

Any time you request to have a payment stopped, you need to pay the SPO fee.

About Amiel Pineda

Amiel is the lead business & finance columnist of Grit PH. He escaped from the shackles of BPO life and now pursues his dream of writing full time. He shares his best tips and insights for aspiring homebased workers and freelancers on his site: Homebased Pinoy

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