This entry is part of the series World Currencies

Do you need to send or exchange Philippine pesos?

You may plan to travel to the country sometime soon and want local cash when you arrive. Perhaps you need to send money home to your parents or friends.

Regardless of your reason, there are many ways to buy pesos or wire money abroad. But a peso is more than just local money. It’s also a part of the nation’s history.

Keep reading for more on the Philippine peso, its history, interesting facts, and how to get the best Philippine peso rates.

An introduction to the Philippine peso

philippine peso

Printed by the Central Bank of the Philippines, or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippine peso, locally called the piso in Tagalog, is the national currency of the Philippines. A peso or piso can be divided in 100 sentimos.

  • Currency Code: PHP
  • Abbreviation: ₱
  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 25
  • Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000

History of the Philippine peso

The Philippine peso, similar to the United States dollar and several other Latin American currencies, came from the Spanish peso. Before the peso was introduced, Philippine communities used gold bits, a currency known as salapi, or the rupya, silver coins from India and Indonesia.

Even after the Spanish peso became the primary currency in 1565, island residents continued using the salapi. It was branded as a half-peso coin.

Although the Spanish peso underwent several changes, it remained a common currency until the early 1900s.

In 1898, the Philippines achieved independence from Spain. During this time, the new government introduced the centavo coin, which would be a subdivision of the peso. And while the centavo coin is used today as the sentimo, it temporarily fell out of use during the American colonial period.

But after two world wars and Japanese occupation, the Philippines regained their independence in 1946. The Central Bank of the Philippines, now called the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, was founded in 1949 and took over the responsibility of designing and printing a new Philippines currency.

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The Philippine peso exchange rate explained

At the time of writing in early 2021, 1 USD equals around 48 PHP. For the last 180 days according to OANDA’s historical rate charts, it’s hovered around that number. The reason for the gap between the two currencies lies in differences between both economies and government systems.

The trading value of a currency is based on several factors. Some of those include trade relations, economic growth, government stability and freedom, and demand for that specific currency.

Since the United States dollar is generally more stable and in greater demand than the Filipino peso, it tends to be valued more highly in the global currency market.

However, this isn’t true for the peso in all markets. The difference is much less between other common currency pairs, like the Maylasian ringgit (1 ringgit = around 11 PHP) and the Saudi Arabian riyal (1 riyal = around 12 PHP) at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, if you want to trade your Filipino pesos for Indonesian rupiah (IDR), you’ll have a better rate, with 1 PHP = around 292 IDR at the time of writing.

5 facts you might not know about the Philippine peso

As you already know, the peso has a long history in the Philippines. And that means it comes with several interesting facts.

  1. The Philippine peso comes from the Spanish “Real of 8”

We mentioned earlier that the peso came from the Spanish dollar or the “Real of 8,” which was a silver coinage.

The Spanish “Real of 8” came in 1⁄2-, 1-, 2-, 4- and 8-real coins and was recognized across the globe.

  1. Filipino pesos used to be pegged to gold and the US dollar.

When the United States still held control of the Philippines, they passed the Philippine Coinage Act of 1903. This pegged the peso to a gold coin, meant to be worth half of the US dollar.

After independence in 1946, this standard was dropped.

  1. There used to be a subset of the Philippine peso called Culion currency.

In 1906, the island government minted separate pesos for those suffering from leprosy on the Culion colony.

At the time, it was mistakenly believed that leprosy could be transmitted through exchanging money. Although printed in Manila, the Culion currency was prohibited outside the colony.

  1. During WWII, special pesos were printed to undermine Japanese occupation.

Known as “guerrilla pesos,” this currency was used by the local government in defiance of the Japanese occupiers, who attempted to circulate their own version of the peso.

Until 1944, the occupying forces made it illegal to possess or to use guerrilla pesos.

  1. An error in 2005 created rare peso notes for collectors.

About 78 million 100-peso notes printed in the early 2000s had a major typography error: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s surname was misspelt as “Arrovo”.

Only two million of these notes ended up in circulation. They’re considered a rarity for currency collectors.

Converting to the Philippine peso

Planning to visit the Philippines? You have a few options:

  1. Exchange money at the airport;
  2. Take out pesos from an ATM;
  3. Order pesos from your local bank before you arrive;
  4. Buy pesos at a foreign exchange counter at an SM Mall; or
  5. Use your credit cards in the country.

Airport exchanges can be pricey, if convenient. ATMs may carry international fees, and can be difficult to find outside of the main cities, but are easy to use in major population centers.

Credit cards are generally accepted in major tourist destinations and cities, like Manila, Cebu, and Boracay. But you’ll want cash in most other areas.

Usually, SM Mall or department store branches in the Philippines have a foreign exchange counter where you can buy pesos. To do this, you’ll want to use crisp, new USD. Additionally, you should request 500 peso notes or less. Larger bills, such as the 1000-note, are often harder to break.

The same goes for purchasing your pesos ahead of time from your local bank. Keep in mind, however, that you are only allowed to bring 10,000 pesos into the country.

Sending money to the Philippines

But perhaps you don’t want quick cash for a tourist trip. Maybe you need to send money to friends or family, or you plan to stay in the country for an extended period and need a reliable method for transferring money before you leave.

In both cases, you may also want to send large sums of money. And the last thing you want is to start losing hundreds of pesos in fees.

Money transfer apps like Remitly make it easier to send money quickly and affordably to the Philippines. We offer a flat, transparent fee when sending to the Philippines from the U.S., which at the time of writing goes down to zero when you send $1,000 or more using your debit card.

Not only that, but the money can be received in a variety of ways. These include a Filipino bank account, a mobile wallet account like GCash, or picking up cash from thousands of locations around the country.

Get started by downloading the Remitly app today.

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