A few months before I left for New Zealand in 2015 on a working holiday visa, I dedicated my time in researching how I should bring money to New Zealand. Dead-set on hand-carrying cold hard cash instead of doing a costly bank-to-bank transfer, I researched where to buy New Zealand dollars and which currency exchange dealer or ‘money changer’ would give me the best Philippine peso (PHP) to New Zealand dollar (NZD) rates.
The nearest money changer to my house was a local Czarina Foreign Exchange branch. This dealer was also just across my bank so the transfer of money would have been convenient. I had been told that usually money changers had accounts in the nearest bank branches. Czarina was also a pretty well-known money changer so I had my hopes up.
While their selling rate was good, they did not have NZD. As NZD is not as common as the United States dollar (USD) or the Australian dollar (AUD), they did not keep them at their branch and would have to communicate with the main branch in Makati whether or not they could allocate NZD for me. A couple of days later they called me to say I would need to wait until they had pooled all the NZD they got from all their branches to produce the amount I needed. I kept my name in the waitlist but I was so sure then that I would have to go to multiple money changers just to have money exchanged.
The next money changer I went to was Sanry’s, another famous money changer. Like Czarina, they did not have NZD as well. Same old story.
Then from a Filipino migrants in New Zealand online discussion forum I learned about the BPI Forex Corporation. It is a separate entity from the Bank of the Philippine Islands bank. They handle everything foreign exchange related. The bank also handles forex but this entity has a separate published exchange rates. The person shared that he exchanged a certain amount of money close without hiccups. His amount was close to mine.
You can find the branches here.
I lived in Quezon City so the branch closest to me was the BPI Forex Corp. Quezon Ave Station. The poster said that the place was behind an actual BPI branch (Quezon Ave – Delta branch) but since I did not take note of that before coming (was only thinking BPI in Q Ave), I had a hard time finding the branch. There were a few BPI branches in Quezon Avenue!
Here’s a picture of the branch front from Google Maps.
If you are facing the bank, there would be a gate somewhere at the right of the bank building. Go through the gate and you will be able to find a two-storey building (grey in background). That is where the BPI Forex is.
When I arrived, I asked the teller if they could a certain amount in PHP to NZD. Without batting an eye, she answered, “yes”. I clarified, “Now?” and she answered “yes” again. I knew then I should have gone there the first time.
I filled out some forms as part of their Know-Your-Customer processes. I was asked to show an ID and I gave them my passport. I could not remember if they took a copy. They probably did.
They gave me a slip (on receipt paper) containing the amount I should deposit to their BPI bank account, the current selling rate, and the equivalent NZD amount I would be getting.
The deposit process was pretty convenient because there was a BPI branch just in front of their building. I made the deposit, returned to the BPI Forex, and handed over the deposit slip. I was told later that if I had a BPI bank account I could just make a transfer (YAY!).
Anyway, I waited for them to count the money. I signed a foreign exchange transaction form containing all the details of the exchange. With the money, they gave me a slip containing all the serial numbers of the notes. I put the converted money somewhere safe after ogling the beautiful NZD notes and I was off to my next destination.
I just returned from the Philippines where I had money exchanged again. The process was even faster this time since I was a repeat customer. They just looked at my ID and I did not have to fill out forms like the first time. It was also the first time I got to see the new New Zealand $100 and $50 notes.
I therefore conclude that the best place to buy New Zealand dollars in the Philippines is BPI Forex Corporation. I am pretty sure they would have other currencies as well. I also exchanged some AUD the first time I went there.