Getting cash in the Philippines when the ATM's don't work

I’ve had my fair share of struggles while traveling, but most of the time they can be resolved easily with a little bit of flexibility and a coffee to calm myself down.

Between flight cancellations, typhoons, finding sick puppies, emergency doctor visits, death-defying van trips, and way more, the one thing that still stresses me TF out more than anything else is when I can’t get cash out of an ATM when I’m pretty desperate for it.

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What makes things significantly more challenging here in the Philippines is when you’re in a location with only 1-2 ATM’s in the region (which tbh is pretty common), and you are down to your last few pesos. Even the more popular tourist hotspots like El Nido and Coron can be a struggle, where the ATM’s run out of cash on a daily basis and you could be left cashless quite often.

Thankfully, before you start pulling your hair out, there’s a way around this challenge which I had to learn the hard way on the island of Siargao. I was desperately in need of cash to pay our accommodation before heading to the airport, and the one ATM in our area decided it didn’t like my credit card, debit card, AND even Dom’s card. After having a mild freak out and asking some of the passerby’s about it, I found an easy solution to my problem: World Remit.

World Remit is an app that you can download and send money pretty instantaneously to a friend, family member, or in my case, MYSELF. After the ATM debacle, I had created an account within minutes and was ready to send myself some much-needed cash.

Use code JESSICAJ137 to get $35 back when you make a transfer over $100

Through the app, I chose to pick up my money from M Lhuillier because that was the closest store to my accommodation in Siargao, but there are a few other options you can choose from when sending money through World Remit if you’d prefer to pick up your money from another shop. M Lhuillier looks like a bank when you walk in which I prefer since it just feels more legit!

*Note, you may have to submit a photo of your passport to World Remit via email in order for the money transfer to be processed, so if that’s the case, expect to wait a few hours or so for the transfer to work.


The next morning, I headed down to road to M Lhuillier with my passport and World Remit app handy, showed them my receipt number, signed a form, and voila, I was handed the 9,000 php I sent myself! The money transfer fee actually costs LESS than the ATM fee would have charged me, so it’s an amazing option to keep in mind when traveling.

So if you get stuck for cash at an ATM while traveling in the Philippines, World Remit can save you from some serious stress!