Jesse McLaughlan

Travelled to 14 countries / regions

Written 48 briefs
Visited Cebu while in Philippines in 2019



Asia > Philippines > Cebu City > Useful Info
Submitted on Oct 26, 2019 Useful Info

Best places to exchange money in Cebu City, Philippines

  • One of the main things travelers need to do when arriving in a new country is to exchange money. This is especially true in Philippines because credit cards are not widely accepted, cash is king, and ATM fees are relatively high
  • It's very easy to exchange money in Cebu City, and all major global currencies and regional Southeast Asian currencies can be converted to Filipino pesos
  • Based on my experiences in Cebu and lots of internet research prior to my extended visit to Philippines, here's my ranked list of the best places to exchange money to get excellent rates:
  1. Ayala Center: this the biggest and nicest shopping mall in Cebu, located here in the middle of Cebu Business Park which is basically the financial district of Cebu City. If you're staying in the historic Cebu centre area of Santo Niño, you will need to take a tricycle or Grab for $2USD to get to Ayala Center. The mall has a bunch of money exchange shops; the most highly reviewed ones are:
  2. Metro Department Store: located on the ground floor of the mall. They have a money exchange counter that offer some of the best rates in Cebu City. Their rates for USD and Euros in particular are excellent
  3. Rustan's Supermarket: located in basement level 1 of the mall. Similar to to Metro, you will find a money exchange counter in here. Their rates for AUD, GBP, and SGD in particular are great
  4. Core Pacific Money Exchange: located on level 4 of the mall. Note that Core Pacific has more than one location in Cebu. Check out their website to see if they have other locations closer to you. Their rates are among the best in Cebu, in particular GBP
  5. Shopping malls in general in Cebu: if you don't want to travel all the way to Ayala Center, there are a bunch of shopping malls in Cebu City and they all have exchange shops that offer competitive rates. In particular, Robinsons Fuente (located here), SM City Cebu (located here), Robinsons Galleria (located here), Parkmall (located here), are places you should check out to find exchange shops with great rates
  6. Street money changers: outside of malls, there are also lots of street money exchange shops in central Cebu (Santo Niño area and Fuente Osmeña Circle area). In particular along Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard in Santo Niño has lots of street exchange shops that offer competitive rates, like SLB Money Changer and Vhez Money Changer

  • AVOID exchanging money at these places:
  • Cebu-Mactan International Airport: this is the main international airport of Cebu. While it's tempting to exchange money here, the exchange rate here is about 3-5% worse than the places I've listed above. It's fine to exchange small amounts of money at the airport to buy SIM card and to pay for transportation into the city, but I highly recommend not exchanging more than $50USD worth of money at the airport
  • Banks: avoid going to bank branches to exchange money, as their rates are much worse than the exchange shops I've listed above. I'd estimate they're probably about 2-3% worse.
  • Other countries: if you're thinking about getting Filipino pesos in your home country or other countries prior to coming, don't. Filipino peso is not a major currency and as such the rates you get elsewhere in the world can be up to 10% worse off than bringing foreign currency and exchanging in Philippines instead

  • Which currency to bring with you:
  • If your home currency is a major global or Southeast Asian currency, like USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, CNY, CHF, JPY, KRW, NZD, TWD, HKG, SGD, SEK, RUB, THB, IDR, MYR, VND: then bring your own currency and exchange for Filipino pesos. No need to change your own currency to USD or EUR first, since doing so means you'll lose on exchange rates twice (home currency -> USD then USD -> Peso)
  • If your home currency is a minor currency (basically anything outside of the list above), then it makes sense to change it into a major currency (USD, EUR or GBP) first in your home country and then bring it with you to to Cebu. This is because the exchange shops in Cebu most likely won't accept minor currencies or will have extremely terrible rates