Thursday, January 10, 2013

Banks: BPI, BDO, or MBT?

I currently have accounts with the Big Three in the local banking industry -- namely: Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO, and Metrobank. The order in which I mentioned them was the order in which I opened my accounts with them, and not based on their capital strength, branch network or any financial or industry fundamentals you can think of. What I will write here are just my observations and opinions. Let's call this "perception analysis."

(side note: Yes, that is a picture of a diskette. It will make logic as you read on.)

Before I opened my accounts with the Big Three, I already had an account with PNB. It lasted for only about six months because it was only a payroll account for my part-time job. I can't really say much about PNB because I can hardly remember my banking transactions with them.

I also had a payroll account with Malayan Bank. But again, I can't say much about my banking experience with them. Only this: it is very, ultra difficult to find their ATM except for the one near my previous employer.

BPI/BPI Family Savings Bank

My first post-college (a.k.a. real world) bank account is my BPI Family Savings Bank savings account. I can still remember the day I opened my account with them. It was my first few days in my first real world job. The service was prompt. I just presented my passport (without signature) and TIN ID (with signature). The staff photocopied them for me. The whole process only lasted for about an hour and I got my ATM card immediately after that. I did not even have to present my employment certificate which my employer furnished me. This was in late 2008.

With the same ease, I opened my checking account with them in early 2010. I did not even have to present two ID's. (I just presented my passport). Neither did I need to accomplish another signature card/s nor give new ID pictures. The only things I signed was for the release of the free checkbook which I instantly got and the release of the accompanied ATM card which I also received that day.

I also opened an account with the BPI Express Banking Center near our home.

Over all, I am satisfied with the service I receive in all of the BPI/BPIFS branches I visit.

The only disappointment was when I tried to open a UITF account. I submitted it to my BPI Family home branch but they rejected my application because they said that only BPI handles UITF. I wholeheartedly accepted that reasoning and proceeded to the BPI Express Banking Center near our home. But the staff members were clearly clueless on how to process this sort of application. They just received it and told me they will forward it to their mother branch.

Days, weeks, months passed and I never heard anything about that application again.

Fast forward to late 2012, I was 'promoted' to Preferred Banking of BPI. I was assigned a relationship manager to attend to my queries and investment needs. So I took this opportunity to open a mutual fund account with BPI Family.

Then I proceeded to a BPI branch (not even a branch where I have accounts with) and opened a UITF account. I think they now know how to process this type of applications, not because I am a preferred client, but because of the awareness that UITF and MF are getting these days.

I also like the interface of the Express Online platform of BPI, even though it is not as user-friendly as BDO's. BPI EOL also allows me to open a BPI Direct time deposit account without even having to go to any branch.

One more thing that disappoints me with BPI is their 89-100 hotline. It always takes long before you hear a live person and not pre-recorded. Maybe just a bad timing on my part? The only time I was able to speak promptly to a live agent was when I called them from Singapore when I had an incident there.


If they did not reject me in 2008, BDO would have been my first "real world" bank account. When I got my first post-college job, I knew that BDO should be my bank because of the sprouting SM supermalls, hypermarket, etc. all over the Megapolis. But they rejected me because I only have one valid ID with signature. (so I proceeded with BPI.)

But around 2010, I decided to open an account with the BDO branch where I was working. My logic was conveniece. (near work, near SM).

I did not have problems opening an account with them this time. I already had two ID's with signature. I got my ATM after a week.

Eventually, my payroll from Malayan Bank was transferred to a BDO checking account. The free checkbook was given days after.

For me, having a BDO account equals convenience. When you are in a mall or supermarket, it is not hard to find a BDO ATM.

(sidenote: The following is just my observation. When you are in SM, it is hard to find a BPI ATM inside the mall. But it is not as hard to find a BDO ATM when you are in an Ayala Mall. Ergo, is SM cruel to BPI but Ayala is not that cruel to BDO?)

I also like the appearance and texture of BDO checks more than BPI checks. I have yet to see a Metrobank check.

BDO's online platform is user-friendly with picture icons on the right panel. I am not sure if I can open a time deposit account online, like what I am doing with BPI.

As of now, I still don't have had the need to call their local hotline, except when I called their international hotline when I lost my cards in Singapore. My call was promptly answered.

Lastly, I love that I get points in my BDO rewards card every month depending on the amount of deposits I maintain with my BDO account. Sweet!


Now the diskette will be explained.

I just recently opened an account with Metrobank. To my dismay, my hunch is right. They are still as old system as before. I still have to bring a photocopy of my ID's. So I have to walk out of the bank and find the nearest photocopier which is three streets away from Metrobank.

(When I opened my UITF account with BPI on the same day, they just scanned my ID's and printed then out).

When I got back and gave the staff the original and photocopy of my ID's, the first words that came out from the staff was "may trabaho?"

I replied, "unemployed."

Deep inside me, I am thinking "is this how you size up your customer? Employed, unemployed, self-employed, businessman, etc.?"

I could sense reluctance when she gave me the forms to fill out. Then after a few seconds of awkward silence, she said "wala ka talagang trabaho ngayon? nasaan ka ngayon?"

"Bahay lang po."

"Eh saan ka dati?"

Then she lighted up upon hearing the company I used to work with before.

When I was talking to my Relationship Manager in BPI and told her I am currently unemployed, I did not sense any uneasiness on her part. When I told the BDO staff I was converting my payroll CA to regular CA because I was resigning, I did not feel any awkwardness. But with Metrobank, I still had not started filling-out the forms for account opening, I also sensed that they want me out of their bank in no time just upon hearing the word "unemployed."

I hope it was just the person I was dealing with, and not the bank.

Three days later, I called the branch to ask if my ATM card was already available for pick-up. The ATM officer said yes so I went to the bank.

The lady who was to release my card seemed busy with other matters when I came. She acknowledged me by offering me to seat beside her table. But in the next 20 minutes or so, all I received were three "teka lang," one "wait lang," and a sense of ...wait for it... inefficiency. She could just release the card to me. Would it take her 20 minutes to do that? Let's call her Lady A. Remember her because she will be the star of this blog post.

Lady A released my card and told me to proceed to Lady B who would release my temporary PIN. After I got my temporary PIN, Lady B instructed me to go to Lady C to activate the card. After Lady C activated the card, she told me that their ATM was offline so I could not change the PIN that time.

Waiting for more than 20 minutes for the card was strike one. Having to go to three different person just to get the card activated was strike two. Now, the ATM being offline was strike three!

Sorry. I really did not enjoy that banking experience with Metrobank. The ambiance of the bank seems stuck int he 90's; the system of releasing the card is so old-school; and the online platform looks like an IT student project.

Best of all, Lady A could not immediately release my card because she was busy processing payroll documents for a certain company. She was saving the files on a diskette. How old school!

My only consolation for having a Metrobank account is to easily fund my First Metro mutual funds via the internet. I hope this horror and the lower than BPI and BDO interest rates will be compensated by the ease of adding investments to my FAMI accounts.


  1. Write about which bank, bpi or bdo or metro has the quickest and biggest producing funds, like mutual funds, like uitf funds.

    That will help us to decide where to put our idle money.

  2. Hi, odrareg! I appreciate your comment and will find time to do an article about your suggestion.

    But at this instance, I think we should be clear how to tie up that "idle money" with goals. If the goal is for emergency fund, then retain it in savings or at the most, transfer some to a money market fund.

  3. how much did you need to have in order to be "upgraded" as a BPI preferred client?

    1. I did not ask for the "requirement". I just accepted the offer. Hehe. So I have no clear idea which depositors are qualified or offered to be preferred client. But I guess, it helped that I have my deposits with BPI for almost five years already (as of the time I was offered in November 2012).

  4. You need to maintain 250K for the past 6 months to be upgraded to "preferred".

  5. How does money market fund work?
    Is that thru bank or via online? Im really interested in this. Thanks.

  6. If it is a money-market-type of mutual fund, then it is through investment management firms. Some banks have investment management firms. But if it is a UITF version, then it is through the Trust Department of banks.

    Money-market fund is a type of pooled funds. Pooled funds are investment company/product where retail investors can participate or buy shares from. The "pooling" of money from various investors make up a "fund" that can be invested in stocks, bonds or money market depending on the fund's objective.

    In more understandable terms, money market is composed of investment instrument with less than a year maturity (examples are SDA and Time Deposit). So don't expect high gains from money market.

  7. bpi seems to be the best bank to open an ATM savings account deposit with its low initial deposit requirements and variety of excellent services.

  8. Does the appearance/texture of the checks really matter

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