Money Changing: Update April 2009
'Money Talks' is Bantayan Island's new Money Changer, located in Poblacion Santa Fe next to Palawan Pawn Shop (where the highway ends in Poblacion and Talisay begins)
Their hours are 8am-5pm and they are changing US Dollars, Euros, UK Pounds, Japanese YEN, Korean WON, and other major currencies.
Before Money Talks there was no Official Money Changer on the Island, and most guests who needed to convert currencies had to try their luck at a few larger hotels or make a Ferry Boat trip to Hagnaya and onto Bogo.
There is no longer a Western Union Money Transfer office in Santa Fe - Western Union was a service offered by ML Huillier in Santa Fe that payed out in Pesos or US Dollars, so travelers will have to go elsewhere on Bantayan Island for Western Union's services.
Western Union's services are still offered in Bantayan Town and in Madridejos, and XOOM.com online money transfers can also be picked up in PHP Pesos at ML Huillier in Santa Fe.
Before April 2009 there were no money changers here on the Island, but in a pinch you could have tried Laysan Commercial Inc. and Allied Bank in Bantayan Town, but you would not get the good "city money changer" rates from the mainland.
* It's still a good idea to cash up before arriving here, so be sure to bring smaller bills here with you (P20's P50's & P100's) as no one's going to make change for you on the Island when you try to pay for a chicken BBQ lunch with a P1,000 note.
* Khel’s BBQ has often made change for me when paying with a P500 or P1,000 note though, but they know me there.
* I do know of a little local sari-sari store in Pooc, 2 minutes from the middle of town in Santa Fe where I can get change for ridiculous small purchases (eg. buy a pack of Marlboros for P30 & pay with a P500 or P1,000 note & get change every time), but know this is absolutely not typical of Bantayan Island, or anywhere else in Philippines for that matter.
Most people in the know who needed to change money before April 2009 just took a Ferry Boat off the Island and went into Bogo, Cebu ( a short trip from Hagnaya) where there are excellent Money Changers offering the best rates for all major currencies.
Marlin's Beach resort in Santa Fe has been known to change currency occasionally, but at less than the going rate of money changers on the mainland.
In Santa Fe You’ll see Jumic Shop: a small gift shop next to Hard Kock Kafe, with a large sign that says “Money Changer” - they do sell nice gifts but they DO NOT change money; they'll send you to Marlin's Resort.
Allied Bank in Bantayan Town (on the western corner of the Plaza) does change American Express Travelers Checks for a small fee, and you'll be there an hour trying to do it, as they must verify each serial number on every check with a call to AmEx , and you’ll also need to have the number of the issuing bank handy, as well as your Passport to ID you.
Travelers Checks & hard currency are better cashed in Cebu City before you leave for Bantayan Island, at my favorite money changer ALCO Credit & Foreign Exchange: great service/great rates and they're located inside room 108 at RainTree Mall, corner of Osmena & 528 General Maxilom Ave. in the Fuente Osmena area (look for the big Jollibee restaurant on the corner near Robinson's Mall)
Crisp, new bills (i.e. USD $100 & $50 notes) will get you the best rates & fastest service - older, worn bills or older bills without the current security features will often times be flat out refused at some money changers and $20USD/$10USD/$5USD notes may get you a lower rate still.
Just be sure to cash up before coming to the Island, or for extended stays open a US Dollar account at a bank in Cebu City and use your ATM card for cash withdrawals from your local or overseas banks.
Equitable PCI Bank in Cebu City (near SM Mall) will let you take a cash advance on your VISA/MasterCard, but be prepared for long lines, paperwork and a long wait. (bring your Passport & US Drivers License, etc.)…plan on being there at least an hour or more, as all the foreigners in Cebu City know about this bank.
It's a quick taxi ride to the North Bus Terminal from there, and onto Hagnaya & Bantayan Island.