The Philippine Peso(₱)(PHP) is the official currency and in almost all cases the only currency recognised for normal transactions. The only other currency that would be recognised in rare cases would be the US Dollar. As of May 2011, one U.S. dollar trades at around ₱43.
Peso bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. One peso is equivalent to 100 centavos and coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavo variants in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins. There are 2 versions of each bill with the newer version in circulation since December 2010 (albeit it is still rare to have them). The newer notes have similar colours to their old counterparts, have the same people at the front (Except for the 500-peso note which also features former President Aquino) but rather than historical sites at the back, these newer notes feature Filipino natural wonders and species unique to the country. The older notes will remain legal tender until 2013.
Money changers are not so common in the Philippines outside the some heavily touristed areas. A rule of thumb: the more currency you wish to exchange, the more favourable the rates can be. Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount (usually around USD100.00) and have limited hours of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays. The notable exceptions are Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco De Oro (BDO) which have longer hours of operation. Don't exchange money in stalls along the streets as some of them might be exchanging your money for counterfeit money, contact Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) if you suspect the money you've been given to be counterfeit. Money changers do exist at department stores, supermarkets and hotels but needless to say the rates are highly unfavourable to the customers and some will only exchange into PHP.
Be aware that no person is allowed to enter or leave the Philippines carrying more than PHP10,000 of coins and banknotes without prior authorisation by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Those who have not gained prior authorisation will have to declare the excess money at the customs desk. However bringing-in any amount in foreign currency is legal but anything in excess of USD10,000 (or its equivalent) must be declared.
Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw funds or ask for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortia are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet. International networks, like PLUS and Cirrus, are accessible with many ATMs, however Cirrus is more predominant than PLUS; however, withdrawals are often limited to 5,000 pesos. Citibank and HSBC ATMs in Manila and Cebu let you take out P25,000 to P40,000 per transaction. Visitors who have a MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus cards can withdraw funds or ask for cash advances at ATMs that display their logos. The most prominent MasterCard ATMs are the Express Tellers by BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Smartellers by Banco de Oro. PLUS ATMs are not available locally as a complement by itself, but instead it is available along with Cirrus. Prominent examples include the Fasteller by Equitable PCI Bank and the Electronic Teller (ET) by Metrobank. Most MegaLink ATMs are linked to PLUS and Cirrus.
Credit card holders can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards in many commercial locations in the Philippines but merchants would usually require a minimum purchase amount before you can use your card. Cardholders of China UnionPay credit cards can get cash advances at many BancNet ATMs (particularly of Metrobank) but cannot use their cards in point of sale transactions at the moment. Credit cards are generally not accepted for government-related transactions.
In 2010, Philippine banks started to charge ₱200 per transaction for using foreign cards in their ATM machines, in addition to cash withdrawal and exchange fees already imposed by your bank. Considering small transaction limits, this adds at least 2-4% to the amount withdrawn - thus, bringing in cash and exchanging it to peso in the bank generally will be cheaper.
Traveling in Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and as well in the rest of the world.) Some accommodations may be pricey. , more so in some cases places to stay are cheaper in Thailand. For example a stay in a hotel would cost as low as $30 or ₱1400, a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice-versa will cost $35 or ₱1645. Transportation is low as ₱8.50 for the first 4km in a Jeepney. Using the internet for 1 hour in an internet cafe range from ₱20 to ₱50 depending on the Internet Cafe's location, a can of coke costs as low was ₱16 while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ₱70 and Economist as low as ₱160. In most restaurants, there is 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) usually included in the unit price but service charge is often excluded and computed separately.