Sending extra money from abroad is easier today than ten years ago especially if you are working on land.
But when you’re a seafarer and your family needs extra cash, you may find it difficult to give them the money they need in the shortest time possible.
Most seaman only use four ways to send extra money from abroad or even while on board. However, those methods are very slow and could sometimes take weeks or months.
Here we will explore those options together with three more additional methods.
This may be uncomfortable for the older generations because of fear but many people, especially the millennials, are adopting it for convenience and control.
Different Methods for Sending Extra Money While On Board
With today’s technology, the possibilities for cross-border payments and extra remittances are endless.
Seafarers can send money the way Thanos did during the Infinity Wars- in just a snap. I have used most of these methods and they all worked great.
1. Normal Allotment
This is the default, number one method seafarers use to send remittances to their home countries.
It is bounded by laws from different nations each having a similar purpose- to provide a structure in which seamen can send their income back home.
The normal allotment is done automatically. Your company prepares it and sends the money to your nominated bank account every month.
However, you can not alter or change the amount or the receiver since it is fixed. You have to decide it during your contract signing before going on board.
And since a seaman’s salary is given in US Dollars, the amount of money sent to your bank accounts is converted to Philippine Peso or will still be in dollars if you have a dollar account.
2. Extra Allotments/ MPO
A Payment Order is an instruction given by a bank account holder to his bank to make payments or a series of payments to a third party.
In our case, the bank account holder is the company itself with the cooperation of the shipmaster and his crew.
Extra allotments or Master’s Payment Order (MPO) is another form of remittance provided on board.
This time, you can nominate the receiver and the amount you’re going to send as long as you have enough balance in your wage account.
The captain usually provides a form in the mess room, day room, or duty mess which the crew may fill out should they opt to send extra allotments.
In that paper, your name, the receiver’s bank account name and number, and the amount are asked.
The money is usually credited to the nominated bank account after a few days, sometimes weeks.
3. Emergency MPO
Emergency MPO is another form of extra allotment but this time, there must be an underlying urgent reason why a seafarer is asking for MPO.
Every seafarer can ask for an Emergency MPO anytime and anywhere as long as the explanation is valid.
The captain usually decides if the cause presented is a real emergency or not.
On the companies’ side, they usually pay extra fees to the banks when sending our remittances whether its the normal allotment or an MPO.
That’s why they limit these features or only allow the normal allotment.
Some valid reasons that may be covered by emergency MPO are as follows ( knock on wood):
- Families affected by sudden natural catastrophes at home (earthquakes, typhoons, floods, etc.)
- Family member getting seriously ill where savings account got depleted.
- Your wife’s bank account got hacked and all the money was stolen.
- Your allotee’s bank goes bankrupt, unable to withdraw the money.
- The house got burned.
- Other similar reasons
Tuition fees, groceries, and your car’s monthly payments are not emergencies since these are expected every month.
4. Through Offsigners (Padala sa mga Uuwi)
Almost every time a Filipino crew signs off, his fellow shipmates usually ask for a favor of sending extra cash to his wife, family, friend, or relatives.
He gives his money to the Offsigning crew. When he gets to the Philippines, he has the option to meet up with the receiver or send it to his bank accounts or any local remittances.
This is usually planned and agreed upon when the off-signer is still on board with a rumor of him going home on the next port.
We know that this method requires an extreme amount of trust. However, it also has some drawbacks.
- First, the sender must wait for the next crew change before they can pull this off. It could take weeks or months before his reliever is sent.
When you want to send extra money for your kids’ tuition fees, the planned crew change for the end of May may push through in July.
- Second, when the offsigner is home and unfortunately, he gets robbed or burglarized before he can send it, that’s adios for your money.
- Lastly, your crew mate could go rogue and switch off all modes of communication with you once he reaches the Philippines.
I heard news about this wherein the offsigner used the money for himself and declared it as lost or stolen. That’s stealing in broad daylight.
What would you do if that happened to your hard-earned dollars?
5. Online Bank Transfers
Banking systems continue to evolve to better serve their customers. Most of them offer online transactions like sending and receiving money using only your smartphone.
Today, you can transfer money from your bank to other bank accounts in the Philippines. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) mandates banking institutions to offer this feature to their clients and depositors.
However, not all financial institutions provide it. You may have to check with your bank if they offer this service.
How can we, seafarers, use this?
I’ve been utilizing this feature for many years already. I use it to manage my funds and send extra money to my family and siblings who are still studying.
It’s really helpful and convenient. Since many ships nowadays have access to the internet, you too can utilize the online banking feature and manage your finances through it.
If your vessel has no online facility, you can buy an internet sim card if you’re a liner and access the online banking features.
For example. You have your own self-allotment aside from the allotment you gave to your wife.
But if your family needs extra money for some special reasons, you can access your online banking and transfer funds directly to their bank accounts.
Or you can ask a crew mate who employs this feature and just pay him a handsome fee in addition to the funds you want transferred.
6. Money Transfer Agents
Money transfers and money remittances are a billion-dollar industry. Due to globalization, people can work anywhere outside their home countries just like us, seafarers.
Imagine you accumulated quite a lot of money on board for doing extra income services. Now you want this cold hard cash sent to your family back home. This is where money transfer agents come in.
Money transfer agents exist for people who want to send money to another country without the use of bank accounts.
The most famous ones are Western Union, Moneygram, and Ria.
A year ago, my crewmate sent Euro 350.00 to his family. He spent an additional Euro30.00 for that transaction.
But early this year during my vacation, my other seaman friend sent me Euro150.00. He only paid an additional Euro 4.90.
And just over a week ago, I was ashore with my crew mate in Spain. We went to a remittance center where he sent Euro150.00 to his wife through Moneygram.
Guess how much the fee is?
Euro 4.90. That’s affordable already. The transaction fee went really low because most of these remittance centers are partnering with cryptocurrency platforms like Ripple’s XRP.
7. Online Non-bank Financial Institutions
Non-bank financial institutions are companies that handle money transfers and remittances without their clients having to put up a deposit account.
They are widely used in developing countries like the Philippines where the the banking system only penetrates less than 35% of the population.
Examples of non-bank financial institutions are Palawan Pera Padala, Cebuana Lhuillier, GCash, Paymaya, Coins.ph, PayPal, and the like.
So how can you use this to remit extra money to your loved ones in the Philippines?
I personally use Coins.ph for sending extra cash to any person as long as they are of legal age.
They allow the transferring of money from your bank account to any of our local banks and non-bank financial institutions like the ones mentioned above.
But if you want to use international transfers, PayPal may be a good alternative.
You can ask a fellow crew, even your foreign friend, to send money from his Paypal account to any bank account including Gcash in the Philippines.
Just make sure you pay him enough by giving extra fee for the service he made.
Sending Extra Money: A Conclusion
These are just instruments for managing our finances and helping other people. However, some seafarers are reluctant to use them.
Most issues they always brought up is the security of these tools. Their money could get hacked and lost in the cyberworld, never to be recovered again.
I understand their sentiment because I was like that too. However, the benefits outweigh the risks- at least for me.
Banks and non-banks also do their best to prevent security breaches as these are detrimental to their reputation. Besides, you are not the only one having hundreds of thousands or even millions in the bank.
We must also do our part like logging into secure internet connections and changing our passwords very often.
I also think that using the traditional method of banking could do more harm when something bad happens.
Imagine this. What if you meet a hold-upper with your hard-earned cash in a backpack while on the streets? He may hurt you before getting the money.
The experience could be traumatic. It could happen to your loved ones as well.
May the winds be in your favor.