Last visited: May 1, 2016. Please note that I am no longer on Upwork (formerly oDesk) so I can no longer comment on the process of withdrawing funds from Upwork. Best to visit the Upwork support/help page for new updates and information. Thanks!
Most of my online jobs have me working for international employers and I receive payment through oDesk or PayPal since these are the most viable methods of payment available for Philippine freelancers. Accessing my millions (hur hur) money in both accounts is no problem at all. It’s really easy to withdraw from oDesk and PayPal and transfer funds to my bank accounts here in the Philippines. In this post I’ll just do a quick run-through of the process of withdrawing funds from oDesk and PayPal.
Withdrawing funds from oDesk
(Edit: I wrote this post in 2012. This may no longer be applicable since I haven’t been using Upwork (formerly oDesk) since 2013. Best to visit the Upwork support/help page for new updates and information. Thanks!)
oDesk has a pretty nifty system that’s very easy to navigate so you won’t have a problem at all. You can select from a variety of withdrawal methods, but the most relevant to Philippine freelancers are the following: Local Funds Transfer and transfer to PayPal.
To enable Local Funds Transfer of your earnings, you’ll need to add your bank account. All you need to do is follow the step-by-step process and that’s it. You’ll also need to know your bank’s head office Bank Routing Symbol Transit Number or BRSTN code. oDesk already has a list of the BRSTN codes for major banks in the Philippines, but if your bank isn’t there you’ll have to inquire from the bank yourself. You need to be specific that you’re looking for the head office BRSTN code that you can use for withdrawing money from oDesk. I’m not sure though if oDesk can transfer to all Philippine banks.
My bank account is with BPI Family Savings (BPI-FB), which is technically a different entity from Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), but I still use the BRSTN code of BPI. So far, it works. I’m not quite sure, but I think it has something to do with both banks being BPI after all or something like that. I’m just guessing here. Who cares as long as I get my monies?! (evil laugh)
To transfer your earnings to PayPal, you just need to add your PayPal account, provided you already have one. oDesk also has a minimal transfer fee (as low as $0.99) per transaction.
Personally, I prefer to withdraw my earnings via Local Funds Transfer because it has a lower fee. YES, all these withdrawal methods have a small fee. Plus, transferring from PayPal to a local bank account entails another set of fees.
Withdrawing funds from PayPal
PayPal also has a pretty solid system when it comes to withdrawing funds. Of course, you also need to add your bank account or credit card. To add your bank account, you’ll need the bank code, which is kind of like the BRSTN code, but it is NOT the same code.
For my account, I just googled the bank code for BPI-FB. I found the blog of someone who successfully withdrew money to her BPI-FB account using this particular code. Sorry, I can’t remember what blog it was. The PayPal bank code that I use to transfer PayPal money to my BPI Family Savings Bank account is 021000021. From what I understand, this is the code for BPI (not BPI-FB), but I use this code and so far it has worked for me. If you have a different bank and you can’t find a reliable online source for the bank code, it’s better to ask the bank yourself. You just need to be specific that it’s for withdrawing funds from PayPal.
I have never withdrawn PayPal money to my credit card because I think it’s not practical, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on the process.
Transfer fees and time frame
As of this posting, every time you withdraw funds via Local Funds Transfer, oDesk takes a mere $0.99 for every batch. Based on my experience, the transfer usually takes 3-4 days from the time I initiated the transfer. With PayPal transfers, oDesk takes $1 for every batch and your money is credited in PayPal within a couple of hours.
For me, withdrawing funds from PayPal is more expensive, but this may be due to where I hold my account (BPI-FB). On the website it says withdrawals are free for every PHP 7,000 and it’s PHP 50 for anything lower. In my case, however, BPI-FB deducts an additional PHP 150. I think this may be because BPI-FB has its own fees. I’m not sure if other banks have extra fees. Similar to oDesk withdrawals, the transfer takes 3-4 days from the time the withdrawal is initiated.
Key things to remember
To make things easy, hassle-free and with minimal fees incurred, there are a few things to remember when withdrawing funds from oDesk and PayPal or when adding bank accounts.
- Make sure you use the correct BRSTN code for oDesk or bank code for PayPal. Wrong codes may mean unsuccessful transfers and added charges.
- Make sure the bank name is correct. You have to use the correct and full name of the bank (e.g., Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Family Savings Bank).
- Make sure the account name is correct. The account name you put in must match the account name in your bank statements. Incorrect names can mean unsuccessful transfers and added charges. PayPal has a return fee of PHP 250.
- It may be more practical to pool your earnings first before withdrawing so that you won’t lose too much in transfer fees.
That’s it. Withdrawing online monies is easy-peasy.
Edit: November 26, 2012
Around Nov. 9, oDesk was having issues with LFT or local fund transfer to the Philippines. They advised their members to use an alternative withdrawal method temporarily, especially if you’re using BPI Main and BPI Family Savings. I, myself, was affected by those issues. I made a withdrawal a few days prior and it didn’t come through. I was advised to wait until they can credit it back to my account. They were able to credit it back to me about a week after and I was able to withdraw my oDesk funds to my PayPal account. I haven’t received any notification saying the issues have been resolved so I’ve decided not to use LFT just yet.
Regarding withdrawals from PayPal: I haven’t encountered any problems withdrawing my PayPal funds to my bank account.