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Excited to get your first credit card?
Before you dive into the wonders of a credit card in Philippines, it is important to understand what it really means to have a credit card and how to squeeze out every drop of benefits.
It is more than just cashless payments, reward, and rebates. It can impact your life in ways you haven’t realized yet.
While credit cards are just plastic cards, they usually intimidate first time users (especially with the debt myths circulating these cards).
Most Filipinos believed that it can bring debts and just financial trouble. It is not even surprising that only four (4) million Filipinos own credit cards. Though Philippine’s credit card ownership steadily increases, it still lags behind our Southeast Asian neighbors.
Since the day I have received my first credit card, I had learned how to use it as a powerful financial tool.
And so should you.

This credit card guide will help you:

And it gets better:
You’ll discover how to smoothly avoid the credit card fees along the way!
But first, let’s define credit card since you have to learn the basics before you apply for one. This way you’ll also know how to use it smartly.

What is a Credit Card?

first credit card
Credit cards are usually defined as a thin plastic card that allows you to purchase items or services without any actual cash. Whether you buy a pepperoni pizza or a roundtrip ticket to Paris, almost everything can be purchased with a credit card. You can even shop and order food online on a lazy weekend.
Needless to say, the credit card is not a magic wand to wave around to get everything you want.
It actually works as your contract with the bank. Every time you use it, the bank will pay for your purchase as long as it does not go beyond the card’s credit limit.
Credit Card Philippines

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How Credit Card in Philippines Works?

Credit means “utang”. When you dip or swipe your credit card, you are borrowing money from the bank to pay off a product or service.
Then you have to pay back the money you borrowed within the “grace period” of 20 to 30 days. You do not have to pay any extra fee or interest if you pay in full on time.
I swiped my credit card to buy a new netbook which costs ₱15,000. My purchase was considered paid since the bank transferred the money to the store merchant through the card.
Then I paid the bank on my due date with the same amount (₱15,000).
Contrary to the myth, there is no interest charge if you use your credit card right.
You might be wondering: So how does the bank make money from credit card users?
We will talk about the other fees as we go along the other facts you need to know.

Why Get a Credit Card in Philippines?

There are a handful of reasons to get a credit card.

  • Rewards. Every time you make a purchase, you can get a corresponding number of rewards point which you can use to claim gift checks, cashback or freebies. Some also have free insurance and roadside assistance anywhere around the globe.
  • Discounts. Credit card holders get exclusive discounts and promos on certain services and items such as flight tickets, in-store cafes, hotel bookings, and restaurants.
  • Security. Imagine having all of your cash in your purse and it gets snatched as you hail a taxi on the roadside. You lose your cash without any hope of getting it back. With a credit card, you can easily report the lost card so it won’t be used for fraudulent activities. Aside from that, the bank can just send you a new shiny credit card.
  • Credit Rating. With a credit card, you can build your credibility. You can prove that you can handle your finances well and pay your bills on time. Simply, you are creditworthy and this increases your chance to access better loan deals, higher credit limit, and even a housing loan.
  • Easy Tracking. You can track your spending online anywhere, anytime. No need to wait for the monthly bill since you can also access the unbilled charges online.
  • Convenience. Credit cards are accepted in most stores. You don’t have to carry too much cash on your purse. If you are going out to pay your bills and go shopping, just take a credit card.

How to Choose The Best Credit Card

Now that you understand how it really works, you can now choose which credit card to get.
You have a handful of options!
Credit cards cater to different interests and types of people from beginners who are just starting out their careers to business magnates.

Pro Tip: Choosing because of perks alone is a dangerous mistake. You need to consider the long-term benefits and financial responsibilities too.

Since you are looking for your first credit card, here are the things that you have to ask:

Who is eligible for a credit card in the Philippines?

Each bank has its own set of eligibility requirements. This is the first factor that you have to check when choosing a credit card. Naturally, you will apply for the card you are eligible to. Some of these eligibility requirements are:

  • Citizenship. You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the Philippines to apply for a credit card.
  • Age. The principal cardholder must be at least 21 years old. The supplemental cardholder must not be younger than 13 years old.
  • Source of Income. It is important for a cardholder to have a source of income. After all, you need to prove that you have the capacity to pay your credit card bill. You must be employed with a regular status for at least a year or self-employed who has been consistently profitable for the past 3 years.
  • Minimum Wage. Generally, the minimum annual income required is ₱180,000. Other credit cards with premium benefits may require higher salary range.

What is credit limit?

The credit limit can be defined as the maximum amount that you can charge on your credit card. Credit cards can be as much as twice or four times your monthly salary.
After a few months, you can request a credit limit increase provided that you have never paid late or your salary had increased.

What is the annual fee?

The annual fee is charged in exchange for the convenience you enjoy with your credit card. Think of it as your annual membership fee.
A credit card annual fee can range from ₱1,000 to ₱5,000 depending on the type of credit card you are using. On the other hand, you can also get a credit card with no annual fee for life.

Pro Tip: Once you have been billed an annual fee, call your bank to get it waived. Bank usually waive annual fees on the first year and if the cardholder is an active user.

What is the credit card interest rate?

Interest rates are charged if you fail to pay your credit card bill on or before your due date. It ranges from 3% to 5%.

What are the credit card rewards program?

Credit cards have a various rewards program. If you are into traveling, you can get a credit card that gives you rebates on your booked flights. If you like shopping online, then there is a card that gives more rewards point every time you use your card online.
There is also a credit card that has a special rewards program every time it is used for groceries, shopping in signature brand stores, and dining in luxury restaurants. If you have a car and you usually go out of town or do road trips with your family, then there is also a credit card that will fit you just right.

Are there other credit card fees and penalties?

Of course, none of us intend to carry a balance or not pay the bill, but certain things could happen out of the blue.
Before you apply for a card, you must understand the penalties and other fees the credit card comes with. You can be charged a late payment fee if you fail to pay even the minimum due payment. You will also get charged if you use the credit card cash advance feature.
Balance transfers could be “0%” but there is an outstanding interest should you fail to pay on time.
Stay away from credit cards with exorbitant fees and high late fees even if the rewards program is too tempting.

Pro Tip: Do not get too hyped. To maximize the use of credit cards in the long term, spending patterns and needs should be identified first before choosing a type of credit card.

And the best way to know which credit card is best for you is to analyze your spending habits. It is no use having a card with travel perks if you’re usually spending on groceries. On the other hand, premium credit cards are best for people who have a prestigious lifestyle and can actually pay their bills in full each month.

2018 Best Credit Cards in the Philippines

Now that you know the important factors to consider, it is time to check the best credit cards in the Philippines.
Since it is important to base your credit card on your spending habits and priorities, we have grouped the best credit cards into five categories.

Best Credit Cards for Beginners

There are a lot of credit cards available to first-timers. They have low-interest rates, annual fees, and income requirement. It is best to apply for this type of credit card first to build your credit history before applying for other credit cards with premium perks.
These cards can also help you adjust to credit card use to balance your finances with it.

PNB Visa Classic

  • Annual Fee: ₱300 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.25% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱300
  • Requires at least ₱10,000 salary a month
  • Free travel insurance up to P1 Million
  • 1% rebate on your revolved interest

RCBC Bankard myDream JCB

RCBC Bankard myDream JCB

  • Annual Fee: ₱ 800 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 2.9% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱200 or 7% of the past due amount
  • Requires at least ₱15,000 salary a month
  • Get 1 point for every ₱36 spent

AUB Easy MasterCard

AUB Easy MasterCard

  • Annual Fee: No annual fee for life
  • Interest Rate: 2.9% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱500
  • Requires at least ₱10,000 salary a month
  • You can choose your preferred payment frequency, schedule, and amount
  • Earn 1 Rewards Point for every ₱20 spend

Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you often travel, then it is smart to get a credit card that rewards you more when you spend on travel-related expenses. The rewards points are equivalent to miles. Aside from this, the perks usually include free access to the airport lounge and travel insurance.

UnionBank Miles + Platinum Visa

  • Annual Fee: ₱3,000
  • Interest Rate: 3.50% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 6% or ₱500
  • Get 1 reward point for each P25 spent
  • Get 1.5 points per P25 spent on travel-related expenses such as flight tickets and hotel booking.
  • The points are convertible to Cebu Pacific GetGo Points, PAL Mabuhay Miles, or to cash credits.
  • Unlimited number of supplementary cards
  • Never expiring miles

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

  • Annual Fee: ₱2,500 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.25% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 6% or ₱500
  • Earn 1 PremierMile for every ₱30 you spend.
  • Redeem 1,500 miles for every P500 charged to your card.
  • Never expiring miles
  • The miles can be used to pay the annual membership fee

Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa

Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa

  • Annual Fee: ₱5,000 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.54% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱750
  • Earn 1 mile for every ₱17 spent overseas and other travel-related expenses.
  • The first supplementary card annual fee is waived for life.
  • 1 Rewards Point for every ₱20 spends in all your transactions.

Best Cashback & Rebate Credit Cards

These cards offer the most cash back on your purchases. This type of card is best for those who want to save more each time they swipe their cards for everyday shopping, gasoline, and groceries.

Citibank Cash Back Card

Citibank Cash Back Card

  • Annual Fee: ₱2,800 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 6% of the outstanding balance or ₱500
  • Has a Welcome Offer of P5,000 eGift.
  • Up to 2% rebate on Meralco bill payments via Citibank Online.
  • Purchases automatically earn 0.20% rebate.
  • Up to 6% rebate on supermarket purchases.

EastWest EveryDay MasterCard

  • Annual Fee: ₱2,800 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 7.5% of the outstanding balance or ₱50
  • 5% cash rebate on your essential purchases for a minimum spend of ₱10,000
  • 3% cash rebate on your essential purchases for a minimum spend of ₱5,000 to below ₱10,000
  • 5% rebates for purchases below Php5,000
  • Cash advance up to 70% of the credit limit

RCBC Bankard Gold MasterCard

  • Annual Fee: ₱3,000 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱400
  • Earn 1 point for every P36 charged
  • Reward points can be used for air miles, cash rebates, and vouchers.
  • No limits on cash rebates
  • The rewards never expire
  • No required spending on various categories

Security Bank Complete Cashback MasterCard

  • Annual Fee: ₱3,000 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 6% or ₱600
  • Get up to 5% cashback on essential expenses
  • No fees for foreign transactions
  • Cashback is automatically indicated on the monthly billing statement

Best Fuel Rebate Credit Cards

With the fuel process fluctuating, having a fuel rebate credit card can minimize the impact on your finances. This type or credit card is not only handy when filling up. It can even let you save cash on emergency roadside assistance, tow fees and repairs.

Shell Citi Card

Citibank Shell Card

  • Annual Fee: ₱1,800 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 6% or ₱500
  • Get up to 5% rebate on Shell fuel purchases and on toll fees (NLEX and SLEX).
  • Rebates on auto repairs, accessories, and services nationwide.
  • 3% rebate on Shell fuel purchases

Metrobank Toyota Mastercard

Metrobank Toyota Mastercard

  • Annual Fee: ₱2,500 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.54% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: ₱750
  • 10% discount on accessories, parts, and labor at all Toyota dealers
  • 2X rewards points for every P20 spend at Toyota dealers
  • 3% fuel rebate at Petron Stations
  • 1 Rewards Point for every Php20.00 that you spend

Best Shopping Reward Credit Cards

Love to shop? Credit cards with shopping rewards let you maximize your spending with discounts, rebates, and exclusive privileges.

BDO Shopmore Mastercard

  • Annual Fee: ₱125 per month (waived for the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late Payment Charge: 5%
  • 5% rebate during SM’s 3-day Sale when you charge at least ₱5,000
  • Earn 1 point for every ₱200 charged in SM Retail Affiliates
  • Additional 0.5% reward points on SM advantage card earned points

RCBC Bankard Landmark Ansons MasterCard

RCBC Bankard Landmark Ansons MasterCard

  • Annual Fee: ₱80 per month
  • Interest Rate: 3.5% per month
  • Late payment charge: ₱400
  • 5% rebate Landmark Department Store, Landmark Supermarket and Anson’s
  • 1 point for every ₱50 spent at Landmark
  • 1 point for every ₱83.33 spent outside Landmark

2018 Best Credit Card Issuers

BDO Credit Card
BPI Credit Card
Metrobank Credit Card
Security Bank Credit Card
RCBC Credit Card
PNB Credit Card
PSBank Credit Card
EastWest Bank Credit Card
AUB Credit Card
Unionbank Credit Card
Citibank Credit Card
BOC Credit Card

How to Get a Credit Card in Philippines?

After choosing the credit card that best fits your wants and needs, it is time to apply for it.
Getting a credit card is now made easy through online applications.
However, this does not mean that everyone who applies gets approved. Each bank has its own credit card application process and requirements.

Good credit rating

Most banks will consider your credit score when they process your request for a credit card.
You might ask: What is a credit rating?
A credit rating is based on your credit history or report. It is the measurement of your creditworthiness.
It tells the bank if you can handle a credit card wisely. It is not always necessary to have an existing credit history when applying for a credit card. However, having a negative history can get your application declined.
Every time you get a loan from a bank or any licensed financing company, they report your payment behavior to the credit bureau. Then if you apply for a credit card, the bank will check your credit records and evaluate your credit rating.
If you have failed to pay your past loans, this will indicate that you are a risky borrower. The banks will be hesitant to approve your credit card application considering that you might also fail to pay your credit card bills.
If you have an existing loan from a bank or a licensed lender, it is best to pay them off as agreed on the loan contract. This way you can build a healthy credit rating for future references.
This is also the reason why some banks require applicants for premium cards to have an existing credit card with good credit standing.

Stable source of income

Is it even possible to get a credit card for the unemployed Filipinos?
Yes. You can get approved for a supplemental credit card. However, if you want to have a principal credit card, then you will need to prove that you have a stable source of income. This way you can show that you have the means to pay for the purchases you have swiped for.
Banks usually publish their required monthly income for their principal credit cards. It is best to check it first before you send your application.
If you have other sources of income aside from your stable one, you may also indicate it in your application.

Required documents for credit card application

Just like application for any credit or loans in banks, you need to submit the complete requirements or documents such as the filled out application form, valid IDs with your photo, latest income tax return (ITR), Certificate of Employment, or Business Registration.
Banks are usually risk-averse. If you miss any document, it will prolong your loan application or get declined eventually.
If you can’t provide certain documents, feel free to ask for an alternative.

Complete the details in your application form

A missing information in your application form will surely delay the application process. Remember that you are dealing with banks and they are keen on details. If you leave out some information blank, you will put the process on hold.
Consequently, if the bank can’t reach you, they will just eventually decline your application.

Credit Card Application Online

Here are the steps you need to take to get your first credit card online:

  1. Go to the issuer’s online facility for credit card applications.
  2. Choose your credit card then click “Apply Now” button.
  3. Fill out the needed information on the online application form.
  4. Tick the small box in the Declaration Section at the bottom part of the application form.
  5. Click the “Submit” button.
  6. An acknowledgment page will immediately appear to confirm that your credit card application has been received.
  7. Check your email to know where you will submit the scanned copies of your requirements.
  8. Wait within 2 to 3 days to receive a call from an agent who will verify your details.

The whole application process usually takes 1 to 3 weeks. Some banks will notify you if you are declined or approved, while other banks do not.
If approved, you will receive your new credit card through mailing address. And you need to call the credit card hotline to activate the card.

How to Use Your Credit Card And Avoid Fees

Application for a credit card is simple. You don’t even need to have a bank account to get one. However, using it is another story.

How do I use my credit card online?

When you go online shopping, you will need three information indicated on your card:

  • Credit card number
  • Credit card expiry date
  • Credit Card CVV

A secure site will require authentication before going through the process. You will need to enter the One-Time-Password (OTP) sent to your phone via SMS. This is why it is important to make sure that your bank has your latest mobile phone number.
OTPs can only be valid for a few minutes but you must not share it with anybody to keep it safe.
As soon as you have changed your contact details, do not forget to inform your credit card issuers.
Should you suddenly receive an OTP without doing any transaction or requesting one, report it immediately to the bank. Some fraudsters could be using your credit card details.

What is the CVV?

CVV is the three-digit number which you can find at the back of your Visa or MasterCard credit card. It is usually next to the space allocated for your signature since CVV is your online signature. You need to keep it safe and avoid sharing it with anyone.
Never indicate your CVV on unsecured websites or suspicious bank emails.
What is CVV

What are the credit card billing cycle and due date?

The billing cycle is the period of time between billing. Billing cycles vary in lengths depending on the bank. It can range from 20 to 45 days.
A newly activated credit card account usually starts the first day of the first billing cycle with a zero balance.
During the billing cycle, any purchases and activities using your credit card are posted to your account. At the end of the billing cycle, you will receive a bill stating the total amount you have to pay.
Once the billing cycle closes, you have about 21-25 days to settle the bill. This is your due date.
You can pay your bill even before the due date to keep your credit limit available.

Pro Tip: Always keep track of the closing day of your billing cycle and your due date. This usually confuses first time users. To be safe, do not leave any balance on your bill.

How to compute interest charge?

The day you miss your credit card due date, it will start to incur an interest charge.
The interest is not only charged on your unpaid bill. It will be charged on your new purchases too.
Let’s say:

  • Your due date is on June 1.
  • But you missed it. The interest is charged starting June 2.
  • You made a new purchase on June 3.
  • The bank charges the interest on both the existing balance from June 2 and on the new purchase on June 3.
  • The more you swipe and not pay in full, the more interest you will be charged

And this will lead to a staggering bill shock!

What is the Interest-Free Instalment Plans?

Buying a big-ticket item such as flight tickets, appliances or correcting glasses can be converted into 0% installment plans.
If you buy a flat TV at P30,000, you can ask the merchant to divide the payment equally into 12 months. Yes, there will be no interest unless you fail to pay on time. Also, there will be no cancellations, discounts or freebies.
The full amount will be deducted from your credit limit. As you pay each installment your credit limit will slowly return to its original amount.
This is why it may cause inconvenience for the first few months.
Read your credit card’s term and conditions about installments carefully. Most of the banks will charge you a steep interest if you fail to pay an installment on time.
And if you think banks like it when you settle your installments earlier.
You are totally wrong.

Pro Tip: Plan your installments wisely. Banks usually charge Installment Pre-Termination Processing Fee. This is the fee you pay should you decide to settle the amount in full way ahead of the agreed date.

What is credit card cash advance?

The credit card cash advance is a feature that lets you withdraw cash in an ATM using your credit card.
Yes, just like a regular ATM card.
Each credit card has its own credit limit set for a cash advance. Usually, you can withdraw 30% to 50% of your credit limit. This feature is handy in case you have an emergency and you do not have cash on hand.
But here’s the catch, you need to pay a cash advance service fee and interest charge. The fees will be based on the Cash Advance amount which you withdraw from the ATM.
If you withdraw cash over-the-counter, you will be charged with an over-the-counter fee in addition to the service fee and the interest charge.
The Cash Advance interest rate shall be charged each day from the date of availment until the full settlement of payment.

Pro Tip: Using the credit card cash advance is risky, especially if you do not know when you will be able to settle the full amount. Each day you will be charged with 3% or more. Instead of using a cash advance, it is best to just get an emergency online loan with fixed interest.

What is late payment charge?

The late payment charge is the penalty when you fail to pay even the Minimum Payment Due. Here in the Philippines, the late payment charged can range from 4% to 8% of the minimum payment due.

What is minimum payment due?

The minimum payment due is defined as the lowest amount you have to pay to avoid the late payment charge. However, keep in mind that this does not waive the interest charge.

Pro Tip: No matter how the banks encourage or say that it is fine to just pay the minimum due, always pay your bill in full on time. While the minimum payment due can let you skip paying the balance for a month, the interest charge will just make your bill blow up.

If you continue this trend every month, you will end up will a spiraling debt within a year.
Purchase only the things you can actually pay in cash by the time your bill is due. If you are on a tight budget, swipe only the things that you need. Responsible spending will definitely save you from snowballing debt.

What is over-the-limit fee?

When I need to make a big purchase, I usually call the credit card hotline to know my available credit. Going over your credit limit will accrue a penalty

Pro Tip: Whenever possible, limit your usual charges to 50% of your credit limit. This way, should you need to make an emergency purchase, you will not go over the limit and you will save yourself from the penalty fee.

How to pay my credit card bill?

Pro Tip: As much as possible, pay only at least once or twice a month. Certain credit cards will charge the cardholder if multiple payments are done within a month or one billing cycle.

Paying your bill responsibly is vital to avoid getting into financial trouble in the future.
If you have a savings account on the same bank, you can just automatically deduct your bill from it through online banking. If the bank is accessible in your area and you can step out of the office for a while, you can settle the bill over-the-counter.
There are also some ATMs which allows bill payments anytime.
In case that you have no bank account nor time to go to the bank, you can go to the partnering payment channels of your credit card issuer such as SM Payment Centers or Bayad Center.

Pro Tip: If you plan to pay your bill through a payment channel, Make sure to do it at least 2 working days before the due date. Usually, payments are not credited in real time through this payment option.

Final Thoughts on Credit Cards

Credit cards can be mind-boggling for first-timers.
A credit card is a helpful tool you can use to purchase your needs and get benefits, but do not take the responsibilities lightly.
Mishandling your credit card will also hurt your credit rating. The moment your credit card account goes past due, your credit rating begins to drop. Add to that, you will have to deal with penalties, interest charges, and late repayment fees on top of your existing unpaid balance.
This is why credit cards are not handy for emergency needs. The fees will just pile up until you get into a spiraling debt.
In case of emergency needs and purchases, it is still better to get a fast cash personal loan with fixed interest rates and flexible repayment terms. This way you can easily budget your payments without sacrificing your basic needs. You’ll also get a notification a day before your due date so you won’t missed it.
If you get a loan from a SEC-registered lender and pay it off on time. You will be able to build your credit rating and your repayment terms will be easier to meet.