Have you ever owned a credit card? If so, how did you know it’s the best credit card for you?
Many Filipinos tend to choose a credit card with perks they like instead of considering its long-term benefits. Several swipes and unpaid bills later, they end up regretting their choice.
With so many options in the market, it can be challenging to find the right credit card. Currently, nearly 20 banks issue over 100 different credit cards in the Philippines. It’s also easy to get lured by sales talk and marketing hype of companies trying to sell you a card.
But if you know exactly what you need in a card, you’ll find one that can help you maximize your purchases and save money.
Here’s a five-step guide to help you find the best credit card:
Step 1: Consider how you’ll use the card.
The first important thing to do is to assess your financial situation honestly. This will determine how you’ll use the card. Ask yourself these questions:
Can I pay all my monthly balances in full?
If you plan to settle your bills by the due date every month, look for a credit card with no annual fee
. Most credit cards in the Philippines with free annual fees are premium cards and rewards cards.
It will be easier to pay off your monthly balances in full with a credit card that offers a longer grace period. Within this period, you can settle your bill without having to pay interest. Typically, credit cards have a grace period of 30 days.
Am I already in credit card debt?
Do you carry over unpaid balances each month? Manage the problem before it gets harder to control.
If you’re in such a situation, your priority is to reduce your interest and fee payments. Rewards credit cards are not an option because of their higher interest rates—the interest you’ll pay will just cancel out any benefit from the rewards.
You’ll be much better off with either a low-interest card or a balance transfer card to make it easier for you to pay down your debt. A balance transfer credit card allows moving your unpaid balances to another card with a lower interest rate, helping you save on finance charges.
Will I use the card for cash advances?
As much as you can, avoid credit card cash advances because they charge a higher interest rate than regular purchases. But if you’re considering to use this short-term cash loan for emergencies, look for a card with a lower interest rate and fee for cash advances.
Step 2: Identify the fees you are willing and can afford to pay.
When choosing the best credit card, consider also your budget and how much fees you’re willing to pay. It helps to set a maximum amount of annual fees, so you can weed out cards whose fees are out of your budget range.
Check the minimum gross annual income requirement for the credit card you’re considering, as it determines if you can qualify for the card and afford it.
For example, a regular credit card with a Php 180,000 annual income requirement suits you if your monthly income is Php 15,000 or higher. To qualify for a premium card, you need a higher monthly income of at least Php 35,000 to Php 40,000.
Premium credit cards offer more benefits than regular cards and usually charge higher annual fees. Go for one if you really want the perks and you don’t mind paying more than Php 2,000 every year in annual fees.
Step 3: Consider where you often spend your money.
If you’re confident that you can pay your monthly balances in full and you don’t have any existing credit card debt, the next step is to narrow down your choices to cards that fit your lifestyle and spending habits.
Choose a credit card that offers the best rewards for the things you pay or purchase most often. A credit card comparison website like MoneyMax.ph can automate it for you, allowing you to filter credit cards based on rewards. This way, you’ll maximize the benefits from the rewards in the long term.
Step 4: Compare credit cards.
At this point, you have a clear idea of what you need in a credit card and eliminated cards that don’t meet your criteria.
To find out the best credit cards within your chosen card type, compare the cards you’ve shortlisted based on your needs, budget, lifestyle, and spending habits.
If you do it manually, comparing credit cards is difficult. You’ll have to check the websites of the issuing banks, do extensive research, make phone calls, or probably visit a branch or two to inquire. For busy professionals, that would mean taking precious time out of their schedule just to find the best credit card.
This is where financial comparison sites like MoneyMax.ph come in. Take advantage of the convenience and time-saving benefits of using a free credit card comparison tool
. Aside from that, you’re also assured of an impartial, independent, and apples-to-apples comparison.
Just choose a credit card type (rewards, low interest, shopping, etc.) and enter information such as your employment. The online comparison tool will instantly show you all the credit cards that you can most likely get. The results will let you know which cards you can qualify for.
The tool also allows you to sort credit cards from the lowest to highest annual fees, interest rates, rewards points, and more. Refine your search further by choosing other types of credit cards or filter according to a specific card provider.
Step 5: Choose the best credit card with the highest overall value.
Have you found a clear winner in the previous step? Then proceed with your credit card application. But if you’re still torn between two or three credit cards that share many similarities, look closely for differences.
Remember: your ultimate goal here is to find out the best credit card for you. This means the card should provide the most value and save you the most money at the same time.
Here are some of the tie-breaking considerations that can help you pick the winner:
- The provider where you have an active deposit account. It’s more convenient to pay your credit card bills with a bank where you already have an account. It’s also easier to qualify for a card that way.
- No expiry of rewards. If your final two or three choices are all rewards cards, the one that doesn’t have an expiration date is clearly the best credit card (all other factors being equal).
- A tie-up with a company where you shop most often. For rewards credit cards, the clincher could be the retailer or mall that the issuing bank has a partnership with. For example, if you’re choosing between a BDO ShopMore MasterCard and a BPI Amore Visa, the better card is one that has a tie-up with a mall where you shop more frequently (whether in SM malls or Ayala malls).
- The card with a free annual fee on the first year. This feature may seem insignificant, but it can help ease your budget for the first year of using the card. Some cards waive their annual fees for life if you meet certain conditions.
Have you found the best credit card yet?
Choosing the best credit card is one of the most important financial decision you’ll ever make. Don’t start a credit card application until you’ve found the perfect card for you. Shop around, do your research, and compare credit cards. Never settle for anything less because your choice of credit will have an impact on your finances.
As soon as you’ve found the right card, you can start preparing the supporting documents required by the issuing bank and file your credit card application online or at the nearest branch.