Credit Cards in the Philippines: A Complete Guide for Expats
Published: July 10, 2018 | Updated: February 10, 2021 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Credit Card
Been living in the Philippines as an expat for some time now and planning to stay for long? Getting a Philippine-issued credit card is a critical part of managing your finances. It will make living in your second home a lot easier and safer than always paying in cash.
While many transactions in the Philippines are cash-based, credit cards are still useful. You can use a credit card in big malls, upscale hotels and restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies, and other businesses with a Visa or Mastercard signage. Credit cards are also used for electronic transactions such as online shopping, booking flights and hotels, and utility bills payments.
Even if you already have a card from your home country, it makes sense to get a locally-issued credit card for practical reasons. Some businesses in the Philippines, especially the smaller ones, don’t accept international credit cards as a payment mode. If you have American Express, Discover, or Diners Club, you won’t be able to use it as much as a Visa or Mastercard.
Credit cards in the Philippines are also less expensive to use locally than international cards. For one, you won’t be paying a foreign transaction fee for every purchase charged to a local credit card.
Learn more with this comprehensive credit card guide for expats in the Philippines.
Table of Contents
- How to Choose a Credit Card to Fit Your New Life in the Philippines
- How Expats Can Apply for a Credit Card
- Is It Safe to Use Credit Cards in the Philippines?
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose a Credit Card to Fit Your New Life in the Philippines
What are the best credit cards for expats in the Philippines? Asking this question to your Filipino colleagues and friends might just leave you with confusing answers. Even your fellow expatriates might give you so many recommendations, you’d have a hard time picking the right card for you.
Only you can determine the card that will be most useful throughout your stay in the Philippines. Why? Because you know exactly what you need in a credit card.
Consider the spending categories where you’ll use a credit card most often. Will you use a card frequently for shopping, groceries, fuel, travel, hanging out in bars, or dining in restaurants? List down the expenses you’ll usually charge to a credit card. The best credit card offers the highest rewards—at the lowest cost—for your largest spending categories.
Tips on Choosing a Credit Card
- Compare credit cards. Make your hunt for the right credit card in the Philippines a quick, hassle-free experience with the help of a credit card comparison site like MoneyMax.ph.
- Get a cashback credit card that provides the highest rebates if you’re looking for a card to cover your daily expenses (groceries, dining, medicines, utilities, etc.).
- Go for a credit card with great rewards for overseas purchases and with no foreign transaction fee if you often travel back and forth between the Philippines and your home country, to visit the rest of Southeast Asia, or for business trips.
- Get an air miles credit card if you frequently book flights and hotel accommodations and want to save money on your future bookings.
- Choose a shopping credit card that offers rewards and discounts on qualified purchases if you’ll use a credit card mostly for shopping in major malls like SM and Ayala Malls.
How Expats Can Apply for a Credit Card
List of Banks that Issue Credit Card to Expats
- Bank of Commerce
- BDO (Only expats with permanent residence in the Philippines for the past two years can apply.)
- China Bank
- EastWest Bank
- Equicom Savings Bank
- HSBC (Only expats who have owned a Philippine-issued credit card for at least one year can apply.)
Most major banks issue credit cards to foreign nationals living in the Philippines. You can apply for a credit card from one of the providers above.
Credit Card Requirements for Expats in the Philippines
Generally, banks require these documents from anyone applying for a credit card in the Philippines:
- Accomplished credit card application form
- Valid ID (passport, company ID, etc.)
- Certificate of Employment/Employment Contract
- Payslips or income tax return (ITR)
Credit card requirements and application procedures for expats are the same as Filipinos. However, banks require foreigners to submit additional documents as proof of identity and legal status in the Philippines.
You can apply for a credit card if you’re between 21 and 65 years old and a regular employee or business owner in the Philippines. You also need to have a landline phone (in your place of residence, work, or business) to qualify for a credit card.
When applying for a credit card in the Philippines, check its minimum gross annual income requirement. You should be earning at least PHP 120,000 to PHP 180,000 in a year to get a basic card. To qualify for a premium credit card, your gross annual income must be at least PHP 420,000.
Additional Credit Card Requirements and Documents for Expats:
Present the original copy and submit a photocopy of any of the following documents:
- Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) or ACR I-Card
- Immigration Certificate of Residence (ICR)
- Work permit and Philippine visa
- Embassy certification or accreditation papers (for diplomats and embassy officials only)
Make sure that your documents are valid for at least one year from the time you file your credit card application. Banks don’t accept expired documents.
How to Apply for a Credit Card in the Philippines
You can apply for a credit either online or personally in the branch of the issuing bank. Applying online is a much faster and convenient way to get a credit card in the Philippines. But for expats, a walk-in application is better. The bank staff can immediately answer your questions and concerns if you talk to them in person.
For the step-by-step instructions on applying for a credit card, check out these guides:
- Quick and Easy Guide to BPI Credit Card Application
- Citibank Credit Card Application: An Easy 5-Step Guide
- HSBC Credit Card Application: A Step-by-Step Guide for First Timers
Is It Safe to Use Credit Cards in the Philippines?
You’ve probably heard horror stories from your fellow expats about credit card fraud, especially in Manila. Even if you’re feeling quite safe here, you’re naturally concerned about credit card security—and understandably so.
Credit cards in the Philippines have modern security features such as EMV chip technology and one-time password (OTP) to prevent fraudulent activities. Even so, credit card fraud is a problem in the country, just like in other parts of the world.
Credit Card Scams to Avoid
Watch out for these common types of credit card scams, according to the central bank of the Philippines:
- Theft – Stealing of credit card from your wallet or bag
- Skimming – Copying of your personal information from a seemingly valid credit card transaction to make fake cards to be used for unauthorized transactions
- Identity theft – Scammers posing as bank personnel to get your personal information and make unauthorized transactions using the stolen data
- Email phishing – Fake emails purportedly from the bank that ask for your credit card information to use them for unauthorized transactions
- Card replacement scam – Scammers posing as bank personnel who ask you to turn in your credit card for an account upgrade
Dos and Don’ts to Secure Your Credit Card in the Philippines
Be very careful when using your credit card to avoid getting scammed. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Use your card only in major malls (like SM, Robinsons, and Ayala malls), hotels, and other reputable and safe establishments, ideally in a well-lit location with security guards.
- Never lose sight of your credit card during transactions.
- Never give your personal and credit card information, especially your birthdate, credit card number, expiry date, and CVV number, unless you’re sure you’re transacting with a legitimate, secure website.
How to Report Credit Card Fraud and Theft in the Philippines
When your credit card is lost or stolen, or if you notice transactions on your card you didn’t make, report the incident immediately to the issuing bank. Banks in the Philippines have 24/7 toll-free hotlines you can call to have your card blocked and prevent further unauthorized transactions.
Here are the customer service hotlines of the major credit card issuers in the Philippines:
|Banks||Hotlines (Metro Manila)||Hotlines (Outside Metro Manila)|
|UnionBank||84-186 or 841-8600||1800-1888-2277|
Whether you’re an expat on a long-term employment or a foreign retiree in the Philippines, a locally-issued credit card is a useful tool to keep your finances in order. Use your credit card wisely and safely to reap the benefits of owning a credit card in the Philippines.
Discover top credit cards in the Philippines:
Looking for the best credit card for you? Below is a list of top credit card features with discounts and other perks. Compare your options with Moneymax!
|No Annual Fee Credit Cards||Want to save money with your credit card? Skip the annual fees with these top cards.|
|Rewards Credit Cards||Earn more rewards points with these best rewards credit cards! Ideal for online shopping and everyday spending.|
|Cashback Credit Cards||Earn cash rebates with every purchase with a cash back credit card. Ideal for groceries and dining.|
|Travel Credit Cards||Are you a frequent traveler? These best travel credit cards are ideal for racking up air miles and other travel rewards.|
Venus is the Head of Content at Moneymax, with 15+ years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications, PR, and journalism. She invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Outside of work, she’s crazy about cats and Korean dramas. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.