Four Banks That You Should be Following on Twitter

Don’t we all love it when corporate entities are active on social media? Not only that we can tag or mention them when we have something to say, good or bad, about their products and services (in hopes that they will notice and listen), but it is also a convenient way to get in touch with them directly for our questions or inquiries.

It’s interesting to know that even banks have Twitter accounts, and that most banks in the Philippines have one. However, not all of them actively reply to tweets where they are mentioned. These four standout from the others, and if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend that you follow them.

4. UnionBank
I’ve always thought that UnionBank doesn’t cater to millennials. First, their website is boring and registering to their online banking is very difficult. When I opened my account, I had to make a phone call to activate my online access. A few weeks later, I mysteriously couldn’t login anymore. I didn’t bother to find out, and I resorted to using their app which they updated by the end of 2017. It was a good move for their new app is impressive.

And I can’t believe that they are actually very active on Twitter. Look:


3. EastWest Bank
I don’t bank with EastWest, but while scanning their Tweets and replies, I was impressed. I would definitely be following them if I were their customer.


2. Security Bank
I am glad that Security Bank also joined Twitter and is replying to mentions. I became a Security Bank customer last year, and I love their app. I haven’t tried contacting them on Twitter yet, but based on what I am seeing, they’re equally as accommodating:


1. BPI
Hats off to BPI’s social media representatives for doing a great job! For me, they have the best Twitter account amongst our local banks who maintains one. I think it make sense for they also have the largest number of followers. Their profile has been around for awhile, and is probably the first Philippine bank to own an official account on Twitter. Can anyone confirm?

Anyway, their timeline is always updated with announcements, and they are polite and quick when responding to mentions.
In case you’re wondering, I selected these four based on the following:

How frequent they tweet – they should be tweeting at least once a day. That means someone is actually monitoring their profile everyday.

How quickly they respond – most of them follow an 8AM-5PM schedule, so if they respond to our tweets or DMs within an hour during the day, that’s enough to keep us happy.

Quality of responses – we all hate copy-pasted responses, and it’s quite a turn off to see the same apology lines. Minimal spelling errors or grammar lapses are forgivable.  Not a UnionBank, Security Bank, and BPI customer? The following banks are also on Twitter:

UCPB – almost made it to the list if only they tweet more often.
China Bank
– they also reply to tweets but not as active as the other four above. I checked their profile on a Tuesday afternoon, and their last tweet (not pinned) is from six days ago.
LANDBANK 
– they do reply to mentions as well, but similar to China bank, their tweets are weeks apart.
RCBC
– they are getting there. If I were to pick five, I’d probably give the slot to RCBC. 
Metrobank
– their Twitter account is only dedicated to their credit card holders.
While we may not get all the answers from our banks’ Twitter at all times, it still help to have an easier way of contacting them. We don’t have to make a call or go to a branch to ask about the basics such as swift codes, service charges, why their app is not working, and the like.

There are limitations that these social media representatives can do on Twitter, so I understand whey they need to refer customers to their phone support for account-related queries. I experienced doing chat support for over a year, and we were off limits to anything that involves sensitive information. There are just things that can only be done over the phone for security reasons.

Anyway, I wonder why BDO is not on Twitter?

What are the Advantages of a Prepaid Credit Card?

Prepaid cards are good alternatives to credit cards.

I use to work as a customer service representative, and we would sometimes advise a customer to use a prepaid credit card for payments, in lieu of a credit card. I didn’t really know what a prepaid credit card is back then as Philippine banks are not yet offering them.


A few years later, I found myself lining up in BPI to apply for a prepaid credit card. It was useful and I had it for six years. I did not renew it this year because I got another one from UnionBank, plus a secured credit card from Security Bank.

What are the advantages of a prepaid credit card?

– If you are into online shopping, but do not want to use a credit card, a prepaid credit card could be of help.

– Your credit limit is dependent on how much you want to “load” into the card so you have full control of your spending. Say you want to book a hotel at Php2500, you may only reload that amount, process your booking, and you’re done.

– No monthly bills. Since this is prepaid, you will not receive bills at the end of the month!

– No maintaining balance required. And for some banks like UnionBank, your prepaid account can also function as a savings account.

– Reloading is easy. Most banks allow you to reload via online transfer or thru an ATM.

Are there any disadvantages? Personally, the annual fee which cannot be waived is quite a turn off. Other credit card perks, such as installments, are of course not possible with a prepaid card. Also, you cannot withdraw your money (or your load) via ATM.

What are the differences of a prepaid credit card and a debit card? I could only think of one – unlike a prepaid credit card or regular credit card, you cannot use a debit card for online payments (not counting bills payment).

Making online payments are unavoidable these days, and if you do not have a credit card or if you want to play it safe, prepaid cards are the way to go. I think most banks offer them now, but I noticed that only BPI and UnionBank are actively promoting their prepaid cards.

Are you a prepaid credit card user too?

Why the BDO Rewards Card is Better Than the SM Advantage Card

I learned about the BDO rewards card from another blogger a few years ago and I got really interested. The problem is, I didn’t have a BDO account at that time. I used to have one but it was a payroll account and I left it to close when I resigned.

Over a year later, I opened a new BDO account and totally forgot about the reward card. Which is why receiving a card in the mail after two years came as a surprise. I immediately enrolled it online so I could check my points at any time.



What do you get from the BDO rewards card? It is exactly the same as your SM advantage card, plus more. All SM department stores and groceries, including participating stores, accept it. The only difference is you get to earn more points since your BDO online payments are counted! Even auto loans and home loans earn you points.

How could one qualify for a BDO rewards card? You should have an existing BDO bank account, of course. Your branch will send you the reward card for free when you reach a month-to-date average daily balance of Php50,000.


I have been using my points several times in the past, mostly when buying medicine at Watson’s. Last Sunday, I stopped at a SaveMore branch after working out at a nearby gym. I only needed milk, a bag of brown rice, bread, and some canned goods which I estimated at around Php500 in total. I was so hesitant to use my credit card but I didn’t have enough cash. When the lady at the counter swiped my BDO rewards card, it reminded me to use my points. I asked her to check my balance and I did have 377 points available. My total is Php521 so I only paid Php144! Wonderful!

These are one of the small things that I use to take for granted. I hated it when SM sales ladies ask for an advantage card every time I’m at the counter; I hated it more when they offer me one. But when I got my BDO rewards card, I would actively hand it to them the moment I check out.


Again, in addition to the points that you can earn from shopping, you can earn points from your BDO online bills payment too! Which reminds me to go back to using my BDO account when paying my bills online, instead of my credit card. I get rewarded from the former more; that is 5 points for a minimum of Php1000 bills payment. Not bad!

Are you also using BDO rewards card?

7 Things you Need to Know Before Getting your First Credit Card

Have you been wanting to get a credit card? Have you tried applying for one but got rejected? Here are some credit card facts that may help you decide or gauge if whether or not you are ready to own one. These are all based on experiences and not a professional advice. I am sharing them because I myself did not know these when I got my first credit card ten years ago. I would have maintained a very clean credit record if I did. At that time, I have just started working and I didn’t know anyone (who owns a card) whom I could ask for advice. So here we go.

1. Credit card is like a loan. A bank will lend you the money, and you will need to pay them back. Which means that ideally, you should not be using the card in buying stuff that you can not afford to buy in cash. Credit cards are helpful, and in fact could help you save money in many ways if you know how to use them smart.

2. Credit cards will not make you rich. Instead, it could lead you to spending way beyond your means and accumulate debt. On the other hand, a credit card can become a useful tool when you know how to use it wisely as mentioned above. Items that you can buy via installment plans at zero interest is a common example; you won’t need to shell out a huge amount at once but rather pay it in months. You can also take advantage of various promos, get discounts, earn points, and the like.

3. Never look at the required “minimum payment”. Instead, check your total amount due and pay that amount in full. The minimum payment is calculated at ONLY 1% to 3% of your total outstanding charges. Paying only the minimum is like adding up interests to your debt. Most people who ran away from their credit cards and got “black listed” have started from doing this practice. Again, always look at the TOTAL amount due and pay that full amount on time.

4. Late monthly payments are reported to credit bureaus. Which is why you need to know that owning a credit card requires you to be very disciplined and responsible. Going back to number one, if you cannot buy an item in cash, avoid buying it with a credit card.

5. What happens if you stop paying altogether? You can never run away from your credit card debt. Aside from not being able to qualify for another credit card, you may not get approved of any form of bank loans in the future. Your record will be sold to credit card debt collectors who will in turn harass you in forcing you to pay. These collectors are unprofessional, rude, and ruthless, you don’t want to deal with them.

6. If you are new to the work force, aim to save money first before getting a credit card. I recommend having at least Php50,000 in your bank account, or more than thrice your monthly salary. Why, you ask? Because the credit limit that banks will give you will be based on your income and is often more than twice your monthly salary. Just in case you get to max your card out (spending up to the maximum limit), you have at least a fund available to pay your balance. This way, you won’t be relying on your salary to pay your debt. This could make you live from paycheck to paycheck, and you don’t want that to happen to you.

7. It is not scary to own a credit card. It is only scary if you don’t know how to spend wisely. If you splurge on things you could hardly afford and if you have debts or loans, do not get a credit card. If you have no savings, do not get a credit card. However, if you know that you are responsible and you can control your spending, there is no reason for you to be scared. Again, if you are smart and wise, you can make your credit card work for your advantage.

Are you ready and responsible enough to own a credit card? You can try applying for one from Security Bank. Start by clicking on this referral link: https://www.securitybank.com/m?10124001601.

I wish you the best of luck! Let us know if you get approved. Most importantly, remember these advices when you start using your card.


5 Realities About Owning a Credit Card

I came across an article from Security Bank which upon reading, has inspired me to respond. The title is “5 Wrong Notions About Credit Cards You Shouldn’t Believe” and you can read it in full here. I can’t help but comment on almost everything that was said, and I decided to post my thoughts here. I call it the “5 Realities About Owning a Credit Card”.

All screenshots from Security Bank.

1. You Will Overspend

This is not always true. My credit limit from my fist credit card was more than twice my monthly salary. And then lately, I have a co-worker who was given a credit limit of Php200K. It was also her first credit card, and she’s only been working for over a year. That would be very tempting for any credit card holder, first timer or not. Who would decline such credit limit? She didn’t. But the good thing is she’s very good at budgeting (she later on became my insurance advisor), and I’m glad that Security Bank mentioned budgeting:

The truth is, it is very difficult to not overspend when you have a credit card. I should know based on experience. Not only that you should be very good at budgeting and sticking to your budget, but you should be very cautious to never use the card “in case of emergency”. I would say, you must have enough money in your savings account before applying for a credit card. If your credit limit is Php100K, you should have Php100K in the bank, and not because you have a high paying job.

2. You Will Be in Debt


This is a tough one, and is synonymous to overspending. Spending wisely is often not in the vocabulary of a credit card holder. How could one spend wisely anyway when you get offers and discounts from different establishments almost every week? I will stick to my advise of saving money first. Don’t get a credit card if you don’t have at least Php50K in your bank account.

3. You Can Damage Your Credit Card Score

I am “quoting” both paragraphs under this item because they talked about those perks and promos. These are evils that will tempt you to use your credit card and accumulate debt. Budgeting is once again mentioned, and I’d say having an enormous self-discipline should always come around the topic of budgeting.

My credit score has been damaged big time (although, we do not really have have credit scores in actual numbers here in the Philippines). This was confirmed when my home loan was rejected by all banks that I applied to. Thankfully, I was able to fix this through a bank clearance for my credit card.

4. Your Monthly Bill Payments Are Reported to Credit Bureaus

In relation to number three above, I know that I have already been blacklisted by credit bureaus. I am working at rebuilding my credit score by promptly paying my monthly amortization for my bank loan, and got a second chance at owning a credit card with Security Bank’s secured credit card.

Yes, you will get reported to credit bureaus when you fail to settle your credit card debt. And what are the consequences? Apart from being harassed by debt collectors, you will never be approved of any form of bank loans anymore.

On the other hand, I agree that this should not scare you from getting a credit card, but rather push you to use your card correctly.

5. Your Credit Utilization is 0%

I don’t know what this means, honestly. What I’m sure of is you can use your card up to the maximum limit.

In general, owning a credit card is nightmare to those who are not good at managing their finances, and a joy to those who are using it right. While there are lots of credit card holders who are buried in debt, there are also many who are enjoying its benefits and that is because they have the discipline to spend within their means.

I definitely do not encourage you to get a credit card if you could barely save money every payday. Save first, and before you know it, some banks will be offering you credit cards without you needing to apply. My friend whose initial credit limit is Php200K that I mentioned above is a perfect example. Because she’s been actively saving money after landing her first job, a certain bank contacted her and sent her the card.

So if you are thinking about applying for a credit card, my advice is – save now and get a credit card later. Aim to save at least Php50K to Php100K.

Do you think you are ready to get a credit card? Start by clicking on this referral link:  https://www.securitybank.com/m?10124001601

I wish you all the best!

The Best Mobile Banking Phone Apps You Should be Using – 2018 Update

Majority of our local banks here in the Philippines have their own mobile banking app. I am using four of them, and I am a satisfied mobile banker so far. With a prepaid mobile phone reloading as one of their features, I’d say they’ve been designed to cater to every Juan’s needs. These are the four mobile banking apps that I use:

BDO

Are you one of those who are annoyed by BDO’s one time password or OTP? I am too, but it makes me feel better knowing that it is an added security feature. Well, the BDO mobile banking app eliminates the need for an OTP so you can go to your transactions directly upon logging in.

Pros:
– web and mobile app login and password are the same
– OTP is no longer needed to login
– user friendly layout

Cons:
– difficulty logging in sometimes, and it doesn’t say if app is under maintenance or the internet connection is just too slow.
– mobile phone reloading feature doesn’t recognize some Touch Mobile (TM) numbers.
– doesn’t show your full account number. This is a big issue for me because BDO doesn’t print account numbers on their ATM cards. I don’t memorize account numbers so I would need to find a computer to login to just so I could see my account number when I need it.

*2018 Update: BDO just incorporated Touch ID as a login option, and the app now shows your account number!

BPI

Along with BDO, BPI app is the first mobile banking app that I used. And just like BDO, it is very straightforward.

Pros:
– web and mobile app login and password are the same
– user friendly layout
– displays your account number
– you don’t need to enroll a mobile number in order to reload them, the app will allow you to directly access your phone contacts! This is a very surprising feature because BPI often requires paperworks and a trip to their branch for enrollments.

Cons:
maintenance mode is becoming frequent

SECURITY BANK

I just installed this app early this year when I got my secured credit card from them. The app is easily the most visually pleasing for me.

Pros:
– can login via Touch ID!
– pin code and password are alternatives to Touch ID.
– also displays your account number
– layout and color are easy on the eyes, perhaps because blue is my favorite color.

Cons:
– None so far. I only use the app to check my balance, so I haven’t tested its features yet.

UNIONBANK

Both my web and mobile banking experiences with UnionBank haven’t been very easy. You actually need to call them to complete setting up your online/web account. A few months later, I lost my access for reasons I don’t know. I did not call them again, and I settled to using their app.

Pros:
– closing the app automatically logs you out
– the phone reloading feature actually works!

Cons:
– always under maintenance

Overall, I’d say BPI has the best app so far with BDO and Security Bank coming close. UnionBank still has a lot of improving to do. I feel that UnionBank doesn’t really cater to young customers which is why enhancing their online and mobile banking is the least of their concerns. And I understand why. With an initial deposit and maintaining balance of Php100,000, that is not very attractive to millennials (or most Pinoys for that matter).

*2018 Update: It looks like I’m not the only one complaining about UnionBank. They must have recognized the need to upgrade as they just changed their app, and it is already at par with the other three banks above. They now have Touch ID for login, and the account summary is impressive:

Which mobile banking app are you using, and how is it?

Why Do You Need a Checking Account?

“Please prepare twelve (months) post-dated checks”. That was the message that I received from the landlord when I was inquiring about the studio apartment that they are renting out. At that time, I didn’t even know what a post-dated check was, which makes me not the tenant they want.

Years later, I was again in need of a checking account in order to pay my downpayment to SMDC. They referred me to BDO, where it felt like my application was treated as a credit card application.

Do we really need checking accounts here in the Philippines?

We couldn’t pay in cash and card all the time. A checking account has the same function as a savings account, plus more. It has no transaction limits. I think, the added security is probably the best privilege it could offer. There is a paper trail to every issued check, while cash or card can be spent by anyone and could be difficult to trace. A check is regarded as the safest form of payment.
I have yet to find out if this is true in the Philippines, but if you are re-building your credit history, a checking account may also help. If you have just paid off a defaulted credit card like me, consider your checking account an asset. Along with my Security Bank secured credit card, and a home loan amortization which I get to pay in full and on time, I have high hopes that I’d be able to get a regular credit card again in the future. Although, I am more than happy with the secured credit card, quite honestly.

How I Settled My Credit Card Debt

My credit card debt started to pile up in 2008. I had the card for only over a year, and by the second year, I was already only paying the minimum required payment. How did it happen? It was basically due to lack of knowledge about credit card usage.

I decided to stop paying in October 2010. I lost my card three months prior to that, and the replacement card that I requested was never delivered in my address. I dealt with customer service for three months that when I finally got the card, I immediately throw it away and decided to forget about it. And so I thought.

For the next few months, I started receiving calls, emails and letters from debt collectors often posing as lawyers. I became an expert at recognizing unwanted calls and in researching who those callers are. When I got a new job in 2012 and needed to travel abroad, my company submitted an application for an AMEX Corporate card for myself and was denied. We had to submit a notarized document in order to get the issuing bank’s approval.

The calls and emails stopped for awhile, but in early 2014, they came back. It became concerning at that point as the calls are actually coming in at work. Then in 2015, my siblings and I purchased a condominium unit under my name. That is when my credit card nightmare started (again).

I’d say, I always had the intention to eventually pay as I have been in fact saving money for it. But I just didn’t know how and where to start. A lot of things are holding me back, I was afraid that:

  • my bank might ignore me and refer me to the debt collectors. I was firm from the very beginning that I will never negotiate with debt collectors, ever.
  • my bank may accommodate me but I was afraid my debt has already earned very high interest which I could not afford to pay.
  • I might need to get a lawyer and deal with all the legal stuff.

All these disappeared with just one call!

See, all banks declined my home loan application because of my unsettled credit card debt. It took my agents over three months to convince me to call my bank. And the rest is history, you may check my previous post for the story:

How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card

So, how do you settle your credit card debt?



1. If your card is still active, meaning your latest payment due date has not passed one month yet, call your bank and ask for an amnesty. Negotiate and request for a supervisor if necessary. Be honest about your financial status and come to an agreement about payment terms and on deducting interests. You may be granted a payment term of up to six or twelve months depending on the total amount. Note that the bank’s decision will depend on your past paying habits. If you have been a very good payer for a long time, you may be given better options and considerations.

2. If you already stopped paying and you have already been receiving calls from debt collectors, you may:

    • negotiate with the debt collector
    • ignore them, save money, and settle with your bank later

Either way, you are going to pay anyway. I opted to negotiate with my bank, although it took me six years to do that. You don’t want to wait six years. The need to borrow from a bank may come anytime, and your credit card debt will definitely get in the way. Start considering calling your bank today.

3. Do you have multiple cards and are having a hard time paying them? You can seek assistance from the Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP). The below article may be useful:

Get Help From The Credit Card Association of the Philippines – CCAP

Basically, they will help you consolidate your credit card debts through their Inter-bank Debt Relief Program (IDRP). Start by calling your bank, and ask if they are a member of CCAP, and is participating in the IDRP.

There may be lots of things which are holding you back right now. You may choose to settle your credit card debt today, or later. But one thing is for sure, it feels great when you finally get to receive that clearance. Peace of mind, at last. If you have been dealing with debt collectors for awhile, maybe this is the time to call you bank.

Are you also having problems paying off your credit card debt? Share us your story; feel free to leave your comments below.


The New Amore Visa Prepaid Card from BPI

So I just received an email advisory from BPI that they are replacing the My ePrepaid Mastercard with Amore Visa Prepaid Card. I actually have seen this product in their website before, so they may have just added additional features before relaunching it.

Here’s the advisory that was emailed to My ePrepaid Mastercard users:

The Amore Visa Prepaid comes in 2 variants:

  1. The payWave card allows for contactless transactions — tap, swipe and dip in POS terminals in stores worldwide. You can use this card to shop online as well.
  2. The beepTM card has 2 wallets: The Visa wallet allows you to shop in stores worldwide and online, and the beepTMwallet allows you to use MRT, LRT, NLEX, SCTEX, P2P and BGC buses with easy loading features.

You can also enjoy the following privileges:

  • Exclusive perks at Ayala Malls
    • Access to Ayala Malls lounge
    • 5% off movie tickets in Ayala Cinemas
    • Invitations to cardholder events like concerts, movie screenings and Ayala Malls sale events
  • Lower fee with longer validity period
    • P200 for payWave and P250 for beepTM
    • Validity of up to 4 years.
  • Rewards on your everyday spend through the new AmoRewards Program 

Click here to apply for an Amore Visa Prepaid Card.

So what will happen to the old My ePrepaid card? If your My ePrepaid Card is not expiring within 2017, you may still continue to use and enjoy the benefits of your existing card. However, if you want to renew in the future, the Amore Visa Prepaid Card will be your option.