Security Bank Fast Track Program or Secured Credit Card Review

It’s been a year since I got my Secured Credit Card from Security Bank. It was my first credit card since my HSBC card got defaulted in 2010. I initially applied for a regular credit card, but they offered me to get a secured credit card instead.

Related Articles:
How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card
Getting a Secured Credit Card from Security Bank

Here’s a short review of the Secured Credit Card from Security Bank after a year.

Let’s first highlight the fact that a secured credit card has exactly the same uses and benefits as a regular credit card. Everything that you can do with a regular credit card can be done with a secured credit card. What are the only differences? I could only think of two:

1. The approval is 100%.
2. Your credit limit is dependent not on your income, but on your holdout amount. What is an holdout amount? I’ve discussed this in this post: Getting a Secured Credit Card from Security Bank

So one year later, I’d say I’ve been using my card literally everyday.

I made it my default payment method for Grab and Uber (although I already stopped using Uber in December). I never missed any payment deadlines, and I tried my best to pay the total amount due in full the entire time.

I got my card in March 2017, and as early as ten months later, I already started receiving offers from agents offering me cash loans and credit cards:

I own the same postpaid number since 2014, and I never received any text messages like these until this year.

It looks like I can now apply for a regular credit card! I did not entertain these messages because I am not really interested in getting a regular credit card yet. I am planning to request Security Bank to convert my secured credit card into a regular one, and see if they’ll do that for me. If not, I’ll consider submitting an application to BPI or EastWest. I’ll update this post when that happens.

The holdout amount is still on hold; I haven’t contacted my bank to release it yet. I believe that releasing the money will result to the closure of the credit card, subject to the bank’s evaluation.

Because if you’re in good standing, the secured card will be converted to a regular credit card even if the holdout amount is released.

Overall, it’s been great having a credit card again after seven years. I’ve matured financially through those years, so I am now a responsible and wise credit card holder.

Having a secured credit card is a perfect way for people to gauge if they could own a regular credit card without falling into debt. This is the safest way to “try” owning a credit card for at least a year. So, if you are unsure if you could still manage your spending if you have a credit card, try getting a secured credit card first.

What I Did to Save Money and Settle my Credit Card Debt

In one of my older posts, I talked about how I settled my credit card debt with HSBC. The article How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card, is where I outlined the actions that I did in contacting HSBC and negotiated on paying my 6-year old debt. Yes, six (6) years! I stopped paying my credit card in 2010, and only had the courage to call my bank in 2016.

The truth is, I always had the intention to contact them but I didn’t know when and how. The fear in my mind is making up all these possibilities like the need to hire a lawyer and appearing in-front of a judge in court. All these kept me away from debt collectors, and I managed to evade them for years.

Thankfully, I made the right decision to not entertain the debt collectors! I never thought that I could resolve everything with just one call, and a trip to the HSBC office in Taguig later. It was absolutely hassle-free! No debt collector from whatever law firm they claim to be working for, is involved!

So, what did I do to save enough money and be confident enough to call my bank? This is where the difficult part of the story comes in.

After I stopped paying my credit card in 2010, I started thinking about being more responsible financially. However, I never really saved money prior to that so I didn’t know where or how to start. Moreover, I was partying the entire time in 2010 and 2011.

Needless to say, when I left my job in 2012, my bank account was empty and I shamelessly relied on the help of my siblings for three months until I got another job.

Two months into my new job, my boss in the US invited me over for a training and meet and greet. My company prepared all the paperworks and when it was time for me to appear in the US Embassy for the dreaded Visa interview, HR asked me to bring a copy of my bank account statement.

Imagine how embarrassing it was to tell them that I didn’t have a property, no car, and no bank account other than payroll.

That’s when my journey at saving money started. I promised to myself that I will start saving from that time on. And I kid you not, it was never easy then, and still not very easy now. In fact, it was not until a year later when I opened a bank account. Here’s a timeline of how I was saving money prior to calling HSBC in 2016:

2012

I landed a new job and decided to save money and settle my then two-year old debt. At around this time, I also started earning extra cash from my sideline as a wedding photographer. However, I was still recovering financially from being jobless for three months, so I actually barely saved anything that year.

2013

I opened a new savings account with BDO. I chose BDO because I was aiming to qualify for the BDO Reward’s card, a move that I did not regret doing later. This has inspired me to save even more.

Related Article:
Why the BDO Rewards Card is Better Than the SM Advantage Card

My weekends are still devoted to my photography gigs. I was earning around P2,000-P3,000 per assignment (equivalent to roughly P10,000 a month). It pays the bills, literally.

2014

Both my day job and sideline are doing fine. My photography group raised our wedding packages pricing so I was now getting a share of P3,000-P4,000 for every shoot; our weekends are fully booked!

However, I was not seeing any improvement on my savings account. It is still stuck to its maintaining balance, and that prompted me to review how I am saving.

This is when I realized that the 50-30-20 rule doesn’t work for me. This rule basically wants us to put:

50% of our salary to paying our necessities such as housing, rent, and other bills,
30% go to our wants, this is basically the amount we can spend, and
20% to savings.

I was not wired to save and I am guilty of the many reasons why most of us Pinoys are having a hard time saving money. This is my subject in this article:
7 Reasons Why Saving Money is Hard for Most Pinoys

So, what was my solution? I modified the rule so it would fit my personal financial situation:

50% – rent and bills
40% – for spending
10% – saving

As mentioned above, I was not used to saving. I was raised with a “loan mentality” so saving money is not in my nature. But by saving only a small amount every payday, I was putting this “saving mentality” into my system at a very slow pace. A pacing that my financial spirit could absorb and handle.

The good news is, it is working!

Ironically, this was when the calls from debt collectors started coming in, again.

2015

I travelled to the US in March of this year. It was my first time outside the country so it got me really excited. Although everything was paid for by my company, personal spending was unavoidable.

In May of the same year, I bought a MacBook which I thought was a good investment for my photography needs. I paid 50% in cash, and the other half through a friend’s credit card for a six-month installment plan. For the next six months, I was paying her around P6,000. That was a new aha! moment for me.

I thought, if I am able to save 10% of my salary and pay my friend P6,000 every month, I should now be able to save that same amount moving forward! I could now do the 50-30-20 rule!

And so I did. I started saving more.

By the end of 2015, I paid the reservation fee for a condo unit. A move that almost lead me into depression the following year.

2016

One of the usual pitfalls for first-time money savers is: getting too excited of how much they’ve already saved.

After paying the reservation fee for a condo unit the previous year, my agent quickly prepared all the paperworks and before I knew it, I was already allotting a big chunk of my budget for the downpayment (at a 12-month installment). Unfortunately, I also decided to let go of my sideline that year. In short, I brought in a liability but removed an asset.

On the other hand, I was already starting to believe that acquiring a property that year is a huge mistake (and a financial advisor would tell me that for sure, if I consulted one). For months, I was getting rejection after rejection from banks who wouldn’t approve my home loan applications. At some point, I considered giving up on the over P200K downpayment that my siblings and I already paid. I thought, perhaps, the condo is not for me or not for us.

But as what they say, God works in mysterious ways. It turns out that it was both a blessing and a blessing in disguise. Because this made me finally decide to contact HSBC to pay my six-year old credit card debt and get a bank clearance. Luckily, I was able to negotiate and brought the amount down from P120K to P35K!

What was initially a harrowing experience turned out to be joyful in the end. 2016 was the most financially challenging point of my life. It has taught me so many lessons that in the middle of 2017, I finally decided to document everything through this blog, with hopes that what I am sharing will be helpful to someone who’s going through the same phase.

Yes, always remember that this is just a phase. If your credit card debt is giving you nightmares, you will get through it for as long as you have a genuine intention to settle it when you can.

For six years, I was hiding from credit card debt collectors. My LinkedIn and JobStreet profiles were set to private because I was afraid they could find me there. I would get anxious if I get a call from unknown numbers, and worse, when debt collectors found my new employer and reached my office extension number.

I did not ask for miracles that my debt will suddenly disappear, although I did pray for some divine intervention. And because paying my debt has always been in my intentions, the universe conspired to find ways to lead me and push me towards fulfilling that. It gave me the right opportunities (disguised as difficulties), and the right people (very patient agents, friends and siblings) to help me.

The paths were not inviting at all, they were scary, unclear and rough. I was extremely hesitant and fearful at first, but when I decided to follow and go through the many obstacles, I surprisingly emerged unscratched in the end.

So if you are reading this because you’ve been receiving threats from debt collectors, start saving up money and call your bank after. If you already have the money, I highly recommend that you settle your debt with your bank directly.


If you are having a hard time saving money, perhaps you could relate to my personal financial struggles as well. I’ve been working for over ten years now, but I only recently took saving money and being frugal seriously. The lessons that I learned along the way played a very important role in my story of finally settling my credit card debt.

I am documenting my progress in my personal finance articles where I also share my tips on how to adapt a “saving mentality” for us who are not wired to save. To learn more, you may browse my posts by clicking on this image:

I wish you all the best!

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.PSBank – their timeline is also not as active and busy as the others. 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 to what these social media representatives can do on Twitter, so I understand why 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.