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How to Pay For Your Apps If You Live in the Philippines

Updated on January 5, 2014
My Nexus 7 and my BPI Edge Mastercard. Card number and expiry date are blurred.
My Nexus 7 and my BPI Edge Mastercard. Card number and expiry date are blurred.

So you finally got yourself a new tablet or mobile phone and you've been busy downloading the latest apps and games. Although there a lot of quality free apps in the market today, it's still a wise decision to invest in a plastic card you can use for all of your digital purchases. There may come a time when you'd want to get yourself extra features (a.k.a. in-app purchases) or that high quality paid app everyone's been talking about.

In this article, we take a look at 3 different kinds of cards you can apply for right now: Credit Cards, Debit Cards, and Prepaid Cards.

Credit Cards

I, personally, use my BPI Edge MasterCard to pay for all of my digital purchases on my Nexus 7 and find that it has worked without a glitch.

A credit card is a plastic card given by issuers such as BPI, BDO, RCBC, etc. to applicants they deem credit worthy. I recommend getting a credit card if you have the discipline to pay off your balance every month. What that means is that when you get your credit card bill every month, you will pay it in full. If you fail to pay off the balance, you will have to pay the accrued interest on your purchases.

For you to get a credit card, you need to submit your completed application form, valid IDs, proof of income, and proof of billing to the bank and wait approximately 10 banking days for approval. It's important to note that different banks have different lending criteria and approval processes. Make sure to provide your best contact number since they may need to contact you for more information. Once approved, it will take another week or so for you to get your card. You will be provided a credit limit which is the maximum amount of credit you can use.

Why should you get a credit card?

  • Aside from letting you pay for your apps and games, a credit card is also a great payment option for big purchases esp. the ones with a 0% installment plan.
  • Credit cards often come with a rewards program. You earn rewards when you use your card. You can redeem your reward points for goods and services such as bill rebates or Gift Certificates for Hotel and Travel accommodations.
  • It’s easier to dispute a charge through your credit card company.
  • It’s a convenient way to pay for your purchases while travelling and it also comes with emergency and travel assistance.
  • Managing your finances through your credit card can help build your credit history and financial savvy.

Why shouldn’t you get a credit card?

  • Forgetting to pay the minimum amount on time will be costly. BPI, for example, charges a penalty fee of 6% of the past due amount.
  • It’s expensive to use your credit card for cash advances. BPI charges a cash advance fee of approximately 300 PHP.
  • The above scenarios will also result in a loss of grace period. This means that if you decide to make cash advances using your credit card, accrued interest on your purchases and cash advances will be added on your next statement even if you’ve been paying your balance in full.
  • If you’re new to credit, you might find it difficult to control the urge to splurge. When I got approved for a BPI credit card, my credit limit was 54,000 PHP. To me, that’s a lot of money and it has taken all of my willpower not to max it out. You should NOT max out your credit limit. It will be harder to payoff and you won’t have room for emergency purchases.

My BPI E-Credit. Card number, Expiry date, and CVV are all blurred.
My BPI E-Credit. Card number, Expiry date, and CVV are all blurred.

Tip: If you decide to apply for a BPI credit card, I recommend getting their optional E-Credit card at no extra cost. The E-Credit has a unique credit card number and CVV for online shopping. It shares a percentage of your regular card's credit limit which you can adjust depending on your needs.

If you’re wary of making online purchases like me, use the E-Credit so you won’t have to expose your regular card number. I also recommend decreasing the credit limit of your E-Credit. Trust me on this. It will put your mind at ease and adds a layer of protection against fraud on the internet.

Debit Cards

A debit card is a plastic card that is linked to your savings or checking account. When you make a purchase, the money is taken out of the account you linked with the debit card. You can use it virtually anywhere a credit card is accepted but keep in mind that some debit cards do not allow you to make online transactions. The Citigold Visa Debit card, for example, cannot be used for both online and phone purchases.

I recommend getting a debit card if you're having difficulties applying for a credit card. The debit card application process is quicker and less painful. For you to get a debit card, you need to submit a valid ID, completed application form, and your initial deposit. The bank may need you to submit a utility bill to verify your address. You may also be required to pay the initial annual fee, if applicable.

Why should you get a debit card?

  • You don't have to worry about late fees or interest charges because you're not borrowing money. You're using your own.
  • It's easier to control your spending.
  • You can easily withdraw money without having to pay expensive cash advance fees.

Why shouldn't you get a debit card

  • For every month your account fails to meet any required maintaining balance, you will be charged a service fee of 300 PHP.
  • It takes a longer time to dispute charges on a debit card.
  • If someone steals your card information, they will gain unauthorized access to your entire savings account.


TIP: The Unionbank EON Visa debit card has an annual fee of 350 PHP but do not require any maintaining balance. You can use it for your online transactions and you can even link it with your PayPal account.

You can manage your account online at of the best online banking facilities you would ever use.

Prepaid Cards

A prepaid card is a re-loadable plastic card used to make purchases just like a credit or debit card. The difference is that when you make a purchase, the payment is drawn from the amount of money you have pre-loaded and not from your savings account or your credit limit.

I recommend getting a prepaid card if you feel it's going to be difficult to apply for and manage a credit card or debit card. The application process is the simplest and quickest. For you to get a prepaid card, just bring your valid ID, completed application form, and the cost of the card to the issuer. You may be able to get your card within an hour.

Why should you get a prepaid card?

  • You only spend what you have on the card.
  • You won't have to worry about anyone gaining unauthorized access to your savings account.

Why shouldn’t you get a prepaid card?

  • It's not a bank account. You won't earn interest on the money you load on a prepaid card.
  • There's a ton of fees involved like maintenance and reloading fees. Make sure to read through the list of applicable fees before getting a prepaid card.


TIP: For a minimum fee of 150 PHP, you can get yourself a good-looking 'Gold' prepaid card from Western Union. The Western Union Gold Prepaid Card allows the cardholder to load any remittance they will receive into their card. You can load the remittance through the Western Union website, through mobile SMS, or through their customer service hotline. You can also load cash at Western Union branches.


So, which plastic are you planning to get?

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Other Useful Information

  • Online stores would require you to enter your address information to complete your payment profile. Make sure to use the same billing address that you have with your issuer.
  • In the event of a decline, you may have to contact your card issuer to validate your purchase.
  • If your card gets lost or stolen, immediately notify your card issuer to block the card and stop any fraudulent transactions.
  • After getting your replacement card, update your app store information to continue making purchases.


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