Abound with natural beauty, Philippines has, for long, been home to sizeable population of expats, primarily due to the comparatively low cost of living and a relaxed lifestyle. As an expat, whether you may be staying in the country just for an extended period or planning on settling down, post retirement, you will need to get some basic necessities and arrangements in place, like opening a bank account and getting a credit card.
Who Are Considered Expats
An expat, short form for ‘expatriate’, is a term used for a person who is residing, on a temporary or permanent basis, in a country which they are not citizens of. The word ‘expatriate’ is derived from two Latin words ‘ex’ which means ’out of’ and ’patria’ meaning ‘country or fatherland’.
Also Read: Credit Card for OFW
Credit Card Application Requirements for Expats
Credit cards, have been one of the most popular inventions of all time, offering unparalleled convenience of cashless shopping and banking. In Philippines, there are multiple leading banks which offer a well-appointed range of credit cards, in association with international bodies, to its customers. Keeping in view the substantial expat population, there are some credit cards which have been designed keeping the needs of such individuals in mind. Some of the banks which offer a wide selection of credit cards are Metrobank, BDO, EastWest Bank, HSBC, Citibank and more.
As an expat residing in Philippines, the requirements of applying for a credit card are no different for you as they would be for a native Filipino. However, almost all the banks and credit card providers in Philippines will require expats or foreign nationals, who are applying for a credit card, to furnish additional details / documents like an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), ACR-I and Immigrant’s Certificate of Residence (ICR).
Banks Offering Credit Cards For Expats
Shifting through the multitude of credit cards which are available for expats, following are the chosen 5 credit cards which offer all-round benefits across several verticals.
BDO Platinum Credit Card (MasterCard & Visa)
- A premium credit card offered by one of the most prominent banks in Philippines.
- The BDO Platinum credit card comes with a nominal principal membership fee of P4,500 per year.
- Enjoy a credit card which offers one of the lowest monthly interest rates across Philippines. The interest rate applicable on this credit card is fixed at 2.49% per month.
- The BDO Platinum Credit Card is available in two variants – MasterCard and Visa, so you can choose which suits your requirements best.
- Imagine, a credit card which does not require you to pay any membership fee annually? Yes, the BDO Platinum credit card offers a unique feature unlike any other credit card. This card gives you freedom from annual membership fee, for life.
- Make shopping even more exciting with the BDO Platinum card. As a Platinum card holder, enjoy exclusive access to shopping rewards and promos each time you shop at SM Stores.
- Another great benefit offered by this credit card is its ‘Dual Currency’’ feature which allows the card holder to link dual currency accounts – in Philippine Peso and US Dollar – on a single BDO Platinum credit card.
- As a Platinum card holder, another exclusive privilege which you are allowed is insurance coverage. This card provides Travel Accident coverage and Inconvenience Insurance Coverage up to an amount of P20 million, free of cost.
Metrobank M Free & M Lite Credit Card
- Metrobank, one of the leading banks in Philippines, offers two well-rounded credit cards to expats – the Metrobank M Lite (MasterCard) and Metrobank M Free (MasterCard).
- Experience freedom from annual fee, for life. Metrobank offers a unique feature of ‘ perpetually waived annual fee” on its M Free MasterCard credit card, which means, you don’t have to pay anything towards credit card annual fee, for life!
- The Metrobank M Lite MasterCard credit card, however, comes with a very nominal annual fee of P1,500 per year.
- Not to forget, another great feature of the Metrobank M Lite and M Free is the interest rate which it offers. These credit cards are offered at a nominal interest rate of 2.49%.
EastWest Platinum MasterCard
- To begin with, the EastWest Platinum MasterCard credit card offers a unique feature, which is freedom from principal membership fee.
- This card is accompanied by a very nominal interest rate of 2.75% per month.
- The EastWest Platinum credit card free lifetime membership, which means, you needn’t pay a penny for availing the services which this card has to offer.
- Avail additional perks on your EastWest Platinum credit card like comprehensive Travel Accident Insurance and Inconvenience insurance of up to P20 million.
Citibank Citi Platinum Visa Card
- The Citi Platinum Card can be yours at a very nominal principal membership fee of P5,000.
- This card is offered at an interest rate of 2.75% per month.
- As a Citi Platinum card holder, you are entitled to high credit limits for transactions done with your card.
- As a leading international bank, Citibank enjoys affiliations with some of the finest hotels and resorts around the world. As a Citibank credit card holder, you are entitled to avail a multitude of benefits like up to 75% discounts at over 55,000 hotels in over 130 countries, which range from small boutique properties to 5-star hotel chains.
- As a Platinum credit card holder you are entitled to special Platinum Travel Benefits. These include a range of insurance coverage options like Missed Flight Protection, Lost Luggage Protection, Delayed Luggage Protection and Travel Accident Protection Insurance of up to P20 million.
HSBC Platinum Visa Credit Card
- The HSBC Platinum credit card comes with a principal membership fee of P5,000.
- The interest rate applicable n this credit card is a nominal 2.75% per month.
- The HSBC Platinum card is designed to be your true shopping companion as it offers card holder some exciting discounts on shopping and related promotions.
- Earn handsome bonus points when you shop or dine using your HSBC Platinum credit card.
Documentation Required To Apply For Credit Cards
Documentation requirements for the above mentioned credit cards are largely similar for native Filipino applicants and expat applicants. However, there are some additional documents, as listed for each bank below, which expats are required to submit.
BDO Platinum MasterCard or Visa Credit Card
- Photocopy of any of the following – Valid Passport with Visa /
- Work Permit with a valid Visa / VISA with EO226 / Special investor’s resident VISA and VISAs Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
- Photocopy of your Certificate of Employment or your Employment Contract.
- A Letter from the Embassy, in case you are an official working with the Embassy.
- Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) or immigrant’s Certificate of Residence (ICR) or ACR-I.
Metrobank M Free and M Lite Credit Card
- Photocopy of your and Immigrant’s Certificate of Residence (ICR) and Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR).
- Photocopy of your Visa.
EastWest Platinum MasterCard
While the standard application requirements for an EastWest Platinum credit card are the same for native Filipino citizens and expats, the latter category of applicants are only required to submit an additional document which is their Alien Certificate of Registration.
Citibank Citi Platinum Card
- Copy of your Visa and Work Permit (which must have a validity of one year and must not have been expired at the time of application).
- Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) or ACR-I card.
- A letter from your organization’s Human Resources department which must be printed on the company’s letterhead, along with your employment related details like your name, the position you’re working at and the confirmation of your term of employment.
- Contract of Employment.
HSBC Platinum Visa Credit Card
- Alien Certificate of Registration reflecting your permanent residency Visa.
- Your Passport
Tips / Suggestions
The world of credit cards is vast and confusing, especially with the choice which banks now offer. No two credit cards are quite the same. Each has its own unique set of features, benefits, set of terms / conditions and promotional activities, designed keeping a certain target audience in mind. Credit cards are used for a variety of purposes like shopping, dining, travel, wellness, emergency purposes, etc. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the requirements and needs which you want your credit card to fulfill, before you choose one. Do your research, online and offline, before you settle on a certain card and also, find out about all the details regarding charges, fees and any such details. After all, it is an instrument which is designed to make your life easier and should not become a monetary burden instead.