Great purchasing power through a credit card comes with great responsibility. One who abuses that power will find a credit card a burden rather than an asset.
“It starts with not buying something you can’t afford,” said Maria Josephine “Jojo” Ocampo, head of Bank of the Philippine Islands’ (BPI) Unsecured Lending and Cards Group. “While credit cards make it easy for you to buy anything because you don’t have to pay the full amount immediately, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you can afford it.”
To avoid the credit card debt trap completely, one should limit one’s credit card to just two, Ocampo said. The more cards you have, the more annual fees you have to pay, she said.
Finding the right credit card that suits one’s lifestyle best is also advisable.
How does one choose the right card? One can start by looking at the rewards.
One of the most popular rewards, as far as BPI credit cards are concerned, is the electronic gift certificate. They provide holders with the option on what to buy.
Some rewards come in another form. For example, the Korean Embassy has an agreement with BPI that all BPI Gold Master, BPI SkyMiles, Platinum Master Card, BPI Amore Visa Platinum card, and BPI Signature cardholders can get multiple-entry visas to the land of K-dramas and K-pop. This promo has been extended until December next year.
For travelers, BPI Signature cards give complimentary access to its holders to Pacific Club Lounge at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It gives automatic room upgrades at El Nido resorts. Points gained could be exchanged for SkyMiles.
It is also advantageous to bring one’s credit card during travels. One does not have to carry a lot of cash. Cards have lower foreign exchange conversion—1.85 percent—compared to other credit cards when purchasing abroad. Other cards also have hidden surcharges.
BPI has partnered with 850 money exchange kiosks that can give Signature cardholders preferential exchange rates.
“Not all vendors have the credit card option,” Ocampo said. “For example, if you go to the flea market, night market, you will always need cash,” Ocampo said.
But whether here or abroad, Ocampo said holders should be vigilant. They should hand their cards to authorized representatives of the vendor. They should also not give personal details through e-mail, phone or text. Banks like BPI do no ask for extraneous personal details such as mother’s maiden name and birthday.