Using Credit Cards In The Philippines: What You Need To Know
[A Guest Post By Mike From CreditCardForum.com]
When you travel to a country you’ve never visited before, all kinds of questions and concerns will come to mind. What should you pack? What should you do there? And of course, how should you pay for things once you get there?
As a kid, whenever we went on a family vacation outside of the United States, beforehand we would always go exchange our dollars for the local currency and maybe some traveler’s checks. However you don’t see that as much these days, since credit card usage is so common. So what should you expect when it comes to using your credit cards in the Philippines? Well, here are three things you need to know…
1. Credit Card Acceptance
In the major cities and tourist areas of the country, you will find that most major hotels, restaurants, and stores will accept credit cards for payment. However, this might not be the case in some of the less trafficked areas, like Palawan for example, where you may be out of luck.
As far as which card issuers are accepted the most, you will want to stick with MasterCard and Visa. At some of the tourist-oriented attractions, American Express might be accepted, but don’t bet on it. When it comes to Discover cards, it’s probably best to not even bring them.
There are a couple types of fees to consider; those charged by your bank and those charged by the merchant.
Most banks will charge you a foreign transaction fee of 2% to 3% when using your credit card outside of your home country. However some travel cards offer no foreign transaction fee. If you’re going to be traveling in the Philippines for a while, make sure you are paying with a card that has no (or a low) fee.
The other type of fees you may encounter are those which are charged by the merchant. For example, a store may try and tack a surcharge onto your bill to cover the processing costs. Many tourists pay this because they assume there’s no choice but if you are smart about it, you should try to negotiate and not pay it. The worst thing they can do is tell you no, right?
As is the case in any country, there’s always the risk of fraud. However depending on the country you live, you may not be responsible for paying it. For example, by law U.S. credit cardholders cannot be held responsible for more than $50 in charges if their credit card is lost or stolen.
On the topic of fraud, something else you need to be aware of is that by using your card outside your home country, the bank might accidentally flag your account for fraud and freeze it. Why? Because if you’ve never visited the Philippines before, their system will detect it as suspicious activity. So before you go on your vacation, make sure you call up your card issuer and let them know where you’re going and when, so you don’t end up with your account erroneously frozen.
But remember, you will still need cash!
Even though you will probably have no problem paying with a credit card at a major hotel or store, you will most definitely still need to bring money for places that don’t accept them.
The local currency in the peso (spelled piso in Filipino). Of course conversion rates constantly change, but to give you a rough idea, for every $1 USD you should get around P40 to 45. Don’t forget to carry around small bills less than 100, because some merchants may say “sorry, no change” when paying with large bills.