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Arts | Travel | Lifestyle

Prepaid Card: The Credit Card Alternative

To swipe or not to swipe? Well, I guess the answer to that question is “not to swipe,” unless you’re the type of person who’s likely to splurge. By splurge I mean staying at fancy hotels and shopping till you drop, while overworking those little rectangular plastic thingies in your overpriced Italian leather wallet you have yet to pay for.

My husband and I travel fairly often, mainly to Japan (because it’s so awesome) and Guam (because my nephew lives there and it’s also awesome.) One thing my husband has taught me over the years is that being in debt is not a financial status you’d like to have.

Of course, there are other things worth being in debt for – grown-up things like house loans, car loans, student loans. However, pleasure things, unless it’s something extremely important to you, something you cannot imagine living without, are not worth the credit card debt.

The problem comes when having a credit card becomes a necessity, especially for someone like me whose hobby is to check for airline promo fares. To be able to avail of these airline promos, one needs a credit card. If you book a hotel room online, you need a credit card. If you want to buy discount tickets to a West End musical and you live in the Philippines, you need a credit card. If you want to purchase the latest Khaled Hosseini stab-you-in-the-heart novel on Amazon, you need a credit card.

If you’re one of the people who don’t like being in debt you have another option – a prepaid card which functions like a credit/debit card like the BPI More Fun Prepaid Visa Card. It’s a card that you need to load or top up in order to use it. There is no minimum balance, no loading up charges, and no purchase charges, etc.

It’s so cool because you can personalize it. Meaning, you get to choose what picture goes on it. My prepaid card, which I paid Php 350 for, has a picture of the Miag-ao Church in Iloilo, which I took in March 2016.

Loading it is easy. Since I have an existing BPI account, and I have the app on my phone, I can easily transfer money to it anytime I need to. You can also do it via the ATM or over the counter if you don’t have a BPI account. The card works instantly. There is no need to activate it. Children as young as 10 can get one.

I love the fact that it’s a Visa card because there are stores that I frequent that give special discounts to Visa cardholders. By using this prepaid card, I can avail of the discount without having to worry about credit card interests. The card is valid in the Philippines and abroad and is not limited to Filipino citizens. Foreigners can avail of it as long as they have a valid government-issued ID.

The downside about the card is that it doesn’t function like an ATM, which I firmly believe it should (and hopefully its future version will have this feature.) If you don’t want to renew the card, which expires in 1 1/2 years, the bank can transfer the balance to your account. If you don’t have a BPI account, you can ask for a manager’s check.

To find out more about BPI More Fun Prepaid Card, click here.

By: Katy Concepcion-Wiggins

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