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Using a credit card in the Philippines

Be on the lookout for merchants that charge hidden fees of up to 10% if you pay with plastic.

The Philippines is a safe country when it comes to using your credit card. While you can easily use Visa and Mastercard, you may find it more difficult to locate merchants that accept American Express cards – especially outside of big cities like Manila.

If you decide to travel around any of the 7,000 islands of the Philippines, you will need cash for everyday expenses. To get cash, you can either exchange Canadian dollars for the local peso once you arrive (or order some from your bank before you leave Canada), or you can use an ATM to withdraw cash. Just keep in mind that using an ATM usually comes with fees.

Compare credit cards for use in the Philippines

If you’re looking to apply for a new credit card before you travel to the Philippines, look into a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees and save 2.5% on every transaction.
1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Walmart Rewards Mastercard
Up to $25 in Reward Dollars
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.89%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to $25 in bonus Walmart Reward Dollars.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
35,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$139
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that’s up to $350 towards travel). Apply by July 4, 2022.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
45,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $450 towards travel). Apply by July 4, 2022.
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$35 USD
Min. recommended credit score: 725
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
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Canadian Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted overseas. Check with your bank before travelling to the Philippines to confirm whether or not you’ll be able to use your credit card during your trip.
1 - 20 of 45
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
RBC Cash Back Mastercard
N/A
Up to 2% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 2% cash back on grocery store purchases, and up to 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases and pre-authorized payments.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,500). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) on up to $1,000 of purchases in the first 2 months Until July 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
RBC Avion Visa Infinite
55,000 points
Up to 1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to 55,000 Welcome Points. Get 35,000 points on approval and 20,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in your first 6 months. Apply by September 16, 2022.
OFFER
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) on up to $1,000 of purchases in the first 2 months Until July 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
EXCLUSIVE
Neo Financial Mastercard
Get $25.00
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Get $25 when you sign up for the Neo Financial Mastercard. Plus, earn bonuses like 15% cashback on your first purchase at most partners, and earn an average of 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed.
RBC Rewards+ Visa
3,500
Up to 1 points per $2 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 3,500 RBC Rewards points by going digital in the first 60 days.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
0.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($20 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 2% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Walmart Rewards Mastercard
Up to $25 in Reward Dollars
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.89%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to $25 in bonus Walmart Reward Dollars.
Neo Secured Card
15% cash back
5% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn bonuses like 15% cashback on your first purchase at most partners, and earn an average of 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed.
Refresh Financial Secured Card
N/A
N/A
17.99%
$12.95
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard
60,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 60,000 points and get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 1 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)
N/A
N/A
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
The no annual fee Home Trust Secured card comes with a standard 19.99% purchase and cash advance rate. Apply with any credit score and start rebuilding your credit.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege
90,000 points
5 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$499
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 90,000 welcome points in your first year.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
35,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$139
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that’s up to $350 towards travel). Apply by July 4, 2022.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
5,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you spend a minimum of $750 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder. Apply by August 31, 2022.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0% rate on Cash Advances for 6 months
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on Cash Advances for the first 6 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by August 31, 2022.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card
10% cash back
Up to 4% cash back
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 750
Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by August 31, 2022.
Signature RBC Rewards Visa
N/A
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$39
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $1 you spend on qualifying purchases, plus earn bonus points through purchases at select retailers.
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What credit cards can I use in the Philippines?

Despite Visa and Mastercard being the most popular card networks in the Philippines, you shouldn’t find it hard to pay with your American Express when you’re in big cities.

Although you shouldn’t use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, emergency situations may arise. If you need cash and you have an Amex card, look for Banco De Oro (BDO) Unibank ATMs.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
exclamation point iconMedium

Potential credit card fees in the Philippines

You should always keep an eye on credit card fees, especially when travelling overseas.

  • Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards issued in Canada come with foreign transaction fees of 2.5%. You’ll need to pay this fee every time you use your credit card outside of Canada. Fortunately, there are a few credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees in Canada.
  • Currency conversion fees. If someone gives you the choice of paying in Canadian dollars or Philippine pesos with your credit card, always choose the local currency. Paying in Canadian dollars with your card will subject you to a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) that can lead to poor exchange rates and currency conversion fees. Pay in the local currency and let your bank do the conversion.
  • Cash advance fees. If you use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM, you’ll face a cash advance fee as well as the cash advance interest rate, which is usually charged from the day you withdraw the funds. To avoid the high APR, use your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM.
  • ATM fees. Even using your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM will likely have you facing an ATM fee. To avoid this fee, you can use a debit card issued by a bank that belongs to an international ATM alliance, such as the Global ATM Alliance that Scotiabank is a member of.
  • Hidden fees. Some merchants add up to 10% commission when you pay with a credit card. Before you pay with credit, ask if there are any additional charges. Roughly calculate the exchange rate so you’ll have an idea of how much the charge will be once you check your credit card statement.

Can I avoid all of these fees?

Yes, here’s how:

  • Apply for a no foreign transaction fee credit card to avoid this fee.
  • Avoid conversion fees by always paying in the local currency.
  • Avoid the high cash advance APR by using your debit card – instead of your credit card – to withdraw cash from an ATM.
  • To skirt around ATM fees, you’ll need to use a debit card from a bank that belongs to an international ATM alliance – plus you’ll need to stick to ATMs that belong to that network.
  • Avoiding hidden fees can be more challenging. Before you pay with a credit card, ask the merchant if you will be charged any commission fees or surcharges. If they add a fee, use another payment method or head to a different merchant.

ATMs in the Philippines

If you travel on less populated islands or outside of the large cities, you’ll need cash to pay for food, transportation, activities and some accommodations. ATMs are relatively easy to find and are usually located within banks, convenience stores, shopping malls and transportation hubs, as well as on busy streets.

Should I use my credit card to get cash?

No, avoid using your credit card to get cash from an ATM at all costs. You’ll end up paying a cash advance fee as well as interest, which will start adding up from the day of the transaction. If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, use your debit card.

Do taxis in the Philippines accept credit cards?

Unfortunately, no. If you want to pay with your credit card, download the Grab rideshare app and instantly request a ride.

Note that you can’t get an Uber in the Philippines anymore.

Is it safe to use my credit card in the Philippines?

In general, it’s safe to use your credit card in the Philippines. However, for increased security, always:

  • Protect your PIN. When entering your PIN, use the other hand to hide it from hidden cameras and onlookers.
  • Select ATMs carefully. Use ATMs found in banks, shopping centres, convenience stores and otherwise busy areas. Avoid ones in isolated areas or unsafe districts.
  • Keep an eye out for skimmers. If you feel that the card slot is not as smooth as it should be or if you think there’s a problem with the keypad, cancel your transaction and use a different ATM. Someone might have installed a card skimmer on the machine.
  • Keep your card physically safe. Instances of pickpocketing and theft are common in the Philippines. Take extra care when venturing out after dark and always keep a close eye on your wallet or purse at all times.

How to prepare before travelling to the Philippines

Credit card usage in the Philippines is generally safe, but as always, use caution.

  1. Carry at least two credit cards. Ideally, take at least two credit cards with you, with at least one being a Visa or Mastercard. That way, you can avoid being left without money if your primary credit card is lost or stolen or if a merchant doesn’t accept Amex.
  2. Think about foreign transaction fees. Paying foreign transaction fees does not make sense when you can find cards that come with no foreign transaction fees. For each transaction, you’ll save yourself 2.5%.
  3. Inform your bank. Banks monitor accounts to minimize fraudulent transactions. If your bank sees an unexpected purchase made in the Philippines, it will have a good reason to temporarily block your card. Let your bank know of your travel plans in advance.
  4. Carry emergency numbers. If your card ends up lost or stolen, you should know which number to call. Write down your credit card providers phone number and carry it on you at all times.
  5. Know how you’ll get cash. You should carry at least some cash on you at all times. Use your debit card to withdraw cash in order to avoid the cash advance interest rate that comes with using a credit card. You can also exchange Canadian dollars for Philippine pesos or make use of travellers’ cheques.

Next steps

You can avoid unexpected problems by asking yourself these simple questions before you leave for the Philippines:

  • Which cards should I take? Carry at least one Mastercard or Visa card and have at least two credit cards with you.
  • Did I inform my bank? Unless you want to deal with the possibility of a blocked card, inform your bank before you head overseas.
  • Will I pay extra fees? Check if your current credit card charges foreign transaction fees. If it does, consider applying for a card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • Where will I get money from? Use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM – avoid using your credit card unless it’s an emergency. You can also consider converting Canadian dollars to Philippine pesos or cash in travellers’ cheques.

Using a credit card in …

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