Using a credit card in the Philippines

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

Last updated:

The Philippines is a safe country when it comes to credit card payments. You can easily use the most popular cards, Mastercard and Visa, but in large cities you shouldn’t find it hard to pay with American Express either.

If you decide to travel around any of the 7,000 islands of the Philippines, you may need cash for everyday expenses. For that, you can either exchange your sterling for local currency or you can use an ATM to withdraw cash. Just keep in mind that using an ATM usually involves fees.

Compare cards offering fee-free transactions in the Philippines

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Updated November 21st, 2019
Name Product Purchases Annual/monthly fees Credit limits Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
24.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit £1,500.
24.9% p.a. (variable)
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
9.9%
£0
Min. limit £400, max. limit not specified.
9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
14.71%
£0
Min. limit not specified, max. limit not specified.
14.7% p.a. (variable)
Eligible for Coutts Travel Rewards, receive a cash reward at participating retailers in selected countries.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 14.71% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 14.7% APR (variable).
0% for 12 months reverting to 15.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
15.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 15.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 15.9% APR (variable).

Compare up to 4 providers

Potential credit card fees in the Philippines

When you use your credit card in the Philippines, you may incur fees, such as:

  • Foreign transaction fees. A non-sterling fee of around 3% per transaction can apply, depending on your credit card. That’s £30 in fees for every £1,000 spent with your card.
  • Merchant currency conversion fees. Sometimes, a merchant will offer to take payment in sterling instead of the local currency. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and often comes with higher fees than if you paid in the local currency.
  • Cash advance fees. Your card issuer may charge a fee for cash advances (withdrawing cash using your card).
  • ATM fees. The provider of a cash machine may charge a fee if you withdraw cash using your card.
  • Hidden fees. Some merchants in the Philippines add up to 10% commission when you pay with a card.

Here’s a section of a fairly typical T&Cs document showing the charges applicable when spending abroad:

section of credit card summary box document

Can I avoid paying these fees?

Yes. You can take out a card with no foreign transaction fees, decline DCC if offered (that’s when a merchant offers to take payment in sterling and convert it on your behalf) and always ask the merchant if there are any hidden fees before you pay.

Is American Express accepted in the Philippines?

Despite Mastercard and Visa being the most popular cards in the Philippines, you shouldn’t find it hard to pay with your American Express card either.

If you need cash and you have an Amex card, look for Banco De Oro (BDO) Unibank ATMs.

Should I use my credit card to get cash 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 and accommodation. You could get cash from an ATM using your credit card, but this usually comes with cash advance fees (typically 2%-3% of the transaction for many cards) and the cash machine provider may charge you. You’ll also usually start to accrue interest as soon as you make the withdrawal.

Do taxis in the Philippines accept credit cards?

Unfortunately, no. But if you want to pay with your credit card, download the Grab ride-share app and instantly request a lift.

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

Chip-and-PIN credit cards

All ATMs and POS terminals in the Philippines accept chip-and-PIN cards.

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 try to:

  • Use a cash machine within a bank. If the cash machine withholds your card for some reason, you’ll be able to quickly request help. Cash machines that are within banks are also less likely to have card-skimming devices attached to them by crooks.
  • Take two cards. You could lose your primary card, or it may fail to work. In that case, a backup card could come in handy.
  • Keep your card in sight. To avoid being a victim of card cloning, always keep your eyes on your card when you make payments.

How to prepare before travelling to the Philippines

  1. Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Most travel cards don’t have foreign transaction fees. If you don’t travel often, get a travel card without an annual fee and use it only when you’re abroad.
  2. Opt for a Mastercard or Visa card. They’re more universally accepted in the Philippines, though you shouldn’t have a problem using an American Express card either.
  3. Get a backup card. Take your primary card with you and keep your backup card in your hotel room deposit box or safe in case something happens to your primary card.
  4. Get some cash. If you travel outside of the large cities or around less populated islands, you’ll need to have some cash on you for everyday expenses.
  5. Inform your bank that you’re travelling to the Philippines. If you don’t, your bank may consider charges made abroad to be fraudulent. This could cause it to put a block on your card and land you in an unpleasant situation. It’s usually helpful to tell your bank the dates that you’ll be gone as well.
  6. Get your bank’s phone number. For any card-related issues you may have in the Philippines, you’ll know who to call.

Bottom line

The Philippines is a card-friendly country, especially in large cities and heavily populated islands. Just be careful of foreign transaction fees, dynamic currency conversion and hidden fees that some merchants impose on card payments. If you travel outside of large cities or around less populated islands, you may find it harder to use your card.

Frequently asked questions

Using a credit card in…

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site