travel-credit-cards

Travel for Free: The Best Philippine Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

by Anj Santos

We’re sure you’ve heard of the term “travel hacking” by now.

It’s the art of collecting points or miles that you can exchange for travel rewards, including free flights, hotel stays, tours, and more. One of the best ways to do this is to earn free miles with the use of your credit card. There are hundreds of cards to choose from, so we narrowed it down to the 5 best Philippine travel credit cards to help enable your wanderlust.

How we selected

First of all, there is no perfect credit card – each option offers different benefits that fit different needs. There is, however, a card that best suits you! We made our list based on the following criteria:

• Eligibility – a monthly income requirement of below P50,000. Most other travel cards require a monthly income higher than this.

• Conversion Rate – a maximum spend of P50 to earn 1 mile.

• Accessibility – must be able to convert points with any purchase. Some credit cards only give miles when you use it for certain items or merchants.

Making credit cards work for you

Credit cards can be great tools, but only when they are used properly. In this respect, we’d quote Spiderman and say, “With great power credit comes great responsibility”.

Before we go to the list, here are some friendly reminders:

• Avoid paying penalties, interest rates and getting into credit card debt by paying the entire balance in full and on time. Never purchase something with your card if you cannot afford to pay for it in full when the bill arrives.

• Travel credit cards only provide free travel miles or base fare. They don’t cover fuel surcharges, ticketing fees and Philippine travel tax.

• Some miles also expire when not used within a time period. There can also be a minimum spend on your card to start earning miles, and a minimum number of miles earned to start redeeming your rewards.

With that said, here are our top picks, and we hope you find one that suits your needs!

1. BPI SKYMILES MASTERCARD

best philippine travel credit cards - bpi express creditBPI in partnership with Delta Airlines offers two mileage cards that more relevantly respond to the needs of the aspiring and frequent global travellers. The more accessible one is the BPI SkyMiles Mastercard, which gives free miles through Delta and its partner airlines.

Features:

Travel Partners SkyMiles affiliates – Delta Airlines, Thai AirAsia and Jetstar
Non-expiring miles Yes.
Conversion rate P45 spent = 1 mile
Spending Minimum None.
Redemption Minimum None. As long as your points have an equivalent reward, you can start redeeming rewards.
Free Travel Insurance Yes. Up to P10 Million in Travel insurance package.
Use of Airport Lounge No.

Eligibility and Fees:

Eligibility Must be 21 but not more than 70 years old
Monthly income of P15,000
Fees and Charges Annual fee of P2,050 | first year waived
3.4% interest per month

Highlights:

• No need to call or fax to convert into miles. Your miles are automatically recorded through SkyMiles, and a monthly statement is sent via e-mail.

• Miles earned will never expire and are transferable. You can share the gift of free miles to family and friends.

Choose this if: You aim to travel to the US, or frequently travel to the US using Delta Airlines. It has a Premier Mastercard counterpart that gives double travel miles rewards if you book with Delta, but it has a higher monthly income requirement. The card is also good for other SkyMiles affiliate airlines such as Thai Airways and Jetstar if you frequently travel around Asian cities.

2. CITI PREMIERMILES CARD

best philippine travel credit cards - citibank premiermilesCiti used to have a Cebu Pacific credit card, but sadly, it’s no longer available for application. Their best travel credit card to date is the Citi PremierMiles card, which gives the widest selection of frequent flyer programs among all local credit cards.

Features:

Travel Partners Asia Miles, Executive Club, KrisFlyer, Mabuhay Miles, Royal Orchid Plus, SkyMiles, Etihad Guest, Evergreen/ Infinity Mileagelands, Garuda Frequent Flyer
Non-expiring miles Yes.
Conversion rate P30 spent = 1 mile
Spending Minimum Yes. Contact the Citibank concierge for the minimum spend.
Redemption Minimum Yes. Minimum and increments of 1,000 Miles for airline partners, 500 Miles for hotel partners.
Free Travel Insurance Yes. Up to P 5 Million in Travel Accident and Inconvenience insurance.
Use of Airport Lounge Yes. MIASCOR lounge in NAIA Terminal 1 or SKY VIEW lounge in NAIA Terminal 3. Selected Plaza Premium Lounges abroad.

Eligibility and Fees:

Eligibility Must be 21 but not more than 70 years old
Monthly income of P30,000
Fees and Charges Annual fee of P5,000
3.50% interest rate per month

Highlights:

• Wide selection of airline and hotel partners. Can be used in over 60 airlines and 17 hotels under the Hilton and Intercontinental hotel groups.

• Can also be used for cruises and car rentals.

• Offers a P500 rebate for every 1,500 miles.

Choose this if: You’re a globetrotter who travels frequently and comfortably. The wide range of travel partners allows you to use your points to travel anywhere in the world, and can get you free stays in Hilton or Intercontinental hotels worldwide. The airport lounge benefits include complimentary snacks, drinks, computer access and wi-fi.                                           

3. PNB MABUHAY MILES WORLD MASTERCARD

best philippine travel credit cards - pnb-mabuhay-miles-mcPNB offers a travel credit card with rewards exclusive to our flag carrier, Philippine Airlines. It also lets you enjoy dual billing convenience – your local transactions will be billed in Peso while international transactions get a separate billing in US Dollars, with the option to pay in either Dollar or Peso currency (based on the payment rate of the day).

Features:

Travel Partner Philippine Airlines
Non-expiring miles No. Miles valid for 5 years.
Conversion rate P33 spent = 1 mile
Spending Minimum None.
Redemption Minimum Yes. Minimum of 1,500 miles to redeem. Succeeding redemptions may be made in blocks of 100 miles.
Free Travel Insurance Yes. Up to P10Million travel insurance and inconvenience package.
Use of Airport Lounge No.

Eligibility and Fees:

Eligibility Must be 21 but not more than 70 years old
Monthly income of P40,000
Fees and Charges Free (Annual fee waived)
3.25% interest rate per month

Highlights:

• Free Purchase Protection Insurance. Your purchased items are covered against accidental damage and theft for 90 days from the date of purchase.

• Enjoy 24/7 world class concierge service (domestic and international) and medical/travel assistance by calling (632) 687-8577.

Choose this if: Your airline of choice is Philippine Airlines. Since it’s exclusive to PAL, it makes tracking points simpler and faster.

4. STANDARD CHARTERED PRIORITY BANKING VISA INFINITE CARD

best philippine travel credit cards - scThis card allows you to enjoy a high level of priority and privileges worldwide (with access to 600 airport lounges at 300 cities) with a low-interest rate.

Features:

Travel Partners PAL Mabuhay Miles, Kris Flyer, Asia Miles
Non-expiring miles No. Asia Miles and Kris Flyer miles expire after 3 years. Mabuhay Miles don’t expire.
Conversion rate P40 spent = 1 mile
Spending Minimum None.
Redemption Minimum Minimum and increments of 1,000 miles for Mabuhay Miles, minimum and increments of 500 miles for Asia Miles and Kris Flyer.
Free Travel Insurance Up to P20 Million in Travel Accident Insurance and Inconvenience.
Use of Airport Lounge Yes. Two complimentary visits a year for MIASCOR lounge in NAIA Terminal 1. Four complimentary visits a year for Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide.

Eligibility and Fees:

Eligibility Must be 21 but not more than 70 years old
Monthly income of P19,167
Fees and Charges Annual fee of P5,000 | first year waived
1.99%  interest rate per month

Highlights:

• 24/7 access to Visa Infinite concierge service which can help you with lifestyle needs: trip planning, worldwide hotel reservations, flight and restaurant reservations, car rental, performance ticket bookings as well as other requests.

• Spouses and children can also enjoy complimentary travel insurance if the travel expenses are charged to the card.

Choose this if: You travel with family. The complimentary travel insurance for spouses and children plus access to a wide range of airport lounges worldwide will help the family travel with ease.

5. UNIONBANK MILES+ PLATINUM VISA CARD

best philippine travel credit cards - unionbankLike HSBC, the card gives top-up rewards for category spending. This one, in particular, gives 1.5x points for travel related and overseas expenses charged to the card.

Features:

Travel Partners PAL Mabuhay Miles or Cebu Pacific Get Go Points
Non-expiring miles Yes.
Conversion rate P25 spent = 1 Miles+ Rewards Points / 2 Miles+ Rewards Points = 1 Mabuhay Miles or Get Go Rewards Points
Spending Minimum None.
Redemption Minimum None. As long as your points have an equivalent reward, you can start redeeming rewards.
Free Travel Insurance Up to P 10million in Travel insurance package.
Use of Airport Lounge Yes. Skyview Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3, Club Manila Lounge at NAIA Terminal 1 and MIASCOR Lounges at NAIA Terminal 1 and Davao International Airport.

Eligibility and Fees:

Eligibility Must be at least 18 years old
Monthly income of P50,000
Fees and Charges Annual fee of P3,000
3.5% interest rate per month

Highlights:

• Each P25 spend gets 1 Miles+ Rewards point, and based on their computation table, 2 Miles+ Rewards points = 1 Mabuhay Mile or 1 Get Go point. Rewards can also be used for Petron Gas rewards.

• Get up to 30% discounts on wellness, shopping, dining and even medical expenses with UnionBank discount program.

• 24-hour roadside assistance. Includes flat tire change assistance, battery boosting, free towing, ambulance assistance, alternate transport to the place of residence or desired destination, and even free hotel accommodation if the vehicle cannot be repaired within the same day.

Choose this if: You frequently travel around the country. While you can use this card to redeem international flights, its roadside assistance, gas rewards and a wide range of airport lounge partners sets it apart and makes it a good choice for local travel.

What credit card are you currently using for travel rewards? Share with us below!

Sources:
Official bank websites and customer service hotlines
iMoney.ph

One thought on “Travel for Free: The Best Philippine Credit Cards for Travel Rewards”

  1. Hi Anj,
    Thank you for posting this. It clarifies everything on having a credit card. Been planning this for a long time. This is really a big help. Please keep on posting.

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