After several attempts, I finally have gotten a hold of a credit card issued by Citibank Philippines. It took me more than a year with BDO to be able to qualify for a Citibank Philippines credit card.
As an OFW, it is really hard to get a credit card in the Philippines. Make it even harder because BSP now requires potential credit card holders to have an SSS Number, TIN and Income Tax Documents issued by BIR. Among the three requirements, the Income Tax document is the document that OFWs are exempted.
This review will be based on my own experience with BDO, Shinhan Card here in South Korea, and Citibank Korea.
Let’s get started.
The easiest way to get a Citibank credit card is to have a credit card issued by other Philippine credit card issuers for at least six months.
In my case, I already have a BDO Classic Visa credit card for at least a year. I have requested BDO to give me a credit limit that somehow commensurates with my salary as an OFW (hint: the salary is above USD 1000 per month).
Take note, getting a credit card may be harder for people who have delinquent accounts in utility bills under the card applicant’s name. Your credit data is stored at the Credit Information Corporation of the Philippines. Credit card companies check this data to verify you know how to pay debt and for the risk of non-payment as well. Check your credit scores via TransUnion Philippines, CIC or any of the accredited credit rating agencies in the Philippines.
There are lesser reasons to call the hotline for checking your application status
BDO’s credit card application process is actually a mess. It’s a
There are no callouts and no sending of emails.
Access to more installments
As a credit card holder, I actually feel left out whenever I see promos that offer 24 months installment for Citibank credit card holders. There are several merchants that offer more 24 months interest-free installment via Citibank compared to BDO.
Access to a somewhat useful modern app
Compared with BDO’s smartphone app, Citibank’s smartphone app is more useful for credit card holders.
You can see realtime transactions that are pending to your credit card.
Access to more promos
Have you been planning to have a stay at one of the hotels you wish you can afford and then you found out that the hotel is not part of BDO’s promos. If yes is your answer, you may be in luck to find that hotel in Citibank’s promos for credit card holders.
You can pay your credit card bill using your non-Citibank PH bank account
If you have a BDO, BPI, Metrobank, UCPB or UnionBank bank account, you are in luck. You can either pay Citibank by using their online banking facilities or by paying offline through branch banking.
Identity verification is less complicated
What I liked about Citibank PH’s identity verification is that it’s less complicated. You are given three options when you call Citibank’s hotline: (1) OTP authentication, (2) Birth date authentication, (3) Voice authentication. That’s really banking made easier.
Interest rates are the same across all cards
As of November 3, 2020, all credit cards issued in the Philippines have been capped to an annual interest rate of 24% per year. According to BSP, that is 2% per month.
Why is this so? The BSP does not mandate the banks to use credit scores being collected by the Credit Information Corporation to use as basis in determining your interest rate.
You get charged for exceeding your account credit limit
One thing nice about BDO is that in case you exceed your credit limit with your pending transaction, your transaction gets declined. However, in Citibank’s case, they will allow the pending transaction first, then slap you with an overlimit fee of PHP 500, and then block future transactions until you make a partial payment in order to have an available credit line.
However, you can actually ask for a disabling of
You only have one card network
Unlike BDO that has all the networks, such as Mastercard, Visa, JCB, Unionbank, Diners’ Club, UnionPay and AMEX, Citibank only has Visa. Thus, if you are planning to visit China, you might be out of luck because most of the stores in China only accept UnionPay.
There is no toll-free number
In case you have some trouble with your Citibank credit card, if you have a telephone number without the 02 area code, expect that you need to make long distance calls to the Citibank customer center hotline.
However, if you are one of those people who have a Citibank Philippines bank account with at least PHP 4.5 million pesos, you actually have a toll-free hotline.
Why is this so? This is probably to cut costs.
The Hotline is not open 24-hours
Starting sometime in 2018, Citibank Philippines reduced the customer support operation times from 24 hours to 6 AM to 9 PM. Thus if you have some concern with your credit card, make sure to call the hotline during these hours.
Unless you want to report your credit card as lost or stolen, Citibank phone bankers will not accommodate your concerns outside the 6 AM to 9 PM window.
Why is this so? This is probably to cut costs.
There are no real-time alerts with the app
Even though Citibank PH’s app can send you push notifications, the app will not send you push notifications for all the approved transactions that you swiped. Thus, you have to monitor all your usage manually which all credit card companies in the Philippines.
This non-notification can be seen as a tactic for Citibank to charge you the
Why is this so? It’s because either: the bank’s marketing staff doesn’t know that push alarms are FREE to be sent to mobile applications or the bank wants to get
The bank nor merchant will not be held liable for fraudulent transactions
I was surprised that the cardholders will still pay for the transaction that was deemed fraudulent. Here in South Korea, the merchant or the card company will be liable for the transaction because it’s a sign that the bank or merchant did not conduct due diligence check for the transaction.
Why is this so? It’s because
You cannot change your billing period or statement date
Here in South Korea, the cardholders are allowed to change the payment due date or cut off date in order to accommodate the people who receive their salaries on different dates. Some employers pay their employees on the 5th, 10th or on the 25th.
Why is this so? Ask Citibank’s marketing staff or higher staff.
OTP Authorization page looks like it’s 2005
Come on guys, it’s 2019. It’s the age of mobile-first internet. But taking a look at the OTP authorization page, it looks like you’ve been returned back to 2005. Despite that the authorization page is not mobile-friendly, the ones who designed the authorization page did not even think of putting a transparent logo of Citibank.
Why is this so? It’s because Citibank Philippines may have ignored this verification page.
Late Posting of Payments
If you don’t have a Citibank Philippines bank account, expect that all your payments will be posted after two banking days. So if you suddenly have a shopping urge to buy an item, you may need to wait until your payment gets posted to your account.
Why is this so? Because banks in the Philippines do not use APIs.
Get ready for unpredictable billing periods
In utility bills, there is such a thing such as a billing period. Usually, a billing period is one calendar month. For example, from the current month’s 1st day to the last day of the month, or from the current month’s 16th to the next month’s 15th. Usually, a billing period starts at 00:00 of the start date and ends at 23:59 of the end date.
With Citibank credit cards, the concept of a fixed billing period does not exist. Your billing period is actually a mess. They have a concept of ideal statement date and actual statement date. These are not official terms.
The ideal statement date is the calendar day of the month when your bill is supposed to be generated. This means, this the ideal last day of the current billing period. In reality, the actual statement date is the banking day on or after the ideal statement date.
In my case, based from my previous months’ bills, the Statement Date was every first of the month, but this November 2019, the statement date shifted to November 4 because November 1 was a holiday and November 2 and 3 were weekend days. The next banking day was November 4, which made November 4 the actual statement date, whereas the ideal statement date is every first day of the month. I swiped an item amounting to PHP 3000 last November 2 and I was surprised that the amount cleared before November 4 and appeared in my November credit card bill.
Why is this so? This is to raise the chance of credit card holders not being able to pay the full amount and be able to get interest.
High Foreign Exchange Transaction Fees
Here in Korea, most banks charge up to 2.0% foreign transaction fees. I was surprised when I saw that Citibank PH charges 3.525% for swiping something in a currency other than Philippine Pesos. It’s like you immediately paid for interest.
I highly recommend using another Philippine credit card that charges a much lower forex fee, such as BDO’s American Express Cashback Credit Card.