Taking out a credit card from wallet

4 Straightforward Ways For Filipinos To Get Their First Credit Card

You have graduated from university and now you’ve settled well into your first job. It’s time to take a look at your finances, and what better way to improve your cash flow than to get a credit card?

As eager as you may be to get your first credit card, getting your first credit facility in the Philippines is not as simple as that. Many banks are a bit more cautious when it comes to giving out their credit cards to first-time customers.

In the Philippines, credit cards are generally viewed as a financial tool for the affluent, hence, many think (especially the first-time applicants) that they have to earn a fortune to qualify for one.

While credit card application does come with an extensive background check and stringent requirements, it isn’t just about your income. Yes, you need to meet a salary requirement, which differs from card to card, but determining whether or not you’re qualified to hold one doesn’t just end there.

Here are 4 ways to get your first credit card:

1. Ensure you have a stable source of income

Earning more doesn’t automatically increase your chances of getting approved. While it’s true that your capacity to pay will be initially determined by your income, it cannot, however, map out your spending habit.

Banks require a stable source of income to ensure you can afford to repay a credit card balance before they approve your application. Having a steady income from a full-time job will increase your chances of getting approved.

Your length of employment will also play a role in your application. For executive positions or entry-level executives, aside from the income requirement, just a one-year employment in the same company may not be sufficient. Some banks require a minimum of two years employment with the same company, especially for business process outsourcing (BPO) executives.

Other requirements aside from having a stable source of income are:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must have a good credit history (bank statement for your payroll or savings account)
  • Permanent address
  • Landline
  • Proof of residence
  • Documentary requirements
Pro tip!

If you’re planning to apply for a credit card in the near future, the preparation period can take some time. Thus, you must do the following:

  1. Avoid short-term employment or job hopping.
  2. Build a good credit record through your payroll or savings account (More on this below)
  3. Must be residing at the same address (the permanent address) for at least one year.

2. Start with a deposit account

Applying for a credit card is probably one of the most challenging feats for most people in the middle class in the Philippines. Not only do you need to hold a permanent employment and collect a lot of documents, you would also need to pass a stringent credit check.

Credit history is one of the primary factors that banks consider before granting a credit card for first-timers. The easiest way to start building your credit record is to have a credit card. As contradicting as it may sound, you can still work on building a good record without a credit card.

Credit history isn’t just limited to the debit and credit charges on a monthly credit card statement. You can also create one with a deposit account (savings or payroll).

Pro tip!

Start by opening a savings account and maintaining a good amount of funds over a long period of time (at least six months but the longer the better).  It can be as simple as doing the following:

  1. Open a savings account (or payroll account if you’re employed).
  2. Route all your income and deposits into your savings or payroll account.
  3. Maintain only that one account for your incoming funds.
  4. Keep your running balance or average daily balance as high as possible. For starters, don’t go below ₱20,000 for at least the next six months (or longer).
  5. Apply for a credit card in the bank where you have an active deposit account.

If you think your credit is less than stellar or you simply want to skip the tedious application process, you can consider the next option.

3. Apply for a secured credit card

This is probably the easiest way to acquire a credit card in the Philippines, but it also requires the most money! To qualify for a secured credit card, applicants must open either a savings, passbook, or time deposit in a bank, and provide a pledged deposit. The pledged deposit will be used as a collateral by the bank to guarantee repayment.

Secured credit cards are basically the same as regular credit cards. You choose the type of credit card you want but provide a holdout (pledged deposit) upon the issue of the card. It’s also subject to membership fees depending on the type of credit card and interest rates.


How much is my credit limit?
The pledged deposit will determine the credit limit and it will be held by the bank for a one year. Depending on the bank, the credit limit will be around 80% to 100% of the pledged deposit.
However, there is a minimum amount to qualify as a pledged deposit, depending on the bank, and the deposit product.

The bigger the pledged deposit, the bigger the credit limit.

When can I get my money back?
After your agreed holdout period, and if you’re able to settle your credit card repayment in full or promptly, the bank will release the funds back to your deposit account.

Can I convert it to a regular (non-collateral) credit card?
It depends on the bank. There are banks that do not allow that, but for banks that do, you can convert your secured credit cards to regular credit cards after 12 months.

4. Be on top of your pre-existing debts

Before applying for your first credit card, it’s crucial to settle any pre-existing debts you may have. This includes outstanding balances on loans, mortgages or any other financial obligations. Banks often assess your creditworthiness based on your payment history, and having a good payment record will significantly improve your chances of approval.

Emphasize the importance of maintaining a positive credit history by making timely payments on existing loans and ensuring that all outstanding balances are settled. This not only demonstrates financial responsibility but also boosts your credit score, making you a more favorable candidate for a credit card.

Pro tip!

Regularly check your credit report to identify and address any discrepancies or issues. Settling debts and maintaining a clean payment record will not only enhance your creditworthiness for credit card applications but also contribute to your overall financial well-being.

Applying for a credit card for the first time can be a long and tedious process if you’re not aware of the process and the reason behind the requirements.

However, it is not impossible to get a credit card in the Philippines. At the end of the day, your capacity to pay will be judged according to how you manage your cash flow.

So, if you want to qualify for a credit card soon, it’s better for you to start assessing your spending habits and develop good ones that will work towards your own financial advantage. Not only will it make credit card application easier, it will also help you develop responsible financial habits.

This article was first published in December 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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