Philippine Credit Cards and Foreign Transactions

Not all cards are created equal.

Do you sometimes make transactions using your credit card that is charged in a foreign currency? Do you have more than one credit card? Have you compared the difference in rates on foreign transaction fee for each bank?

I don’t usually shop online, and there were only a few times that I used my credit card to purchase an item that is in foreign currency (whether online or on a trip abroad). I was planning a trip last year when I read a travel tip of using a credit card which charges the smallest foreign transaction fee possible. I’ve been traveling abroad for a couple of years now but last year – 2016 – was the only time I got around to checking this out. Any savings is a saving, so I checked each website of banks I could think of in order to figure out the credit card that is best to use for foreign transactions.

Below are some of the credit cards in the Philippines and their foreign transaction fees.

BDO

2% = 1% MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus 1% BDO foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

Assessment fee of 1% plus service fee of 1% of the converted amount will be charged by Mastercard/Visa/JCB/UnionPay and BDO respectively, and shall be imposed at the sole and absolute discretion of BDO and may be subjected to change

 

BPI

1.75% = 1% MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus 0.75% BPI foreign exchange conversion fee (will increase from 0.75% to 0.85% by Jan 1, 2018)

From their website:

Except for BPI Express Credit Classic and BPI Corporate Credit Classic, you may use the following BPI Credit Cards abroad to enjoy the low foreign currency rate of 1.75%:

  • BPI Express Credit Blue Mastercard
  • BPI Express Credit Gold Mastercard
  • BPI Express Credit SkyMiles Platinum Mastercard
  • BPI Express Credit SkyMiles Classic Mastercard
  • BPI Express Credit Amore Visa Classic
  • BPI Express Credit Amore Visa Platinum
  • Petron-BPI Mastercard
  • BPI Express Credit Edge Mastercard
  • BPI Family Credit Card
  • BPI Express Credit Corporate Mastercard

How do I compute for my foreign transactions when I use my BPI Credit card abroad? You can compute the Peso equivalent of your purchases abroad by first checking Mastercard/Visa foreign exchange rate applicable on the posting date of the transaction. Afterwards, a 1.75% foreign exchange conversion rate will be applied, which are comprised of the 1% Mastercard/Visa assessment fee and the 0.75% BPI foreign exchange conversion fee.

How do I enjoy BPI’s low foreign currency conversion fee of 1.75%? When making a payment with your credit card abroad, the cashier will ask you if you will pay in Philippine Peso or the foreign currency of the country you’re in. Advise the cashier to have your transaction always billed in the foreign currency.  Refuse the offer to convert the transaction to Philippine Peso. This way, you will not be imposed with  unfavorable rate from the country’s local bank versus BPI’s offer.

UPDATE:

Effective January 1, 2018, we will implement the new Foreign Currency Conversion Fee of BPI Express Credit Cards:

0.85% of the converted amount plus the 1% assessment fee of Mastercard / Visa, using the foreign exchange rate of Mastercard / Visa at the time the transaction is posted.

 

CITIBANK

3.525% = MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus Citibank foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

All charges made in foreign currencies will automatically be converted to Philippine Peso on the posting dates at the prevailing exchange rate determined by Visa/MasterCard. A fee of up to 3.525% will be imposed on the converted amount which represents our service fee and assessment fees charged by Visa/MasterCard

EASTWEST

2.5% = MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus EastWest foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

Transactions made in foreign currencies/merchants or those processed by foreign acquirers shall be automatically converted to Philippine Peso at the Visa/Mastercard currency conversion rate on the day the transaction is processed, plus a Foreign Currency Conversion Fee of 2.50% which is comprised of the Visa/Mastercard Assessment Fee and EastWest Service Fee.

 

HSBC

3.5% = MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus HSBC foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

Service Fee for Foreign Currency Transactions. 2.50% of the converted sum plus reimbursement of the assessment fee charged by Visa/Mastercard to HSBC equivalent to 1% of the converted sum

 

METROBANK

3.5% = MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus Metrobank foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

All charges, advances, or amounts in currencies other than Philippine Peso (PHP) shall be converted to PHP. Transactions in US Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Japanese Yen, Euro, Singapore Dollar, Australian Dollar, British Pound, and Canadian Dollar shall be converted using the foreign exchange selling rate of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company on transaction posting date. Transactions denominated in currencies other than the aforementioned shall be converted using Mastercard/Visa’s currency conversion rate at the time of posting. All converted transactions shall be charged Mastercard/Visa’s assessment fee plus 2.5% processing fee, the rate of which may be adjusted from time to time. The assessment fee shall likewise apply to transactions involving foreign currencies converted to PHP at point of sale, whether executed in the Philippines, abroad, or online. Service fees may also be charged to cover costs incurred to discharge the amount(s) due Mastercard/Visa and/or acquiring bank and/or foreign merchant affiliates. (effective September 1, 2017)

 

RCBC

3.5% = MasterCard/Visa assessment fee plus RCBC foreign exchange conversion fee

From their website:

Service Fee for Foreign Currency Transactions. 3.50% representing the Mastercard/Visa/JCB/UnionPay assessment fees and the Bank’s service fee.

 

SECURITY BANK

No foreign transaction fee.

Check out their website to see how they convert foreign transactions.

 

UNIONBANK

3% – for Classic and Gold cards

2% – for Platinum cards

From their website:

All charges made in currencies other than Philippines Peso (PhP) shall automatically be converted to the (PhP) billing currency on posting date at the prevailing exhange rate selected by Visa Int’l. This will be based on the range of rates available in the wholesale currency markets or the government-mandated rate if in effect. A 3%  fee for Classic and Gold cards and 2% fee for Platinum cards will be added covering the cost of processing transactions in foreign currencies.


 

For exchange rate calculators, visit the following tools provided by VISA and Mastercard:

Mastercard ¦ VISA

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