As credit card users go, I am what they call a Max Payer — I always pay in full and on time. I never carry a balance; I don’t like debt and I certainly don’t like paying the usurious interest charged by credit card issuers here in the Philippines.
As such, I’m not too concerned with finance charges and late payment fees. I’m not a big spender either, so I don’t care much about getting credit limit increases or worry about over-limit fees or cash advance fees.
My main reason for using credit cards is for convenience — I don’t have to carry lots of cash, and I can easily track my spending through the monthly statements. All other credit card perks — rewards, promos, discounts, etc — are secondary.
Obviously, any credit card from any issuer can offer this cashless convenience, so the deciding factor for me is: customer service. And this is where Metrobank Card Corporation (MCC) fails big time.
To Metrobank’s credit, it was easy to get a credit card from them. I had a sizable deposit at one of their branches, and a few months after opening that savings account, an agent called and offered me a Visa credit card. He said that no documentary requirements were necessary, so I said sure, why not. At that time, I only had one credit card from BDO Unibank, so a second one was useful as backup.
The Visa served me well during the first few years, and sometimes I even used it more than the BDO card. The only hitch was come annual-fee time, which brings us to…
Reason #1: Metrobank never waives the annual fee without making you jump through hoops first.
This is in stark contrast to BDO, where my requests for annual fee waiver have always been granted without condition. With Metrobank, you have to charge a certain amount within a month of request for the annual fee to be waived, even when you’ve already charged a lot during the past year. In addition, Metrobank never waives the annual fee for supplementary cards.
A few years later, Metrobank offered me another credit card, a Mastercard. They didn’t even bother to call this time; they just up and sent the card to my address, ready for activation. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have activated it, since BDO also offered me a Mastercard at around the same time. This brings us to…
Reason #2: I already had too many credit cards.
At this point, I already had four credit cards, which was too much for me. From personal experience, two is definitely enough, especially with the spartan way I use them. I honestly can’t fathom why some folks collect as many credit cards as they can and increase their limits as high as possible ::scratches head:: (unless they’re planning to max them all out and flee to another country…).
If you use credit cards right like a Max Payer, you don’t have to worry about their insidious fees. There’s one set of fees, however, that does get my attention — the foreign transaction fees. This brings us to…
Reason #3: Metrobank charges foreign transaction fees even when the charge is in Philippine peso.
They didn’t use to do this, but they started to shortly after I got their Mastercard. Greedy much, Metrobank? My husband and I were traveling at that time, and our expenses included booking accommodation on international sites such as Agoda or AirBnB. Even though local bookings were done in Philippine currency, Metrobank still charged a 1% foreign transaction fee.
I never experienced this with my BDO credit cards — with them, the peso amount charged by the international merchant is exactly what appears on the billing statement, no patong added. (According to BDO’s terms and conditions, they could impose a fee at their “sole and absolute discretion”, but so far they haven’t done so…yet.)
As we like to travel, this was a deal-breaker. I rang Metrobank’s call center to cancel the cards, which brings us to…
Reason #4: Metrobank has awful customer service.
It took several long and arduous calls to have the cards canceled, because they kept giving me the runaround. One agent even gave a reference number for the cancellation of one card, but when I called again two weeks later to confirm, the card was still active! Another agent said she already processed the cancellation, but refused to give a reference number. I called again shortly to confirm, and lo and behold, no cancellation was processed.
Their email support is equally terrible — I contacted them before on another matter, and they never bothered to reply and resolve my issue.
So good riddance to Metrobank (I also closed my savings account with them), and now I’m left with only two credit cards from BDO, which are sufficient for my needs. I’ve had the first card with them for nearly 20 years, and in all this time I’ve never had a major problem with them. (There were some hiccups during the early analog years, when the paper statements were delivered late by the post office, but BDO readily waived the finance charges and late payment fees when the situation was explained to them. This problem went away for good once they offered electronic statements.) BDO’s call center is better than Metrobank’s, and the few times I reached out to their email support, my concerns were resolved in a timely manner.