Air travel is stressful, especially in the Philippines. On your trip to the airport, you have to factor in traffic. If you try to leave just in time, there’s always the risk of not making it to your flight. Leaving early is safer, but if you arrive too early you’ll end up spending a lot of time at the airport – and airports are boring.
Fortunately, there are credit cards that give you free lounge access . Yes, free lounge access – even if you fly economy on a low-cost carrier. I’ve flown at least 27 times last 2016, and in most of them I’ve waited in an airport lounge. Take note though that no Philippine credit card offers lounge access for domestic flights.
These credit cards also offer other benefits such as travel insurance, converting your reward points to mileage program miles, etc.
Cebu Pacific GetGo Platinum Credit Card by Unionbank (VISA)
Even if I don’t have this credit card, I can’t deny that this card offers the most perks. This credit card gives is perfect for those who fly Cebu Pacific a lot. Despite the lack of access to international lounges, its other benefits made up for it.
- For every P30 spend, you’ll receive
- Priority check-in on all Cebu Pacific (5J) flights, domestic or international!
- Free 5kg free baggage allowance (FBA) for all Cebu Pacific flights.
- Early access to Cebu Pacific seat sale.
- Exclusive promotions (hello, seat sales!) to cardholders.
- Unlimited lounge access to:
- Skyview Lounge at Ninoy Aquino Int’l Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3,
- Club Manila Lounge at NAIA Terminal 1,
- MIASCOR Lounge in NAIA Terminal 1,
- MIASCOR Lounge in Davao (Francisco Bangoy Int’l Airport)
- Travel insurance of up to P10 million.
- Contactless payments with VISA Paywave.
- Income requirement: P100,000/mo or about P1,200,000/yr.
- Annual fee: P5,000, no info if waivable.
Pros: It’s a VISA credit card so it’s widely accepted. Priority check-in for 5J flights so you can skip the line!
Cons: You have to be burgis to skip the line as you need to have a gross monthly income of at least P100,000 to get this card. Sorry commoners, but for you to feel good isipin mo nalang they’re like you Cebu Pacific parin sinakyan!
Unionbank Miles+ Platinum (VISA)
I have a bias over Unionbank Miles+ Platinum because this is my first credit card. The card’s finish is in matte black, which gives it a very premium feel.
- P50 local spend for 1 Mabuhay Mile or 1 GetGo point.
- P33 travel-related spend (overseas or hotel or airline) for 1 Mabuhay Mile or 1 GetGo point.
- Unlimited lounge access to:
- Skyview Lounge (MNL; Terminal 3),
- Club Manila Lounge (MNL; Terminal 1),
- MIASCOR Lounge (MNL; Terminal 1)
- MIASCOR Lounge (DVO)
- Travel insurance of up to P10,000,000
- Contactless payments with Visa Paywave.
- Income requirement: P600,000/yr
- Annual fee: P3,000, waivable as per experience
Pros: Unlimited (and free) supplementary cards. Lounge access benefit also extends to supplementary cards. To get this card, you only need P600,000 gross annual income.
Cons: Low mileage conversation ratio. P50, ughhh.
BPI SkyMiles Platinum MasterCard
This card is generous in its free travel insurance coverage. You also get Delta SkyMiles, but if you don’t fly Delta or other SkyTeam airlines (Korean Air, Air France, KLM, among others) often then this miles won’t be useful for you.
- P45 per SkyMiles mile, double that for Delta ticket purchases.
- Access to Pacific Club Lounge in NAIA Terminal 3 only. 🙁
- Travel insurance of up to P20,000,000.
- Contactless payments with MasterCard PayPass
- Income requirement: P1,000,000
- Annual fee: P5,000, waivable for the first year
Pros: The card feels elite.
Cons: Access to one lounge only, despite the steep income requirement.
Citibank Premiermiles Visa
This one’s a Visa Signature, so you can brag to your friends that you have a card higher than platinum. I have the Hong Kong version of this one but unfortunately they don’t have the PayWave feature in the HK version. It’s actually a good one since you can convert your points to miles for different airlines.
- P30 per mile,
- Access to:
- MIASCOR Lounge at NAIA Terminal 1 for three (3) reward points, permitted to bring one guest subject for another three (3) reward points,
- SkyView Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3 for three (3) reward points, permitted to bring one guest subject for another three (3) reward points,
- selected Plaza Premium Lounges (my staple lounge in HK) for free!
- Travel insurance of up to P1,000,000
- Income requirement: P360,000/yr
- Annual fee: P5,000/yr
Pros: Good spend-to-mileage ratio, so you can rack up points faster for your favorite airline. Access to many lounge around the world! And to beat them all, low required annual income! P30,000/mo na sweldo lang pasok ka na dito!
Cons: High annual fee, but worth it if you use the lounges often. You can almost always have this waived anyway.
BDO Visa Platinum
This is the ugliest card in this list. Old VISA logo plus the ugly typeface used in the Platinum symbol. Seriously. This card isn’t really a travel card but it still boasts P20,000,000 travel insurance.
- Travel insurance of up to P20,000,000
- Priority Pass membership once you’ve reached an accumulated P50,000 spend on hotels and airlines. You also receive one free Priority Pass voucher every P50,000 spend, single or accumulated. There’s a catch though, each receipt should be at least P20,000.
- Priority Pass gives you access to:
- Pagstop and MIASCOR Lounge at NAIA 1,
- MIASCOR Lounge at NAIA 1,
- Pacific Club Lounge at NAIA 3,
- Skyview Lounge at NAIA 3,
- and a lot of other lounges around the world!
- Income requirement: P100,000/mo or P1,200,000/yr
- Annual fee: P4,500/yr
Pros: Potential access to a lot of lounges and generous travel insurance.
Cons: Ugly card. High income requirement. You have to spend a lot to get those Priority Pass. Take note, yung resibo at least P20,000 ha! If you spend that much, you should be able to afford lounge access!
Note on travel insurance
In comparing which card to get, don’t factor in the coverage of their travel insurance when deciding. You’ll only max out the P20,000,000 in case something really bad happens to you. The odds of dying in a plane crash is said to be somewhere in the tune of 1 in 11,000,000!
Having a complimentary travel insurance is good, di mo na kailangan bilhin inuupsell ni Cebu Pacific na travel insurance. Ilang daan rin yun per flight.
Take note though that to avail this, you have to pay your entire plane ticket using your credit card.
Which cards do I use?
I personally use a combination of cards for lounge access. I use Unionbank for unlimited lounge access for the lounges at NAIA Terminal 3 and use my HK-issued Citibank Premiermiles for the Plaza Premium Lounge in Hong Kong. I have to spend HK$5,000 though for the 30 days following my visit for the HK version.
For mileage, I use:
- Unionbank Miles+ Platinum – I’ve redeemed tons of Mabuhay Miles from them already and flown a lot for free. Spend-to-miles ratio is quite high though.
- Citi (HK) Premiermiles – I tried to funnel all my spending to this card to get 30,000 free miles as part of their welcome offer, but I had to spend a lot though. I use this for racking up AsiaMiles.
- Standard Chartered (HK) AsiaMiles – Average spend-to-mileage ratio, but points are automatically converted to AsiaMiles so it’s a “passive” way of earning miles. They also had a good welcome offer of HK$0.5 = 1 mile, and I maxed out the maximum number of miles redeemable for their offer.
VISA vs MasterCard vs AMEX?
There’s no much difference with VISA and MasterCard. Both of them are widely accepted in stores in the Philippines that accept credit cards. Their concierge service (phone concierge) are both helpful.
Just don’t get an AMEX, pahirapan maghanap ng tatanggap. Even Cebu Pacific doesn’t accept American Express!
Do you have any of those credit cards? Or did I miss anything?
Share your experience in applying for those credit cards in the comments section . If you know any other benefit that I failed to list or is secretly offered to cardholders, spill it to us.