Unable to buy that precious item because you have no credit card? Not a problem. There are several ways to purchase gifts, electronics, services, and just about anything offered online without owning that piece of plastic.
The problem with credit cards is that they’re hard to come by to anyone who don’t have the necessary documents and financial proof required by issuing banks for application. Debit cards, on the other hand, are easier to acquire (at least based on my experience). One bank I recommend that issues debit cards is UnionBank of the Philippines. I applied for their EON Visa Electron card using nothing but a Php300 annual fee and proof of identification—a school ID was enough since I was just a student at the time. No maintaining balance is required. Registration is easy and an application form is available on their website. The card can be claimed after one week.
Anyway, as its name implies, the EON card is connected to VISA, a widely accepted form of electronic payment system in stores worldwide—both online and offline. You simply need to deposit enough funds to your bank account, where your card will deduct your expenses as you shop.
Another widely accepted payment service is PayPal. In fact, this is my main payment method. The funds still come from my credit/debit cards while I do transactions, but paying through PayPal has its benefits. For one, it has this buyer protection against unauthorized payments and lets you get back your money should there be something wrong with your purchase (not delivered, the item you received is different from the description, etc). For another, PayPal lets you use your credit card without disclosing any information (card number, verification code, and others) to the seller.
Signing up for a PayPal account in the Philippines is easy. Simply go to their website and register. The next step is to verify your account by using an accepted credit/debit card, and that won’t be a problem if you have an Eon card or GCash (next in the list).
Other payment systems similar to PayPal are Xoom, Payoneer, Checkout, and WebMoney. I’ve yet to use them myself, so I can’t vouch for their credibility.
GCash started out as a money transfer and bills payment service. It’s also a useful way to top up the balance of a Globe prepaid number. It didn’t take long before it launched its American Express Virtual Pay. This new feature lets you shop online (sites that Globe recommend include Amazon, eBay, Gap, Zappos, etc.) using your GCash funds. It can also be used to verify a PayPal account. Furthermore, a GCash Virtual Pay account also comes with a My Shopping Box address in the US. Your items get delivered there, and My Shopping Box then sends your items right to your doorstep.
Opening a GCash account is easy. Just whip up a Globe prepaid SIM card, dial *143#, and look for GCash. Postpaid users, on the other hand, are automatically registered to GCash. They simply have to call customer service to ask for their four digit code or MPIN. A mobile app is also available in the Play Store and iTunes.
Supplementary Credit Card
If a member of your family owns a credit card, you can ask him/her for a supplementary card. Basically, that family member will be liable for your expenses; whatever purchases you make using the supplementary card will be billed to him/her. That said, the credit limit is shared between cards.
Applying for a supplementary card requires the basic cardmember to be in good credit standing. Issuing banks also impose a certain age limit (e.g., at least 13 years old) to supplementary card applicants. Applicants should also be related to the basic cardmember as a spouse, child, child-in-law, parent, parent-in-law, or sibling.
Online Shopping Partners
Some shipping companies not only ship the items to you, but they can also purchase the items if you can’t do it on your own. One example is Johnny Air Cargo Plus. Shopping through them is as follows: fill out and send back the purchase form through fax or email (scanned copy); wait until you receive a quotation or the amount due (usually comprised of the items’ total price, shipping fees, and additional charges by Johnny Air); pay the amount through their BDO bank account; send back the BDO receipt for confirmation; and, wait for your order to arrive.
Alternative Modes of Payments
It’s common for online retailers to list down their accepted modes of payments (usually found at the bottom of their web pages). Besides the usual credit cards and PayPal, some lesser known forms of payments may also be included.
For example, online Philippine retailer Lazada.com.ph uses cash-on-delivery as one of their payment methods. You need not worry of the possibility of getting scammed since you only have to dish out your money by the time the delivery agent has brought the item to your address. Sadly, cash-on-delivery isn’t a common method for international shopping sites.
Similar to Johnny Air, many stores also accept bank payments. Purchases are usually done through telephone or email, and the item gets delivered to your billing address once they’ve confirmed your bank transfer.
Ask a Friend
If ever you’re not able to do any of the suggestions above, you can always ask a friend to use his/her credit card and whatnot and buy the item for you.
Things to Worry About When Shopping Online in the Philippines
- Depending on your chosen shipping service, getting your items delivered to your address in the Philippines may take weeks. Reducing the shipping period usually requires a hefty price increase.
- Use a shipping service that gives you a tracking number for your items. Through this number, you will at least know the exact whereabouts of your items.
- Unless your shipping service charges you for taxes and customs fees, your item may end up at your local post office. You’ll have to go there and pay any dues they deem necessary before releasing your item.
- If you know where to look, it’s usually better—in terms of price—to shop online than buying an item in a local retailer. On the other hand, repairs and returns for items bought online can be costly, since you often pay for the shipping back to the overseas retailer yourself.