The best debit cards and apps that get the most value for your money

Better value and savings for every purchase!

I always believe that technology would help us all in our day-to-day lives and this is not just limited to smartphones, laptops, or IoT devices. However, now that we are in a smartphone era, I do believe that fintech and banking must also be included as well.

Most people know that debit cards function as a passport to withdrawing cash from their bank accounts. This also works as a payment method to big (or even small) stores and groceries as long as they have POS (Point-of-sale) terminals used as a receiver of credit, debit cards, or even QR payments.

However, little did people know that there are cards that offer reward points for every direct transaction to stores through dipping (or tapping, which I prefer) to POS terminals which we will discuss. There are also Virtual Cards that offer reward points as well, even if it doesn’t have a physical card but instead generates QR for payments or has a card number for online transactions.

There are various kinds of cards that offer ways to repay or reward your banking transactions:

1. Points-based Rewards

2. Cashback Rewards

3. Relationship Rewards

The most common of the three is the Relationship Rewards, wherein you get discounts, rebates, or freebies when you pay for a particular debit card right away. However, we will not dwell much on this since most banks have this reward mechanism.

Cashback Rewards

Cashback Rewards are basically real cash deposited back into your bank account or into your wallet. Most banks do not have this Rewards system except whenever there is a cashback promo for specific merchants. However, if your current bank account does not have this, you can implement a way to do Cashback Rewards on your own such as Shopback.

1. BDO Debit

BDO Debit has a qualifying rewards system named BDO Rewards where you can become a member as long as you have Php100,000 or more Average Daily Balance for Emerald, Php500,000 and up for Sapphire, and Php5,000,000 and up for Diamond.

The BDO Rewards Card acts as a separate card and works like SM Advantage or SM Prestige Card which can be used at SM Stores, Supermarkets and SM affiliated companies. One point you will earn is equivalent to Php1. Every Php10,000 deposit earns one point. Points can be redeemed and good as cash. Membership is bank-initiated only.

2. UnionBank-Lazada Debit

UnionBank-Lazada Debit offers a savings account that pays you 2 Lazada points for every Php200 spent on Lazada purchases and bill payments and 1 Lazada point for every Php200 spent on all other purchases and transactions all while earning interest. Crediting of Lazada points is direct to your Lazada account which works like cash. This account gives you not just one but two cards (one physical, one virtual).

The account has zero maintaining balance, Php500 annual fee and free for the first year, and has maintenance of Php10,000 balance to qualify for waiver of annual fees.

3. Shopback (App)

If you don’t have a cashback debit card, Shopback is a website and an app that pays you cash rewards for specific merchants/websites. All you need to do is to sign-up for the Shopback app or website and start shopping on their app. Their cashback payment goes up to 30% of your purchase price.

Points-Based Rewards

Points rewards is similar to Rewards Points Credit Card. This program earns you points for every transaction you do.

1. Grabpay (Virtual Card)

Grabpay provides a maximum of twelve points for every Php100 spent or 8.33 pesos for every point, depending on the Rewards Tier of Grab members. It doesn’t have any maintaining balance but has qualifying points to maintain biannually in June and December. 200 points for Silver, 1000 for Gold, and 4000 for Platinum must be earned on the period to upgrade or maintain. It has currently zero bank transfer fees until the end of March 2022.

2. UnionBank-Go Rewards Debit

UnionBank Go Rewards Debit offers a savings account that earns you 1 Go Rewards Points for Php40 Cebu Pacific purchase and 1 Go Rewards Points for Php400 worth for other transactions. Crediting of points is also direct to Go Rewards account which can be seen on Go Rewards App.

It has zero maintaining balance, Php500 annual fee, free on the first year, and maintenance of Php10,000 balance for the waiver of the annual fee. Go Rewards account is required upon opening the bank account.

3. UnionBank PlayEveryday

UnionBank offers millennial-oriented rewards savings where you can earn 1 point for every Php20 fraction of transaction and earn points for bills payment, a deposit of at least Php10,000, request for payment, and split bills. There is also a ranking system based on card usage and points collection. You can redeem gift cards, health and wellness discounts and coupons, airline miles, load, food coupons and even cashback directly from the app.

It has zero maintaining balance, Php500 annual fee, free on the first year and maintenance of Php10,000 balance for waiver of annual fee.

4. Robinsons Bank RRewards Savings

Robinsons Bank offers a savings account that earns you Go Rewards points based on the average daily balance of your account, and you earn more as your ADB goes higher. You earn 1 Go Rewards for Php5000 average daily balance and 3 Go Rewards for Php10,000 in excess of Php 50,000. Earning of points are credited monthly.

It has Php100 Maintaining Balance with no annual fee. Go Rewards account is required upon opening the bank account.

5. PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles Debit

Philippine National Bank is the only bank that gives you direct flight miles for every purchase. The conversion is 10 Mabuhay Miles for every purchase worth Php 1500 with Philippine Airlines and 6 Mabuhay Miles for other purchases worth Php 1500 except Grocery, Gasoline, Pharmacy, and Gambling. Opening of account has Php3000 maintaining balance and no annual fee. Mabuhay Miles is required upon opening the bank account. PNB offers no maintaining balance for accounts opened online up to end of March 2022 and a free 500 Mabuhay Miles intro bonus when you purchase at Philippine Airlines within three months of card issuance.

PNB also offers a Priority Checking Account with the same conversion but with Php25,000 maintaining balance and a free 1000 Mabuhay Miles intro bonus with the same condition.

Fine Prints to watch out for

Once you have decided to get a rewards debit card, you must check on the points to peso conversion, if there is any expiration of points, and fees corresponding to the account such as annual fees or maintaining balance, if there is any.

Absolutely yes, I do have my own rewards debit card that works like a credit card, and most cards mentioned incentivizes saving while spending without the fuss and hassle of credit card debt. We’re still on a pandemic and squeezing every single cent on a peso definitely helps.

Keno Esguerra-Imperial
Keno Esguerra-Imperial is a tech enthusiast, with deep interest on digital banking, investment and wealth management, fintech, online security, Microsoft, and Apple products as well as economics and politics. He is currently working in corporate for legal industry and currently a candidate of master’s in political economy from UA&P.