Was able to survive just using PayMaya alone
Last week I landed in Taipei, Taiwan, to cover COMPUTEX, the biggest computer show this side of the world. And while I managed to pack all the essentials that I needed for the trip to cover the show, I seemingly forgot one important thing – authorize my ATM to work outside the Philippines to withdraw cash.
Not for a lack of trying though – I’ve been trying to contact BPI through my mobile phone three days before to do exactly that, but for some reason I wasn’t able to get through to their customer contact center in the run up to my trip. And because I suck at remembering things, I only thought of withdrawing from the ATM once I was through immigration, which is obviously no bueno, since they were no more ATMs once you go through. A credit card would have worked, but I don’t have one.
See, I don’t like credit cards. I’m a naturally impulsive shopper, and I’d probably rack up thousands and thousands of credit card debt once I get one. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things I like that requires a credit card number – my Netflix account, VPN to get the most out of said account, the occasional trinket from AliExpress and for this trip, an AirBnB transfer after my time with ASUS (who took us to Taipei for COMPUTEX) was over.
For those times I used to use BPI’s My ePrepaid, which essentially worked out like a credit card, though it did come with its own limitations. You can’t use the physical card as a credit card, which means you’re stuck to online transactions only, plus you can’t easily withdraw extra cash you put in there if you need it for something else.
Those limitations don’t exist with PayMaya. You only need your mobile number (either Smart or Globe, doesn’t matter) and you’ll be setup with an account in no time, with its own 16-digit Visa or Mastercard number plus CVC. You can also buy a physical card that you can use with your account for Php 150 that you can freely swipe and use much like a debit card once you link it to your account. You can also freely withdraw money from your PayMaya account once you finish the verification process.
Once I landed in Taipei a week ago, I faced a huge problem: I didn’t have enough funds to cover the cost of my stay with the money in my pocket. While Taipei isn’t as expensive a city like Singapore, for example, I was sure that I wouldn’t survive eight days in the metropolis with the two Php 1,000 bills in my wallet.
Turns out PayMaya can also do overseas withdrawals (with pretty good exchange rates to boot), and that’s exactly what I did. I asked family members back home to load my account up with cash through the SM Business center in SM San Mateo, though you can also have people load your account up in 7-Eleven and even online through BDO, or Union Bank ATMs.
Once I punched in my PIN and got my cash, I was ready to hit Taipei’s mean streets and cover COMPUTEX. Each transaction that you make with PayMaya big or small, results in a text message to the number registered to it, and you’ll be able to track your spending and your current balance via the PayMaya app. Since the card is, for all intents and purposes, a debit card, you’ll be able to use it anywhere a credit card is accepted.
Whenever I bring a lot of cash overseas, I’m usually murdered by the exchange rate when changing it back to peso. But since I didn’t need to take out a lot of money this time around, only withdrawing what I needed to for my expenses (or to buy the stuff that my friends asked me to get while in town) the excess money that I had to change back to pesos was negligible. And once I got back, I now have an option to withdraw the money that was put in there to use in other things. But I’m not going to – PayMaya has already proven itself as useful tool for me, and it’ll be my preferred online shopping card moving forward.