Travel Tips

BPI ePrepaid Express Card: A Convenient Booking Tool (without the dreaded credit card bill!)

After marrying the hubby, one of the first things to go were my credit cards. Aware that budgeting is not one of my greatest skills, the hubby decided to cut-off and discontinue all my cards.

To quote, “I should learn to live according to my means.”

Unfortunately, a credit card is a very important tool for travel fiends like me — yes, even if I am pretty much always after a very good deal.

A few posts back, I insinuated about getting an ePrepaid card in order to fund my online purchases like plane tickets and hotel reservations. After a while, it gets pretty tiring asking people to book your tickets for you. After choosing between two banks, I figured that it’s better to get BPI since my savings and payroll account are both from the same bank. This lessens the hassle of transferring from one bank to another. I just log in using my Express Online account and voila! It’s locked and loaded and ready to use for online booking!

Booking to the CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending using my BPI ePrepaid

Booking to the CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending using my BPI ePrepaid

Applying for an express card is easy. In my case, I applied online by filling out the form available at the BPI Express website. . You will need to indicate the BPI branch nearest you where they will send the prepaid card after 5 days.

You will need to pay PHP500 while claiming the card — then if you have express online, apply it to said feature so that you can transfer money from your savings account to the debit card. This is what I did especially with the pressing need to find and book a hotel for the upcoming Taipei trip.

I already got the chance to use my ePrepaid Card when I chanced upon CityInn Hotel Plus on TripAdvisor. While I mentioned in one of my earlier post that I am partial to getting Keyman’s Hotel due to its proximity to Taipei Main Train station and to its marvelous Japanese rooms, I decided to go with CityInn due to its amazing room designs, its sleek interiors and the fact that it’s new. It also doesn’t help that it consistently rated high at Trip Advisor.

I was actually supposed to book the CityInn Hotel III which was nearest the Taipei Main Station but a quick check on their very efficient reservations system revealed an almost filled up hotel, the same goes for its CityInn Hotel II branch. In the end, I decided to go with City Inn Hotel Plus is Ximending, the so-called Harajuku of Taipei.

Cliche as they may sound — booking is as easy as 1-2-3. To confirm my reservations and in order to pay the 30% deposit, I entered my card details similar to how you do it with a credit card. Booking was immediately confirmed. After just an hour, I already had CityInn Hotel Plus calling my mobile phone long distance to confirm the reservations and arrange the transfers from airport to the city (we are arriving at 12:40 and after immigration and all that, might be able to go out the airport by 1:30AM).

So, if you are the type to trawl the various websites of airlines looking for cheap deals and still wouldn’t want to get buried in credit card debt, perhaps you might be interested in getting a prepaid card. This way, we can still satiate our wanderlust yet still be responsible with out finances.

Travel Tips

Debit card for online airline purchase?

With the possibility of a financial windfall looming in the horizon (Christmas Bonus, represennnnnt!!!), I have already decided that I am already way past buying new clothes and the silly little things that depreciate with time. I am setting my sights on moving to a new home, building a savings account and a travel fund.

The travel fund, I intend to keep in a savings account which I plan to link in a prepaid/debit card which I can use for purchasing plane tickets. You see, if I have my way, I’d rather not use a credit card. In most of my travels, I always managed to pay in cash. And except for purchasing plane tickets, I’d rather pay in cash. Maybe, it’s my thing now: “I will not spend money I haven’t earned yet.”

But of course, just because I am trying to be financially intelligent means I will forego my love of travel. Oh no. In fact, I consider the opportunity to get away as a reward as I set myself on the right path to financial freedom.

Anyway, after a few hours searching the net, I whittled my choice to two possibilities:

BPI My ePrepaid Mastercard

BPI My ePrepaid Mastercard (from BPI website)

My ePrepaid is the first reloadable MasterCard® prepaid card in the Philippines offered by BPI. This allows cardholders to securely and conveniently shop in any Matercard-affiliated stores in the Philippines and abroad. The card has a validity of two years and can be loaded to as high as PHP50,000 through over the counter deposits. (Read more here)

This definitely will work to my advantage since I have a BPI savings account that I am currently maintaining. I can easily link one of my accounts and transfer money to put funds in the prepaid card. So far, the only drawback for me is that whatever money placed inside the prepaid card remains inside since the card has no withdrawal function.

Unionbank EON Visa Debit Card

Unionbank EON Visa

The EON is an internet-based deposit account from Unionbank that allows online banking transactions. The card also accepts electronic fund transfers to any bank in the Philippines. EON also allows Paypal withdrawals, along with online purchase. (Read more here)

While I have a Paypal account, I am still wary of getting the EON Card. Firstly, this will require me to open a new bank account in a different bank, aside from the one that I currently maintain. As much as I would love to do this, maintaining one bank account is already a challenge for me and having to open another one would be too much I think for my brain to process (my brain automatically shuts down for anything that concerns numbers).

Hopefully, I’ll have something figured out by the end of the month. I am really raring to start my travel fund and figured that the earnings I have from my freelance job can serve as a good seed money.

I plan to use the debit card solely for purchasing tickets online. Obviously, many of the country’s budget airlines have been releasing a lot of online promos and I always get frustrated when I have to see ticket sale announcements and I have no means to purchase tickets. Paying over the counter is really much of a hassle, especially since I will have to drag myself to the airline’s partner merchants.

I have never really gotten over the fact that I passed up on the chance to go to Japan last September. What made me more desperate is that I’ve found not a few people who tried their luck and was able to secure a visa, because they dared book a ticket. After seeing some of their pictures and hearing their stories, I became more determined to see my dream country next year.

Who knows? This maybe a good start. What about you? How do you book your tickets?