How To Avail BPI's Express Start Program (Secured Credit Card)

I think it was about this time last year when I first got interested with credit cards. I really wanted to get one to help us tide through some time when cash is really tight. Armed with an online job I have for more than a year, payslips and proof of income, I searched for banks that accepted online credit card applications.

Unfortunately, BPI (the only bank that entertained my online application) doesn't recognize payslips from foreign employers or proof of income from online/stay-at-home workers. (which I think they should! Online workers tend to earn more than office-based employees!) However, they advised me to avail of their company's Express Start Program.

What is BPI Express Start Program?

The BPI Express Start Program is the bank's program for people who want a credit card but doesn't have all the requirements that regular credit card applications ask for (i.e. payslips, COE, tax returns etc). You only need a hold out amount which will be the basis of your credit limit. BPI's Express Start Program grant a credit limit equal to 80% of the amount you deposit. If you want a high credit limit, you will need to deposit a bigger amount of money.

Secured credit card vs. regular credit card

A secured credit card (the one which is offered by BPI's Express Start Program, RCBC's instacard, etc) are called such because you get the credit card in exchange of a deposit to the bank. This deposit (whether in a regular savings account or a time deposit account) is held out for a minimum of one year and serves as collateral or security. All secured credit card applications are 100% approved

Regular credit cards on the other hand don't require initial deposits and money hold out for it to be released or granted. If you have payslips, COE and tax returns you can present to the bank and have no bad credit history, the regular credit card is for you. However, please be reminded that not all regular applications are approved.

How I got my secured credit card

After the bank's advice and reading more information about secured credit cards, I patiently waited until December so I can use some of my 13th month bonus to fund the secured credit card. When I finally got the funds, I went to my local BPI branch and told the bank personnel that I wish to avail of their Express Start Program. The bank personnel asked if I already have an account with them and I said yes. Since I am already a depositor, I didn't need to open a new savings or time deposit account. I was simply asked to fill out the application form and an Affidavit authorizing the bank to hold out 12,500 PhP from my account which will serve as my collateral for the card. I only needed a photocopy of a valid ID as well.

In less than an hour, I finished the deposit, affidavit and filling out the application for the secured credit card. According to the bank personnel, it takes 2-3 weeks for the application to be processed and for the card to be delivered to your chosen address.

Since I applied during December (a very busy month!), I received my card by the 2nd week of January. I picked it up in a BPI branch since their courier didn't find our house.

And that's it! Pretty fast and easy, right?

To make it easier, here's a summary of the things you'll need to avail of one:
  •  A savings or time-deposit account with BPI
  • Valid IDs (at least 2 for new depositors)
  • 1x1 phoo (for new depositors)
  • Hold out money (at least 12,500PhP for a 10k credit limit)
If you have questions or if you want to know more, do not hesitate to ask and I will try my best to answer them. 

You may also visit BPI's website for more details or call them on the following numbers:

89-100 for Metro Manila, 1-800-188-89100 for domestic toll-free calls (where available)

DISCLAIMER: I don't work for BPI and this is not a paid post. Everything written is my personal experience and all opinions are mine.

House Help: Things To Keep In Mind When Hiring One

The past two days have been quite stressful to me and my husband. We discovered that my sister in law lost her money while she was staying at our house. Knowing that we didn’t take it, we only had one suspect in mind– our new house help (HH) who has only been with us for more than a week.
I quickly took a peek at her bag to check if it was her. And lo and behold… a 1000 bill was there… neatly tucked in her wallet and it was the only thing there. I knew right then that she really stole it. How? First, she wasn’t paid by her previous “employer”; second, two days in, we gave her a 200php cash advance because she asked for some time off to attend a birthday party and she didn’t have any cash. So how in the world did she have that money?
Anyway, not wanting to confront the HH and risk her leaving us (we desperately need one) I just took the money and replaced it with 100php (the same thing she did to my SIL). The day went on as usual. However, when evening came, the HH started to act unusual. She hasn’t changed to her house clothes after our quick trip to the doctor in the afternoon. She went inside our room while I was eating dinner when I didn’t tell or ask her to. And she kept on giving my husband and me reasons just so she could go out. My husband decided to follow her after she asked for permission to buy a pain killer and he saw that she was already bringing a bag with her. She immediately tossed the bag on the road when she saw my husband. And just when we’re about to sleep that evening, I decided to check my bag and discovered that my 1000php bill was missing! And based on the CCTV/home surveillance app on my husband’s phone, she was trying to sneak out of the house. That was the time we decided to talk to her. To cut the story short, she admitted stealing the money, returned it to me and we turned her over to the police.
Lesson learned
This incident has seriously taught me a lot. And I’ve realized I shouldn’t easily trust people or lower my standards just because I need help because my family’s safety is at stake.
So here are some things I’ve decided to keep in mind when hiring/screening for house help in the future:
  1. Only accept referrals from people you trust and make sure that they personally know the family of the one they’re referring.
  2. Ask for proof of identification. Have applicants or referred persons for proof of identification such as IDs, barangay/police/NBI clearance and birth certificate. This is to make sure that they are who they say they are. This will make it easier for them to apply for PhilHealth, SSS and other government mandated benefits too.
  3. Set clear rules & regulations with regards to your HH’s duties and permissions inside the household. When is she permitted to get inside your room? What are the things she’s allowed to do when inside, etc?
  4. Be mindful of your belongings especially cash. It pays to be hands on and to know exactly how many 100 or 20 peso bills you have or how many 10/5/1 peso coins you have on your wallet. This way, you’ll know exactly if something is missing or stolen. My mom is like this.. Not sure why I didn’t get her talent, heh. Also, don’t place your cash anywhere so no one gets tempted to steal no matter how big or small the amount is.
  5. Have a CCTV or surveillance camera. This doesn’t need to be high end or costly. With the advent of technology, there are plenty of free apps out there that turn your phones or tablets to CCTVs. Place them on strategic locations inside the house.
How about you? Have you ever experienced something similar? What did you do? Let me know by commenting below!