Updated 2018: You live in the Philippines and want to earn reward miles for free flights on Philippine Airlines with the Mabuhay Miles program with your daily credit card spend? There are 13 banks offering more than 50 credit cards that allow you to earn Mabuhay Miles! You say, you have one of those already? Great, but are you sure it is the best one? The best card earns more than 12x the number of Mabuhay Miles than the worst one! Read on to find out which are the best credit cards to earn Mabuhay Miles!
It is pretty shocking how different the mileage earning is from one credit card to the next – and how quickly and how drastically banks in the Philippines devalue existing cards – some of the cards in my review lost 2/3 of their value since my initial review!
After digging through the details of all these cards, it is not surprising though – the banks make it really difficult to find out how much you earn or what the fees are! To make it easier for you to find the best credit card to earn Mabuhay Miles, I am comparing all the details of the cards in three groups: the best cards to apply for now, good cards to keep if you already have them and cards to avoid or cancel!
Before you apply for a card, make sure to read my general advice on reward cards, read the fine print before applying, make sure you understand all the fees and pay off your credit card in full every month – or the interest will be more than any rewards you earn!
The best cards to apply for:
The Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Card offers the highest earn rate of Mabuhay Miles for any type of credit card spending with 1 mile for every 30 Pesos of spend (or 1.6m/USD). That’s a great reward rate, even when compared to highly rewarding US credit cards. Even better, the ThankYou points you earn are flexible and can be redeemed for a number of airlines, including my favorite carriers Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and local competitor Cebu Pacific (read my credit card review here). The card has a chip (important for safety and international travel). The high annual fee of P5,000 is waived for Citigold customers. The Foreign Exchange (FX) fee is very high at 3.525% making the card less interesting for international travel. One of the perks for the card include lounge access with the card! The high earn rate, flexibility of points and waveable fee make this the best all-around card to earn Mabuhay Miles with daily spend in the Philippines.
There is a second, non-Signature card available that earns point at a lower rate of 1 mile per 45PHP – make sure to ask for the Signature card!
PNB Mabuhay Miles World Master Card is the official card of the rewards program, with the flag carriers plane on the card design! You earn Mabuhay Miles straight up at a rate of 1 mile of every P33 – slightly less than with the Citi PremierMiles. As an upside, it is the only card with a sign-up bonus of 2,000 miles and you also get a bonus of 10,000 miles when you spend more than P100,000/year with Philippine Airlines. That more than covers the high annual fee of P6,000 (that can’t be waived). You can also get a 5% discount on select international flights when paying with the PNB card, but I wouldn’t get too excited as the eligible flights are not listed and restrictions apply. PNB increased the FX fee to 2.5%, giving up a previous advantage for international travelers! They do offer priority check-in at the airport! The good earn rate and spend bonus on PAL flights make this a great card for anybody flying frequently on PAL internationally!
The Asia United Bank Platinum MasterCard is a surprising alternative in the top three from a smaller bank! It’s key feature is that it has no annual fee. It also earns flexible points at a rate of 1 point per P20. You can use them for a variety of awards – or convert them at a rate of P33 for one Mabuhay Mile, the same as the PNB card. For international spend, you earn four-times the points and pay a low FX fee of 2%, making this card great for international travel! Add the low interest rate and lounge access, and this card earns a spot in the winning trio! If you don’t meet the spend minimum to waive the Citibank fee or to earn the PAL bonus with PNB, this is the best deal for you. If you already hold another rewards credit card, this is a great card to apply to in addition without incurring another fee!
Good credit cards to keep: If you are applying for a new card to earn Mabuhay Miles, I recommend you apply for one of the three winners above. But if you are already earning reward points with the cards below offered by Metrobank, Standard Chartered or Union Bank, you might want to hold on to them. While you have to spend more (40-50P per mile), the earn rates are still decent, fees are competitive and they offer various travel perks from lounge access or insurance to concierge services. It might not be worth the hassle of getting another card, paying multiple fees or having points in multiple accounts, just to earn slightly more points.
BDO and RCBC drastically devalued their cards, reducing the earn rate to roughly a third of what it was before. While they are decent cards overall, that reduced value puts them on the border to the cards “to be avoided”!
Cards to avoid: If you are applying for a card to earn Mabuhay Miles, I recommend to avoid the cards below. Some of them, like the China Bank World MC advertise great earn rates of 1 point for only P25 spend – but you’ll have to read the fine print to find out that those points are converting at a rate of 8 to 1, so you have to actually spend 200P for a single Mabuhay Mile, making them pretty much worthless! The absolute worst earning rate is on the EastWest card where you have to spend a whopping P364 for a single mile or more than 12 times what you need on the Citibank card! And you don’t even get lower annual or FX fees to justify the poor earn rates. I recommend you avoid these cards. If you already have one, I’d apply for one of the winners and cancel these losers – your hard earned money deserves better!
Bottomline: Not all credit cards are created equal and banks change key features of their cards with little notice, so it pays to be vigilante. Before applying to a card, make sure to check the details on your application and ensure the card (still) meets your needs! And it pays to check before renewing your card as well, as the sad example of BDO and RCBC show!