Traveling with no money in your pocket

Published October 12, 2020, 1:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

Various countries around the world have begun to ease up on lockdown protocols previously adopted to reduce the transmission of the Covid-19 and ease the burdens of admissions in the struggling health systems.

Among these nations, the Philippines is promoting travel once again, with the recent reopening of the famous white sand beach paradise, Boracay, and the resumption of a couple of provincial bus trips in Metro Manila, particularly to Baguio City. While some semblance of normalcy is slowly returning, especially in terms of commute, many people are faced with the dilemma whether to travel following months of restrictions or to stay at home for fear of being confined in an airplane for hours with other passengers. Considerations to bear in mind when travelling include where it is safe to go, what the risks areinvisiting a place, and what new systems are implemented to reduce the risk of infection.

If you must travel it is highly advised that you protect yourself and others by strictly adhering to the social distancing rules. Keep your nose and mouth covered in public by wearing a face mask and shield, wash and sanitize hands often, prevent touching your mouth, eyes, and nose, as well as minimize contact by staying at least six feet apart or about two arms’ length from everyone.

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Avoiding physical contact is a vital precaution to suppress the proliferation of the coronavirus. This does not only mean contact with other humans but with any form of surfaces. Studies by the Centers of Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) suggest that the virus could remain alive on a surface for up to 12 hours.

People have addressed this issue by utilizing technology to its fullest. One could say we are at the peak of the digital era as most of our activities now take place online. Considering that cash is the most preferred mode of transaction, fear of the virus spreading through coins and banknotes is on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, explained that there is currently no evidence to confirm or disprove that Covid-19 can be passed through money.

Whether it is true or not, it always pays to be extra careful. A solution to the predicament is automated or digital transactions. Even before the health crisis, cashless transactions have been gaining popularity here and abroad because such operations are more accurate, quicker, and convenient.

Here are cashless payment methods for safer and easier transactions.

Digital/Mobile Wallets

This virtual wallet allows users to store payment card information on mobile devices. It is, as the term suggest, a direct alternative to the physical purse. It can be used to conveniently pay for purchases at stores included in the digital wallet provider’s list of partner merchants. The way it works is you top-up or deposit cash in the e-wallet, and when the need to pay for something arises, one just normally needs to scan a QR code or manually input payment details via an app. Some of the top mobile wallets in the country are GCash, Paymaya, Coins PH, and PayPal.

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Debit cards

A payment card that deducts money directly from a consumer’s checking account. It is one of the earlier purchase methods that eliminate the need to carry cash or physical checks to make transactions directly from your savings. This is the card to use for small, every day purchases. Debits are also advisable for those who lack fiscal discipline. Also called check cards, it offers the convenience of credit cards and many of the same consumer protections when issued by major payment processors such as Visa or Mastercard.Those of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Metrobank are among the most recommended, most reliable debit cards.

Credit cards

A card issued by a bank that enables a holder to borrow funds from that financial institution. Credit card users pay the money back, with interest, depending on the institution’s terms, but also reap cash rewards, discounts, travel points, and many other perks unavailable to debit card holders. Note that credit cards are best for big ticket purchases as theyallow you not to pay cash upfront. One of the best credit cards available in the country is Metrobank’s World Mastercard, a premier chip card that enables faster, paperless, and as-simple-as-a-tap payments. And because it is a luxury card, there is a 24-hour VIP customer service, discounts on leisure and shopping establishments, and other rewards through local and international partners perfect for the adventurous traveler. An application for the card is available on their website.

Prepaid Cards

While credit cards have the most perks, there is a low rate of credit card holders in the country because of the relatively strict requirements for application. You need to have a high enough salary and good credit standing to be eligible for a credit card, and you would also need fiscal discipline to keep one. This is where reloadable prepaid cards come in as a more practical option. It is a debit card, but without the required maintaining balance, or even an e-wallet, but with a physical card, which you add funds to via top-up and depositing cash to your service provider. The only downside of this is that it has less loading limit than the other cards. The best reloadable cards in the country are PayMaya that also serves as an impressive Visa EMV, GCash Mastercard, and YAZZ Visa Prepaid Card, which gives you 24/7 cash access to accredited ATMs.