Blog, Finance

RCBC Bankard’s World MasterCard opens up a whole new World – but still has new horizons to pursue

RCBC Bankard

Those close to me know that I am absolutely obsessed with premium credit cards, and it’s simply because I like the features that come with said kinds of cards – from complimentary lounge access, to higher travel insurance coverages, to higher miles ratios, and the like. True, some may be out of reach for now, but perseverance – and a bit of luck – is key to anything worthwhile, don’t you agree?

I‘ve been very blessed and privileged to be a cardholder of RCBC Bankard’s World MasterCard for a few months now – despite having always thought of it as just a pipe dream – and after having used it, and reading up on its benefits, vis-à-vis RCBC’s other offerings old and new, I have some thoughts about this top-of-the-line card to share.

From the onset, my relationship with this card – or, more specifically, this credit line – has been quite surprising and special, and as I said, I never really expected to have this card, much less at this time in my life.

Let me explain: Last 2016, I applied for my first Bankard through our ever-helpful branch manager, but not being fully aware of the Philippine card landscape then, I ticked on the form that I was open to getting a JCB (Japan Credit Bureau, Japan’s largest card network that’s only gaining traction in the Philippines as of this time). I did get a Gold JCB – at that time the highest JCB that RCBC offered – but was able to use it only sparsely, because many merchants I swipe with here in the Philippines accept only Visa or MasterCard.

So when Bankard’s Platinum JCB came out in 2018, I leapt at the opportunity to have my Gold JCB upgraded. But instead, I received – without any prior notification, funnily enough – a Gold MasterCard, which was because, apparently, JCB is internally classified as “lower” than MasterCard (perhaps due to the aforementioned less wide acceptance), so they gave me the “higher option”. Well, I did quite want the Platinum JCB, and I had other cards already and wasn’t able to use my Gold MasterCard much, so less than a year later, in July 2019, I decided to cancel it.

Lo and behold, a day or two afterwards, Bankard itself – as in, the +63 2 888 1888 hotline – called me to confirm the cancellation and ask why I was doing so – upon which I recounted the aforementioned story. Less than 12 hours later, that evening, they rang me again for an extraordinary offer: They would reactivate my MasterCard, but upgrade it to World!

I was elated at the thought and accepted the offer (yes, I’m premium-faced) – but the even greater surprise was that it wasn’t just that: Not only did I receive the World card a few days later, I also received my upgraded Platinum JCB! Now, RCBC has consistently been one of the best banks in the Philippines in terms of customer service, but this initiative on their part really blows the rest away. I have experienced such proaction only with HSBC and UnionBank – these three are really the best.

So anyway, going back to the World MasterCard itself. RCBC’s offering is one of just eight in the country, the others being fellow regular World MasterCards by Bank of Commerce, Chinabank, HSBC (for Premier customers), Metrobank, and Security Bank; PNB’s Mabuhay Miles World MasterCard; and EastWest Bank’s KrisFlyer World MasterCard. RCBC’s boasts the same range of benefits as its siblings, plus the usual expected additional perks befitting a premium card:

  • 1 Rewards Point per ₱36.00 (or ₱125.00 for service merchants [supermarkets, drugstores, or gas stations]), which can be redeemed in a variety of ways, such as:
    • Airmiles (3 Airmiles = 1 Mabuhay Mile, Asia Mile, GetGo Point, or BIG Loyalty Point = ₱108.00 or ₱375.00 for service merchants to 1 mile)
    • Cash rebate
    • Shopping vouchers
    • Cash credit to the said credit card
    • Deposit to RCBC bank account
    • Donation
  • Budget Management tools from RCBC, including:
    • Unli 0% installment (although this has a small fee)
    • Spend monitor
    • Spend analyzer
  • Credit protection insurance (optional)
  • Complimentary lounge access for cardholder and a +1 to NAIA Terminal 1’s Club Manila and Terminal 3’s SkyView Lounges
  • Complimentary Standard Priority Pass membership
  • Exclusive MasterCard Moments deals
  • Free travel insurance up to ₱1,000,000.00
  • Up to 9 free-for-life supplementary cards

At first glance, this seems all very well and good. But upon closer look, especially in relation to other RCBC cards (and especially Bankard’s newest offers, the Platinum Visa, which débuts the Preferred Airmiles program; and the YGC Rewards Plus), for MasterCard’s second-highest offering (only one bank in the Philippines has the highest, namely, BDO’s World Elite card), it seems to be a bit underwhelming.

As the name implies, World and World Elite cards are premium cards that are usually geared towards lifestyle and travel. Though they aren’t really travel cards per se (as opposed to, say, Citibank’s PremierMiles, or airline-partnered cards), they usually offer the same, if not greater, travel benefits, such as free and/or discounted local and international lounge access, higher travel insurance coverage, and discounts abroad or out of town.

It seems that the World’s only advantages over the Bankard Platinum MasterCard are:

  • MasterCard Moments deals
  • Complimentary Standard Priority Pass membership
  • Four more free-for-life supplementary cards (Platinum offers just 5)

To be fair, they charge the same annual fee, but why else would someone go from Platinum to World, then? The incentive seems like it could be more.

To make the World MasterCard more appealing, exclusive, and premium, why not also load it with free international lounge access, Preferred Airmiles, and YGC Rewards Plus?

1. Free International Lounge Access

In general, RCBC Bankard has one of the most decent Manila lounge access offers, with all its premium cards now offering cardholder-plus-one access to NAIA Terminal 1’s Club Manila and Terminal 3’s SkyView lounge. This is a great move by RCBC, especially after the MIASCOR lounge in Terminal 1 was closed down, and I hope they can also secure lounge access in Clark and/or the new NMIA by San Miguel!

RCBC’s World card also offers Priority Pass – same as Platinum Visa and Infinite Visa – but only the Standard membership, worth US$99.00/year, which does not grant free lounge access, only the right to access for $32.00 per visit, per person. It’s pricey enough, but for the Platinum Visa this may be okay; however, for the World MasterCard and Infinite Visa, perhaps a higher package with some free passes per year would be more apt (the Standard Plus, worth US$299.00/year, offers 10 free visits – but what about, say, four a year). Even Security Bank’s Platinum MasterCard beats it, with two free passes a year through LoungeKey.

2. Adoption of Preferred Airmiles

RCBC’s entire line of standard cards from Classic to World/Infinite/Diamond, across JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa all follow the same points ratio described above.

As mentioned, with the new Platinum Visa, RCBC Bankard introduces its Preferred Airmiles program, which drastically improves their miles ratio (₱48.00/mile, ₱25.00/mile overseas, ₱125.00/mile for service merchants, ₱250.00/mile for utilities) – though it still lags behind Citibank’s PremierMiles (₱30.00/mile) and is only marginally better than Metrobank’s Travel Platinum Visa (₱50.00/mile, ₱17.00/mile overseas or travel) or UnionBank’s Miles+ Platinum Visa (₱50.00/mile, ₱33.33/mile overseas or travel).

But it’s available only on that card – not even on the higher Visa Infinite, whose only difference from the World MasterCard is its having a 5% rebate on clothing retail, for that matter.

With the signature lifestyle befitting a World MasterCard or Infinite Visa, both of which surpass a Platinum Visa, it would be nice for Bankard to also adopt Preferred Airmiles for these two cards.

3. Adoption of YGC Rewards Plus

I was pleasantly surprised when, in August 2019, Bankard rang me to offer me the YGC Rewards Plus – a credit card integrating the Yuchengco Group of Companies’ rewards program, which gives you even more points for patronizing YGC products and services. For instance, every additional deposit of ₱1,000.00 or US$500.00 nets you one point, while every ₱100,000.00 outstanding balance of an auto loan gets you 20 points. The card is offered across three levels: Classic and Gold Visa, and Platinum MasterCard – these are separate products from their respective regular brethren.

This is a nifty offering by RCBC, but I can’t help thinking – what if it was also offered in the World MasterCard and/or Infinite Visa?

Despite not having the best miles ratio out there, and also despite having a high foreign transaction rate, RCBC Bankard is one of the better credit card companies in the Philippines due to its wide catalogue of products and aspirational range of benefits. It has one of the best Manila lounge access programs, and one of the most flexible rewards systems (which seems to be the trade-off for a low miles ratio – fair enough for non-travelers).

The RCBC World MasterCard, one of their top cards, is truly a card worth aiming to have, and I count it as one of my personal favorites. It has a great perks and benefits, and a relatively low annual fee, all of which are worth it as long as I discipline myself. It really opens up a whole new World of privileges – though there are still new horizons to pursue. But, of course, no card is perfect, and I guess any premium credit card also has their own rooms for improvement. Yet, with the RCBC World MasterCard, you’re in the right room.

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