Not all credit cards are created equal. Some have fewer benefits for a lower price, and consequently, more rewards for a steeper amount. Credit cards are usually classified into tiers. The tiers allow you to get a card that exactly fits your needs and qualifications.

Most people start from the bottom level, build a good credit history, and then slowly climb to the top. If you already have a good credit score, you can start in the middle tier, and keep your card for a long time!

Abroad, there are usually five tiers, with one different from the other. In the Philippines, this tier system is more fluid, and cards are generally just ranked based on fees, rewards, and purpose. Here’s everything you need to know about the credit card hierarchy in the Philippines, and the best options for each tier!

Starter cards

The lowest tier comes in many names like starter, standard, or classic. Basic credit cards are an excellent option for people starting on credit cards. Usually, the purpose of this kind of cards is to build a good credit score to qualify for a higher tier credit card. For some, these can also be emergency credit cards to stretch a limited budget. They have very little to no rewards with very minimal fees, so you can quickly rack up credit score!

BPI Family Credit Card

Required minimum monthly income: ₱15,000

Interest rate: 2.00%

Annual membership fee: waived for the first year, ₱1,000 for the principal card, free for life for 1st supplementary card, ₱500 for 2nd to 6th supplementary cards


  • Cash advance up to 30% of your credit limit

Ideal for:

  • Beginners in the credit-card game
  • Families and individuals on a budget

No annual fee cards

Credit cards with no annual fees are an extension of the first tier, and so it comes under similar names as the previous. The waived annual fees usually come with higher interest rates. Rewards and rebates also start in this tier. This means that you are charged and rewarded based on how much you spend with the card! If you have a good enough credit score, you can start in this tier. Payment and maintenance terms are still pretty generous so that you can start a good credit history here.

Citi Simplicity+ card;241149927;p


Required minimum monthly income: ₱15,000 if you have another credit card; ₱21,000 if you have none

Interest rate: 3.50% (for foreign transactions, 4.00%)

Annual membership fee: Free for life


  • No late-payment and over-limit fees
  • 10% back on interest charges when you pay at least the minimum due on or before the due date
  • Up to 50% discount on participating resorts, hotels, airlines, and restaurants

Ideal for:

  • People building a good credit history or repairing a bad one
  • Frequent travelers looking for discounts

Mid-tier cards

If you’ve built a good credit history from either of the first two tiers, then this is ideally the next option to consider. Rewards are a lot better, but that comes with higher minimum income as well as an annual membership fee. Mid-tier cards are usually tied to many rewards systems in airlines, hotels, groceries, and the like. These cards typically come in names like Gold, Silver, or Red, each with minimal differences from the others.

HSBC Credit Cards

There are HSBC credit cards you can consider: HSBC Gold Cash Back, HSBC Platinum and HSBC Red Mastercard. Having any of these credit cards will help you earn more for every spend. For instance, you can get up to 5% or higher when you dine and 4x bonus points when you spend on groceries, fuel and other transactions. 

Required minimum monthly income: ₱15,000

* You should also have an existing locally-issued primary credit card for at least 12 months

Interest rate: 3.50%

Annual membership fee: No Annual Fee for Life when you apply via GoBear today. 


  • Get 4x bonus points on dining, shopping, online and overseas transactions
  • Redeem gift cerftificates and airmiles using your bonus points
  • Enjoy exclusive privileges at over 27,000 establishments in 160 countries worldwide
  • Qualify for a cash installment plan

Ideal for:

  • Carded applicants whose current credit cards don't have enough perks and privileges.
HSBC red mastercard

RCBC Bankard Gold Card

Required minimum monthly income: ₱30,000

Interest rate: 3.50%

Annual membership fee: ₱3,000 for a principal card, ₱1,500 for supplementary card


  • 1 rewards point awarded for every ₱125 spent on supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations or ₱36 charged on anything else
  • Unlimited, non-expiring, and flexible rewards points on all purchases – airmiles, shopping, cashback, etc.
  • Travel insurance up to ₱500,000 for local travel, and ₱1,000,000 for international travel

Ideal for:

  • Frequent spenders looking for equal rewards

Premium cards

Further up in the credit card tier are those that usually come in names like Titanium, Platinum, Diamond, Elite, or even non-exclusive Black cards. This is the highest tier most people can directly apply for in the bank. Premium cards are usually co-branded with hotels and airlines for people who spend a one-time hefty amount on big vacations.

BDO Platinum MasterCard

Required minimum monthly income: ₱35,000

Interest rate: 2.75%

Annual membership fee: ₱4,500 for principal, ₱2,250 for supplementary, completely waived if you spend ₱600,000 a year


  • 1 credit card point for every ₱40 spent on local transactions and $1 on international transactions
  • Dual currency (USD and PHP) billing option
  • FREE travel accident and inconvenience insurance coverage of up to ₱20M for abroad and local travel
  • FREE access to over 900 VIP lounges in over 75 countries
  • 50% off participating dining programs
  • Cash advance up to 30% of your assigned credit limit

Ideal for:

* Big spenders looking for big rewards, travelers needing massive travel insurance coverage

Black cards

Exclusive black cards are often invitation-only credit cards. It may be issued exclusively to upper-class people. However, there are non-exclusive black cards that are available for direct applications. These are still classified under premium credit cards. They usually require the highest required income, as well as annual fees.

BPI Visa Signature Card

Required minimum monthly income: ₱80,000

Interest rate: 3.50%

Annual membership fee: ₱5,500 for principal, FREE for 1st supplementary card, ₱2,750 for 2nd to 6th additional cards


  • 1 Real Thrills Rewards Premium Point for every ₱20 spent
  • Lower foreign exchange conversion (1.85%) compared to other credit cards for international transactions
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to ₱20M
  • 24/7 Visa Worldwide Concierge Service
  • 50% discount at partner merchants

Ideal for: Big earners who enjoy the more beautiful things in life (fine dining, luxurious hotels, first-class air travel, etc.)

Bottom Line:

In general, when choosing a credit card, you’d want a low minimum income requirement and the lowest possible fees and interest. If you find one that fits your needs in a lower tier, there’s no need to look for more expensive equivalents higher up. Just because it’s a higher tier doesn’t mean it’s better for you. Compare your credit card options with GoBear today!

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GoBear team

GoBear team

GoBear Team - Our content creators collaborate to come up with finance articles that will make financial literacy a joy to learn and financial security an attainable goal.