(Note: This story is also published on Cebu Daily News in its InfoTech section)

With the holidays and the bonuses and extra pay that come with it just weeks away, people are bracing for and eagerly awaiting Christmas shopping. Malls are starting to get packed and traffic, especially around shopping centers, has turned for the worse.

Buying online isn’t only more convenient, it often is cheaper. With online retailers not needing to spend huge amounts of money to set up physical stores, they are able to offer items at prices way below what are available in brick-and-mortar shops. As an example, I got a genuine Sony Smartwatch 3 Android Wear watch for about P4,000 less than what it was selling for in the official shop here in Cebu.

There are shops like Lazada that allow you to pay on delivery. When this is available as an option, I’d choose this. But other sites and sellers, even those offering items in Lazada, do not allow COD and require payments upfront.

Convenient way to pay online

For these sites and vendors, you will need a credit or debit card. If you don’t have one, there’s a convenient way to pay online without applying for a card: install the PayMaya app. Even if you already have a card, PayMaya still offers a more convenient way to pay.

Opening an account is easy. You just download PayMaya from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and set up your account, which is linked to your phone number. You will then have a virtual card that you can use to pay for purchases in all sites that accept Visa. You can also buy a physical PayMaya card for P150 that you can then use in stores.

PayMaya

PAYMENT CONVENIENCE. Whether shopping online or spending during travels, PayMaya offers a convenient solution.

Easy to load cash

Loading your card is just as convenient, you can do it in 7-11. To load cash, you just enter the phone number linked to your PayMaya account in the store’s Cliq machine, indicate the amount of money you want to load and then pay at the cashier. Other places where you can load up your PayMaya are Ministop via the Touchpay kiosk, Robinsons Department Store, BDO, Smart Money, and Smart Padala.

My wife and I have been using PayMaya for several months now and find it a more convenient way to pay for purchases and bills. Our arrangement is for her to use her PayMaya account for household expenses while I use mine for business-related spending like website hosting and other digital services.

Here’s why PayMaya works for us:

1) Easy loading of cash. With the ability to load in 7-11 stores, PayMaya makes it accessible and convenient for its users to add cash to their accounts. Except for a stretch of a few days some weeks back when 7-11 stores were often offline, our experience has been hassle-free.

2) Deals and promos. It’s cheaper to load phone credits on PayMaya. To load P500, for example, you only need to pay P477.50. It’s also easy to send the load to any account because the app is connected to your phonebook: you just choose an amount or package and then pick the phonebook contact and the load is sent to him or her.

PayMaya also offers exclusive promos like the one it is currently running with Uber: first-time Uber riders in Cebu will get P150 off in each of their first two rides if they use PayMaya and the promo code: PAYMAYACEBU.

3) App convenience. Since transactions are done on the app, it’s more convenient to manage and use. The PayMaya app, for example, provides a record of your purchases that is accessible at any time. This helps in verification and in guilt-tripping to cut down your spending.

4) Utility bills payment. Billers are starting to accept payment through PayMaya. In our case, for example, we now pay PLDT through the app and not have to line up either at its crowded office in Mactan or in an authorized payment center in any of the also-crowded malls in the metro. The company said it was looking to add more billers.

5) Travel convenience. You can save up ahead for your travel expense, load it on the card and then use it to pay when you are on your trip. When you pay using a debit card like PayMaya, you already settle the intricacies of currency conversion and know how much you will actually end up paying in Philippine pesos. (See related story: My PayMaya experience: Sticking to a budget in Hong Kong)

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