Posted in Finance, Mobile App

MasterCard Payment Glitch

You might have had a similar experience I did regarding a MasterCard payment glitch when a POS swipe machine would register a ‘payment not accepted’ error. Probably you’ve had successful transactions using your MasterCard with a specific store and then suddenly two consecutive attempts on separate occasions deters you from swiping it again. Sometimes the problem would be in one specific store and the other stores seem to not have a problem with accepting payments from it.

I would normally purchase my afternoon tea or frappe at a McCafe nearby with a MasterCard but until two weeks ago I had to use my alternative Visa card because of the payment not accepted error. I could still use the MasterCard to pay for my groceries. It could be McDonald’s POS system not functioning properly but I attempted to use it the week after that and it was still unsuccessful.

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The curious thing was the same MasterCard is connected to my LINE Wallet and when I used my personal scan code (which I had set to automatically charge my MasterCard) for the Rabbit Line Pay machine, the payment came through just fine. So that rules out a possible system outage on the part of MasterCard.

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This is why sometimes having a mobile wallet is advantageous. I could not really point out where the real glitch came from and I was glad I was observant that there always had been a Rabbit Line Pay beside McCafe’s POS.

 

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Posted in Mobile App, Travel

To Exchange Money Or Withdraw Abroad

Should I exchange my money before leaving? Or should I use the ATM abroad to withdraw abroad? The answer to that would depend on the currency of the country you’re heading to and try to do the USD/Your Home Country’s Currency and Currency of The Country You’re Visiting/USD exchange rate comparison.

On ATM Withdrawal:

For the past year up to the present, the USD to THB (Thai Baht) exchange rate fares well compared to PHP (Philippine Peso) to THB. My Payoneer MasterCard, for example, is in USD currency and if I use it to withdraw at an ATM in Thailand, I probably would get 200 baht more compared to using a GCash MasterCard to withdraw THB money which is in PHP currency by default.

An ATM in Thailand from a bank called Siam Commercial Bank (colour violet) would prompt me if I wanted to follow the bank’s conversion rate displayed on the screen. There also is an additional 220 baht withdrawal fee. From countless withdrawals with the SCB ATM machine, I noticed that choosing the option of NOT following the bank’s conversion rate was preferable. I also tried the Krungsri Bank ATM machine many times but it would not give me the option to view the bank’s conversion rate.

On Exchanging Currency:

I do not recommend exchanging money three ways. Stick to the bills on hand and exchange them at a currency exchanger WITHIN the city or locale you’re in. Exchanging my money at an airport almost always gets me 500 baht or 350,000 dong short. That’s a lot. Local currency exchangers (and legal ones, please) often have the best rates – the kind of rate that’s closest to what you would see on the XE mobile app.

Here’s the slip of a currency exchanger at the airport (arrivals) in Don Mueang:

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At the time, 1 VND was equivalent to 0.0013 on the XE mobile app. It fluctuates between 0.0012 and 0.0014. What’s interesting was when I exchanged my Vietnamese dong into Thai baht at a local exchanger in Ben Thanh Market before leaving HCM a month and a half ago, the rate they had was 1 VND = 0.0013 THB.

Before I left Thailand for HCM in early October, I went to a local exchanger to exchange my baht into dong. The rate of the local exchanger was similar to that of XE’s.

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Here are the details of the currency exchanger I recommend:

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Posted in Mobile App, Travel

Visa on Arrival Application in Vietnam

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For Philippine passport holders, you’ll be glad to know that tourist visa extension in Vietnam is not as long-winding as the visa extension process in Thailand. The longest period for applying for a visa on arrival for Philippine passport holders is 90 days and this could either be multiple entry or single entry visas. Philippine citizens can stay in Vietnam for 21 days on visa exemption.

You might encounter a few visa on arrival websites online for a longer stay in Vietnam but Vietnam Visa Easy is the one I prefer because of the affordable fees. Upon completing the form online via the Apply Now button, I would only wait 1 or 2 days to get an email reply if my visa on arrival application was approved or unsuccessful.

The replies I would usually get include the visa on arrival form along with the list of names of the visa on arrival applicants. Yes, you will see other applicants’ names and others approved will also see your name on the list. Few websites offer the option to exclude your name on the approved visa list for an additional fee , which means you get a more personalized approval letter with only your name on it. I do not really mind the idea of my name being on others’ approval letter but that’s just me. Whatever floats your boat.

Stamping fee assistance indicated as additional option in the Vietnam Visa Easy website is not the same as the stamping fee which you would still have to pay at the visa on arrival counter.

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Upon submitting the form at the visa on arrival counter, names would be called out via a television screen and you can expect to see your passport ID displayed too. Only then can you join the immigration queue for passport arrival stamp. Easy-peasy.

Posted in Android, Mobile App, Telco

GCash Mobile App Errors

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On Tuesday night my App Store prompted me for the latest GCash mobile app update, Version 5.11.1. When I opened the app the next day, I was greeted with several errors. I shouldn’t really be surprised as GCash mobile app update tend to bring a slew of bugs with it especially in connection with account verification issues.

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Even when it clearly says my account is fully verified, the app still prompts me to verify when I tapped on PayPal to attempt a cash-in.

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Thinking that tapping through the verification process would quickly take me to the cash-in page, I waited and waited and waited. I logged in and logged out of the app but I would still see the same message to wait 30 minutes.

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An hour passed and I wondered if the Android version had the same update. I opened the GCash mobile app on my Android phone and luckily for me I was able to proceed with my PayPal to GCash cash-in.

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Five or six hours later, I decided to check on my GCash app on my iPhone and I didn’t encounter the verification prompt anymore.

The lesson here is to make sure to open your GCash mobile app right after you finish the update. Or better yet keep an Android phone just in case.

 

 

Posted in Travel

Tourist Visa Extension in Thailand

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As a Philippine passport holder, it took me a year to find out that a tourist visa extension beyond 30 days is possible here in Thailand. Before 2018, I thought that I could only apply for a 2-month visa in the Thai Embassy in the Philippines and that it ought to be done right before leaving the home country.

Still, after having found out in mid-2018 that it is very much possible to do a visa extension within Thailand for a Philippine passport holder like me, I began having the impression that immigration rules are as fickle as the officers implementing them.

Prior to my first tourist visa extension attempt in Thailand, I had already taken advantage of a hassle-free Vietnam tourist visa application online. Philippine passport holders can enter Vietnam visa-free for 21 days but can avail of a 30-day or 3-month stay visa on arrival at this link. I stayed in Hanoi for 90 days in two separate trips before August 2018. Tip: Applying for a visa on arrival online is cheaper compared to doing it within Vietnam.

A week before my 30-day visa expiration in Thailand, I decided to go to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana. I have Cai to thank for writing this helpful guide about how he went about with his visa extension in Thailand although he needs to update the faulty link he entered there for the TM 7 Form download.

Staying in Nonthaburi meant I did not have go through the same route as Cai explained in his blog post. I simply booked a Grab Car ride to and from the hotel.

Outside the Chaengwattana Immigration Division Government Complex 

Cai also wrote in the article that he was able to successfully get stamped for a visa extension twice. For tourist visa extension, this is not entirely true. Back in 2014 or 2015 Thai Immigration Bureau amended their stipulations regarding visa extensions for some countries, Philippines included, which allowed for 1 30-day visa extension only per trip. I know this because I applied for a second consecutive 30-day visa extension and the immigration officer declined my application but gave me a 7-day grace period instead. It was not bad luck on my part as their immigration rules state this on their website. You can also read about it in other travel forums.

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First attempt at a 30-day visa extension

My recent visa extension experience this week was rather disappointing. I went to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana thinking all I have to worry would be the long wait but it was even more stressful than that. The well-meaning immigration officer glanced at the second page of my TM 7 form and cursorily encircled Nonthaburi with her pen. As I strained to hear what she was trying to explain to me in English, my heart sank when she informed me that I was in the wrong immigration office. She referred me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office.

I did a little bit of Google search about cases of foreigners being referred to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office and it’s curious I stumbled upon a blog post detailing that same ordeal I just had dated December 2015. Can you imagine that?! Back in August and September 2018, nobody in Chaengwattana ever told me I was supposed to be in the other immigration office even when I’ve always stayed in the same hotel.

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Nonthaburi Immigration

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I traveled to Bang Kruai where the Nonthaburi Immigration Office is located, hopeful I could still get a visa extension stamp within the day. I had all my documents in order – a TM 7 form and a photocopy of my TM 6 (departure card) and arrival stamp page on my passport. The officer browsed through them and handed me another form. It was the TM 30 form which was to be filled up by the owner or the manager of the hotel I’m staying in. At that point I decided to call it a day and went back to the hotel to hand the TM 30 over to the receptionists on duty.

Two days later the hotel manager accompanied me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office. As I watched the conversation exchange between the immigration officer I was assigned to and the hotel manager, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t have felt so accomplished that day if she hadn’t shown up. The officer kept coming back to her about that one piece of paper which looked like some sort of certification or ownership.

In a nutshell, landlords or hotel owners/managers are required to register the foreigners staying in their property within 24 hours. This is the reason why the receptionist would ask for my passport and TM 6 departure card upon arrival to make sure they have me on file. You can read more about it here.

For the third time I’ve been doing this, I wasn’t asked about a return ticket or at least a ticket out of Thailand. I do have a departure ticket from Thailand to Vietnam for December 24th which I booked last month.

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Third visa extension attempt

It was 4:16 pm by the time my appointment there. The office closes at 4:30 pm. I was so relieved to not have to think about this visa extension problem over the weekend and worry about re-booking my ticket just in case.

If you’re ever planning to extend your stay in Thailand, make sure you download the TM 30 form from Nonthaburi’s Immigration website.

 

Posted in Mobile App, Travel

Grab Pay By Moca

I get it that progress and change go together. Unfortunately, it was not a seamless transition from Grab Pay credits to Moca Wallet by Grab Vietnam.

My last week in Ho Chi Minh was beset by trivialities such as seeing my Grab Pay credits get replaced by a Moca Wallet activation and debating whether or not I should exchange my Vietnamese dong into Thailand baht within HCM. Things have a way of working out to your favor by the time you’re done stressing over it but the Grab Pay by Moca problem still confounds me so I hope this helps anyone who’s encountered the same problem I did.

So, where did my Grab Pay credits go? When I tapped on Activate for Moca wallet, I had this inkling it would involve locally issued ATM cards. I knew this from attempting to register to a number of Vietnamese mobile apps which usually exclude international cards from being linked to the mobile app account. Moca Wallet was no different.

I could still pay rides using my GCash MasterCard or GCash AmEx by changing the payment method before confirming a Grab ride booking. I tried it with a few discounted rides (ones which charged me 0 VND) until I booked a Grab Bike ride with a promo code which required 2,000 VND to pay, which is like Php5 or PhP6. It was strange that my GCash MasterCard could not successfully deduct Php5 since I’ve used it before to top up Grab Pay credits in Vietnam and have used it in Thailand for paying Grab rides. I had PhP1, 750 in my GCash balance.

 

I thought it was a MasterCard-related issue or a GCash faux pas. I tried it with GCash AmEx and with a Visa card issued by another bank and I still would get the Unsuccessful error message.

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Like other Grabbers in Vietnam, I was left with no choice but to continue with cash when I took a Grab ride to the international airport.

But, lo and behold, shortly upon arriving Don Mueang International Airport in Thailand, I got the long-awaited “Success” message. Of course, I inserted my AIS sim back in the plane and once I disabled Airplane Mode I updated my Grab profile’s country and sim number.

The app prompted me the 2,000 VND outstanding balance before I could book a ride. I re-entered my AmEx number as I intended to use it for pay with the airport to hotel fare with the same card. It didn’t even take me many attempts to be able to see the “Success” message. I received a text notification of the amount deducted.

Grab Support reached out to me again to follow up my concern. I replied that the problem was solved once I was in another territory and pointed out that the REAL problem was Grab Vietnam’s forceful Moca wallet activation.

 

Posted in Finance, Mobile App

iCloud Storage Renewal Payment Method Declined Error

Few days ago I contacted iTunes Support for my problem in renewing my 50GB iCloud storage. The error had to do with my payment method being declined. I received a prompt response but not a satisfactory answer.

I purchased a track on iTunes on September 30th and the MasterCard which has always been listed on my Apple ID has been successfully charged the corresponding amount. Three or fours after it was already October 1st and I received an e-mail:

On 30/09/2018, we attempted to charge you for your 50 GB iCloud storage plan, but there is a problem with your payment information. Your account will be downgraded to the free 5 GB storage plan if we cannot successfully renew your subscription.

Before I was able to open my mail,  I was able to buy some gold bars in Candy Crush. Now, purchases have to be verified by an Apple ID password before they go through. It’s odd that my other in-app purchases would go through except the iCloud storage renewal.

I followed the usual steps to update the billing information on my Apple ID. I tried it thrice and the payment method declined error persisted. I contacted iTunes support and I was told the same answers which I already knew and tried prior to getting their response but those didn’t work.

One tip they would insist on is the name and billing address should match etc etc. My billing name on Apple ID does not match what the MasterCard says but my purchases went through before that (including the iCloud storage renewal).

The unaddressed problem here either lies with iCloud’s or MasterCard’s but, of course, iTunes Support cannot address that.

I solved the problem by changing my card on file to an American Express. Mind you, the billing name and postcode on file does not even match with that of my AmEx’s.

Posted in Mobile App, Photography, Tutorials

Uploading Photos and Videos From iPhone To Microsoft OneDrive

 

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I have upgraded accounts in both iCloud (50gb) and Microsoft OneDrive (ITB). The ITB from Microsoft OneDrive comes with the Office 365 monthly subscription so upgrading to a higher cloud storage for iCloud seems unnecessary for me if I could upload photos and videos from my iPhone to Microsoft OneDrive’s mobile app.

The basic way to upload from your iPhone to Microsoft OneDrive is, of course, to enable Camera Upload in your OneDrive mobile app. This feauture allows your photos and videos taken on your iPhone to be uploaded automatically to your OneDrive without having to open the OneDrive app.

I didn’t have technical issues with this Camera Upload feature before but lately bugs in Microsoft OneDrive are becoming frequent. No matter how many times I keep refreshing the Camera Upload page, I would still see the “up to date” message and it wouldn’t sync properly. Manually uploading the files by tapping on the + icon on my OneDrive doesn’t seem to do the trick some of the time. At one point, it would say I was uploading 3 videos and then in 3 seconds it would say I was uploading 1 video.

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A successful upload done within OneDrive should appear like this. 
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If the number of uploads correspond to what you see under the Progress tab,  you can tap on Home from Asssistive Touch and leave OneDrive open without affecting upload progress. 

A better way to upload photos and videos from your iPhone to your Microsoft OneDrive account is to do it via the iPhone’s Photos app options. I am using Videos as an example because I encounter more upload glitches in Microsoft OneDrive.

1 – Go to the Videos album in your iPhone’s Photos and select the videos you want to upload to OneDrive.

 

2 – Tap on the Share icon on the lower left corner.

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3 – Tap on More and enable OneDrive. I could only upload 10 videos at a time and if I exceed that number, the OneDrive icon would not appear even if I enabled it.

 

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4 – Select the folder you wish to upload your videos to.

 

5 – Wait for the files to complete uploading. If you go to Home without the completed uploads, you will lose your progress.

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Posted in Finance, Mobile App, Telco

GCredit by GCash

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It has been a while since I started seeing “Beta version” and “For selected users only” whenever I would click on the GCredit tab in my GCash app. Few of my friends and relatives who have GCash have had their GCredit working for them when they do QR shopping. I had better GScore on my GCash mobile app than they did but I was quite late to the party. I thought it probably has something to do with the fact that my Globe number has been on international roaming for close to a year now.

Then last week I got a text notification that I have been approved for GCredit.

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My sister and cousin had been approved for P2,000 but I had not expected mine to be P5,000.

GCredit is not without its disadvantages – some GCash users who have been known to have regular cash flow coming into their GCash accounts might suddenly stop using it once they can no longer afford to fund their GCredit interest. I have heard a few unpleasant stories about GCash users’ balance being automatically deducted because of their unpaid GCredit interest. As with credit lines, moderation is always key.

For the meantime, its advantage for me is the pay bills part. I can pay my Smart postpaid bill with GCredit. It’s a measly P999 monthly plan which I have not really utilised for 10 months straight. Sending money to other GCash users is not available with GCredit.

How does one get approved for GCredit? Just keep using GCash to pay your bills, buy groceries with the QR Code shopping or top up mobile numbers with it and in no time your GScore or trust score will move up.

Posted in Finance, Mobile App, Telco

Skrill To GCash Withdrawal Problem

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For a few years that I’ve been a Skrill member, I have also experienced Skrill to GCash withdrawal problem before and I’m surprised the Globe number 0956 prefix problem is still a huge topic in some forums. Some forum posters have pointed out one needs to enroll a Globe number with a lower prefix into GCash and add it to one’s Skrill mobile wallet.

I am bringing this topic to light again because my cousin recently encountered a Skrill to GCash withdrawal problem specifically with the error “Recipient number can not be found, please review and try again.” He has a freshly verified GCash account so what could have been the problem? His Globe number has a 0906 prefix so this somehow botches the lower prefix theory.

In 2015 I had bought a Globe LTE pocket WiFi at 50% discount and the following year I decided to use the SIM card included in it as my GCash AmEx number. Not long after I decided to apply for a GCash MasterCard because I wanted to have a GCash physical card with me. Right off the bat I already noticed a problem with the new SIM card the agent suggested I enroll for the GCash MasterCard –  the text notification for the GCash registration did not arrive instantaneously and he had to pry open another SIM card packet before he got a successful registration.

I was able to add both of my GCash numbers – the AmEx and MasterCard ones – to my Skrill mobile wallet. It tricked me to think both numbers would be working fine for Skrill to GCash withdrawal. I was already using the GCash AmEx number to withdraw on Skrill and never had a problem with it. Adding the GCash MasterCard proved pointless thereafter when I would get an error message with every withdrawal attempts. Luckily with my 0995 GCash AmEx number already on file, I could (and still can) successfully withdraw from Skrill to GCash instantly and I would then transfer the GCash AmEx funds to my 0956 GCash MasterCard.

For my cousin, this solves his Skrill to GCash withdrawal problem for the meantime, which means he would have to do the Skrill to Skrill transfer and I would have to withdraw to my GCash Amex, forward it to my GCash MasterCard and lastly to his GCash account. Good thing the whole process is instant.

I don’t think we simply have a lower or higher prefix number problem here for Skrill. As has been known with Globe’s practice of recycling inactive numbers, you can bet it’s possible the root of the Skrill to GCash withdrawal problem error “recipient number cannot be found” is that some GCash numbers, regardless of prefixes, were once nulled or deactivated and along the way some quality control went awry.