What is GCash? An Absolute Beginner’s Guide

What is GCash?

GCash is a digital wallet that holds your money, plain and simple. Each amount in the wallet has an equivalent amount of peso in real life. You put your money into it, and the cash being digital makes it easy to do transactions with it, empowering the user to leverage it to do work without as much effort.

Introduction to Digital Wallets

Before we go through our guide, let’s talk first about digital wallets. What are digital wallets?

Think about your real life wallet. You most likely have cash there. You would also have your debit or credit cards.

Now think of your smartphone. With all of the wonders of apps in recent years, we have started to see the multitude of uses a smartphone can do. We don’t even leave the house without it. So why not combine the two together? Eventually someone did, and the digital wallet is born.

Power of Digital Wallets

We have seen in recent years how financial technology evolved as a natural application of the power of the Internet. Currently, with the gradual improvement of our network connectivity, we can leverage the power of our always-on data connection to power our financial transactions via the Internet. 

A case in point is China. It has embraced the digital wallet to the fullest, that most of the transactions are via the app, and cash is becoming increasingly rare. The effect is dramatic because so many applications can only come from innovation via technology. One can be online e-commerce, another can be QR based transactions.

For example, in a lot of restaurants in China, you can just sit down in a table and scan the QR code on it. Your app will open that restaurant’s web page and will lead you to their online menu. You can order what you want and also pay right there on the spot. The waiter will just serve you your order at your table, without you even standing up. How cool is that?

Another is the universality of their platform. You can go to the grocery, or take a taxi, or rent a bike using an app. You can get loans, buy train tickets, buy street food, donate to street performers, and if your phone battery gets low, you can even rent power banks via an app.

Now here in the Philippines, we currently have those types of applications used by a handful of digital wallets too, even though they are at an early stage. GCash leads this pack and right now it’s at the top in terms of market penetration.

What can I do with GCash?

Here some things you can do with GCash:

And the feature list keeps on increasing as time goes by.

What can I expect from this guide?

For this primer, I’m going to describe how to install, verify your GCash account and explain the most used features in your GCash app, which include:

  • Cash-in
  • Cash-out
  • Buy Load
  • Send Money
  • Payments via QR Code

How do I install GCash?

It’s as simple as searching for and installing GCash in your respective app store. Here is a screenshot from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store:

Generally, the iTunes App Store releases the updated versions sooner than Google Play Store.

After installing, you just need to register. GCash will ask for some basic information, ask for your 4 digit MPIN, and verify with OTP (one-time-password) via SMS. After this, you can now log into the app.

Just three steps to register. Easy peasy.

Do I need to be a Globe subscriber to register?

No, GCash has been open to all networks since 2018.

Do I need to be online to use GCash?

Yes. but if your SIM card is Globe or TM, you do not need to have any data plan active to be able to use GCash as the majority of the feature usage is zero-rated. Even if you have no load, GCash can be still be used, kind of like Facebook in free mode. The only features that use data in the app are the linking services (BPI, Paypal, Debit Card). So for those, it is better to do it when you have connectivity instead.

However, if you are using a Smart or TnT SIM, this zero-rating does not apply.

Can I also register via USSD (*143#)?

Yes, you need to have a Globe SIM to be able to do this. You need to dial *143# on your phone to show the USSD options.

After this you will need to press 0 (MyAccount), then 6 (GCash) and 1 (Register) for registering a new account, then follow the instructions. You would need to input your MPIN, full name, birth year, and address. Afterward, you will then be receiving an SMS that registration is successful.

Can GCash be used overseas?

Yes, since GCash uses the Internet to do its transactions. But GCash is meant to be used within the Philippines. If you used it outside the country, you won’t be able to do some of the features because of the usage of OTP via SMS, like cashing in or out or using the other value-added features.

Does GCash have a maintaining balance?

GCash has a dormancy fee of Php 50. This amount will be taken from your GCash balance. However, this only happens if you don’t use your account for six months. Do not worry though, GCash will be reminding you of this a few days before via SMS.

If you do not have an existing balance when the trigger happens, then your GCash account will be automatically closed. You will need to create a new one.

Can I create multiple GCash accounts?

Yes, you can have up to 5 fully verified accounts. But you also need to have 5 different mobile numbers for each of those accounts. If you exceed 5, you will be asked which accounts you plan to use as the others will be disabled.

What are some misconceptions about GCash?

I’ve written an in-depth post about that in here.

Is GCash secure?

The short answer is yes. But there is no such thing as foolproof security. Usually the smallest mistake often revolves around human interaction (via social hacking) and this can compromise any security system.

In the case of GCash, the keys to an individual account are the MPIN. In a recent update, GCash has now implemented a fingerprint validation method. This makes it on par with Paymaya in terms of security.

However, let us not discount the MPIN as this 4 digit number is the key to your kingdom. Once someone gets your MPIN and the OTP, he can have control of your account. This bears saying that we should not share our MPINs with anyone especially any phishing attempts in FB Messenger and in text blasts.

This bears reminding that GCash employees do not ask for your MPIN. More often than not it’s the scammers that impersonate GCash employees.

GCash employs two-factor authentication

GCash has implemented OTP (one time password) validation for most transactions that is connected to cashing in or out. You will need to validate via SMS or email any OTP validation. This serves as a type of two-factor authentication — meaning you need to do two things to prove to the system that you are the owner of the account.

This auto-completes in the app itself.

Of course, the weakest link in the chain is usually the person himself. Oftentimes we set the MPIN to 1111 or to our birthday. We get swindled by messenger or text scams that ask us for our MPINs and OTPs. Or we share our scan to pay vouchers or GCredit with strangers.

Again the best defense is vigilance. The best practice is to set a proper MPIN and not to share our account information with anyone, not even GCash support.

Why didn’t I receive any OTP when I entered my number during log-in?

When no OTP arrives during log-in, it may mean the entered number is incorrect.

Government Regulation and the AMLA

We have a lot of government regulation (through the BSP) regarding digital money as it is easy to move and manipulate. Wallets are required to have an identity associated with it.

The BSP mandates that digital wallets should undergo KYC (Know-Your-Customer) and KYM (Know-Your-Merchant), meaning that there should be a user or merchant information included with wallet creation. This is mainly to counteract criminal acts and enforce the AMLA (Anti Money Laundering Act).

Everyone starts as a Basic User

Since so many hinges on having KYC information, GCash has mandated verification, and enforced feature locking depending on the amount of information each user shares. As we see from the screenshot below, we all start out as a Basic User.

Then as we go into Fully Verified, we unlock all features and higher account limits. Take note that transaction limits reset monthly. As of the latest update, we cannot go for semi-verification anymore.

If you want a higher overall limit, you can link a bank account to your GCash account. If you receive your compensations/salaries via GCash, your limit will also be higher.

Expanded Feature List per Level of Verification

BasicSemi-VerifiedFully Verified
Offline Cash-inAll Basic FeaturesAll Basic and Semi-Verified Features
Pay BillsSend MoneyTransact using GCash Mastercard
Buy LoadRequest MoneyATM Withdrawals
AMEX Virtual PayCash OutSend to Bank (Instapay)
Pay QRLink GCash MastercardOnline Bank Cash-in
Purchase GCash MastercardGSaveGCredit
Online PaymentsGInvest
Book MoviesInternational Remittance
GCash ForestPaypal Cash-in
GlobeOne LinkingPayoneer Cash-in

Unlocking Higher Cash-in Limits

You can unlock higher limits by linking your BPI/UnionBank bank integrations, or by linking a debit card (currently suspended). Once you do so, you will be able to unlock:

  • A bigger wallet limit – Php 500,000 maximum
  • Higher incoming limits – you will be able to receive up to Php 500,000 into your wallet and daily cash-ins have no limitations
  • Higher outgoing limits – withdrawals will have no limitations per month, and you can withdraw up to Php 100,00 per day

You will be receiving an SMS informing you of the increased limits.

Take note that once you’ve unlinked your BPI/UnionBank or debit card, the limits will revert back to what it was before.

How do I get verified?

As you can see in the above images, there are only two levels of verification – Basic User and Fully Verified. You cannot become a semi-verified user anymore.

It used to be tedious to have yourself verified as the process was very manual. But not anymore. Everything is automatic. You first need to click “Verify Now” from the left side menu.

Since a recent update, you just need to take a selfie in the app itself, take a picture of a valid ID, and input some more information (the app auto-populates some of the fields from the ID you took a photo of, so it takes a lot of the hassle off). You only need 1 valid ID.

The process is automated and you will get validation after at least 30 minutes to at most a day.

What are the valid IDs accepted for verification?

Here are the listed valid IDs:

  • UMID
  • Driver’s License
  • Philhealth Card
  • SSS ID
  • Passport
  • Voter’s ID

What do I do if I don’t have an accepted ID?

You’ll need to undergo manual verification via a support ticket. You can either call 2882 or file a ticket in the help support site.

What do I do if my SIM Card got lost?

You should report your account first to GCash to lock it down and secure it. Then you need to replace the SIM card with the provider. This is easier if your SIM card type is postpaid. Once you have your replacement SIM card, you can then contact support and unlock your account.

If your SIM card is prepaid and cannot be replaced, then it would be better to buy a new one instead. You would need to create a new GCash account with that number and verify yourself. You can then contact support and transfer your balance to your new account.


Cashing in: How do I put money into my account?

Now that we have installed and verified our GCash account (GCash has even given us Php 1.00 for our troubles), let’s now dive into our cash-in options to put money into our account. There are three main methods: Over-the-counter, Online Banking and Remittance.

1. Cashing-in Over-the-Counter

1.1 Are there cash-in fees?

As of May 2020, GCash cash-in for partner outlets is free for the first Php 8000 per month. When the amount goes over the limit, it will incur a 2% fee. This limit refreshes every first day of the month.

For example, this month:
Today, you cashed in Php 7000. There is no fee since it is still below the Php 8000 limit.

The next day, you cashed in Php 2500. Since you went over the limit, there is a fee included with the cash-in but only for the amount over the limit.

The cash-in that is covered by the fee is:
Php 2500 - Php 1000 = Php 1500

The fee is 2% of the amount. 
Php 1500 * 0.02 = Php 30

So the total cash-in with the fee will be:
Php 2500 - Php 30 = Php 2470

Any other cash-ins for this month will have a 2% fee after this.

Once you are near the limit, you will be receiving an SMS and a notification in the app informing you of the charge once you go past the limit.

Please take note that this is for only manual cash-ins — remittances, online cash-in and bank cash-ins are not included.

1.2 How do I Cash-in Via Machine?

If you need a quick infusion of cash, the fastest way is using machine cash-in (from TouchPay, and Pay and Go/eTap machines), if there is one nearby. Sometimes, you may see cash-in machines in different convenience stores, gas stations, or malls. These are easy to use, you just need to insert your cash, enter your GCash number and you will be able to receive the amount in your GCash wallet.

1.3 How do I Cash-in Via Payment Center?

You can also go through the manual/over-the-counter route, meaning cashing in a payment center. You will need to go to one of the listed stores below, fill out a form, and show a valid ID before they can process the cash-in request.

1.4 How do I Cash-in Via 7-11?

You can also cash-in via 7-11 via the Cliqq kiosk. You need to enter the amount to be cashed-in get the printed slip and pay at the counter. 

7-11 option
1.5 How Do I Cash-in via Generic Barcode?

The second easiest cash-in option is via the use of Generic Barcode. Previously, this was a manual process, you needed to go to the customer service section and accomplish some forms.

Now, you can cash-in from the cashier and it’s really quick – just enter the amount, generate the barcode, and have it scanned at the cashier with the payment.

Here are some partners that use Generate Barcode for cashing in:

  • Puregold
  • Savemore
  • SM Hypermarket
  • SM Supermarket
  • Tambunting Pawnshop
  • SM
  • Bayad Center
  • ExpressPay
  • True Money
  • LBC Express
Take note of the “Valid Until” date.

2. Cash-in via Online Banking

If you’re like me and lazy not to get off my seat to line up and cash-in using the above options, I can use the online banking route instead. This option is for those with banking accounts and has their respective online banking enabled.

Online Banking cash-in options
2.1 How do I cash-in via Debit Card?

Our best option is by enrolling a Mastercard/Visa debit card. I think this is the most viable option since there are no service fees and ATM cards are already debit cards as well, including payroll cards.

For the actual cashing-in itself, you just need to input the amount, and select from which debit card to draw from.

Is there a fee using our debit card to cash-in?

Yes, starting July 6, any cash-in using your debit card will be incurring a 2.58% fee. This will be on top of the amount you’re cashing in. This is due to the payment partner not being subsidized anymore as the amount of GCash users has reached the tipping point.

For example, if you are cashing in Php 1,000, the total amount that will be withdrawn is Php 1,025.80. The extra Php 25.80 will be the convenience fee for that particular transaction.

Some free cash-in alternatives you can do is:

  • Cash in using the direct bank transfer method (via BPI or UnionBank linked accounts).
  • Over-the-counter cash-in, until the first Php 8,000. You can use another account to have another Php 8,000 limit. The maximum number of accounts a user can have is currently five.
  • Cash-in using Paymaya (currently it’s still free), then do a bank transfer to your GCash account.
  • Since we’re still in quarantine, some bank transfers via Instapay in bank apps are still free.
  • Cash in your CIMB app once you’ve linked it to your GSave, and withdraw from within the GCash app.
2.2 How do I Cash-in via my preferred bank?

Another option is via linking your GCash app to its integrated banks, namely BPI or UnionBank. A prerequisite is you should have an account with these banks. For BPI and UnionBank, you need to initially register your account with GCash so that cashing-in would be trouble-free next time.

preferred bank options
2.3 How do I Cash-in via other banks?

Lastly for online banking, each bank in the list also has an equivalent bank app. We can also opt for using these bank apps to transfer to GCash via Instapay, using G-XChange as the receiving bank. Take note though, that typically doing so includes fees. Moreover, sometimes their send money to other bank feature doesn’t even work.

other bank options

Here are the transaction fees for the different banks if you initiate Instapay transfer to GCash (G-XChange) using their individual apps:

Here are the fees for most banks before the quarantine. Now, since we are currently at quarantine, most of these are FREE.

  • AUB: Php 10**
  • BDO: Php 50*
  • Landbank: Php 25**
  • Maybank: Php 40**
  • Metrobank: Php 25*
  • PBCom: Php 1
  • PNB: Php 10***
  • PSBank: Php 10*
  • RCBC: Php 15*
  • Paymaya: Php 10*
  • Coins.ph: Php 10***

*Free until end of September
**Free until end of the year

***Free until further notice

You can also refer to the BSP Instapay fees list if your preferred bank is not here.

Note: During the current COVID-19 quarantine period, many of these banks have waived their transaction fees.

3. Cash-in via Remittance

You wouldn’t need to go out and line up in Western Union or in Moneygram outlets to cash in. You just need the reference number and the cash goes straight to your wallet.

For Paypal, you need to link your account first, but once done, the cash can be debited directly to your wallet.


Cashing Out: How do I get my money out?

Cashing out has two main options – one is via the GCash Mastercard, and another is via Partner Outlet, over-the-counter. But there’s also another method, by using the Bank Transfers feature in the app.

The cash-out button

1. Cashing out via GCash Mastercard

The GCash Mastercard is actually a debit card. So it can be used for withdrawal in all ATMs nationwide because it is, after all, a Mastercard. There is a fee of 20 pesos locally per withdrawal. For international ATMs, there is a fee of 150 pesos. 

What I like about using it internationally is you can get the local currency immediately (at a competitive forex rate), as it converts the pesos you have in your GCash account to that currency.

You can also use the card for debit card purchases, in stores and online shops as well.

1.1 How do I get a GCash Mastercard?

The easiest way to get one is via 7-11 or via Robinson’s Business Center as they sell these over the counter. The second easiest way is by ordering it in-app. The card costs 150 and you need to buy it via Pay Bills > Payment Solution > GCash Mastercard.

You then need to take note of the reference number as it’s needed in the delivery form here or you can also click on the “Order Online” button under the ATM Withdrawal section. The expected delivery time is around 5-7 working days. For more details, you can check out my GCash Mastercard how-to post.

2. Cashing out via Partner Outlet

When cashing out using this option, you will need to go to the supported cash-out outlets below, fill out a form and show a valid ID. There may be some fees when cashing out with some partners. Once they have processed the cash-out, you will receive an SMS confirmation as well as the cash in the app.

The downside is the process is very much manual. Another possible headache is if the outlet has unexpected issues with GCash and cannot process your request.

Cash-out partner options

3. Cashing out via Bank Transfers

This option is not officially cash-out since we are technically sending money, but I can consider this as cash-out since we can still get the whole amount via this method. 

GCash has implemented Instapay transfers, which makes it easy to transfer to any bank under Bancnet. You can transfer the amount to your bank, and withdraw it via the bank’s ATM. You can also circumvent the convenience fee from using the GCash Mastercard.

The Bank Transfer button

This is really convenient because there is no service fee for this. You would not need to go to different banks to withdraw and deposit. You can also cash-in using your debit card, then transfer to another bank without fees all within the app. Here’s a tip – you can even transfer to Paymaya if you need to.


How do I buy load?

Buy Load is one of the first use cases of GCash and shows its roots as part of Globe Telecom. But what’s different is that you can not only buy a load or a data package for your phone but also some other prepaid subscriptions not related to your phone – like game credits, broadband wifi, Cignal and Sky TV subscriptions and even health insurance (Maxicare).  

The Buy Load button

When you buy phone load, you also get a 5% rebate for every load you buy, for a maximum rebate of 50 pesos per month.


How do I pay bills?

I’m actually grateful for this feature since I don’t need to go to any bank or payment center to pay for any bill I have. I can just do it all in the app. The list of billers is quite long and covers all utilities. It handily beats any banking or digital wallet app with the number of billers they have.

The Pay Bills button

Additionally, you can see government billers like NBI and SSS, schools, and airlines (PAL, CebuPac, AirAsia) on their list. Not to mention there’s also a section called GCash for Good that includes NGOs and other donations.

Personally, I pay my electric, water bills, phone bills, ISP, landline, credit card, and rent through the app. A minor annoyance is some of the billers have convenience fees included, but if I think about, the convenience is worth every peso, since you don’t need to get out of the house anyway.


How do I send money to another user?

One of the fundamental features of GCash is sending money since we all need to pay people and share what we have as well. Fortunately, for GCash, we have four different options – Express Send, Send with a Clip, Send Ang Pao, and Bank Transfers.

The Send Money button

A reminder though, before sending money we should be sure about the recipient’s subscribed number since we can mistakenly send it to another person by mistake. If you made that kind of mistake, GCash Support can only help you if:

  • the receiver is not a GCash user
  • one digit of the subscriber number is wrong and the receiver has not used or withdrawn the money

GCash Support will also ask for a lot of details regarding the transaction, so best be careful. For Bank Transfers, it’s even more difficult to dispute as it is considered a deposit. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

1. Express Send

This is the bread and butter of GCash. You can send an amount to another GCash user, with the optional message. This message will be included in the SMS notification of the recipient.

2. Send with a Clip

Send with a Clip (formerly SnapMoney) is a fancier version of send money, as we can include themes, photos, 10-second videos, or a 60-second recording with our amount. This is mainly used for special occasions or if we just want to create a different experience with our cash gifts.

3. Send Ang Pao

The red packet is said to be the Chinese cash gift for special occasions – a token of luck, life and happiness. However, the main practical feature we have for this is the option for multiple recipients of Send Money.

If you need to give multiple people the same amount of money, then this is useful. Sometimes you may also want to randomize the amount of your cash gifts between multiple people. This also works wonderfully for this purpose.

4. Bank Transfers

Bank Transfers earn another mention in here since you can also deposit to 30 Bancnet partner bank accounts (even Paymaya and Coins.ph) without fees, until Nov 1, 2020. After Nov 1, GCash will be charging Php 15 per transfer.

However, if you are a new GCash user, you can only transfer up to Php 20000 per day, but as you use Bank Transfer the limit goes up gradually until a limit of Php 50000 per day is reached.


How do I pay merchants via QR Code?

A digital wallet won’t have much use if you can’t pay with the cash you have. Payments are the most recognizable since every GCash merchant usually also has a QR code. GCash utilizes these payment codes in two ways – from the point of view of the user, and from the merchant. We can also pay via GCredit, if the feature is available, and also add vouchers if they are available.

1. Scan to pay via Merchant Presented QR Code (Scan QR Code)

Scan QR Code is the most common payment method available to merchants. The procedure is simple – the GCash user scans the QR code standee. He then enters the amount and confirms payment. As proof of payment, both the GCash user and the merchant receives an SMS.

The downside of this however, is the slow pace, because the user still needs to input the amount, which adds time and is prone to error. Also, the merchant needs to wait for the SMS notification to arrive to be able to confirm the payment. There are times when the SMS doesn’t come in time, which definitely adds to the time in queue.

There is also a new type of Scan QR Code, which is the dynamically generated one. Currently SM Department Stores and Supermarkets have this. The merchant has a screen that shows the QR code, and the GCash user simply scans that and confirms payment in the app to proceed.

2. Scan to pay via Customer Presented QR Code (Generate Code)

In contrast to Scan QR Code, Generate Code is definitely a speed upgrade. The GCash user first generates a QR Code and then the cashier scans it. The GCash user is deducted and receives an SMS. Since the merchant is integrated with GCash, there is no need to wait for SMS notification to confirm payment.

Because of this, the merchant receives a response almost instantly – letting him know if the transaction was a success or not. This is faster since the amount is already inputted by the cashier itself and there is no manual step for the GCash user to do. Also, any applicable voucher is automatically included in the purchase.

The downside is the GCash user should know how much his wallet contains before initiating the payment. Sometimes the amount to pay can exceed his wallet and he would get the “balance not enough” error.  

For this particular method, some merchants have adopted this – notably BEEP, Puregold, Bonchon and Starbucks.


Other features

There are definitely other useful features in the GCash app, like:

  • GScore – a credit scoring system based on GCash usage behavior
  • GCredit – credit that a GCash user can use based on his GScore
  • GCash Forest – a rewards system that enables you to collect points that allow you to plant an actual tree
  • Book Movies – connects you with GMovies within the app and allows you to reserve movie seats
  • GSave – a tie-up with CIMB that allows you to create a savings account
  • GInvest – a service that allows you to invest your money in mutual funds

Summary

I discussed what GCash was and how it can make our everyday tasks easier. I walked you through the app installation, user verification, and some other need-to-knows.

Then I walked through the most common features of GCash – Cash-in, Cash out, Buy Load, Pay Bills, Send Money, and QR Payments as a primer on how to get started with cashless wallets.

You can download GCash here (for Android) and here (for IOS).

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter (and get my GCash cheatsheet for free), please leave your email in our contact form. I would also appreciate it if you would like my facebook page here.

Here are a couple of links if you’re interested with in-depth discussions about other GCash features:

How was this post? Was there anything I missed? Please do add your comments and suggestions below.

6 thoughts on “What is GCash? An Absolute Beginner’s Guide”

  1. Everytime i use GCash Amex as a payment method. this error pop up:

    There appears to be a problem with the card you are trying to use. Please use a different card or check with your bank to make sure your card is enabled for international transactions

    Reply
  2. Unable to process my transaction to pay maritime industry authority because when I put my contact number then when I press confirmation it says ‘contact number is invalid’

    Reply

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