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What is a Visa prepaid card? It works like a credit card - but, unlike it, you can only use money you’ve already put onto the card. So there’s no risk of getting into debt through using it.
Because it’s a Visa card, it can be used very widely indeed: as widely as a Visa credit card, in fact. This article will go through the several Visa prepaid articles available in Canada - and you’ll also learn about the Wise card and how it can help you save money if you need to spend in different currencies.
There are two types of prepaid card: reloadable and non-reloadable. Reloadable ones can be topped up with funds again and again, but non-reloadable ones are single-use. This article will mostly look at reloadable Visa prepaid cards, but it discusses non-reloadable ones at the end.
Many of these cards come with apps and online features that make them easy to use virtually too.
Visa isn’t the only provider of prepaid cards in Canada. Mastercard does plenty as well, and so does American Express.
As you’ll discover from this article, there’s a wide range of different features among prepaid cards – from disposable gifts to full-on credit card substitutes – so do be sure to check out all the available options.
|Visa prepaid card||Fee||Maximum balance||Cash back||Daily spending limit||Notes|
|CIBC Smart Prepaid ²||$0||$10,000||n/a||$3,000||There’s also a travel version|
|Koho ³||$0 or $84 annually for Premium||$40,0004||0.5%; 2% on transportation, groceries, restaurants with Premium||$4,0004||Credit building for $7/month5|
|Mogo ⁶||$0||$10,0007||n/a||$5,0007||Plants a tree with every card use|
|We Financial ⁸||$4.95 monthly||$20,000 (or exceptionally $100,000)9||n/a||$10,000 (or exceptionally $20,000)9||Particularly aimed at Northern Canada10|
|CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion ⁹||$0||$20,000 (or foreign currency equivalent)10||1% (limited-time)||$29,999.99 (or foreign currency equivalent)10||Up to 10 currencies available|
|CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel ¹¹||$0||USD 7,000||n/a||USD2,100||Up to 4 foreign currencies available|
CIBC offers several different prepaid Visa cards, but if you’re not planning to use it for foreign travel the primary option is the Smart Prepaid.
It’s available at CIBC banking centres as well as online, and you can reload it online too, which makes it convenient to use.²
Koho, a fintech company, offers several prepaid Visa cards which are designed to be used in a similar way to a credit card. Unlike some simpler cards, you can claim cash back with purchases on your Koho card – 0.5% for regular account holders, or 2% on some purchases if you go Premium.
As well as the prepaid card itself, Koho helps you track your spending too, plus a few extra features. Unlike with prepaid cards that have to be topped up from your bank account, you can set it up so your paycheque goes directly into your Koho account ³.
Additionally, you can pay $7 a month for Koho’s credit building service. Koho reports monthly fee to a credit bureau to help you build up a more positive rating ⁵. So if you’re struggling with credit rating problems and can’t get a credit card, this could be a step in the right direction.
Mogo offers a range of products including loans and credit scores, but its MogoCard – otherwise known as the Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card – could be a useful alternative to a credit card.
It markets itself as an eco-friendly card: they plant a tree each time you use it. And Mogo additionally claims that its users save money each month by controlling their spending more tightly ⁶.
The We Financial prepaid Visa card was designed to promote financial inclusion to those in the far North of Canada. Run by the company North West, it’s specifically meant for people living there who may have struggled to access other payment solutions⁸.
Users can receive payroll deposits and benefit payments onto the card, so it can potentially be seriously useful⁸. Unlike with some other options, there is a monthly fee of $4.95⁸.
The AC Conversion card from CIBC is in a different category of prepaid Visas: it’s a travel card.
You can load up to 10 currencies onto it:
- Canadian dollars
- US dollars
- Mexican pesos
- British pounds
- Swiss francs
- Turkish lira
- Japanese yen
- Hong Kong dollars
- Australian dollars
Money is converted between currencies at an exchange rate set by CIBC ¹⁰. There’s no extra conversion fee, which compares well to some multi-currency cards ⁹, although do check the exchange rate against the mid-market rate to confirm if you’re getting a good deal.
For a limited time, you can also get 1% cash back on all purchases ⁹.
There’s another prepaid travel Visa from CIBC, called the Smart Prepaid Travel Visa.
This one only has four currencies on offer:
- US dollars
- Mexican pesos
- British pounds
That’s right – no CAD – so you can only use it abroad ¹¹. But if you’re planning on spending in the US, Mexico, the Eurozone, or the UK, it could still be worth a look.
All of the cards above are reloadable: you can top them up with extra credit as you go.
That’s not the only type of prepaid Visa card out there. Non-reloadable ones are very common, in fact – also known as Visa Gift cards ¹².
Visa Gift cards are available from several providers and can be bought in stores. They’re charged with a set amount of money – $50, for instance – and they can be spent anywhere you can use a standard Visa card. But once they’re spent, they’re spent. That’s why they make a convenient gift, but not a longer-term option.
Need to spend in different currencies? Meet Wise.
Whether you’re travelling internationally, buying online overseas or taking your business global, you should know that in Canada you can have a Wise card, 4x cheaper than banks for spending abroad.. It’s not a common prepaid card - but you can set up your account and order it in a few minutes.
You won’t have the high foreign transaction fees - your money gets converted with the real mid-market rate, no matter if you spend in-person or online in over 200 countries.
The only cost you’ll have is a very low and transparent conversion fee, in case you need to convert your Canadian dollars. Unlike other accounts, there are no monthly or annual charges, nor any minimum balance requirements.
The Wise card is part of the Wise account, which means that you can add, hold, and convert over 40 currencies instantly. You can get your own bank details for 10 different currencies (including CAD, USD, GBP, EUR, and more) to receive money from those places.
Prepaid Visa cards can be almost anything: they can be a convenient Christmas gift, or they can be a vital tool to help you out if you can’t get a credit card. And travel prepaid cards are their own whole category, making it easier to spend money around the world, almost like modern-day versions of travellers’ cheques.
And don’t forget that Visa isn’t the only option either: Mastercard and Amex are worth considering too.
All in all, whatever you need your prepaid Visa for, you’re bound to find the right card there somewhere: good luck in the search.
- Visa Reloadable Prepaid Card
- CIBC Prepaid Cards
- Koho Accounts, Koho Features
- Koho Regular Account Velocity Limits
- Koho Credit Building
- Mogo Prepaid Visa Card
- Mogo: How much money can I add to my MogoCard?
- Visa: The North West Company…
- CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card
- CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card Terms and conditions
- CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel Visa Card
- Visa Gift cards
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