You might want to go fishing if you ever visit British Columbia. We shall take a look at the important things to do and the places to go to, in this article.
Cash Passport is essentially what it sounds like: a way that your cash can travel around the world. In other words, it’s a prepaid Mastercard that you can use abroad.¹ But is the Cash Passport the best way to put your Canadian dollars to use when you’re travelling? A majority of credit and prepaid cards can be used internationally: competition is stiff.
In this review, you’ll find out how the Cash Passport works, and what it offers. You’ll also learn about Wise, and how its card can help you when you’re abroad.
Available at Canada Post locations around the country,² the Cash Passport is a prepaid card on the Mastercard network.
That means you can use it in much the same way as a standard credit card or debit card. But unlike with a credit card, you don’t borrow money. Instead, you have to preload the card in advance. So you don’t get into debt through using a prepaid card.
But the particular thing about the Cash Passport prepaid card is that it’s designed for use when you’re travelling. The idea is that it’ll help you keep costs down when you’re spending money abroad.
The Cash Passport supports 7 currencies:¹
- Canadian dollars
- US dollars
- Mexican pesos
- British pounds
- Japanese yen
- Australian dollars
Once you’ve got hold of your Cash Passport card, the key thing is to keep it loaded with money – because it’s a prepaid card, you can’t use it if you don’t do this.
You can load your card online: the website is topmeup.ca/cashpassport. Or you can go back to a Canada Post location, assuming you’re not already abroad.¹
Once money is in your account, you can move it between those 7 currencies as you wish, so you can spend in local currencies while you’re travelling. But keep an eye on the fees you’ll have to pay – more on that later.
The Cash Passport is a Mastercard, and its website states that it’s issued by Travelex Card Services Limited.¹
Canada Post, where you can buy the card, are also involved – its own website refers to the card as the Canada Post Cash Passport Prepaid Mastercard.⁴
The whole point about the Cash Passport is that it should make spending abroad easier… and cheaper. But you do need to take care about the fees you’ll have to pay.
Here’s a summary of the most important ones you should know about.³
|Fee||Cash Passport fee amount|
|Buying the card||$15|
|Reloading the card||$3|
|Using it in Canada||1.5%|
|Using it abroad||0%|
|Withdrawing from an ATM or from a bank||CAD 3 / USD 2.50 / MXN 32 / EUR 1.90 / GBP 1.70 / JPY 275 / AUD 3 (ATM operators may charge an additional fee)|
|Foreign exchange fee||3.25%|
|Currency transfer fee||Foreign exchange rate (changeable)|
|Shortfall fee – if your balance goes below zero||$18|
|Inactivity fee (with money in your account, unused after 12 months)||$2.80|
|Cash out fee (claiming back all your money)||$20|
What do those fees actually mean? Here are a few words of explanation.
When it comes to a multi-currency card like this one, the fee that should command your attention is how much it will actually cost to transfer your money between currencies.
There’s good news and bad news here. Good first: there’s no additional fee to switch money within your account between those 7 currencies.
But less good is the fact that the foreign exchange rate you’ll get when you do this “varies by Distributor,” according to the Terms & Conditions.³ It’s usually worth checking what the rate will be before you make a conversion: compare that rate to the mid-market rate to check if you’re getting a decent deal.
But hold on – what about that 3.25% foreign exchange fee in the table? This kicks in if you don’t have enough money in the correct local currency on your card.³ It appears that this could happen in two different circumstances:
Firstly if you’re paying in a currency that isn’t among the 7 supported by the card, say, New Zealand dollars. Then, you’ll automatically have to pay that 3.25%.
Secondly, the foreign exchange fee will kick in if you are paying in one of the 7 supported currencies, but the money in your account is in the wrong currency. For instance, you’re in the USA, but you only have CAD on the card. You’ll have to pay the 3.25% extra in that case too.³
A standard foreign exchange fee – the kind of fee you’d pay simply using a standard credit card abroad – is 2.5%. So be careful: if you get your currencies mixed up with the Cash Passport card, there’s a chance you could end up paying more on international transactions than you would with whatever card you use back in Canada.
|With Wise, you save on foreign transaction fees. You only pay a low and transparent conversion cost when you spend in different currencies, because the money is converted with the mid-market rate. There’s nothing else you need to pay to maintain your card or your account.|
There are several other fees with the Cash Passport card that you need to consider.
The first is the $15 to buy the card in the first place. Many prepaid cards do not cost an upfront fee at all.
The second is the $3 reload fee – because of this, you’ll need to limit your top-ups carefully.
Thirdly, there’s a 1.5% surcharge if you use this card at home in Canada. So to get full value out of it, it’s better to save it exclusively for foreign use.
Finally, do glance through the shortfall, inactivity, and cash out fees in the table above. These could make it difficult for you to tie up your affairs at the end of a trip without paying further fees.
Wise card: save your money when you spend in different currencies
If you’re planning to spend in different currencies, meet Wise. The Wise card is 4x cheaper than banks for spending abroad..
You won’t have any hidden 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 cards, there are no monthly or annual charges, nor any minimum balance requirements.
Prepaid cards tend to have limits in place, as well: you can only have a certain amount of money on the card at one time, and only load or withdraw up to certain amounts. Here are the key details about limits for the Cash Passport card.³
|Limit||Cash Passport amount|
|Withdrawal per 24 hours: at a bank / from an ATM||$240 / $960|
|Spend per 24 hours||$4,000|
|Load / reload per 24 hours||$8.500|
|Load per 12 months (across all Cash Passport cards)||$30,000|
|Balance on card||$8,500|
The Cash Passport Mastercard, bearing the logo of Canada Post, initially seems like a very convenient alternative to getting travellers’ cheques or physical cash in a foreign currency. And, indeed, it may be just that.
However, things have moved on a lot in recent years. You don’t necessarily need to do any of these things before travelling abroad, as standard credit and debit cards can often be used internationally without incurring too many additional fees. Foreign exchange fees of around 2.5% are still standard, although there are several no foreign exchange fee credit cards in Canada that could save you having to pay that - Wise is a great option, if your main goal is to have a debit card that allows you to spend in different currencies with a very low conversion cost.
So a fundamental question to ask yourself is if you need a special travel-friendly card at all: do check what you’d pay if you simply used the card you use at home in Canada. There are also plenty of travel credit cards in Canada that can get you all sorts of rewards for when you’re travelling.
Where does the Cash Passport fit in among all these options? Well, it could count as a no foreign exchange fee card, but this is only the case if you’ve made sure you have funds on the card in the correct currency. If you make a mistake here, you’ll end up paying 3.25%, which is notably more than foreign transactions usually cost.
And, as noted above, the card costs $15 to get in the first place, and $3 to reload. So it could be a while until you’re making a profit through using it.
Prepaid cards in Canada include travel-friendly options like the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa and the Stack Prepaid Mastercard, which is currently offering no FX fees. It could be worth comparing their fee schedules to the Cash Passport’s. The Koho Premium Visa doesn’t charge FX fees either, although it costs $84 a year or $9 monthly.
If a travel credit card might appeal, there are many options including the no-annual-fee MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus and the charged-monthly American Express Cobalt, both of which can go a long way during trips abroad. More premium options including the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite and the HSBC World Elite offer no foreign transaction fees.
And as already mentioned, there are other no FX fee credit cards around as well, including the Brim Mastercard and the Home Trust Preferred Visa, both of which have no annual fee.
If you’re looking for a low-cost and convenient option when it comes to spending in different currencies, try the Wise card and track everything from your app. Start saving today!
- Cash Passport Mastercard Canada
- Cash Passport: Your easy guide accessed via Cash Passport: Important Information
- Cash Passport: Terms & Conditions accessed via Cash Passport: Important Information
- Canada Post: Getting to know Cash Passport
- Cash Passport: Buying your card
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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