Deciding on the best prepaid credit cards in Canada is pretty subjective. Some people are looking for a prepaid credit card because they want to increase their credit score while others prefer a hybrid card that allows you to preload funds and get rewards while using a credit card network.
Prepaid credit cards don’t give you nearly as many rewards as some of the best travel credit cards in Canada, but you don’t need to worry about having a high income or interest charges since you can only spend what you have. Here are my top picks for the best prepaid credit cards in Canada and what makes them special.
The best prepaid credit cards in Canada
|Wealthsimple Cash||Foreign transactions|
|CIBC AC Conversion Card||Multiple currencies|
|Refresh Financial||Building credit|
Although KOHO uses the Visa network, they aren’t technically a credit card. You can still use your card to pay wherever Visa is accepted, but your history doesn’t get reported to the credit bureaus which means it won’t have any effect on your credit score.
So why do people use KOHO? Well, first off, you’ll get $20 for free you use my KOHO referral code CASHMONEY, but most people like KOHO because it helps them keep their spending under control. Obviously, you can only spend what you have preloaded onto your card, but the activity breakdown will help you analyze your spending so you can make adjustments as needed. Best of all, you’ll earn 0.5% cash-back on all your purchases. Read my KOHO review now for more details.
I should also mention that there’s also KOHO Premium which is available to all KOHO users for $9 per month or $84 per year. Some people may think it’s weird to pay a monthly fee for a prepaid credit card, but you get extra benefits with the service including extra cash back, no foreign transaction fees, financial coaching, price matching and more.
Wealthsimple Cash Card
- No annual fee
- $10 free when you sign up
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases
- No foreign transaction fees on ATM Withdrawals
- CDIC insurance protection
It may seem odd that I have two credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees on my list of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada, but they’re similar so they both deserve a mention. That said, I prefer the Wealthsimple Cash Card since it has no gimmicks. With this card, there are no foreign transaction fees on purchases or ATM withdrawals. The only fee you pay is what the ATM operator charges per use, which is usually around $3. Since this is a prepaid Visa card, you do need to preload funds before you use it. That said, it’s arguably one of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
There’s no monthly or annual fee to get this card, so there’s no harm in getting it. In addition, you get 1% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, you’ll get $10 for free when you use my referral link or referral code EYITMP.
- No annual fee
- $5 for free when using a referral link
- Foreign transaction fees reimbursed when spending at least CAD $350 a month
- No foreign ATM fees
- 20% cash back on select hotels with STACK Travel
- Discounts on a variety of merchants
Not only stack one of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada, but it’s also one of the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees. That’s right, with STACK, you don’t pay any exchange fees when you withdraw money from a foreign ATM. The local ATM might charge you a processing fee, but stack won’t. There is a catch. As of Feb. 1, 2022, you’ll be charged the 2.5% foreign exchange fee. However, if you spend CAD $350 each month, you’ll get those fees reimbursed.
What makes STACK unique is that they don’t focus on cash-back rewards. Instead, you get special offers such as $15 off your first order with Foodora, up to $3 off at McDonald’s, 15% off TurboTax.ca and more. Quite often these offers are worth 20% more in cash-back so they can be quite lucrative.
CIBC AC Conversion Card
The CIBC AC Conversion Card is a unique prepaid credit card in Canada that was designed with travellers in mind. You can load up to 10 different currencies on the card which makes it rather convenient if you’re travelling to multiple destinations. What’s interesting about the CIBC AC Conversion Card is that the exchange rates you get from the site are better than what’s offered in a CIBC branch. The reason for this is that the card doesn’t need to worry about paying staff or operating a store-front, they’re focused on just giving you the lowest rates available.
When you sign up with my exclusive referral link, you’ll get $20 for free. In addition, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases. There is one drawback with the card. You’re only allowed one free international ATM transaction per month. When most people travel, they use a combination of cash and credit cards, so it would have been nice if this card offered a few more free ATM withdrawals.
- $12.95 annual fee
- $3 monthly maintenance fee
- Approval without credit check
- Build your credit score
Refresh Financial has become popular over the years as it’s a secured credit card that gives you approval without a credit check. Although this sounds appealing to some people since it won’t lower their already low credit score, none of the prepaid credit cards on this list do a credit check when applying. That said, to be approved, all you really need is to meet the $200 minimum security deposit and be the age of majority in the province or territory where you reside. I should also note that although Refresh Financial has a referral program where you can earn $100, that only applies if the person you’re applying for is getting a cash secured loan.
What is a prepaid credit card?
As the name implies, the best prepaid credit cards in Canada require you to prepay. What that actually means is that you would load your credit card with funds and then you can make purchases with it using the credit card network e.g. Visa, Mastercard and American Express. When you think about it, they basically function like a debit card but with the benefits of a credit card.
What do I mean by benefits? Well, depending on which of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada you get, you may earn rewards on all your purchases. For example, KOHO gives you 0.5% cash back on all your purchases whereas you would earn nothing with a debit card. Some prepaid cards such as the Home Trust Secured Annual Fee Visa Card even report to the credit bureaus so it could be a good choice if you’re looking to improve your credit score.
Prepaid credit cards come in three different forms: Store-bought cards, bank-issued cards, and fintech companies. Not to be confused with gift cards, store-bought prepaid credit cards are basically those credit cards you see on a rack with a pre-determined amount loaded on them. Once you pay for the card, it’ll be activated and you can use it for purchases. Bank-issued prepaid credit cards are simply a prepaid credit card issued by a major bank. Finally, there are fintech companies such as KOHO and Stack who have come up with their own type of prepaid credit cards that offer rewards.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of prepaid credit cards in Canada to choose from so I’m featuring four of the most popular ones to help you decide which card is best for you.
Why use one of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada?
If the best prepaid credit cards in Canada don’t offer nearly as many benefits as traditional credit cards, why would anyone use them? As mentioned, some people may not have a choice because they may have a low credit score. If you’re in this situation, getting a prepaid credit card may be the only way for you to build your credit or to make a purchase on one of the credit networks. If you don’t know what your credit score is, you can check your credit score for free with Borrowell.
The other reason some people prefer prepaid credit cards is that it keeps your spending in check. Since you can only spend what you have loaded, you’ll never go into debt and you’ll never pay interest charges. This is an excellent way of managing your expenses as many people will spend less when they know they only have a fixed amount left. With normal credit cards, you have a pretty high limit so it’s easy for you to spend more than what you can reasonably afford.
Do prepaid credit cards build your credit score?
Prepaid credit cards can build your credit score, but it depends on the card. For example, the Refresh Financial Card is a secured credit card. With this type of card, you deposit security funds. These funds act as your limit, but you can’t use them to pay off your bills. As you make regular payments, Refresh Financial will report your credit history to the credit bureaus. If you’ve been making regular payments, then your credit score will go up over time. KOHO also has a subscription service where you pay a monthly fee and your credit history gets reported to the credit bureaus.
Traditional credit cards such as STACK, and CIBC AC Conversion card do not report to credit bureaus since you can only spend money that you’ve already loaded to the card.
Are prepaid credit cards worth it?
It depends on your needs. Prepaid credit cards have become incredibly handy in recent times. They have apps that track your spending and you can get benefits such as cash back and no foreign transaction fees. If you’re worried about your spending, prepaid credit cards can be a good fit since you can only spend the funds that you’ve deposited.
Traditional credit cards give you more and better benefits, but prepaid credit cards still have a place in many wallets.