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
|Card||Type of card||Rewards||Annual Fee|
|Home Trust Secured Annual Fee Visa Card||Visa||Yes||$59|
|CIBC AC Conversion Card||Visa||No||$0|
|Refresh Financial||Visa||No||$12.95 + $3 monthly|
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 it. 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.
Now that you know how prepaid credit cards work and why you would want one, here’s a list of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada.
- No annual fee
- Bonus 1% cash back for 90 days when using my referral code CASHMONEY
- 0.5% cash-back on all purchases
- Automated savings goals
- Real-time spending insights
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 an extra 1% cash back for a total of 1.5% cash back for the first 90 days when 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.
Home Trust Secured Annual Fee Visa Card
- $59 annual fee
- Make purchases wherever Visa is accepted
- 14.90% interest rate
As you can see, the Home Trust Secured Annual Fee Visa Card has an annual fee and no benefits, but it’s still one of the best prepaid credit cards since your payment history gets reported to the credit bureaus. This is an ideal card for people who are looking to improve their credit score or currently don’t qualify for a traditional credit card.
Since this is a secured credit card, you have to put down security funds. Your credit limit will typically increase as you put down additional money. Think of those funds as a deposit which can’t be used to pay your balance. This may seem odd, but it’s a way to show Home Trust and the credit bureaus that you’re being responsible with your money. Your funds will be returned if you ever decide to close your account so you’ll never lose that money. In my opinion, this is the best prepaid credit card in Canada for new immigrants.
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- Discounts at select merchants
- $5 free when you sign up with my referral link
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. In other words, STACK is likely the cheapest way to get foreign currency.
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. Read my STACK Mastercard review now or use my referral link and get $5 when you activate your card. Note that you must click this link via your mobile device for it to work.
CIBC AC Conversion Card
- No annual fee
- Load up to 10 different currencies
- No transaction fees
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.
One thing that’s a bit annoying about the CIBC AC Conversion Card is that you’re only allowed one free international ATM transaction per month. Most people when they travel 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
- Access to financial education
- Approval without credit check
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 for you to be approved. 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 which I don’t recommend.