The CIBC AC Conversion Card has been around for a little while now and has seen mixed reviews. To be honest, when the card first came out, I was not impressed at all as there seemed to be too many variables and unanswered questions to make it a strong card.

Since the launch of the card, there have already been changes made due to people abusing the card for manufactured spending, and complaints about excessive fees. For the general consumer, these changes were for the positive, and there is now enough clarification for me to write a CIBC AC Conversion Card review comfortably. The card is not the cheapest option for travellers, but there’s no denying the convenience. Read on for my full CIBC AC Conversion Card review.

What the CIBC Air Canada Card is all about

Formally called the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Card, the card is a prepaid Visa credit card that allows you to lock in rates for ten currencies. This is appealing to some travellers since you’re getting a guaranteed exchange rate; there’s no need to worry about fluctuating rates. The ten currencies available are as follows:

  • Canadian Dollars – CAD
  • United States Dollars – USD
  • Euros – EUR
  • Great British Pounds – GBP
  • Mexican Peso – MXN
  • Hong Kong Dollars – HKD
  • Australian Dollars – AUD
  • Japanese Yen – JPY
  • Turkish Lira – TRY
  • Swiss Franc – CHF

Note that you are no able to reload Canadian Dollars directly onto your AC conversion card.

The obvious benefit of the CIBC AC Conversion Card (referral link) is the fact that it’s a single card that allows you to store multiple currencies. You can move the funds around as you please, so you’re never stuck with a single currency. Since you pay the exchange when you load your cards with funds, you do not pay any foreign transaction fees when you make your charges.

Note that with non-supported currencies, you pay the standard 2.5% conversion fee.

The card also acts as a debit card so you can withdraw cash from local ATMs, however, there are fees. Depending on which currency you’re withdrawing, you’ll pay about $3.50 – $5 per withdrawal to CIBC, PLUS any fees the local ATM may charge. You do get one free withdrawal each month. It would have been nice to get more than one free ATM withdrawal a month, but this card is meant to be used as a credit card, not debit.

Should you get this card?

To be honest, it really depends on what kind of traveller you are and how much you care about fees. I personally prefer to pay as little fees as possible which is why I much prefer using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or using my debit card to get cash while accepting that you’ll have to pay the extra 2.5% fee.

That being said, the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Card does have a few advantages. It’s the fastest and cheapest way to load funds since you won’t need to visit your bank or a foreign exchange office. You can just load everything online or through the app at your own convenience.

Keep in mind that the cheapest is a relative term. The foreign exchange fees are built right into the exchange rate. The exchange rates used are based on CIBC’s rates, but interestingly enough, the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Card uses exchange rates which are different than CIBC’s regular foreign exchange rates. The exchange rates on the card are much more competitive and within a reasonable margin of the standard 2.5% fee that gets added when you make a transaction in a foreign currency.

Some people won’t mind that extra fee and prefer the convenience factor. There’s also the added security you get since this is a prepaid card. If you lose your card, your funds can be transferred to a replacement card. There’s no fee to transfer the funds, but you’ll pay a $25 fee for a replacement card. I personally don’t like this since if I lost my card abroad, I might be stuck without ‘cash’ for a little bit.

With all of the conditions above, you’re better off using the STACK Mastercard. STACK is a prepaid credit card that has no foreign transaction fees of any kind. There’s no forex markup on your purchases and you can even use your card to withdraw money at foreign ATMs with no fees (although the ATM may charge you a one time fee). If you sign up to STACK with my referral link, you’ll get $5 when you activate your card. Note that you must click this link via your mobile device for it to work.

Final thoughts

Overall, my CIBC Air Canada Conversion Card review is neutral. I think there are better options out there, but I admit this card will work fine for many people. Read my guides on the best currency exchange options and credit cards without foreign transaction fees now for more details. 

CIBC AC Conversion Card Review

33 Comments

  1. Cristina on September 6, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I think that’s a fair review. Transaction fees are no fun. I get a lot of benefit from my Amazon Chase Visa which I’m glad to see it’s listed in your other post. It seems to be a better option bc it has no foreign transaction fees, just straight currency exchange. And most places these days take credit now

    • Barry Choi on September 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Cristina,

      With this card, some of the exchange rates can be 5% + which is obviously significantly better 0% that credit cards with no foreign transaction fees offer. Like you, I just charge everything to my Amazon card. The only downside is that the Amazon card is no longer accepting new applications.

  2. Jeff Barnett on September 15, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    This card is a huge disappointment. I just came back from a trip to Ireland and I found this card very frustrating for 54reasons.:1) It really has nothing to do with CIBC because you cannot transfer founds from you CIBC account 2) The ability to transfer funds via Interac is limited – no CIBC and I could not use my local credit union as well. THe only way to load was using a credit card and I got dinged a $7.50 cash advance fee when I used my TD Mastercard 3) THe website is not great because if you try to load money from another credit your name is pre-filled and you cannot change this – on some cards I am Jeff while on others I am Jeffrey 4) I had l left over funds and I thought I could transfer them to CDN dollars on the card to pay for a cab ride form the airport. THe card was declined .
    I would have to say unless they get rid of some of these issues I would recommend staying away from this

    • Barry Choi on September 15, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      JEff,

      Those are interesting and fair points. I can see what that would be very frustrating.

      • Elle on December 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm

        Yes, I also got dinged $7.5 for loading the card with money, which defeats the whole damn purpose of having the card. I can just use my interac card with lower fees. You should also mention this fee in the post.

  3. Wayne Hollingshead on October 20, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Ordered this card prior to a south east asian trip. Paid for express shipping(3 days) but after 1 week still had not received the card. I called and asked for the card to be cancelled and refund my money because I was leaving in 24 hrs, which I was assured would happen . I haven returned from my 3+ week trip yet no refund yet – it has been over 1 month since they took my money. Multiple emails and calls to CIBC and still no refund. Quick to take your money but dont want to refund it . Typical BIG BANK they dont care about customers

  4. Ryan on March 12, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I’m going to trips in Europe and the US this year. For those trips, do you see any big differences between getting this AC card and getting 2 of the CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel Visa Cards (one EURO and one USD)? Those cost $5.95 each but are integrated into CIBC online banking. Other than that, I haven’t been able to spot much of a difference between the two options.

    • Barry Choi on March 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Hi Ryan

      My only concern would be where CIBC pulls their exchange rates for the prepaid travel visa cards. With the AC Conversion card, they have their own rates which is lower compared to what you get if you walked into the branch. Assuming they also use the lower rates, then it probably doesn’t make a difference. That being said, it’s still cheaper to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

  5. Steve W on April 7, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    This is a terrible card!!!!! They fail to let you know that you are only allowed to withdraw 60% of the total amount from what you put in or the card will be locked. Then you will need to have two pieces of ID to prove your identity before they will unlock your account. This is after you contact customer service and provide your security identification. It could take up to 5 business days before your card is unlocked. YAH, they are so helpful and if I put whatever amount onto the card I should be able to withdraw any amount I desire if there is sufficient amount in the account. I find it super ridiculous.

    • Marty VAN Gastel on October 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Hi Steve
      I feel your Frustration to use the word TERRIBLE is a gross underestimation of this card.
      As a matter of fact I don’t believe there is a word a sentence or a statement that can describe it.
      I too experienced the same experience as you can you only after waiting 3 weeks having reissued for a $25.00 fee
      to waiting to reset my pass code Via a short 36 numeric, alphabetic, special character pass code to tring it just over 20 times.
      Spending numerous hours on the line with them after having the card locked.
      I could go on and on with my ramble as i’ve only started.
      Could you imagine traveling with this fraudulent card in your wallet. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in a foreign prison after trying to pass this card off for legal currency.
      This card should be banned at any cost and should be reviewed by the powers to be.

  6. Joyce on May 16, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Barry,

    I have been reading a lot of reviews but still confused over the small details… can you elaborate on why it would be cheaper to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees? I’m unclear on how the exchange rates on the AC card could be more competitive when you say that the foreign transaction fee is already built into the card’s exchange rate.

    And to be clear I would only be paying the 2.5% foreign transaction fee if I use a non-supported currency on the card?

    Thank you so much!

    • Barry Choi on May 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Joyce,

      So with the AC conversion card, you load funds onto your card online. However, you pay CIBC’s exchange rates at that time which may be more or less than 2.5%.

      If you were to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, then you just pay the spot rate (as in, no markup).

      And yes, you would pay the 2.5% fee for non supported currencies

      • joyce on May 24, 2018 at 8:17 pm

        Thanks Barry. Do you know if I have to open a CIBC chequing account to use this card?

        • Barry Choi on May 24, 2018 at 9:19 pm

          Hi Joyce,

          As far as I know, you don’t need a CIBC chequing account to use the card.

  7. Gwen Nielsen on May 21, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I find the best bet to get cash when travelling is having a Tangerine or Scotia bank account to access your funds via their international ATM network..which is VERY large..for free transactions. So no nasty multiple international ATM withdrawal fees!!

    • Barry Choi on May 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Gwen,

      Yes, I prefer to just withdraw cash from local ATMs also.

  8. Laura Fedirchuk on July 9, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Really wish I had read these reviews before I ordered this card. After two weeks and paying for express shipping my daughter is overseas without the card and no one knows where the card is. So disappointing.

    • Marty Van Gastel on October 8, 2018 at 2:35 am

      Are you serious This Card is a Scam
      I loaded my card Aug22/18 The first one got lost I tried to use it several times was declined even tho adequate funds there
      Have made several calls and visits to branch still waiting for a call back
      Next email will be to the president of CIBC as Well as Air Canada and other Government agencies reporting this card

  9. Peter Muir on August 14, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Be very careful using TD Credit Cards as they consider loading charges a Cash Advances. You will be charged $3.50 per transaction plus interest. There is no information of AC Conversion site.

  10. Luis on October 11, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Has anyone tried to link this card3wirh Stipe? Just wondering if they keep the original currency

  11. Choo on December 28, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I wish I had read this article before loading my card with US $100 and AUD $1000. I’ll be traveling soon and I hope I’ll be able to use it with no problems. I had difficulty at the very beginning with the activation of the card. Had to contact them several times. Anyway, thanks for writing this article. I will use my Scotia and RBC debit card for emergency cash instead of this, if this one fails to work. Definitely do not plan to load more funds on this!

  12. Fred on January 19, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Barry !
    Are you 100% sure that they charge the 2.5% conversion fee when you load up the card in the 1st place ??? If so, I think it blows up all the card’ pros …
    Thanks for your answer.

    • Barry Choi on January 19, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      Fred,

      The CIBC AC Conversion card uses rates posted on the AC Conversion card website. In some cases is higher than 2.5 while in others it’s slightly below.

  13. Sal on March 5, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    If you load cash using CIBC credit card, you will not get charged for cash advance.

  14. Dan on May 10, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Two quick questions:
    1. Is there any way to load funds onto this card without incurring the ~2.5% exchange fee from CIBC?
    2. If you will be hit with the ~2.5% exchange fee anyways when you load your funds onto the card, is there any advantage of this card over using any standard credit card (besides “locking in” the exchange rate when you load the card) to make purchases in a foreign country?

  15. B on August 20, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I tried and gave up. I do not bank with CIBC, and the only options to load the card via the site are TD and RBC, and a few obscure small credit unions. Neither TD nor RBC support interac online (confirmed via phone to them), so was unable to load any money on to the card. The idea of the card seems great, but it has been incredible frustrating to set up. Will leave it at home for the trip.

    • Barry Choi on August 20, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      B,

      I recommend using the STACK Mastercard instead.

  16. Rick on August 22, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Can this card be used to secure and pay for hotels and/or rental cars?

  17. Scott Elliott on November 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    They deactivated my AC Conversion card 2 weeks before I am going on a trip to Mexico and was going to use it. There is no way to reactivate it, I have to pay to get a new one, except my email address is associated to the old card and their system won’t let me change/delete my email. I tried signing up for a new card and their form says my date of birth doesn’t match my card or something? No more AC Conversion card for me. Not worth the hassle.

  18. Margaret on January 1, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    I’m planning to go for vacations to Florida. I would need to take around $2,000US for my stay. I did open CIBC US account and I’m planning to buy US dollars online into this CIBC US account. Then I need to transfer these US dollars from my US account to my AC Conversion visa either with the teller or as bill payment directly from my US account (if I can ) I wonder if I transfer US $ from my US account to AC Conversion visa they show directly as US $ or will convert to Canadian $ and they show as CAN$ ?

    • Barry Choi on January 2, 2020 at 8:11 am

      Hi Margaret,

      I’m not sure if you get charged additional fees if funding your AC conversion card with USD. You’d have to contact customer service.

      Where do you plan on using your card?

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