When the STACK Mastercard launched a few years back, it was the best credit card without foreign transaction fees. Not only did it have no FX fees on purchases, but the card also didn’t charge fees when using foreign ATMs. Oh, and there were no monthly or annual fees. It was easily the best travel card out there, and I used it almost exclusively during many of my travels.
Earlier this year, STACK announced that it would start charging foreign exchange fees. That said, if you spent at least $350 CAD each month, you’d get those fees back in the form of a statement credit. When this happened, many people just stopped using their cards.
Now STACK has announced changes to its terms and conditions, which adds many fees. Consider this the nail in the coffin, as I do not doubt that people are calling to cancel their cards (including me).
New STACK Mastercard fees
- Stack access fee – $7.99 per month
- E-Transfer load – $0.99 per transaction
- E-transfer out, performed by customer care – $9.99
- Domestic ATM fee – $1.99
- International ATM fee – $2.99
- Cash load fee – $1.99
Let’s be real, these changes are best described as brutal. The STACK Mastercard was built as a no fee card, and now they’re implementing a monthly fee of $7.99, plus fees for loading and unloading your card.
I don’t have the data to back up my claim, but I think it’s fair to say that many people signed up for this card because it had no annual and FX fees. With both of those options gone unless you spend $350 CAD a month, there’s absolutely no reason to hang onto this card anymore.
$7.99 a month works out to $95.88 a year. That’s approaching premium credit card territory. To make matters worse, it’s not like you get cash back or points on every purchase you make. Admittedly, STACK has some deals with select merchants where you can earn a high cash back rate, but not everyone will take advantage of that.
Remember, the STACK Mastercard is a prepaid credit card, so you don’t even build your credit score by using this card.
To be fair, many prepaid credit cards (that you find in the supermarket) also have monthly, load, and unload fees. However, when you build your brand around no fees and implement them later, a lot of people are going to bail.
These new fees apply as of December 1, 2022, if you held the card before September 30, 2022. For those who apply for the card between October 1, 2022 to November 30, 2022, the fees kick in on January 1, 2023.
How to avoid STACK Mastercard fees
Except the E-transfer out performed by customer care, all of your STACK fees can be will be reimbursed to cardholders as long as you spend $350 CAD in a calendar month.
For regular STACK Mastercard users, these new fees may not make a difference since they use the car regularly. That said, you only get reimbursed if you meet the spending threshold each month, so you need to watch your spending to avoid the fees.
How to cancel your STACK Mastercard
The easiest way to cancel your STACK Mastercard is to ask customer service to cancel your card. You can do this via the app chat, but to process your request, your balance must be $0. To get your balance down to zero, pay a bill, or buy yourself an e-gift card on Amazon with the exact balance remaining on your STACK Mastercard. With your balance at zero, customer service can cancel your card easily.
The other way to cancel your card is to call 1-877-782-2501. Any remaining balance will be sent to you in the form of a cheque or e-transfer within 45 business days. As you can imagine, their phone lines have been flooded with people cancelling, so getting through may be difficult.
No foreign exchange fee card alternatives
With the STACK Mastercard no longer being an option for many people, travellers are naturally wondering what other options are available. I have a detailed list of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, but I’ll quickly call out a few cards that I like:
- Wealthsimple Cash Card – No monthly or foreign ATM fees.
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card – $150 annual fee but includes 6 airport lounge passes and great travel insurance.
- Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – $120 annual fee (first year free), high earn rate.
While disappointing, it’s not surprising that STACK is introducing fees. I suspect many users held the card only to use it when travelling. That means STACK wasn’t making much (if any) money off of these cardholders. At the same time, maintaining these users comes with a cost. Unlike traditional banks with a war chest of funds, STACK is a fintech company. Profits instead of acquisition are likely more important for STACK now. That’s why we’re seeing these changes. I would not be surprised if other fintech companies, such as KOHO and NEO Financial, implement similar fees in the future, but that’s just me speculating.