What the F is Going on With Brim Financial?

Rarely do you ever see the public get excited about a credit card launch, but when Brim Financial’s website popped up online earlier this year, there was A LOT of hype.

I myself was intrigued. Brim claimed that they would be offering open rewards, no foreign exchange fees, free global wi-fi, and there would be no annual fee! They were going to be the disruptors of credit card providers. I thought it sounded too good to be true, but I wanted to hear them out.

I reached out for comment as a journalist in February. They replied quickly and said they would be in touch soon (they also called me Brian, but that’s an honest mistake) A month passed and I heard nothing so I reached out again. I got the same answer and again heard nothing. The card wasn’t even out yet and I was ready to drop them. It turns out, I’m not the only one was feeling this way.

Brim financial

Brim Financial Benefits

Now, before I get into the details of what’s going on with the card, let’s take a look at what they are promising for each of their three cards.

Brim Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 1 point per $1 spent
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free global WiFi
  • Real-time notifications
  • Extended warranty
  • Mobile device insurance up to $500

Brim World Mastercard

  • $99 annual
  • 1.5 points per $1 spent ($25K spend limit on points)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free global WiFi
  • Real-time notifications
  • Extended warranty
  • Mobile device insurance up to $1,000
  • Travel medical insurance – 8 days under the age of 65

Brim World Elite Mastercard

  • $199 annual (originally $120)
  • 2 points per $1 spent ($25K spend limit on points)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free global WiFi
  • Real-time notifications
  • Extended warranty
  • Mobile device insurance up to $1,000
  • Travel medical insurance – 15 days under the age of 65
  • Trip cancellation / interruption

When you look at all of the above, it’s no wonder that everyone got excited. They’re even partnered with Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify which is impressive.

The problem is, no one got their cards. Brim started taking applications in February, but there are no reports of any real people getting them yet (as of July 3rd, 2018). Sure, Brim claimed that they were in beta and are testing the card around the world, but the people beta testing are likely just employees or friends of employees.

**Update, Brim sent out e-mails on July 7th saying that applications were approved and cards are being sent out.

Reports started to come out about the supplementary information required from Brim. They were asking people to provide a utility bill with an address on it and a T4 statement. Normally that wouldn’t be a big detail, but they wanted the originals copies which seemed a bit excessive. Some people were even asked to have an identification agent such as a lawyer, physicians or surgeon fill out a form to prove the applicant’s identity.

WHAT? There are fewer requirements to get a passport. Why does Brim require so much information? Don’t tell me it’s because of identity theft. In an interview with CTV, Brim claimed the number of people who were required to provide that info was minimal, but for some reason, I don’t believe them.

If the identity check wasn’t weird enough, an article from Yahoo featured a user from Reddit who alleged that Brim had blocked them on Twitter after he/she asked about the status of their application. What professional company blocks potential customers on social media after being asked a perfectly reasonable question? 

They’ve basically been ignoring customers questions. Again, I reached out as a journalist and they didn’t really bother getting back to me. When a company doesn’t respond to their customers or the media, it says a lot.

Sure, they’ll point out the fact that they were featured in the Globe and Mail, but if you read the article, they said there would be big news in a few days. Well, it’s been a week and everyone is still waiting for the news.

What attracted many people to Brim was the fact that they were offering no foreign transaction fees and a fair amount of rewards. It’s now been five months since their launch and no one in the public has received their cards.

It’s also worth noting that when the site launched, the World Elite card was being advertised with a $120 fee. They’ve now upped it to $199 which is an increase of $79. There also used to be no cap on bonus points for the World and World Elite card, but now there’s a limit of $25K. Now there could be a very good explanation for these changes but RARELY does this happen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rewards card make this many changes before it has even launched.

What happened to no foreign exchange fees?

In late June, Brim sent an email to all applicants stating that they’ve updated their terms and disclosure documents. One sharp-eyed user on Redflagdeals.com pointed out something very suspicious.

“For foreign currency transactions, the rate will be the exchange rate posted by Brim on its Website on each business day and applied at the time of the posting of the Transaction (Mastercard exchange rates will be used for currencies for which the exchange rates are not posted by Brim on its Website)”

In plain English, that means that they will NOT use Mastercard’s exchange rate. By posting their own exchange rate, they can effectively hide any fees. If this is truly a no-fee card, why is there any need at all to use anything besides Mastercard’s exchange rate?

This card could easily qualify as one of the worst credit card launches ever, but the card hasn’t even launched yet so it doesn’t quite get that title.

If you’re looking for a credit card without foreign exchange fees, I’ve got a detailed list that you can check out.

Don’t even think about using their 0% financing plans

Another feature that has been getting a lot of attention from Brim is their 0% financing plans. They’re literally advertising 0% interest which is technically true, but a bunch of BS at the same time.

You pay a “one time” 7% admin fee on loan terms of one to two years. You’ll then pay $4.75 monthly fee per $1000 of financing. Since you’re paying fees instead of interest, Brim can say they charge 0% interest without lying. But wait, it gets better.

The fees are based on the ORIGINAL purchase amount. With traditional credit cards, you pay interest on any remaining balance. That means if you took out a 12-month financing plan with Brim, you might end up paying close to 27% in fees. At that rate, the 19.99% interest that most credit cards charge actually looks appealing.

Remember how I was talking about the lack of customer service? Check out this twitter exchange from Brim.

Regardless of Denny’s affiliation with ATB, he asked a perfectly reasonable question. Brim looked at his LinkedIn profile and took a shot at his employer. Oh and they failed to address the fact that although there are no interest charges, you do end up paying quite a bit fees. Oh, and they never did respond to him about the updated terms of service.

The only positive thing about Brim’s financing plan is that since you make installment payments, you’re guaranteed to eventually clear your debt. But honestly, you should never be using a credit card to finance your purchases. There are many other ways to get loans at a lower rate.

Final thoughts

Brim Financial is a bust in my books. I’m sure the card will eventually come out and some people will be happy with it, but there are too many red flags about their customer service and product for me to ignore. Hopefully, I’m proven wrong and they make improvements, but I’m okay not having this card in my wallet. Check out my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada or the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees for ideas now.

By |2018-08-12T17:11:44+00:00July 3rd, 2018|Credit cards, Personal Finance|

39 Comments

  1. […] Barry Choi writes, what the F is going on with Brim […]

  2. Anna July 3, 2018 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Great summary Barry and I agree with you … too good to be true!

  3. Jack July 4, 2018 at 11:23 am - Reply

    It’s not that they have bad customer service.
    They have a mindset that, they don’t need to answer to anybody.
    I asked on Facebook, why after the “few days” statement, they hadn’t launched yet, or provided another update to explain.
    They never did reply back, because they feel like they’re too good to have to answer to anybody.
    They block people on social media, tell people it’s “their pleasure” to cancel your application when emailed a request to do so, on top of delay after delay after delay, and next to zero communication, makes this company nothing but a HUGE JOKE.
    I used to wish them the best with their launch, even after I had given up on them, but now I hope they fall flat on their faces, and all their investors that put shill reviews on Google and Facebook, praising their company, lose lots and lots of money when they do fall flat on their faces.
    Neither of these people are fit to run any company, let alone a financial company.

    • Barry Choi July 4, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Jack,

      You’re totally right. I reached out for comment as a journalist and they didn’t respond. In my business, that says a lot.

    • Keem September 1, 2018 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      I recently messaged brim on instagram and i got a quite fast reply….my question was if we would be able to go to an atm and withdraw money like normal and i got a respon in no time.

      • Jack September 2, 2018 at 8:30 am - Reply

        Good for you. Try asking 5hem about th3 status of your application, or why after 7 months, you haven’t heard from them yet.

        • Barry Choi September 2, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

          Jack,

          Agreed, good customer service and actually getting your time in a respectable amount of time means more than just answering a question on Instagram. BTW, I’ve noticed they are still deleting any comments that are negative.

  4. Srdjan Mitrovic July 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    You forgot to add that they also put a cap of $25k for extra points for world and world elite cards. That cap was not there before.

    • Barry Choi July 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Good point, I’m going to update my post. Thanks!

  5. […] blogger Barry Choi asks some tough questions about what’s happening at Brim, which has earned some attention lately as a non-bank competitor […]

  6. TruckBC July 5, 2018 at 12:01 am - Reply

    I’ve posted your article as a reply to their pinned tweet requesting they address it. Let’s see if I get blocked.

    • Barry Choi July 5, 2018 at 6:45 am - Reply

      TruckBC,

      I’m surprised I haven’t been blocked by them yet.

      • TruckBC July 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply

        I am too to be honest. Just checked, not blocked yet. I’ve been a Royal pain in the ass to them on twitter for a while now.

        • Sean July 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

          They blocked me after I politely inquired about my application. I’m the one mentioned in this article.

          • TruckBC July 5, 2018 at 6:32 pm

            I haven’t even been remotely polite. Their tweet today about “0% FX fee” got a reply too from me, they responded and yet have not blocked me.

          • Barry Choi July 5, 2018 at 8:26 pm

            Wear it like a badge of honour. Because of you, the public was made aware of what this company is all about.

  7. Germain Dupré July 5, 2018 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Another thing that I find hugely suspicious is that Brim cards are available for Quebec customers, but for a company that is supposedly open for business and now launched, they still have not translated ANY part of their website in French. When you apply for the card, they ask you in which language you want your card, English or French.

    It’s obvious that any serious company would have had their whole website and documentation available in both languages from the get go. But Brim has yet to do so after five months, even after their supposed “launch”.

    • Barry Choi July 5, 2018 at 6:47 am - Reply

      Germain,

      Yes, that’s a very good point. For people outside of Quebec, that would seem trivial, but I 100% agree that there should be a French site if they’re offering the card in Quebec. Even if it’s not required by law, they should do it for optics. Why would they want to annoy any potential French customers?

      • Guillaume Roy August 2, 2018 at 4:45 am - Reply

        The website is now totally bilingual. My understanding is that all documents LEGALLY REQUIRED to be in French in order to do business in Quebec were available in French although much of the website wasn’t. Therefore, it was purely a service issue, not a legal issue. If anyone has additional information, please feel free to comment. Thank you.

  8. GYM July 19, 2018 at 1:30 am - Reply

    Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if you changed the title of this post:

    “The future looks grim for Brim”

    Hehehe!!

    Sounds super sketchy thanks for the heads up. Wasn’t going to sign up for this anyway but always good to be cautious!

    • Barry Choi July 19, 2018 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Maybe Brim will end up doing well but they’re not getting my business.

  9. Guillaume Roy August 2, 2018 at 4:34 am - Reply

    3 points per dollar on the World Elite card!? You got me excited but Brim’s website shows only 2 points per dollar. Has it ever been 3 points per dollar?

    • Barry Choi August 2, 2018 at 8:51 am - Reply

      Typo on end, thanks for catching. I wouldn’t get too excited about BRIM. Their limited track record is less than stellar.

  10. Max Sheppard September 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Well, there has been a lot of negative feedback about the launch of Brim mastercards and I got to admit I have been patiently waiting for quite a few months but finally I received my card and got it activated. I also set up the Apple Pay today and everything seems to be going as it should. I am supposed to get a link to the mobile app in a couple of days and I also asked a question about the FX rate – right now they told me “use the MasterCard standard rate”. I don’t know if this means they are backing off on their own rate. However, I made it very clear to them that this 0% FX rate was the decisive factor for me getting the card and if the rate weren’t the same as the global MasterCard rate then I would not use the card. I am remaining positive with the card until otherwise disappointed.

    • Guillaume Roy September 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the update. That’s encouraging news. I’m waiting until the benefits and features become clearer before deciding whether to apply. The currency exchange rate is certainly an important characteristic. At an average 0.55% above the midmarket rate, Mastercard is significantly better than Visa and American Express. 5x points on travel is super enticing but no details available yet.

    • Barry Choi September 10, 2018 at 6:02 am - Reply

      Hi Max,

      Those are fair comments. I personally am just not bothering with them since it seems like the company or at least their social media is run by children. There are other credit cards with no forex fees that I can choose from.

  11. Max Sheppard September 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Everybody has been assuming that if they are not following the “standard MasterCard rate” that it’s a way of disguising a markup fee like most of the others throw at us. However, it may be because they will actually be lower. I, like most others I am sure, will be keeping a close eye on this.

    I did run a test on my card this afternoon and used it at the store. So, Brim is not a “ghost” – it’s actually here and it seems to work. We will see…

    Max

  12. Max sheppard September 10, 2018 at 7:17 am - Reply

    The rates that MasterCard and visa post are identical?? But then the individual banks upcharge 2.5% to calculate your final price of something that is bought.

    I don’t know of any other no fee credit card available to Quebec residents that offers a 0% FX rate. Home trust is available to all provinces except Quebec!! They don’t charge an up fee for FX .

    Max

  13. Max Sheppard September 10, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Yes, but then you are NOT free to spend that savings just anywhere – at least I don’t think. I was happy with Amazon Chase and I used it for several years and it had 0% FX and it gave 1% cash back as well that would go towards a voucher to be used at Amazon.

    So, if Brim keeps the same rates (fingers crossed) as MasterCard and Visa then it will give us another option. If it doesn’t then it’s simple for me – I will cancel my card. We will see.

    • Barry Choi September 10, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Max,

      With the Rogers card, you can request a statement credit at the end of the year that gets applied in January so you’re technically allowed to spend it on anything.

  14. Amelie September 16, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    So, I know its been difficult to figure out the actual rate for the foreign exchange. They said it would be posted on their site, but I never did find it. I took a chance to pay for my invoice with Brim and was happy with the result :

    Invoice usd $1082 :
    Paypal exchange rate $1456.02 CAD (0,7431$)
    Google exchange rate $1411.41 (0,77$)
    Brim converted to $1408.22

    So it seems their rate is reasonable and not inflated as some people thought might happen with the no foreign exchange fee

    • Guillaume Roy September 17, 2018 at 5:04 am - Reply

      Hello Amelie,
      Thank you for your feedback. Based on Max Sheppard’s comment of 2018-09-09 above, Brim currently uses Mastercard’s rates but their website still indicates they use their own rates published on their website although they haven’t actually published any rates as you pointed out. My guess is that they plan to use their own rates once they have everything in place to do so but they might change their mind if that would be a deal breaker for too many existing and prospective clients. I’ve adopted a wait and see attitude towards Brim.

  15. Fran K November 10, 2018 at 8:58 am - Reply

    I got my card in less than 2 months. No issues! I wasn’t in a rush so I don’t care about a wait. I didn’t get it for rewards I enough of those cards with better point options. I got the card to replace my Amazon card that had ZERO foreign exchange fee’s That is it! Serves my purpose! Ebay!

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