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About the CIBC Air Canada AConversion Card Visa Prepaid Card

UPDATE- Several updates throughout the post

CIBC is offering something called the Air Canada AConversion Visa Prepaid Card. A prepaid card is a card where you can use your credit card to pre-load the card with a specific amount of funds to be used at a later date. You can use this like a credit card (wherever accepted). The main difference between is that instead of a credit limit, where you use the limit first, and then pay off the balance when it is due, you have to preload the card with money, and you can only use what is loaded into the card. There is no credit limit.

There is a catch to this credit card, but there may also be a time where it might make some sense.

But first, here’s are some quick highlights about the credit card:

  • Cash never expires
  • A single card can be loaded with up to 10 currencies
  • Manage your card from your smartphone or tablet
  • Spend at 45 different countries around the world
  • 24/7 customer support

Expiry Policy

The funds on your card do not expire. However, the Card does expire on the last day of the month set out on the card. If the card expires with a balance on it, just call the number at the back of the card to get a issued a replacement Card. A replacement card can also be requested even if you have no balance, but needs to be done within 12 months of the expiry date. In either case, no fee applies.

Keep in mind that a replacement card will not be sent unless requested. Also, if there is a zero balance on the card and it has been expired for 12 months, CIBC will permanently cancel the card.

Supported Foreign Currencies

As mentioned in the highlights, you can load up to 10 different currencies at once:

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars– HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen – JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland)– CHF

Manage your Account Online

Your online account’s dashboard enables you to view exchange rates, check card balances and currencies, add funds, move funds between different currencies and view latest activity and purchases. So this makes it easy to keep track of everything nor matter where you are in the world. Otherwise, they also have 24/7 customer service.

As great as this all sounds, the next few bullets will list some of the downsides to the card.

Transaction Limits

First up, there is a daily limit on this prepaid card.

Minimum load amount (single Transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single Transaction) $3,000 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $20,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $3,000 CAD equivalent

 

Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $2,000 CAD Equivalent

 

Fee Structure

There is no shortage of fees. UPDATE- New fee structure

Fee

Amount

Customisation CAD $5.95 Update- no fee anymore
Shipment by Courier (Optional) CAD $15.00 (error in the terms and conditions, that is explained below) Update- see below
Card Replacement (loss of card) CAD $25.00 or equivalent
ATM Withdrawals (Within Canada) Free
ATM Withdrawals (Outside Canada) No fee will be charged for the first ATM withdrawal in each month.

 

These are the ATM withdrawal fees charged by CIBC.  Non-CIBC ATM providers may charge additional fees

CAD 3.50
USD2.95
EUR 2.50
GBP 1.95
MXN 49.95
HKD 21.95
AUD3.95
JPY 349.95
TRY 7.95
CHF 2.95
Foreign Conversion Transactions (debits and credits) in a currency other than a Supported Currency (“Non-Supported Currencies”) are converted into Canadian dollars no later than the Transaction posting date at an exchange rate that is 2.5% over the rate CIBC must pay 2.5%

At first glance, all the fees seem to be overboard, which would make this prepaid card not worthwhile. First of all, if you take a closer look, most of the fees listed above can be avoided though:

  • Note that “Customization” is just a fancy way of saying activation fee. Though at least you only have to pay it one time. So unfortunately you can’t avoid this.
  • I know it says “Shipment by Courier (Optional) for $15”. According to CIBC (called to confirm), they explained that the regular shipping fee is $25, which is unavoidable at the moment, because you can only purchase this online. If you want to have it shipped by courier, essentially, faster service, then you add another $10, for a total of $35 shipping fee. Also note that the $25 shipping fee will be deducted when you load your card, so you will not see the fee when you are ordering the card initially. Update- confirmed with CIBC that this fee is now eliminated, so this paragraph is no longer necessary.
  • As long as you don’t lose your card, you don’t have to worry about the $25 fee. Keep in mind that it is free to replace an expiring card anyway.
  • Avoid doing ATM withdrawals outside of Canada. Only do this in case of an emergency.
  • This card probably doesn’t make sense to use if the currency is not supported by this card. Only do this in case of an emergency.

In conclusion, you won’t be able to avoid a minimum of $30.95 ($5.95 customization fee + $25 regular shipping fee). Unfortunately, for me personally, this is a deal breaker for me, so I would personally not be getting this card yet. I would have to wait for a way to avoid the shipping fee. Maybe one day they will start selling it directly at the branches? Update- confirmed with CIBC that this fee is now eliminated, so this paragraph is no longer necessary.

When it would make sense to use this

UPDATE the comment section below, you load the card with any Canadian credit card in Canadian currency, and then it is converted to the foreign currency Now probably the most important section of this post. There is also what some people would call a “hidden fee” not listed above. Remember that you to pay a standard 2.5% foreign conversion fee with the credit card company that you are using to load this preload card; therefore, I would only load this prepaid card with one of the credit cards that waives foreign transaction fees:

If you know that you have some trips planned well ahead of time, and you are willing to watch the currency fluctuations, then you can take advantage of a currency swing in your favour (needs to be a large enough swing) and load the Visa card ahead of time.

Lastly, the $30.95 start up fee would not be a big deal if you a large amount of transactions. For example, if you used your Rogers Bank Platinum MasterCard to load this account. Once you load at least $1,769, you will have made up the fee with enough cash back ($1,769 x 1.75%). Update- confirmed with CIBC that this fee is now eliminated, so this paragraph is no longer necessary. 

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