Generally, I don’t post about things on the down-low, but given that it’s been around for quite a while and I’ve already hinted at it multiple times, I might as well.
Manufactured Spend Canada – Reloadable Cards
Additional Reading: The Hottest Manufactured Spend Method in Canada is Dead
I’m referring to the CIBC AC Conversion Prepaid Card.
This card is a partnership between CIBC and/or Air Canada. The card itself I believe is run on an i2c platform, a prepaid company in the US. They have a call center in Montreal as well.
The intended purpose of this card is for foreign currency transactions, from which they make a 2.5%+ margin on. It’s a multi-currency card that has lots different currencies you can choose from, from Australian Dollars to Japanese Yen and Mexican Pesos. The card holds a maximum of $3000 CAD cumulatively from all currencies.
This has had a bad rep because there are a ton of issues with the card. Many credit cards used to treat this as a cash advance, although I’ve heard basically no reports of that the last few months. And there were so, many, problems. The card had problems loading occasionally. The “fraud” team at CIBC would look your card (for weeks even) while they verified your identity. Then of course, you’ve got ATMs not working, problems withdrawing, and of course when the ATM eats your money.
Additional Reading: The ATM ate my money!
Personally, I had close to $10,000 locked for 2+ weeks which is could be a huge problem if you don’t have that cash to churn.
Using the CIBC AC Conversion Card
The card is surprisingly not a bad option IF you go to countries with significant ATM fraud (I’m thinking Latin/South America). The best debit cards in Canada that don’t charge for out of network ATM transactions generally require you to keep a few thousand dollars in there to waive the monthly fee, so if your card does get compromised theoretically you’d need to file a claim for thousands of dollars if thieves managed to compromise your card, not to mention the inconvenience if you primarily bank with them.
You can keep literally $10 on your account if you wish, and the first ATM transaction per month on this card is free.
In terms of MS, though, what was so good about this card was the fact that you used to be able to load up to $2000 a day, per card (limit one per person). This would be done online.
Because you can load in Canadian Dollars without a charge for utilizing a credit card, you could get, for example, 2500 Aeroplan points for free if you were using the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege . There’s also no fees to use CIBC ATMs, so to liquidate, you’d just do an ATM withdrawal in person. Online loads, and ATM withdrawals, all with no fee. That’s as good as it gets. It reminded me of the US Manufactured Spend world in the old days.
Additional Reading: Great TD Aeroplan Visa Offers!
This was great. Really, really, great. Except for the part where I was holding 600 or so 20$ bills, and the tellers first looked at me like I was money laundering. Of course, I explained to them that was a complex scheme that involved travel and circulating large amounts of money through my credit cards. Then they would come to know me as the kid who deposited a huge stack of 20’s everyday. 😉
The credit card companies also blocked several of my cards throughout, but they pretty much couldn’t do anything as these were legitimate transactions.
Manufactured Spend with this now?
Ok, I’m finally getting to the part that most of you want to read. This card still works for earning points, except it’s severely hobbled. You are now limited to loading 1x $100 CAD per day. Technically, this is still not bad because you’re earning 3k a month/36k a year, per card. You cannot get more than one card per person – they will shut you down.
When you sign up, you first must load in a foreign currency with a minimum of $100 CAD. You can then transfer this back to CAD (you lose 5% when you do) or spend in the actual currency. If you load in USD, that’s pretty easy.
There are terms and conditions on the website, but forget that. They’ve made up their own arbitrary rules, and that’s how it is. I’m doing you a favour by spilling how it works in detail.
The initial load, as well as future ones can be done with a debit OR credit card (Visa/MasterCard). American Express is sadly not accepted, otherwise, I would have gone ham with my American Express Platinum or Business Platinum Card. The loads can be done online, or through their app.
Their day is based on EST, so you can load twice at 20:59 and 21:01 Pacific. The withdrawals are also per calendar day. You are limited to 3 withdrawals daily, to a maximum of $2000 a day. When liquidating at an ATM, CIBC operated terminals are free. They will let you withdrawal a maximum of $400 at once, so for fee free withdrawals, you’re limited to $1200 each. It’s worth nothing that many machines will error out after the second withdrawal, so you’ll have to move to the next one.
Alternatively, you can liquidate at other ATMs, which has negligible fees but has higher amounts. As an example, TD ATMs charge $3 and let you take out a maximum of $990, so that’s roughly 0.3 cpm ($0.003). When you load, most details on your credit card have to match. Most importantly, the billing address on your credit card has to match what the address on your credit report (and the one you signed up with).
That makes it quite difficult to just say, pick up a card from your friend. It’s also a significant risk for them, because they’re liable for the transactions that you make, it circumvents the terms and conditions of the card, and theoretically, you could be money laundering on their card. But I digress.
I do find my credit card statements very amusing, though.
You must have a Canadian credit file to get one of these, as they perform a soft pull on Equifax when you get the card to validate your identity. If somehow you get tripped up by their audits, you’ll have to send in your ID.
I have no idea how much longer this will last, so get on the train before it leaves the stations (or sputters and dies).
Pick up the CIBC ACConversion Card here.