I wrote recently about the Home Trust Visa, which is the only credit card in Canada to offer no foreign transaction fees AND no annual fee. This brings me to the Stack MasterCard, which I think might be the best prepaid debit card in Canada. Normally, prepaid cards are riddled with fees, but Stack one of the only exceptions.
Slack MasterCard Review
Stack is a startup that recently launched their prepaid debit card in August. They are among the new companies that see the bloated fees many Canadians pay and are looking to change that. The Stack MasterCard has no monthly account fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM withdrawal fees. The rate used should be parallel to what MasterCard uses, which is as good as it gets when it comes to exchange rates. You can also earn $20 when signing up for a new account.
No Fees – Great for Travel
Loading the card is easy through direct deposit, Interac Online, e-Transfer, or Visa Debit. The card also offers a real-time budgeting tool and free money transfers between accounts. There are some bank cards that earn rewards for Interac Online purchases, which can be an additional bonus. These include the BMO Premium Checking Account which earns up to 1 Air Mile/$40 spent, or up to 1 Scotia Rewards point/$5 with their Scotia One Account.
This card will be great when you’re travelling and need local currency. Most purchases that you make internationally should be with a credit card such as the Home Trust Preferred Visa, or the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite to earn rewards and have better protections with insurance benefits and chargebacks. However, there will always be places that don’t accept credit cards, which will vary dramatically based on where you’re going.
The worst place to get currency are at airports exchange kiosks. In some cities, local exchanges may have better rate, but those will also vary significantly. The most consistent option is through a local ATM. You don’t have to bring money with you, and you have recourse if issues arise later. Normally, withdrawing with a bank card, will incur a foreign transaction fee, bank account withdrawal fee by your bank, and sometimes an ATM fee charged by the operator. The Stack MasterCard avoids the first two fees.
This is better than the current cheapest option, which involves prepaying your credit cards with no foreign transaction fees prior to using the ATM. With this method, there is a cash advance fee, but are not charged interest because you have a credit balance. I find this complex, and the Stack MasterCard presents a substantially better solution. As Stack MasterCard does not control the fees charged by the ATM operators, that may be a fee you incur.
There are a variety of other methods to Avoid Foreign ATM Fees, but they are limited solutions (in the case of Tangerine), or are options that require banking in the US. If you are able to access the latter, the Charles Schwab Checking account is outstanding. They reimburse you for ATM fees, and have other benefits including interest on your account balance.
Use this signup link to earn $20 after opening your account. This is not indicated on the landing page, but Stack has been responsive to my messages. They should be good about crediting this to your account if it doesn’t automatically post. You are also able to refer folks once you have your card. Similar to other prepaid cards, this card does not earn points or cashback. The exception is that they have targeted offers on select merchants, similar to the offers from Drop Rewards. Most offers are only valid for one-time use with the cashback posting directly to your account. Current offers include Foodora, Starbucks, Uber, and Twitch.
From looking around online, Stack has its origin in cryptocurrency. They released a token that had a market value of several million dollars (or more). Presumably, they raised quite a tidy sum from their initial coin offering which really, is quite amazing. Hopefully, their marketing budget will continue these benefits. At this moment, it’s unlikely they aren’t making money on this product, but will likely recoup revenues from interchange fees and monetizing your transaction data in the future.
Overall, this product is extremely impressive. This credit card will definitely be in my travel wallet, and I can’t wait to use it on my next trip. I would love to see Stack launch premium credit product and build their positive brand awareness.