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Prepaid credit cards are an alternative to traditional credit cards, without the ridiculous interest fees.

Similar to your bank’s debit card, the best reloadable prepaid cards can be used to access cash at an ATM, pay bills, make online purchases, and send money to friends and family.

Even better, some prepaid credit cards have apps that work as a budgeting tool and they offer rewards. If you are looking to curtail impulse spending and minimize your access to easy credit and debt, a prepaid card could be for you.

Below are some of the best prepaid credit card options in Canada, as well as secured credit card alternatives.

What is a Prepaid Credit Card?

A prepaid credit card is similar to a gift card that has been preloaded with money and you can use it to make payments like you would with a credit card.

Prepaid credit cards are issued by banks, retailers, and other financial institutions using the Visa, Mastercard, or American Express payment networks.

After obtaining your card, you will need to transfer money to it. You can load the card using Interac e-Transfer, payroll, direct deposit, or via bill payment through your online banking.

Even if you do not have a bank account, you may be able to load money onto the card by visiting a designated location e.g. Canada Post.

A prepaid card only gives you access to the money you have loaded. When you make a payment, it is deducted from your balance until you have nothing left. Unlike regular credit cards, prepaid cards do not give you a line of credit to draw on.

This is why they are often also referred to as prepaid debit cards.

Your credit rating does not really matter when you apply for a prepaid card. So, whether you have poor or great credit, you can easily qualify.

Compare the Best Prepaid Credit Cards in Canada

Card
KOHO Prepaid Visa
STACK Prepaid Mastercard
MOGO Prepaid Visa
Best for
Cash back; overall best prepaid card
Travel
Offsetting carbon footprint
Annual fee
$0 for regular KOHO; $84 for KOHO
$0
$0; ATM withdrawal fees
FX Fee
1.5% for regular KOHO; 0% for KOHO premium
0% (FX fees are waived)
2.5%
Perks
0.5-2% cash back on purchases; free budgeting app; Multiple in-app offers; free e-Transfers
No ATM fees by STACK, free replacement cards; free budgeting app; in-app cash back offers
Mogo offsets 1 pound of carbon for every dollar spent, access to free credit scores and identity fraud protection
Issuer
People’s Trust
People’s Trust
People’s Trust
Reload options
Interac e-Transfers, direct deposit, online bill payment, Canada Post
Interac e-Transfer, Direct deposit, Canada Post, online bill payment
Interac e-Transfer
Load Limits
$20,000 maximum card balance, $3000 daily max transaction limit; $30,000 monthly  transaction limit
$20,000 maximum card balance; $2,500 max per purchase; $5,000 maximum per day
$10,000 maximum card balance, $3,000 maximum per purchase; $5,000 maximum purchases in 24-hr period
Available in Quebec
Yes
Yes
No
Security
Visa Zero Liability; CDIC coverage via People’s Trust
Mastercard Zero Liability protection, CDIC coverage via People’s Trust
Visa Zero Liability
Promotion
1% extra cash back for 90 days with promo code CASHBACK
$5 sign-up bonus when you activate your card
N/A
Apply

Prepaid Visa Cards in Canada

While there are a number of prepaid Visa cards issued by big banks including CIBC and Scotiabank, the best offers are from newer financial technology company’s i.e.

  • KOHO, and
  • MOGO

KOHO Prepaid Visa Card

KOHO offers a reloadable Visa card you can use to make payments online, in-store, and anywhere that Visa is accepted.

This card also comes with a Smartphone app you can use for budgeting, automating your savings, and making stress-free payments using Apple Pay or Google Pay. 

One thing that sets a KOHO prepaid Visa apart from other prepaid cards is that you earn cash back on all purchases! Cardholders earn between 0.50% and 2.00% cash back on purchases depending on their account type.

Here are some of the basic features of KOHO:

  • $0 monthly account fee
  • 0.50% cash back on purchases
  • Automatic savings using the roundup feature
  • Real-time insight into your spending patterns

When you join KOHO and enter our promo code CASHBACK, you receive extra 1% cash back for 90 days.

Power-users benefit from a KOHO Premium Visa card. It offers an additional 1.5% on specific categories of spending for a total 2.00% cash back.

You also get access to price matching at several stores, access to free financial coaching, and no foreign currency transaction fees.

A KOHO Premium Account has a $9 monthly or $84 annual fee.

  • Monthly fee: $0; $9 for KOHO Premium
  • Reload Methods: Interac e-Transfer, direct deposit, online bill payment, Canada Post cash load
  •  Promo: Use CASHBACK for an extra 1% for 90 days
  • Best for: Earning cash back
  • Learn more: KOHO Visa Card Review
Apply for a KOHO Prepaid Visa

Mogo Prepaid Visa Card

The Mogo Visa Platinum prepaid card is free (no monthly fee) and can be used to make purchases online and through POS.

It is paired up with a versatile app that provides insights into how your money is being spent.

The app also provides these benefits:

  • Automatic savings using auto-transfers. For example, you can choose to save $50 every week
  • Set spending goals and find ways to cut your expenses
  • Easy payments using Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Easily freeze your card via the app if you lose it

Unlike KOHO, the Mogo Card does not offer cash back when you spend. Instead, Mogo will offset part of your carbon footprint with each purchase.

To get the Mogo Visa Platinum prepaid card, you need to first become a member. Mogo membership is free and you can sign up here.

Perks of membership include access to free Equifax credit scores every month and Identity Fraud Protection.

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Reload methods: Direct bank transfer, Interac e-Transfer, Canada Post
  • Best for: Free credit scores
  • Learn more: Mogo review
Sign up for MOGO

CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

This card is unique in that it can hold more than one currency at a time, saving you the hassle of currency exchange when you are travelling abroad.

The CIBC AC Conversion prepaid card can take up to 10 currencies including USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, and more. After locking in an exchange rate, you can simply make payments in the currency of your choice. You don’t need to be a CIBC-customer to apply and the bank does not run a credit check.

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Reload method: Online banking
  • Best for: Holding multiple currencies

Regular transaction fee apply if you need to make an ATM withdrawal outside Canada – the first ATM withdrawal is free each month.

CIBC Smart Prepaid Visa Card

This prepaid Visa card can easily by purchased through online or mobile banking, or at a CIBC Banking Centre.

The CIBC Smart Prepaid Card is acceptable wherever Visa is accepted and you can load the card using funds from your CIBC chequing, line of credit or saving account.

This prepaid card is free to order; however, customizing it to show your information comes at a cost of $5.95. Replacement cards also cost $14.95 each.

A standard 2.5% fee applies to foreign currency conversions.

Other reloadable Visa prepaid cards include:

Canada Post Prepaid Reloadable Visa Card: (costs $15 to purchase; $3 monthly service fee). It offers purchase protection and extended warranty insurance.

Scotiabank Prepaid Reloadable Visa Card: ($10 purchase fee; $10 annual fee). It offers $1 SCENE point for every $15 you spend using your prepaid card.

Prepaid Mastercards in Canada

A prepaid Mastercard works in very similar way to your Mastercard credit card. You can use it to pay for online shopping, make a bill payments, and point of sale transaction wherever Mastercard is accepted.

The best prepaid Mastercard reloadable card in Canada is the Stack Mastercard.

STACK Prepaid Mastercard

The Stack prepaid Mastercard is not your regular prepaid credit card. This card ups the ante with multiple perks that rival some travel credit cards.

Its features include:

  • $0 features account fee
  • No foreign currency conversion fees (savings of 2.5%)
  • Bill payments
  • Free ATM withdrawals (STACK does not charge a fee)
  • Cashable offers at participating retailers
  • Free STACK-to-STACK money transfers

You get a user-friendly mobile app that tracks your spending. It also helps you save on autopilot by rounding up your purchases to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10 and adding it to your savings.

Sign up for STACK

BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard

The BMO Prepaid Mastercard is a secured credit card with a $6.95 annual fee. You can load the card with funds starting at $100 up to a maximum of $10,000.

To load your BMO prepaid Mastercard, transfer money from your BMO chequing or savings account. Non-BMO customers can load the card by adding it as a bill payment to their online banking.

Note that using your card for cash-like transaction incurs a $5 fee. Also the standard 2.5% fee applies to foreign currency conversion.

Here is a list of the best BMO credit cards.

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard

The Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard and its Visa alternative can be used to pay for purchases at millions of locations worldwide. These prepaid cards make the perfect gift for birthdays, graduations and more.

The Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard and Vanilla Prepaid Visa are available in various denominations, and an activation fee is also required as follows:

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard (denomination)
Activation Fee
Vanilla Prepaid Visa (denomination)
Activation Fee
$25 card
$3.95
$25 card
$4.95
$60 (3 x $20)
$8.95
$75 card
$5.50
$50 card
$4.95
$150 card
$6.50
$100 card
$5.95
$250 card
$7.50
$200 card
$6.95
 
 

Vanilla prepaid cards cannot be used for recurring billing or to withdraw cash at ATMs. When you make payments in foreign currencies, a 2.5% fee applies.

You can easily purchase a Vanilla prepaid card at Walmart, Petro-Canada, Giant Tiger, London Drugs or Best Buy.

Related: KOHO vs STACK vs MOGO

The Best Prepaid Cards of 2020 – Summary

Benefits of a Prepaid Credit Card

The main advantages of prepaid cards relate to convenience and better money management.

Budgeting: Prepaid cards like KOHO and STACK work hand-in-hand with a phone app you can use to manage your spending, automate savings, and track your purchases. If you struggle with staying within your budget, a prepaid card can help since you can’t spend more money than you have loaded.

Convenience: If you don’t have a debit card, a prepaid card can be used to pay for purchases at million of locations worldwide. It is safer than carrying cash.

Credit Rating: You don’t need a good credit score to apply for a prepaid card. You can get one even if you have a bad credit score and are unable to qualify for a regular credit card.

Fees and Interest: Since you can’t spend more than what you have, prepaid credit cards do not charge interest on your balance. You also won’t be paying a hefty annual fee. Note that you may incur ATM withdrawal and foreign currency fees when applicable.

Security: A prepaid Visa card may offer protection for unauthorized purchases via Visa’s Zero Liability policy. The same goes for a prepaid Mastercard via Mastercard’s Zero Labiality coverage.

Disadvantages of a Prepaid Credit Card

Even though the prepaid cards on this list replicate many of the features you would find in a credit card, they are not “credit” cards,

Credit Score: A prepaid card does not affect your credit card. If you are unable to qualify for a regular credit card, you cannot use a prepaid card to build your credit score.

If this is the case, you should take a look at these secured credit cards.

Limited or no Rewards: Most prepaid credit cards do not offer loyalty rewards or cash back. What this means is you aren’t getting anything back for every dollar spent. The KOHO Prepaid Visa and STACK Mastercard excel in this regard.

Transaction Limitations You may have to pay a fee to withdraw cash from an ATM or the card may not even offer that functionality (e.g. Vanilla Prepaid Cards). They also do not offer recurring bill payments.

Acceptability: Some vendors do not accept prepaid cards.

Funding Your Card: Some prepaid cards are just a hassle to load. You may have to visit Canada Post or attend a retail store to load funds on your card. Look out for those ones that accept direct deposit, Interac e-Transfer, or Bill payment through your bank’s online banking portal.

What About Secured Credit Cards?

A secured credit cards is similar to a prepaid card, however, you can use it to improve your credit score.

You are required to put down a security deposit as part of the application process for a secured credit card. Your security deposit is returned to you when you close your account or your credit improves and you qualify for a secured credit card.

Two of the best secured credit card options in Canada are the:

  • Home Trust Secured No-Fee Visa
  • Home Trust Secured Visa

Home Trust Secured No–Fee Visa

This secured credit card has no annual fee and you determine your credit limit based on your security deposit.

Some of its main features include:

  • $19.99% interest rate on purchases
  • $500 – $10,000 security deposit (credit limit)
  • $0 annual card fee
  • Free purchase protection insurance

Learn more about the card in this Home Trust Secured No-Fee Visa review.

Home Trust Secured Visa

This secured card offers a lower purchase interest rate; however, you pay a $59 annual fee.

Its key features include:

  • $14.99% interest rate on purchases
  • $500 to $10,000 security deposit (credit limit)
  • Purchased protection

Get more details in this Home Trust Secured Visa review.

Secured credit card issues report your payments to the credit bureau. If you stay on top of your payments, you can use these cards to improve your credit rating.

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