The CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card is a relatively new product from CIBC (since 2016). It isn’t a credit card, but instead, it is a prepaid card and is accepted anywhere where Visa is accepted. Here’s my CICB AC Conversion Card review.
They describe the card as your ‘money belt’ and you can fill up your money belt with 10 different currencies. The exchange rate is based on a preferential rate for the AC Conversion Visa and you exchange your money once and it is loaded in the card.
The 10 currencies that can be loaded to the AC Conversion Visa Prepaid card are:
- GBP (The Great Britain Pound)
- MXN (Mexican Peso)
- HKD (Hong Kong Dollars)
- AUD (Australian Dollars)
- JPY (Japanese Yen)
- TRY (Turkish Lira)
- Swiss Francs
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CIBC AC COnversioN Card Promo
For a limited time until October 31, 2021, you can get 1% cash back on your purchases with the card.
How CIBC AC Conversion Card Works
When you load currency, you have to do it on the Internet through your account (you can’t exchange it at a foreign exchange and then deposit the money).
CIBC uses a preferential exchange rate for this card (a better rate than you would get at the bank teller and maybe even from your private banking in Canada). You can check exchange on their website on the currency calculator. You don’t get charged at 2.5% foreign exchange fee like you would if you bought something with your regular credit card (on top of the bad exchange rate the credit card company gives you, double ouch!).
However, if you exchange currency that is outside of the currencies listed (a non-supported currency), then you will get charged the 2.5% foreign exchange fee.
The card will keep going through your currencies until the balance reaches zero. For example, let’s say you have USD, HKD, and MXN and you are in Mazatlan, Mexico. You use up the $100 CAD that you converted to MXN (Mexican Pesos) and don’t have access to the internet to convert some more. For your next purchase in pesos, the USD will be used, and then the HKD (the currency exchange is done in the order that is posted).
The minimum amount of each currency you can buy per transaction is $100 (CAD equivalent). The maximum is load amount per day is $2999.99 (CAD equivalent). The maximum 24-hour point of sale purchase is $2999.99. The maximum amount of money you can have loaded on your card is $20,000 (this would probably make me nervous, carrying around a prepaid card of $20K!!).
There is no time limit to use the exchanged funds by and the card expires but you can get a new one. Your funds that are exchanged will not expire. For example, if the CAD/ USD exchange rate suddenly became 1:1 you can load up the card and still use the 1:1 conversion 10 years from now even when the conversion is not 1:1 anymore.
The AC Conversion Card is FREE (music to my ears), but if you want a replacement card- for example, if you lose it, it is $25 to replace. Also, if you want to order it quickly it costs $15 to courier it (I guess for those planning a last minute getaway).
You’re allowed one withdrawal from an ATM per month. After that, there is a charge for ATM withdrawals outside of Canada. The charge is equivalent to about $3.50 Canadian dollars. There is no charge for using it like the prepaid card it is meant to be (or using it as a credit card, where Visa is accepted). Here is the chart for ATM withdrawal fees done outside of Canada.
The exchange rate is preferential compared to the big banks (or what you would get at a teller). I sleuthed and checked out the exchange rates posted online for today. It is preferential compared to one of the other big banks but there is still around a 2-2.5% spread ($1.31 CAD divided by 1.28337= 2.08%, but better than big bank’s 1.3189/1.28337=2.76% spread) compared to rate from XE Currency Converter.
CIBC AC COnversion Card Pros
- The card is FREE
- There is no connection to your bank accounts so you can travel without being too worried someone will mug you and force you to empty your bank accounts
- If your card goes missing during your vacation, CIBC will send you emergency cash (that’s pretty good peace of mind)
- You can reload your card with your selected currency online or via the mobile app. You don’t have spend half a day of your travels hunting down a foreign exchange booth or get hit by bad exchange at the airport.
- Less foreign cash lying around in a US bank account, fewer coins (I still have some Euros in one of my purses from a trip to Amsterdam a few years ago)
- One free ATM withdrawal per month outside of Canada
- It is accepted in 45 different countries around the world
- There is an AC Conversion app where you can check your balances and load your balances on the go
AC Conversion Card Cons
- The maximum point of sale purchase per 24 hours is $2999.99 CAD equivalent so if you want to splurge on that Chanel purse that costs $5000 while you’re in Paris, you will not be able to pay in full with this card
- You have to load a minimum of $100 CAD equivalent to start the card
- The currency exchange has to be done online or through the app, you can’t deposit the currencies at a CIBC bank teller
- A credit card that has no foreign exchange fee has a better rate
If you travel often but don’t want to carry currency around and don’t like the hassle of making the pre-trip trip to your local foreign exchange bank for the best rates (and would rather conveniently exchange your money online), this card is for you. If you usually travel with your credit card and get hit by huge fees but don’t want that for yourself anymore, this card is for you. If you like to get the best rate and have a credit card that does not have foreign exchange fees, this card is not for you.
If you fit the former description and you would like a free card for your International purchases, apply for the CIBC AC Conversion Prepaid Visa.
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Readers, do you have the CIBC AC Conversion Visa Card? What do you think of it? How do you usually exchange money when you travel?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.