CIBC AC Conversion Card Review

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.

CIBC AC Conversion Card Review

The 10 currencies that can be loaded to the AC Conversion Visa Prepaid card are:

  • CAD
  • USD
  • EUR
  • GBP (The Great Britain Pound)
  • MXN (Mexican Peso)
  • HKD (Hong Kong Dollars)
  • AUD (Australian Dollars)
  • JPY (Japanese Yen)
  • TRY (Turkish Lira)
  • Swiss Francs

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.

Related: Norbert Gamibt: How to Convert CAD to USD

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.

Related: Best No Fee US Dollar Credit Card in Canada


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.

ATM Fees CIBC AC Conversion Card
Source: CIBC

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.

AC Conversion Rate

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

CIBC AC Conversion App

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

The Verdict?

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.

You may also be interested in:

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?

CIBC AC Conversion Card Review

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17 thoughts on “CIBC AC Conversion Card Review”

  1. GYM, this is very good information. Yeah, currency exchange is always a hassle for international travels. To be cautious, I always get some foreign currency from the local US bank before the trip. But, the rate is not that good. Once at the place, I usually shop around different banks, get a better deal and exchange for more. The credit or debit cards is used as my last resort.

    • @Helen- That’s what I usually do too- but I go to a foreign exchange shop instead of the bank. Then I go to the location and exchange some more money there. This last trip to Mexico, I don’t think we exchanged any money until we actually go to Mexico though.

  2. Be care using TD Credit Cards to load funds. TD states CIBC using a Cash Advance transaction code and TD charges $3.50 fee plus interest. Both TD and CIBC state is it the other firm’s issue. There is no notice on the AC Conversion website.

    Be careful using any Credit Card.

      • It is obvious to me you don’t have one.
        After reading many websites except those paid for by CIBC i’m in total Awe
        this card is still around.
        I first applied for this card as I thought what a great alternative from carrying cash or using credit or debit cards.
        However after putting $100.00 US on this card to activate I was LEAD TO BELIEVE that this card would be
        an amazing easy none frustrating way to get things done. Could I have ever been more disappointed by anything in my entire life. As a matter of fact i’ve never written a review on anything to comment on my displeasure.
        I first applied for this card Aug 22/18 for a trip I took in the middle of Sept. The web site claimed the card to be delivered in a few business days. After three weeks I called to arrange for a new card to find out I would have to pay $25.00 Replacement after much negotiation the fee was waived.
        I then tried to activate the card to find i had to get a short 36 numeric, Alphabetic, special character, Case sensitive pass code. after having the acct frozen I had to wait 24 hrs to have it reset. After having 3 attempts by 3 other people in my office and close to a week in attempts i finally got it activated.
        Then the fun began to try to use it. After wishing to abort the card I decided to convert it back to CDN funds to withdraw what ever funds would be left to close the acct. After 2 attempts to the ATM with the provided pass code from CIBC the acct was locked or frozen as they thought they might be fraudulent activity. After another lengthy phone call to the card provider I learned I would have to go into a branch with the CIBC with 2 pieces of Govt ID example drivers licence, passport and a piece of mail supporting my address as it would lock me into that address. I would hope in the future you would provide addresses of the nearest branches of this Internationally acclaimed bank on your web site for users traveling abroad to visit to have the card reactivated. I couldn’t appreciate the enjoyment a traveler would enjoy abroad trying to pass this card off. Foreign jails wouldn’t be as much fun as carrying this card.
        Genymoney please read other Web sites not supported by the CIBC and please pass this email on to them as I’ve tried numerous times to have my issues heard as I’ve tried to escalate theses issues to the next level in still waiting for a phone call or an email from CIBC

        • @Marty- Nope, I don’t have it but I was thinking of getting it! Thanks for sharing your experience, sorry that you had such a rough go with this card!

  3. The card worked well for me for almost three years. Now, for some reason, it was declined three times on, 11 November. I checked my account when I returned to the hotel and found that the transactions had gone though and the money deducted. Now the crap I have to go through to get the money back is a joke. I am afraid to use the card again.

      • Still fighting them. AC Convesion told me to sent forms to a company in the US to do a charge back. How many people carry a printer/scanner on vacation? I did manage to do it, but no one has responded.

        • @Terry Pattenden- I don’t, but there are some apps that you can take a picture of your forms and it turns it into PDFs. Saved my butt a few times but still cumbersome, I know.

          • A new year gift. I got the credit!!

            As I mentioned earlier, I never had a problem in the EU or the UK; only Mexico.

    • Hold on Amigo your fun had only started .
      Like the old addidge goes don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Better advice that genymony that writes for CIBC could give carry cash getting robbed or spending time in a foreign jail would be half a stressful as using this user unfriendly card.
      If the Minions at CIBC had have a clue on the ins and outs to use this card that might be 10% of the battle. ?


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