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We talk a lot about foreign currency exchange and credit cards – and for good reason.
We’re all about helping you save money, and that 2.5% fee most credit cards tack on foreign currency purchases can really add up – especially if you holiday outside Canada, frequently cross the border to shop, or shop online a lot through international retailers.
And with that, there’s an intriguing option available to save on foreign exchange fees – the Cash Passport Mastercard. Available at Canada Post locations, you’ll be able to save on foreign transaction fees on 7 different currencies.
And while it certainly is a convenient option, it’s far from the best option for saving on foreign transaction fees.
Let’s dive into everything this card has to offer.
Cash Passport Mastercard details
So what can this card do for you? And are there any fees involved?
Here’s the low-down on the Cash Passport Mastercard.
Getting a Cash Passport Mastercard
The biggest advantage of the Cash Passport Mastercard? All you have to do is head down to your local Canada Post and pick one up. There are no application forms to fill in and no waiting for your card to come in the mail.
Unfortunately, like many things in life, there’s a price to pay for extra convenience. And in this case, you’ll be charged $15 for this card.
But for a limited time until December 31st, 2019, you’ll receive a $15 travel bonus when you load the card – covering the small fee completely.
Using the Cash Passport Mastercard for foreign currency transactions
But how well does the card do when it comes to saving on fees when spending in a foreign currency?
Well, it gets a little complicated.How it works is you preload the card with different currencies, then the card picks up which country you’re in, and pays your charge using that currency.
This is how you avoid paying foreign currency transaction fees, because you’re not paying in a foreign currency at all – the card is preloaded with the local currency.
What currencies can you use?
- Canadian Dollars,
- U.S. Dollars,
- British Pounds,
- Japanese Yen,
- Australian Dollars, and
- Mexican Pesos.
While many common currencies are covered, it’s far from an extensive list. The worst part is you’ll pay 1.5% a transaction fee on purchases in Canada, so be sure to not use this card at home. Only use the Canadian currency on your card as a means to fund the foreign currencies.
Cash Passport Mastercard fees
So, besides the initial fee of $15 to get the card, what other fees are involved?
Here are some of the more common ones you may encounter with this card.
Loading more money on the card
Every time you load money on the card, you’ll pay a flat fee of 3 Canadian Dollars.
But there aren’t any fees to pay for exchanging money between the various currencies you have on the card. Only the exchange rate will apply.
So, when you load anything onto the card, be sure to do large amounts at a time to minimize how many times you’ll need to pay this fee.
There’s a flat fee for withdrawing currency from either an ATM or over the counter at a bank.
Here’s the charge for each of the various currencies. All charges displayed are in the local currency.
- Canadian Dollars – $3
- U.S. Dollars – $2.50
- Euros – €1.90
- British Pounds – £1.70
- Japanese Yen – ¥275
- Australian Dollars – $3
- Mexican Pesos – $32
These fees are in addition to what the local bank may charge as well.
These certainly aren’t terrible – in fact, they’re better than most credit cards, depending on how much is withdrawn. But some prepaid cards waive these fees completely.
Foreign exchange fees for other currencies
The last major fee to highlight is what you’ll pay for using any other currency not included with the card, or if you have insufficient funds in one of your loaded currencies.
You’ll pay 3.25% foreign currency transaction fee for a currency that either isn’t loaded, you don’t have enough preloaded for (in which case they’ll use a different currency to cover the rest of the purchase), or you’re paying in any other currency that isn’t available for this card.
This is much higher than any credit card in Canada (usually around 2.5%). Be sure to only use the card for the currencies it offers, and make sure you have enough loaded for your desired currency as well.
Unloading your card
Want to get back all of the money you loaded onto the card? There’s a flat $20 fee to pay, and you’ll get all the money you have loaded on your card back.
Want to see what other fees are involved with this card? This PDF has all the details on the Cash Passport Mastercard.
Alternatives cards to consider
So while the Cash Passport Mastercard is intriguing and convenient, it’s far from perfect.
You have limited currencies to choose from (although some of the most popular ones are included), and you can’t use it in Canada without being charged extra fees.
If that doesn’t sound great to you, here are a couple of other alternatives to consider. All of these options don’t require a fee to get a card, and the prepaid option won’t charge you for loading currency either.
Plus you won’t be limited to a handful of currencies – the 2.5% fee will always be waived no matter where you are.
On top of that, you’ll get rewards on everything you buy. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Want to see more credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees? You can find our favourites here.
|Card||Welcome Bonus||Earn Rate||Annual Fee||Apply Now|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa||None||* 1% cash back on all purchases||None||Apply Now|
|KOHO Premium Prepaid Visa||An extra 1% cash back in the first 90 days when you use promo code CCGBONUS (terms)||* 2% cash back on groceries & dining purchases
* 0.5% on all other purchases
|$84 annual fee, or $9 monthly||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express||25,000 points (terms)||* 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment purchases
* 3 points per $1 on gas, transit, and select streaming services
* 1 point per $1 on all purchases, including foreign transactions
A top no annual fee foreign transaction credit card
Our top no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee credit card is the
In addition to charging no foreign exchange or annual fees, you’ll also get:
- 1% cash back on all purchases,
- complimentary roadside assistance, and
- car rental insurance.
It’s a great card for your no foreign exchange fee needs.
A prepaid alternative
Is a prepaid card more your thing? The
For an annual fee of $84 (or $9 per month) you’ll earn rewards on every purchase you make:
- 2% cash back on gas, groceries, restaurants, and transit purchases, and
- 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Don’t like the look of the fee? The regular
Anytime you like, you can upgrade to the Premium Version. Pay the $9 monthly fee, enjoy your fx fee savings, then switch back to regular KOHO when you’re finished.
Though regular KOHO doesn’t waive the foreign transaction fee, it does charge a lower foreign exchange fee rate of 1.5%, saving you 1% every time. Plus you’ll still earn 0.5% cash back on all your purchases.
As an added bonus, use our promo code CCGBONUS when you sign up, and you’ll earn a bonus 1% cash back during the first 90 days.
A top, premium card with no foreign exchange fees
Want a premium card that also has no foreign transaction fees? The
For an annual fee of $120, and low annual income requirements of $12,000 personal, you’ll not only pay no foreign transaction fees, but earn lots of rewards as well:
- 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment purchases,
- 3 points per $1 on gas, transit, and select streaming services, and
- 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
With a Scotia Rewards point worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel, that’s up to a 5% return on your spending. Just note that all foreign currency purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent, regardless of category.
For plenty of rewards, no foreign transaction fees and great insurance, this card is the complete package.
So, while the Cash Passport Mastercard seems like a convenient card for no foreign exchange fees, it not only has fees involved, but there are limits to where it can be used.
Other no foreign exchange cards would actually suit you better – unless you’re leaving on a trip in the next few days and want the no fx savings before you leave.
What are your thoughts on the Cash Passport Mastercard?
Do you feel the other cards we listed are better suited?
Let us know in the comments below.