If you’re planning a trip soon and you’re looking for a safe and convenient way to save on foreign exchange fees, load up on foreign funds when the rate is good and avoid unnecessary trips to your local bank – the CIBC Air Canada AC conversion Visa Prepaid Card could be the answer.

Comes with easy top ups and 0% foreign transaction fees.

Or, as an alternative, a no foreign exchange fee credit card could be what you’re looking for.

The woes of foreign currency exchange

If you’re an avid traveler, you know that going into the bank to convert your Canadian dollars to Euros, or US Dollars, or to whatever other foreign currency you need for your trip…is a huge inconvenience. Here’s how it works right now:

  • First, you often need to call your bank ahead of time to make sure that your bank has the currency you’re looking for on hand (…and if they don’t have what you need, you’ll need to wait and you may even need to pay a delivery fee.)
  • Then, by the time your bank does get your desired currency, the exchange rate could be completely different and you could end up missing out on a pretty nice exchange rate.
  • Finally, you need to figure out what to do with your piles of freshly converted cash. While yes, carrying around a couple thousand dollars can feel kinda baller – it can also be dangerous. You could lose it or it could be taken from you…

Sure, the same thing can happen with any debit or credit card you have on hand while traveling – but if you catch it quick enough, you can cancel those cards and be issued new ones.

Getting that lost or stolen cash back? Not that easy.

Related: Best US Dollar Credit Cards

Cash alternatives

Cash, of course, isn’t your only option when shopping in foreign currencies. Many choose to use debit or credit cards for travel and shopping – whether abroad or online.

Not only can these options come with hidden fees, but you are at the mercy of whatever the exchange rate happens to be that day. If your debit card is stolen, the thieves could now have access to your savings account.

Luckily, credit cards come with fraud protection ‒ so if your credit card is stolen, as long as you’ve taken measures to protect your card, you should never be responsible for fraudulent purchases. Even though the AC Conversion card isn’t a traditional credit card and has your money stored directly on it, you are still covered by Visa’s zero liability policy.

Enter the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa prepaid card

Another great alternative to cash while traveling is to carry a prepaid Visa that carries your needed currency right on that card for you (although, it is always good to have some cash on hand for emergencies) – and even better would be a card that can hold more than one currency for you.

This prepaid card comes with no annual fee and the ability to have up to 10 different currencies on it at once:

  • Canadian Dollars (CAD)
  • US Dollars (USD)
  • Euros (EUR)
  • British Pounds (GBP)
  • Mexican Pesos (MXN)
  • Hong Kong Dollars (HKD)
  • Australian Dollars (AUD)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Turkish Lira (TRY)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)

These funds can be used online, in stores and restaurants and even at an ATM for withdrawing local currency – anywhere that Visa is accepted.

How to get the card?

Before you get your CIBC Air Canada AC conversion Visa Prepaid Card, you will need to have one of the supported currencies on hand (other than Canadian Dollars), and that is what you need to initially load your card.

How to load the card?

Once your card and account is all set up, you will be able to load your card with any of the 10 supported currencies, including Canadian dollars. To do this, you just need to login at acconversion.cibc.com and use your account’s online dashboard. Exchange rates can change from time to time and are not final until the transaction is completed and the exchange rate that you will be given at any given time will be displayed to you prior to the completion of your transaction – allowing you to make sure you can take advantage of the best possible rates.

How your card balance is debited?

Each time you make a transaction with your card, CIBC will first attempt to complete the transaction using that supported currency. However, if you do not have an adequate amount of that currency loaded on your card, your card will then try to complete the transaction with one of the other supported currencies loaded on the card until the whole purchase amount has been paid in full – this will happen in the order of priority set out above.

If you are trying to make a purchase in a currency that is not one of the above supported currencies, than your card will also follow the priority list above, starting with any Canadian funds loaded to the card. Every currency after any Canadian Dollars that need to be used to cover your purchase, will first be converted into Canadian Dollars and then used until the amount has been paid in full. (It’s important to note that any purchase made outside of the supported currencies will also have an extra 2.5% foreign transaction fee added to it).

The fees

What about the fees?

There are no fees for initially setting up the card, and unless you’re in a hurry and want your card shipped to you by a Courier, than you can enjoy this card for no cost – other than the cost of your initial deposit.

If you do happen to lose your card, you will be charged a $25 replacement fee, which isn’t ideal, but knowing you money is safe and can be easily transferred to the new card that you order could be worth the replacement fee on it’s own.

Check out the below screenshot taken from the CIBC website of the fees that could be attached to your CIBC Air Canada AC conversion Visa Prepaid Card:

 CIBC Air Canada AC conversion Visa Prepaid Card list of fees

The downsides

There are a few things that make this card, less than ideal.

While this card does give you unlimited ATM withdrawals inside Canada, while traveling outside of the country it only allows you one free ATM withdrawal monthly – after that, CIBC will charge you anywhere from $3 – $5 (on top of whatever the ATM you uses charges you). While one withdrawal a month doesn’t seem like much, the reason is that is card is meant to be treated more like a credit card, than a debit card.

Also, while this card is a nice convenience, some of the transaction limits are a little less so. Note the following chart:

Transaction limits CAD equivalent
Minimum load amount (single transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single transaction) $2,999.99 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $19,999 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $2,999 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $1,999 CAD equivalent

When this card makes sense?

The bottom line? If you’re someone who travels frequently and you tend to stay on top of the changing exchange rates, this Visa prepaid card from CIBC could be a great addition to your wallet. If you could lock in some of the better exchange rates on the market, it could make this card worth it for you.

A no fee FX prepaid alternative

For simpler, prepaid card alternatives, here is a great option that will let you make purchases in any currency and still get no foreign transaction fees.

KOHO Premium Visa

If you want more from a prepaid card, the may be up your alley.

It too offers no foreign exchange fees on purchases made in any currency, and lets you earn rewards for an annual fee of $84 (or a $9 monthly fee).

  • 2% cash back on groceries, gas, restaurants and transit purchases, and
  • 0.5% cash back on everything else.

It’s a great prepaid alternative to consider.

To top it off, use code “CCGBONUS” on sign up for either Regular or Premium and receive an extra 1% cash back for the first 90 days.

No fee FX credit card alternative

If you’re unwilling to sacrifice your credit cards rewards when shopping in a foreign currency, there’s always this standout no foreign exchange fee credit cards worth considering.

Home Trust Preferred Visa

The is one of our top no foreign exchange fee credit cards, and it’s not hard to see why.

You’ll earn a flat rate of 1% on ALL of your purchases, plus have all the foreign exchange fees waived – giving you an increased return of 3.5% for no annual fee.

And it’s that net return that really gives this card an edge over the prepaid Visa, which won’t earn you any rewards. You’ll get the best case scenario possible – no fees on your foreign transactions, no annual fee, and rewards on your spending.