If you’re a credit card buff or if you frequent personal finance forums and blogs, you may have already heard about the new card that Scotiabank dropped recently – the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.

There are a few reason why this card is making waves, but the main feature of this card that has people talking is the fact that it waives foreign currency exchange fees…

The holy grail of all rare credit card features.

Foreign Currency Transaction Fees

If you’re new to credit cards, or even new to online or cross border shopping, a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees might not be high on your “must have” list.

What you may not realize is that every time you use your credit card to make a purchase in a foreign currency, 99 cards out of 100 charge you an extra fee – almost always 2.5%.

Every time you travel in a foreign country and use your credit card, you’re also being dinged with this fee on every transaction.

And that 2.5% can add up quickly.

Recap of recent credit card events

The Canadian market has recently lost key credit cards that do waive the foreign transation fee, leaving the competition for this category almost non existent. Until…

Scotiabank decided to put their name in the ring by offering the only travel-focused no FX fee card currently on the market. As a standalone travel credit card, it’s already good, but add on the no FX fee aspect and it becomes an amazing card for travel enthusiasts.

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Only 300 gift cards available.
Offer ends October 31st, 2018.

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card Specs

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a premium travel card with:

  • flexible rewards,
  • spending bonuses on desirable purchases,
  • a nice sign up bonus,
  • a solid insurance package, and
  • juicy perks.

Check out the specs here:

Annual Fee $139 (reduced to $69 if account is part of a Scotia Total Equity Plan)
Income Requirement $60,000 personal or $100,000 household
Sign Up Bonus 25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in 3 months
Avg. Earn Rate 1.25% (when points are used for travel purchases through Scotia Rewards Travel Service)
Rewards
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, entertainment and daily transit.
Insurance 12 types of purchase and travel insurance included
Notable Features
  • No foreign currency exchange fee
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership and 6 free lounge visits per year
  • Complementary Avis Preferred Plus Membership
  • Visa Infinite Concierge, as well as other Visa Infinite benefits
  • 10,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points annually if you spend a minimum of $40,000 per year on the card
  • One free secondary card
Learn More Learn more

If you a traveller and are able to take advantage of all the great benefits that go along with this card ‒ then it would be a great addition to your wallet.

Two downsides

There are really only two downsides of this card:

  • the $139 annual price tag and…
  • the minimum income requirement is a little on the higher side.

Offset the annual fee with the sign up bonus

If you are able to qualify for the 10,000 bonus points, you’ll essentially be getting an extra $100 worth of travel. Pit that against your $139 annual fee and now the cost becomes $40 for the first year.

Also, if your account is part of a Scotia Total Equity Plan, your annual fee will actually be reduced to $69. Plus, any secondary cards, after your first free additional card, will be reduced to $25 (instead or $50). Shoutout to our reader, Guylaine, for bringing that to our attention.

(And as for the income requirement, it may be worth noting that not all minimum income requirements are set in stone – with good credit, you can always try your luck and see what happens.)

Q & A with Scotiabank’s Senior VP of Credit Cards

I had the chance to chat with Brett Mooney, Scotiabank’s Senior Vice President of Credit Cards and ask him a few questions about this brand new card that is already turning heads.

What sets the new Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card apart from other flexible rewards cards from other banks that typically have a $120 annual fee or less?

Brett shared that the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is pretty unique positioned in the Canadian travel credit card space in that it gives you all of the following:

  • the 0% foreign currency conversion fees
  • a segment leading 6 free lounge passes every year
  • 2x the rewards in several key categories including groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and daily transit (including ride sharing like Uber)
  • Superiour insurance benefits including rare decent coverage for those over 65 years old
  • the ability to redeem for ANY travel purchased from ANY travel provider charged to the card
  • a 10,000 point recurring annual bonus when you spend $40,000 or more on the card
  • a free secondary card that many other premium cards charge $50 for

While any one of those things might not justify the increase $20 to $40 annual fee, my opinion is that all of them combined certainly do.

Some other banks are willing to waive their premium credit card annual fees if you also have a premium banking plan. Is this something Scotiabank would consider doing as well?

This isn’t something currently being considered because they are confident all the benefits that come with the card are fully worth the annual fee.

How do you think this card compares to the new American Express Cobalt card that offers up to 5x rewards on food?

Brett thinks that the Passport Visa Infinite card has some clear advantages that the Cobalt card doesn’t offer.

The lounge passes are worth up to $260 all by themselves every year. Additionally the no FX fee makes the card great for purchases while travelling.

Are there any other point conversion options other than SCENE rewards and how does that conversion work exactly?

ScotiaRewards does offer access to a wide variety of rewards and merchandise. You can even shop directly on Apple and a few other websites using your points.

However, in terms of actual conversions to another rewards program, SCENE is the only one currently being offered with these conversion rates:

  • 1,000 Scotia Rewards points = 770 SCENE points
  • 1,000 SCENE points = 950 Scotia Rewards points

Where does this card excel in terms of insurance coverage and have you actively tried to provide better insurance coverage with this card? How important do you think insurance coverage is for cardholders?

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite offers a deeper level of travel insurance than most cards in this annual fee range offer:

  • Travel medical is 25 days which is longer than the typical 15 days
  • Rare travel medical for seniors over 65 for 10 days
  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption with a higher than typical per person cap of $2,500.
  • Rare price protection coverage so you can get a refund if you ever spot a cheaper price on something you buy.
  • High delayed and lost baggage limit of $1,000 per person. $1,000 is also the cap for all travelling companions combined.

What is the main demographic you are targeting with this new card?

Scotiabank’s consumer research has shown that 80% of customers want to be rewarded for their purchases but only 34% of them are satisfied with the rewards their bank rewards program gives them.

They aimed to target anyone who want to both enrich their lives and enjoy an elevated travel experience. In particular urban professionals, parents with children, and retirees who enjoy travel were top of mind as possible cardholders.

There are large difference between the old ScotiaGold Passport Visa and this new Infinite version. Can we expect a refresh to the gold version as well?

There are no current plans to refresh the Gold version of the Passport Visa but Brett said they continually review all their products and solicit feedback from their customers and are always open to making adjustments when necessary.

What are your thoughts?

What do you think about the new Passport Visa Infinite card from Scotiabank?

Is this the no foreign currency exchange fee card you have been waiting for?

Let us know what you think in the comments.