2012 Best Canadian Prepaid Mastercards and Prepaid Visa Cards

It's not quite 2012, but the financial world is usually a sleepy one over Christmas and New Years.

Here's the likely list for 2012. I'll be sure to update it if anything manages to change. I hope it does, but I must say that the options today are far better than they were a few years ago. It's a good time to be alive!   

Prepaid Card as a Credit Card Replacement

If you're someone that needs a Visa or Mastercard, but for some reason, can't get one (eg: bad credit/no credit), the best option is the BMO Prepaid Travel Mastercard. If you fall into this category, secured credit cards can also be an option. The word "travel" is just marketing, you can get one even if you've never left your home. Their credit check is just for identity verification, they don't care about your score. You don't need a BMO account to get one. The rates are very reasonable. It has a 3 year expiry date and has an annual fee of just $6.95. It used to be $9.95 for all 3 years, but I guess they jacked up the price since they had no real competition.. You can add money from any chequing account (and it doesn't have to be a BMO one) simply by making a bill payment and waiting one or two business days. If you have a BMO account, your transfers are instant or you can even go into any BMO branch and add funds with cash. As usual, my mini-review article on it is here.        

Very Anonymous, On-line only, Non-reloadable

3v Cash. It's barely a "card", more like a set of numbers and an expiry date. Expiry date is 90 days. Cost varies from $2.95 for a $20 voucher to $6.95 for a $250-$500 voucher.  Available at Esso, Canadian Tire and a bunch of other retailers (use their search bot). My more in-depth article on 3v Cash is here.                                      

Not Very Anonymous, Good Availability, One-off       

RBC Prepaid Visa Gift Card (they require that you show ID to purchase, but that doe    sn't mean the person using it is the person that bought it, they are gift cards after all). $3.95 load fee for a card with a value of $25-$500. You don't need to be an RBC client either. My more in-depth article on the RBC Prepaid card is here.
Canada Post Visa GIFT card. Watch out, there is a non-GIFT card, for which the BMO Prepaid card as described above is a better option. It supposedly doesn't require ID, but this may vary.      
Vanilla Visa Prepaid Card (also available in a Mastercard that doesn't allow you to register an address I believe, so the Visa version is more flexible) - Available from many retailers, like Shoppers Drug Mart.    
VanCity Credit Union has good cards available if you live in BC and are accessible to them.                     

Where not to buy a Prepaid Visa or Prepaid Mastercard in Canada

Any of the cheque-cashing places. Chances are, if it's advertised on the TV or radio, they're paying for that advertising by charging YOU larger or sneaky fees.

When dealing with finances, I'm the type of person that would rather work with a larger financial institution, rather than a very small operation. With a Canadian bank, you can go to the teller to sort things out, send them an email and they'll reply, and generally, go up the chain of command. You also have the possibility of writing to the bank's ombudsman, who is supposed to be impartial and resolve disputes that haven't been resolved. Even if that fails, the banks have regulators that you could complain to. It might take you time, but if you're in the right, you should get your way... eventually. I had to do this with Scotiabank once, and it was a good experience. All other big banks follow the same process, so it's a good read if you ever have a problem.   


On april 6, 2013 I bought a Canada post prepaid visa I put $145.00 on it and I bought something online that same day and the canada post prepaid visa charge me extra for it. The order was $89.10 and the Canada prepaid chrage me a total of a $107.52 for the total order. And when I asked them or confronted them they gave me the run around about. This was my first time buying the card and it will be my last time buying the card. When especially they say that they do not charge any other fees. But what they did is actually hide they fees.

The Ideal Choice Master Card

The Ideal Choice Master Card sucks stick with Vanilla

post canada prepaid

I would recomend staying away from this card unless you need instant reload in the card. they charge 3$ to reload for each transaction plus 3$ maintanence fee every month!! card initially cost 10$ and you need to register. the only advantage is that reloading is easy just go to any post canada and add found cash, debit not sure about credit card and money is instant no need to wait 2-3 business days.

Zoompass used to have a good

Zoompass used to have a good MasterCard that supported PayPass, for some reason they switched to Visa, and it doesn't have PayWave, but it's re-loadable, no fees to reload (as far as I can tell, finally just got it in the mail), and no annual fee. I was using the BMO one before, but I won't be getting a new one when it expires, not interested in paying an annual fee if I don't have to ($7 isn't bad if there really were no option though).


Vancity gift cards were OK, not often a problem in acceptance. But accessing mybalance website from overseas often a problem. It *should* have workh but the reality was different. I was six months away without being to verify balance online. As I understand it the balance service is subbed out to an American company, or at least a company with its office in USA.

RBC gift cards about same.

Advantages... Instant, can buy with cash, no problems buying $5000 worth if you want.

Disadvantages... Maximum $500 makes buying international airfares a hassle/impossible. In some cases companies will not do two smaller transactions as an alternative to one full one. I have no idea why. Some additional %s for car rental and airlines. I do not know the details. See about overseas issue.

CIBC Visa debit card. No car rental agents wilk accept them. I called CIBC for a list if which ones do. They have no list. They tell me the companies have to sign up.

Keep in mind that there is no true anonymity anymore. All the credit unions and banks have cameras. I do not know if one uses a phoney address whether they care. But so-called anonymity is misleading because if you order something online and your card registered address does not match shipping address, sometimes this can be a problem in my experience.

Some questionanabLe online subscriptions (sign up for one dolkar... Small print... Get rebilled at a million dollars a month eternally) won't accept gift cards with not enough balance to rip you off in the future

What I would like to see is a strategy file in for which purposes which cards are better. And from a privacy perspective.

Here's my situation. I have zero credit. I refuse to give my SIN to anyone unless absolutely required by law. I cannot prove residence as I am in and out of the country. I can prove my citizenship (passport). I have a bank account but even they refused me a basic credit card.

BTW, cursor is wonky in this website using Android.

cards in Lower Mainland of BC TODAY

I use gift cards for one additional reason, if I get scammed the loss a large amount of money is impossible. Also, because frankly I don't have a credit card and banks seem reluctant to give me one even though I am not strictly speaking poor.

Here are the results of today's brick and mortar (real world) enquiries at four places in the Lower Mainland of BC...


True the $250 gift card does not require ID, but the reloadable one DOES. What's more, the advertising that one can have up to CAD10,000 on it is misleading. As the PO employee volunteered to me, reloads are limited to $500 each and each one comes at a charge of $3, so the monopoly postal delivery service of Canada has sticky fingers and makes large purchases inconvenient and expensive.


3V cards appear to not exist in BC, at least not at Safeway and Shoppers Drug Mart. Here they have 'People's Trust' and some other company. And maximum denominations are $200. Whoop de doo. Activation fees vary from $25 to $200, for example on $100 it is $2. Monthly fee after 12 months is $2. Balance enquiry is free. Lost/stolen replacement fee is $20 (but free in Quebec, what gives?)


Prepaid MC. $7 for three years. Zero monthly fee. Can do preauthorized transactions (e.g. car rentals). Can apply online or with paper form (presumably in person, not by mail). She could not tell me FXS fee.


Now free online balance enquiries (used to be 0.50). $5 fee now $3, or was it $2? Asked to sign purchase, which seems to me eliminates anonymity, but my hurried initials worked.

other thoughts

In this comparison it is important to know if the card is considered a "one time use" card or not.
I have an example where you use an online service and they bill you $10 monthly. If you use some of these cards the online service will deny your card because they say the card is setup as "one time use" format by the issuer. Retailer said card has to be setup as recurring billing. This is something that I do not see mentioned much at all while doing comparisons.

I have a Moneymart pre-paid

I have a Moneymart pre-paid Visa. I have never had a problem with it in any fashion. I get credits on it within 2 business days.

Recently while travelling on Via Rail I was not able to use it because they would not accept it without a "chip". That was on the train.

I complained that I had bought the ticket on line with the card and had no trouble.

Is there anywhere else this could happen?

I contacted Money Mart and got a lame excuse that Visa would not issue a card with a chip because it was too expensive and Money Mart would have to raise their fees. Lame because there are millions of Visa cards issued with a chip.

Is there a prepaid card with a chip anywhere?

which one is good

If you are traveling to europe which card is good to use the bmo card or vanilla?

BMO, definitely. Call them

BMO, definitely. Call them before you leave just so they know where you'll be.

'Vanilla Visa' is not an

'Vanilla Visa' is not an 'online only' card since you receive a physical card with your purchase. It is incorrectly lumped into the 3V category.

Fixing right now. Not sure

Fixing right now. Not sure how I messed that one up.

BMO Increases fees for the Prepaid Travel Mastercard

On february 1st 2012, BMO just announced a great gift for everybody, massive fee increases for the Prepaid Travel Mastercard! It used to be 10$ for 3 years, now it's 7$ a year so 21$ for 3 years.

What a wonderful gift from BMO! At the same time, Laurentian Bank has just increased the no-fee checking account minimum balance from 1000$ to 3000$, without any warning to their customers. Now that makes me want to take 2000$ from my interest-bearing savings and put them in my interest-free account! After all, interest-free sure is free!

Thank you to all canadian banks for your wonderful gifts in this post-holiday season.

vanilla pre paid

we recieved a $75 prepaid card as a gift...6 months later we can,t use it...after several calls and faxes they cannot send a new card without the original reciept....Wow....what a scam

the ideal choice gift recipient electronique use only

bought 50 mastercard and can,t activitate it

vanilla prepaid visa

is there anyone here that could give me a pointer or too. I purchased a visa vanilla prepaid and it was not activated properly at shoppers. Both visa and shoppers do not know where my money is and givingme the roundabout! has anyone had this happen to them?

vanilla pre paid

we recieved a $75 prepaid card as a gift...6 months later we can,t use it...after several calls and faxes they cannot send a new card without the original reciept....Wow....what a scam

dont wait 6 month to use it

dont wait 6 month to use it next time dumbass

vanilla prepaid

Bought it at shoppers drug mart and is defective. Have to wait for about over a month to get another one from Vanilla (have not received any yet, still waiting).

Same here. Bought it at

Same here. Bought it at Shopper Drug Mart, it didn't get activated. Now I've been messing with it for two months faxing information, them "Misplacing" it, saying the fax was not received, or the fax was too poor of quality. Last time I ever buy one. I just needed it to order something online that I wasn't comfortable using my regular card.

BMO Pre-paid Mastercard

Note that BMO has changed the rules, their card is now a 1 year card and no longer offers the air miles option.

I still see it as being 3

I still see it as being 3 years, I've sent BMO an email to clarify.

BMO's response a few weeks

BMO's response a few weeks ago still said 3 years.
However, I now see that their fee structure has changed to $6.95/year instead of $9.95 total for 3 years.
I guess they were fearing more competition, but none emerged :(

Great review! I got a $200

Great review! I got a $200 prepaid mastercard over the holidays as a gift and it was a vanilla one. No issue using it online or registering the address... it's pretty much the same as the visa I've used before. I shopped online from a us store with no issues and was able to use the balance for grocery shopping with a split pay.

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