Definitely Don’t Use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard

Hang out in Canadian Miles & Points circles for long enough, and you might hear through the grapevine that the mysterious Paypower Prepaid MasterCard is the secret avenue to generating huge volumes of points in a very short time.


However, you might also hear news reports about how Paypower can rob unwitting users of hundreds of dollars’ worth of their money.

And yet, you might also hear one of your favourite Miles & Points bloggers – I can’t remember exactly which one – mentioning offhand that Paypower is what allowed them to rack up enough Marriott Bonvoy points to fund spectacular trips to places like the St. Regis Bali, Mystique Santorini, and Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai

But still you might’ve heard many anecdotes about Paypower’s poor customer service, as well as horror stories of people being separated from their Paypower funds for months on end when Paypower decided to block their account out of the blue.

So what’s the verdict on this card? Well, I thought I’d do some in-depth research myself on this beautiful early April day, and I’ve concluded that the best way to proceed with Paypower is… definitely don’t use it. 

Paypower Comes With Fees

The Paypower Prepaid MasterCard is a reloadable prepaid debit card that can be purchased and reloaded at many grocery outlets across Canada. 

Proponents of Paypower might champion the ability to load the card at a grocery store using a credit card that earns 5x the point on grocery purchases, and there’s no doubt that large volumes of purchases at the 5x level will boost your points balance very quickly.

What’s being overlooked here, however, is the fees.

Buying, loading, and withdrawing money from Paypower cards comes with fees at every step, and no one likes paying fees, do they?


Buying a new Paypower Prepaid MasterCard off the shelf will cost you $9.95 plus taxes. And once the card is activated, you’ll get charged a $4.95 monthly fee once a month going forward. 

Then, every time you reload the card, you’ll pay a reload fee of $6.95 for the privilege of doing so. Let’s pick a totally arbitrary amount that one might choose to load – say, $500 – in this case, you’d actually be charged $506.95 at the till.

To rub further salt into your financial wounds, there’s an additional $1.95 withdrawal fee for every time you happen to withdraw money from the ATM. If you wanted to withdraw – oh I don’t know, let’s say $400 – from your account, then your balance would decrease by $400 and would then be dinged a further $1.95.  

So let’s do some math here. You may have charged the $506.95 purchase to a credit card that earns 5x points at a grocery store, thus netting 2,535 points. In doing so, however, you’ve spent at least $9.95 + $4.95 + 6.95 + $1.95 = $23.80 on the activation, loading, and withdrawing process.

Are 2,535 points worth the $23.80 expense? Well, in the end that’s something that each person can only decide for themselves, but I know that the notoriously risk-averse and tight-fisted readership here at Prince of Travel will most likely decide against it. 

Definitely don’t use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard, because those fees are nothing less than daylight robbery, I tell you.

People at the Grocery Store Will Look at You Funny

Like all gift card purchases, most grocery stores will only deal with Paypower activations and reloads at the Customer Service desk, rather than any of the open cashiers. And since most of the cashiers rarely deal with Paypower cards, they’re bound to look at you funny when you stroll up with a stack of cards and ask to load $500 on each of them.

Invariably, you’ll hear all sorts of responses from the 20-year-old behind the counter working the night shift:

“Do we even carry these?”

“You can’t load these with a credit card, it’s policy.”

“I need to check with my supervisor to load these, and she’s not here right now. Come back tomorrow.”

Even if you chatted up the store supervisor and made it a habit to only visit the store when the supervisor was around, the actual process of loading cards can take a good few minutes. 

“$500 on each, as usual?”

“$500 on each, as usual?”

(And if you’ve somehow convinced enough of your friends and family members to let you use cards in their names as well, then you can expect to wait at least 2–3 minutes for the one-metre-long receipt showing all the gift card activations to print.)

Do you really want to be that person holding up the entire Customer Service queue, attracting sighs of frustration from the guy who’s just looking to pick up some cigarettes, the lady who just wants her daily lotto ticket, and the grandma who’s ready to raise hell about a $0.50 price match on the Campbell’s soup – all while you rack up a $5,000 bill on your reloads in broad daylight?

Definitely don’t use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard – you don’t want to be a weirdo at your local Sobeys.

ATM Withdrawals Can Be Risky

There’s something about standing at the ATM and withdrawing stacks of cash that feels… kind of sketchy, isn’t there? 

Your local bank or credit union’s staff might easily get suspicious if they see someone cycling through several different cards at their ATM for several minutes on end, and if you weren’t careful and happened to patronize an ATM that’s right across the street from the Toronto Police Station, then you might suddenly find yourself engaging an audience of suspicious police officers as to what on earth you’re up to.

“Officers, there’s this thing called manufactured spending…”

“Officers, there’s this thing called manufactured spending…”

That’s not to mention how nerve-wracking it can be to be walking or driving around town with thousands of dollars in cash on your person as you head to the bank.

It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t prepared to get your tailor’s help in equipping your coat with a few extra cash pockets on the inseam.

And on top of all that, as much fun as it can be to stroll into your local bank branch every day and pull out wads of cash from your coat pocket like Pablo Escobar himself, you’re bound to attract some questions as to where these stacks upon stacks of fresh $20 bills are coming from.

Definitely don’t use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard, because the ATM withdrawals can be a pain to deal with. And to be honest? They aren’t even the most practical way to withdraw your balance in the first place. 

Your Money May Be Held for Months

Some of you daredevils out there might, for whatever reason, decide to ignore my advice and go ahead and use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard anyway. 

If that’s you, you should know that Paypower tends to take a rather dim view of cardholders who don’t do anything besides loading and withdrawing money.

(It seems totally crazy, but they appear to have a slight preference for clients who use their Paypower cards for organic daily purchases as well.)

Therefore, it might be advisable to throw some organic spending activity in there. You may as well use your Paypower card to grab a coffee after performing your daily cash drop at the bank, or to buy your weekly groceries since you’ll be at the store anyway. Oh, and don’t forget to swipe your Paypower at the tailor’s when you pick up your new-and-improved cash coat as well.

There’s always a chance, however, that Paypower will elect to block your account at any time – it’s right there in the cardholder terms and conditions that they “may terminate this Agreement at any time, with or without cause.” 


And if that happens, you should be prepared that it may take several weeks or months for any outstanding funds to be returned to you in the form of a cheque, so don’t play around with money that you can’t afford to part ways with for an extended period.

Of course, ultimately there’s a much easier way to avoid all of these issues in the first place…


…just definitely don’t use the Paypower Prepaid MasterCard.

  1. Harold P Sinister

    Update – 2 years later, still using the card, still no problems. Yes, their customer service is a gong show, but it’s better than waiting on hold for 2 hours with a big bank, just to get shuffled to oblivion and hung up on.

    To date – total cobalt points earned = 450,000. Transferred all to Marriott or Aeroplan during transfer bonuses. The fun continues. I’d gladly outlay 6.95 for 2500 cobalt points, which then increase upon transfer. I think the article should be titled “Don’t use this ……(if you have millions flowing in from big bank credit card affiliate links)

  2. Chris

    LOL, I’m not sure which is better, the article or John’s righteous indignation.

  3. Brian

    Thanks for this info, we’ll laid out! So do you have a recommendation for a different / better way to maximize points with the Cobalt?

  4. JC

    In light of current events it would be prudent to take this article literally – despite the date of its publication.

  5. "User"

    I know this whole blog entry is a joke but still, I’ve been using paypower aggressively for a while, zero problems at the highest tier level. Fees are miniscule, spend involves purchases at vending machines and nothing large, and 5% back is well worth any risk. The only "hard part" is finding a grocery store that is aware of what paypower is and has no problems with it. That took me about 4 trips before I found a Sobey’s that not only knows what it is, they have instructed all their staff about how it works. Been going there for a year and it’s been flawless.

    Just remember to put at least some spend on paypower that’s not for 5% like an concessional fill up for gas or other small purchases.

  6. Burned

    Not sure if this is a poorly-executed April Fool’s joke or not, but some points are quite true. People’s Trust Company (who runs Paypower) have 0 customer service and will, without warning, cancel cards and hold onto your funds for up to 2 months. This has happened to me twice. Despite what they might say about not being in control of the funds – that’s nonsense. They hold onto them to earn interest on the money, and it’s a source of revenue for them. When this happened to me, I filed a complaint with BBB and got my money returned far earlier than 8 weeks.

    So, if you’re going to use the card, just don’t carry a balance on it. Add the funds and withdraw them on the same day, or you might get forced into making People’s Trust Company a 0% interest loan for a few months.

  7. DG

    Judging from the comments here, this was a brilliant April Fool’s post. Bravo.

    1. John

      Yes my first thought too. But this post had WAY too much real information and purposeful DIS-information. Very unlike PoT to give a recipe for MS. Blog is still up too. This is a respected site people go to … why make a mockery of it? If it is a joke, he is the fool. Maybe too much time on his hands with no travel consulting and unable to book travel for a while. You OK Ricky?

      1. Serge

        I don’t know what world you’re living in but this post was clearly satirical and didn’t have any real information at all.

  8. John Doe

    I don’t get charged with the monthly fee. Last time I was charged was in January. Is it all the good karma I have gathered over the years or am I in for a rude awakening when I reuse the card next?:p

    P.S: The comment section on this thread is GOLD!

  9. John

    I don’t know what Ricky is trying to do here. There is definitely a personal agenda. He has used PayPower himself (you can see a few of these cards in one of his videos). Yes some of those caveats he mentions are true – I have used the product for quite a while and yes you need to be careful if you are going to push the envelope and yes the Customer Service sucks. But this is not typical PoT … it leaves out a lot of information and, unlike his other blogs, it is poorly written and amateurish. Even his numbers to dissuade readers are off base (come on Ricky). Telling people to be embarrassed and worried about holding the line at Sobeys and to expect an army of suspicious police officers … Really?? Talk about hyperbole. What is going on Ricky?? You’re too good to putting out crap like this.

    1. Peter

      My guess is Ricky’s PayPower account gets suspended, and he is really pissed off.

    2. Lev

      Relax, look at the date, if you can’t see past the obvious sarcasm in the post (and in the comments too) then you’ve been fooled.

      1. John

        Thought of that … but the post is still here for viewing and not removed … easier ways to make an April fools prank. Why blog about a VERY controversial MS method and do it in a manner that make his site look like a fringe conspiracy theory outlet. He has the best travel/points website in Canada so why basically tarnish your own reputation? If it was meant jokingly, it was a bad decision and I will leave it at that.

  10. Aleks

    "however, you’ve spent at least $6.95 + $4.95 = $11.90 on the loading and withdrawing process" where is the $4.95 from?

    1. Ricky YVR

      I’ve clearly made a fool of myself here – the math should be corrected now.

      1. Aleks

        haha love the correction

    2. miles

      monthly fee is 4.95

  11. Steve

    PayPower and Cobalt is definitely not a good pairing, American Express specifically includes fine print that calls out that purchases of cash equivalents, including gift cards are not eligible for point earnings. So while they might not enforce it when making the purchase, the last thing anyone wants is the points taken away after paying the fees and being ready to redeem them.

  12. Ryan

    Paypower are a bunch of crooks. They called my house to question purchases and broke confidentiality, telling my wife about charges at florists and jewelry stores that she wasn’t supposed to know about.

  13. Gabriel C

    I have a similar experience as above – I was using the card with no issue for about a month and half before boom, I was unable to login to my account all of a sudden. Luckily I didn’t have that much cash held up (about $800). This happened way back in November last year and to date I have still NOT gotten my damn money back! Sure I’m not in danger of losing my house cause of this but it’s still friggin’ BS. Would 100% agree with Ricky – avoid at all cost, it’s not worth the hassle.



  15. Lux Erus

    Folks, please don’t reload your PayPower cards during a pandemic. Don’t use it for organic spending either as it’s a swipe and sign card.

    1. Ricky

      This is the truth.

      Definitely don’t use the Paypower Reloadable MasterCard since you’d be brazenly flouting the #StayHome rules in doing so.

    2. Rickyinyyc

      Why not? I don’t trust contactless so I always swipe and sign it you use pin

      1. Glen

        Rickyinyyc how can a well seasoned cc churner like yourself not "trust" contactless?

        What’s not to trust? For low amounts, you tap or hover your card above the terminal, and payment is taken. As any diligent cc holder, you review your statements I’m assuming, to catch anything that shouldn’t be on there.

        In these days I would hope your health and the health of others is more important than 5x the points. No need to needlessly have contact with others in times like these.

  16. Drake

    I had my money held for almost 5 months. They will arbitrarily ban you and hold your money while giving you little to no recourse. How this company is still allowed to operate I do not know!

  17. Andrew

    I’ve heard horror stories about people needing to deal funds being held by PayPower or being edited by their bank for too much suspicious activity, both on the purchasing side and the depositing side. If you though an Amex Financial Review was bad, this is a whole ‘nother world.

  18. Hannah

    But, Ricky, stop waffling and tell us what you really feel????

  19. Colin S

    I made the unfortunate mistake of trusting these dam bstards with my money. For 4 months I was hit with both sides, my issuer and from the god awful People’s Trust that run this entire scheme. Locked up $3400 for no reason and at the time I was fine but I was unfortunate t also lose my job at the time. I had to take out a loan just to keep food on the table and pay rent. People’s Trust nearly destroyed my finances and bankrupt me. Take Ricky’s advice to heart or you’ll be dealing with these POS.

    1. Nomadic taverner

      Sounds like it’s more your fault for

      A) not having an emergency fund

      B) loading too much

      Ain’t nothing wrong with people’s trust there as they are, after all, trying to stop crooks like you.

    2. Sa

      I had a similar situation. It looked fascinating at first, so I got my parents to sign up too. They let me use their cards, and within a week everything was shut down with about $14,000 locked up. It took 3 months and a lot of back and forth to finally get my money back. I would never deal with these crooks again. Steer clear.

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