Stack Prepaid MasterCard: Now With FX Fees…

Launched in 2018, the Stack Prepaid MasterCard was known as one of the best ways for Canadians to make purchases and withdraw cash when abroad without incurring additional FX fees.

However, Stack will be making some major changes to its fee structure as of February 1, 2022, which will unfortunately nullify its FX advantage and make it fairly ineffective as a foreign spending solution. 

Here’s our updated review of the Stack Prepaid Mastercard following the unfavourable changes announced for 2022.

2.5% FX Fees as of February 2022

Stack’s strongest selling point until now was that it charged no foreign exchange fees and no ATM withdrawal fees, allowing cardholders to withdraw cash at foreign ATMs with minimal fees overall.

As of February 1, 2022, Stack will implement a 2.5% FX fee, matching most other financial products in Canada. 

The card will continue to offer an “effective 0% FX” benefit to cardholders who spend at least $350 (CAD) per month on the card, who will earn 2.5% of each month’s foreign purchases, up to $1,000 (CAD), deposited as cash back into their Stack account the following month. 

Nevertheless, this is clearly inferior to the standardized 0% FX fee that Stack previously offered.

Cardholders who spend less than $350 per month are still on the hook for the FX fees on their foreign purchases, while cardholders who spend more than $1,000 in foreign purchases per month will be on the hook for the FX fees on the excess amount.

Going forward, there is no longer a compelling reason to pick the Stack Prepaid Mastercard as a solution for your foreign spending or cash withdrawals. 

In terms of foreign purchases, consider one of the many Canadian credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, such as the HSBC World Elite Mastercard or the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

And for cash withdrawals, other prepaid products like the Wealthsimple Cash Card are fast emerging in Canada to serve this need. We’ll be following up this article shortly with a series of reviews of more prepaid cards in the Canadian market that can serve as alternatives to Stack. 

No ATM Withdrawal Fees

The Stack Prepaid Mastercard has historically charged, and will continue to charge, no domestic or international ATM withdrawal fees.

This means that unlike most bank accounts, you can withdraw cash from any foreign ATM without getting hit with fees on the Stack side.

Keep in mind that the ATM itself might charge a fee for using it. Across all of my travels, I’ve generally found that about half of the foreign ATMs I use will levy a fee on their end, and these fees tended to be mostly negligible (around $3). You’d have to pay this ATM fee if you were withdrawing via any other means too.

Loading the Stack Prepaid Mastercard

Stack is a prepaid card, so you need to load up the card with Canadian Dollar funds before using it.

Fortunately, loading the app is an easy process, and you have the options of Interac e-Transfer or cash deposit at a variety of locations within Canada.

Other Features

Stack partners with many popular Canadian retailers to give you cash back whenever you use your Stack card to make a purchase.

For example, you can enjoy small savings on your coffee, gas, and grocery purchases throughout the month, and there are also rotating offers from time to time with Stack’s other partner retailers.

As with many of these fintech startups, Stack’s wider mission seems to be to disrupt the banking industry, and it therefore also possesses features such as a real-time budgeting tool, a virtual card number for online purchases, and peer-to-peer money transfers in order to get you using the app more often. 

Lastly, Stack has made it easy to refer your friends and family to the card. You’ll earn up to $15 per referral, with no limits on how much in referral bonuses you can earn.

The person whom you referred will get a free $5 credit upon activating the card to start playing around with the app’s features immediately.

Get Stack

You can learn more about the Stack Prepaid Mastercard on their website, but you’ll have to download the app in order to sign up.

The app will perform a soft credit check to verify your identity, and after that, it takes about a week for the physical Stack card to be shipped in the mail.

If you’re interested in getting the Stack Prepaid Mastercard, free to sign up through our referral link for a quick-and-easy $5 bonus.

Conclusion

For a good few years, the Stack Prepaid Mastercard served a useful need for travellers to be able to withdraw cash when travelling abroad with minimal fees.

However, with their adoption of a 2.5% FX fee as of February 2022, Stack is no longer an ideal product for this purpose. It can still be a useful for the occasional promotional offer on it, but there’s very little to set it apart from its peers that also offer the same.

We’ll follow up this article with a series of reviews of more compelling prepaid cards in Canada that you might consider. 

32 Comments
  1. Daniel

    I am interested to know if the 2.5% conversion fee will apply for credit card transactions or also to ATM withdrawals when the amount withdrawn is converted to CAD?

  2. DavDai

    Yea this was my goto card for travel!! I liked how it notified you of actual CDN$$ spent at time of purchase if you have notifications set. As of Feb 1 it will go in the shredder as will have no use for it. I do have a Home Trust which will serve for time being. Wealthsimple Cash card with limited FX fees might be an alternative. Ill wait for your review Ricky!!

    1. DavDai

      Thanks Laura. I like WISE but wasn’t aware they opened the card to Canadians until now. Hopefully Ricky includes it in his review of travel cards!

  3. Donald Putt

    Hi Rick
    Tried to download Stack Mastercard App. It says the app is not available in this country (Canada)
    Suggestions please?

    Don

  4. Anne

    Another great post, Ricky. Do you have a review of Revolut in the works? I value your perspective on the best financial tools for travelling, and I’d be interested in your thoughts on how Revolut measures up to Stack. Cheers.

  5. Raymond Wrubel

    Ricky. I’m travelling to China and Japan later this year. Interested to know your experience with Stack Card in those two countries. Don’t want to take too much cash but want to make sure I can access it over there.

    Many thanks.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Seamless. The ATM I used in Japan charged me an ATM fee of about $2.50 CAD I believe, while the one I used in China didn’t charge me any ATM fee at all.

  6. A

    Hi Rick, just to make sure there will be no credit check to get this credit card?. Also I just chatted with the Stack rep and he said there will be ATM withdrawal fee depends on the ATM machine and this is include Canada and abroad. He said there is no list which ATM is fee waived. I am confused if this is still the best way to get foreign cash if ATM charge exist.

    1. Ricky YVR

      No credit check.

      ATM fees will exist at certain ATMs no matter which card you use – there’s no way around that if you need to withdraw cash. With Stack, you avoid foreign transaction fees, whereas you’d have to pay 2.5% with a bank card on top of the ATM fee.

  7. Ron

    Hello,

    Now that you have had the opportunity to use the card (I assume), has your conclusion that it is the best way to obtain foreign cash when travelling still hold? And a second question, if I may. Suppose one transfers more money than needed to the card (i.e. perhaps one simply overestimates or perhaps one needs to cancel at the last minute for health reasons), can one simply transfer the money back to one’s bank account free of charge or is will one have to simply spend it using the card.

    Thank you!

    1. Ricky YVR

      Yes, it does! I just used Stack this week in Cambodia, and did so earlier on my trip in Japan and China as well.

      If you’ve transferred extra money, you can spend it, or just withdraw it at an ATM in Canada in cash and put it back in your bank account.

  8. Jackie

    Heh Ricky, how does the stack compare to a/c conversion card?

    1. Ricky YVR

      It’s much better. The AC Conversion card still hits you with an added FX surcharge; it’s just embedded into the CIBC FX rate that you get when you convert your CAD loads into foreign currencies. Meanwhile, Stack converts your CAD funds into foreign currency at the time of withdrawal at the mid-market rate, so the only thing you’re paying is the ATM charge.

  9. Ralph

    If you want to get one before April, it seems you’re out of luck:
    "we will be unable to deliver cards until March 25th"

  10. AllanIceman YYZ

    Hi Ricky,

    Got my STACK card just in time for my trip to Singapore last week from your referral. It worked like a dream! I would load my STACK from interac a few mins before I withdrew from an ATM right on the app and I used ATMs with no fees so it was just the MC exchange rate!
    Thanks for putting STACK on my radar. This will be my go to method in the future.

  11. Eric Plaskacz

    Hi Ricky, I’m a marketing planner at STACK and I wanted to thank you for the great review! Let me know if you have any questions about the company or if you’d like to learn more about STACK. https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-plaskacz-2bb45125/

  12. keitherson

    Ricky, how do you have a Chase CSP as a Canadian?

  13. Mak YYZ

    Hi Ricky,
    I am currently using Rogers World Elite Master Card for all my foregin currency purchases (online, POS abroad) which gives the 4% cashback..Net result of cash back after FX charges will be 1.5%. Regarding Foreign Currency, i was charging the card with extra where the POS allowed and take the cash from the vendor.
    Now i am thinking of loading/paying extra to get negative balance on Rogers MC card and with draw at foregin ATM’s.
    I believe this method is equal to the STACK prepaid card? or am i missing something
    But going forward, i am thinking of putting

    1. Ricky YVR

      I wasn’t aware that there were many stores out there that would let you charge extra to the POS and withdraw cash from a credit card. That seems like it should be pretty rare, since otherwise it’s a costless cash advance opportunity.

      The pre-paying a No FX credit card and withdrawing from ATM method has been around for a while, and you would only incur a small cash advance fee. Nevertheless, using Stack allows you to not pay any cash advance fees at all and is also much more intuitive and easy-to-use than the prepaying your credit card method.

      1. Mak YYZ

        Hi Ricky,
        there is a new promo currently with Amazon Prime 1 year memberhsip free and could not stop applying for the card this time. I have upcoming mini-RTW trip and will try to put it for good use.

        Btw..i used your link but not sure to verify as there is no code associated like plastic in the past. Please verify and let me know, other wise i will send your email for support group incase if its not applied.

        thank you once again for all the good stuff postings.

        1. Ricky YVR

          Hi Mak, did you get your free $20 from Stack for applying via a referral? If you did, then I should’ve gotten my referral bonus from you as well.

          Thanks for the heads up on the Amazon Prime offer! Definitely a great idea for those who missed out on the Netflix/Spotify offer a while back.

  14. Marlene

    Hi Ricky,
    Its funny how this has come up now because i have a prepaid mastercard that I planned to take to africa with me next time. I can top it up with my amex card for miles and the prepaid card has some monthly fees and top up fees however i would have atm fees anyway so in doing so I also have the benefit of collecting miles. So with all considered i think for me that unless i can top up stack using a credit card my best value would be to keep my other prepaid card and collect the miles. Do you have a take on this that maybe I may have missed? Awesome newsletter. Thank you Ricky!

    Regards,Marlene

    1. Chris

      Which prepaid mastercard allows you to load up using amex?

    2. Ricky YVR

      If the math works out in terms of loading your existing card with an Amex and then withdrawing from there, then that would make the most sense for you. Just make sure that once you take into account all the fees you’re paying, the rewards you earn still let you come out ahead.

  15. Anna

    Hey Ricky, thanks so much for the detailed info on Stack! I will definitely use your referral link below, to help support your awesome blog … you’re the best 🙂

  16. Bob Gandhi

    Unfortunately, it’s not available in Quebec

  17. Chelsea

    Thanks for the info! I will definitely be looking into this for my upcoming three month trip to Australia and NZ.

  18. BG

    Hi Ricky:

    Which US exchange house would you recommend? I am thinking of using a us based card for cad spend as well. Does the math work out? (after exchange fee, etc)?

    1. Ricky YVR

      The best currency exchanges get you around 1% I believe (VBCE, Knightsbridge, TransferWise). However there may be ways to creatively fund these accounts and bring the costs down even further 😉

      As for using US cards for Canadian spending, I personally wouldn’t do it unless you feel the rewards you can earn on the US card outstrip those of any Canadian cards by more than the exchange fee you’re paying.

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