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.
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.
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.
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.