In August 2018, I came across a new financial institution in Canada called STACK. As I am nearing the end of my year long travel, let me start off by saying the STACK Prepaid MasterCard has saved me hundreds of dollars in fees!
STACK is a FinTech (financial technology) startup based out of Toronto that offers a prepaid MasterCard with Peoples Trust Company, a CDIC-insured financial institution with more than $6.9 billion in assets under management. In an industry dominated by the Big 5 banks (RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, CIBC), it is nice to see competition with such an innovative product!
This is where the card really shines! STACK has no foreign exchange fees and ATM withdrawal fee! Let’s dive in to what that really means for you:
No Foreign Exchange Fees
For those who don’t know, most credit/debit cards slap on a 2.5–3.5% foreign exchange fee per transaction. There are options to avoid this fee when you use a no foreign transaction fee credit card. But to my knowledge, there are no debit or prepaid cards in Canada that waive this fee–until now. The exchange rate that STACK uses is the same as the MasterCard rate, which itself is very close to the mid-market rate.
No ATM Withdrawal Fees
Cash is King! No matter where you go, cash is always needed. Especially in the way that I travel (budget backpacking), purchases such as street food, bus/metro rides will most likely be paid in cash.
On top of foreign exchange fees, banks will add an ATM fee between $5-10 if you withdraw from a Canadian bank’s debit card. STACK doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals no matter where you are. For Canadians, there is no cheaper way to get cash in a foreign country (as of July 2019).
Analysis - Breakdown of Savings
Here is what you will be saving by using STACK. Let’s say you need to withdraw cash equivalent to $300 CAD every two weeks for a 6 months trip:
- $60 ($5 x 12 withdrawals) in your bank’s ATM fees
- $90 (2.5% x $300 x 12 withdrawals) in foreign exchange fees
In total, you will save $150 in the span of 6 months! Think about how many pad thai or banh mi you can have in Southeast Asia!
No Monthly or Annual Account Fees
Free Budgeting Tool In-App
When you are not travelling, STACK offers members many rewards for purchasing items on their card. From everyday items such as groceries and coffee at Tim Horton’s, to more specific items such as trips with Contiki or jewelry from Swarovski.
All you have to do is activate the offer on the app, and purchase it on the card! The reward should pop up immediately!
To see more offers and rewards, check out here!
Since this product is a MasterCard, it is accepted anywhere MasterCard credit card is accepted (which is everywhere that accepts credit cards). Cardholders would also have zero liability coverage, which protects you from unauthorized purchases.
For myself, I use this card as in combination with my no foreign exchange fee HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard (which I covered here). I charge any credit card transactions on this card as I get travel rewards points and withdraw foreign cash with my STACK card.
If you sign up to STACK with my referral link, you’ll get $20 when you activate your card. Since STACK is app based, you must click this link via your mobile device for it to work.