Vanilla Prepaid Card (May 2022): Don’t Waste Your Money

March 3, 2022
Reviews
Vanilla Prepaid Card

The Vanilla Prepaid Card used to be a decent option for short-term spending, but it has lost much of its allure. Today, the value it provides is so low we can’t recommend it at all.

Instead, we recommend taking advantage of the current offer on the American Express Cobalt Card, which offers far better value than the Vanilla Prepaid Card. With a 5x earn rate on eligible eats & drinks and a welcome bonus worth $1,000 – $1,500, you’re much better off with a Cobalt Card.

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What Is The Vanilla Prepaid Card?

The Vanilla Prepaid Card is a prepaid credit card available from both Mastercard and Visa. It can be used both in-store and online, though there are some retailers who will not accept the card. 

The Vanilla Prepaid Card is not a credit card or a charge card, which means it has no impact on your credit rating. However, it also can’t be used to withdraw money from ATMs, and doesn’t offer any sort of benefits or cashback bonuses from purchases. 

Pros Of The Vanilla Prepaid Card

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about the card, but here are two use cases you may want to consider:

  • Good for online shopping if you don’t want to give away your real credit card details
  • Makes a convenient gift for children under 18

Cons Of The Vanilla Prepaid Card

In my eyes, there are a lot more drawbacks to the Vanilla Prepaid Card than there are benefits. Here are just some of the things that don’t make sense about the Vanilla Prepaid Card:

  • Extremely high activation fees (you can lose more than 15% of the card’s value just in fees)
  • Card is non-reloadable
  • Card cannot be used at gas stations
  • Cannot be used for recurring bills
  • Cannot withdraw cash from ATMs
  • Does not offer cashback or other benefits
  • Low maximum balances

Vanilla Prepaid Card: Mastercard vs. Visa

There are two types of Vanilla Prepaid Cards: Visa and Mastercard. The Mastercard option is available at a minimum of $25, while the Visa Card is available at $50. Activation fees also differ between the two card types.

Vanilla Prepaid MastercardVanilla Prepaid Visa
Denominations$25, $50, $100, $200$50, $75, $100, $150, $250
Activation Fee$3.95 – $7.95$3.95 – $8.95

The funds on your card will never expire, but the card itself can expire, just as other credit cards do. If your card expires while it is still loaded with funds, call the customer service number on the back of the card to get a new card.

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How To Use The Vanilla Prepaid Card

You can purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card in gas stations and many participating stores. Once you have the card, you can immediately activate it to make your first purchase.

As with other prepaid cards, you are required to sign the back of the card when you buy it, so that retailers know it’s in the right hands. You can also combine your card with a second payment method in case the cost of your purchase exceeds the balance on your card. 

Vanilla Prepaid cards can be used outside of Canada wherever Mastercard and/or Visa are accepted, which is a major benefit when compared to a debit card. A 2.5% foreign exchange fee is applied to foreign transactions.

How To Check Your Balance

The fastest way to check your balance is by logging into your Vanilla Prepaid account on the Vanilla Prepaid website. You can also call customer service (Mastercard: 1-800-652-9174, Visa: 1-844-864-6951) to check your balance.

A Better Alternative To The Vanilla Prepaid Card

Instead of the Vanilla Prepaid Card, Canadians are much better off getting a low-fee credit card that offers them benefits and doesn’t carry pesky activation fees. My suggestion is the American Express Cobalt Card, a card very popular among millennials that’s also our #1-rated credit card in Canada.

Here are some things you’ll love about the Cobalt Card:

  • Welcome bonus worth $1,000 – $1,500
  • $100 USD annual hotel credit
  • Tied to one of the best and most flexible points earn rates of any credit card in Canada

You can read more about the Cobalt Card in our review post and apply for your card by clicking the button below.

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In Summary

The Vanilla Prepaid Card used to be a decent option for short-term spending, though it’s lost much of its allure. Today, the value it provides is so low we can’t recommend it at all.

Instead, we recommend taking advantage of the current offer on the American Express Cobalt Card, which offers far better value than the Vanilla Prepaid Card. With a 5x earn rate on eligible eats & drinks and a welcome bonus worth $1,000 – $1,500, you’re much better off with a Cobalt Card.

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