There is lots to love about prepaid cards. While they have many of the functionalities of a traditional credit card, they are a convenient way to manage your money and avoid pesty interest. Knowing this, we are trying to share essential information about various personal finance products to help you make the most informed decision on your next purchase.
Our following product review: the Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard. You may find that this card is exactly what you need, or perhaps consider the other alternatives we discuss in the process.
In this review, we go in-depth into the benefits and challenges of this card and give you some tremendous prepaid alternatives that we personally recommend.
Let’s get started, shall we?
What Is the Vanilla Prepaid Card Visa and Mastercard?
The Vanilla Prepaid Card is available in both Visa and Mastercard versions. The only notable difference between the two (other than the brand) is that the cards come in different denominations. For example, the Vanilla Prepaid Card Visa is available at a low of $50 with remaining denominations of $75, $100, $150 and $250. The Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard option starts at $25 with denominations of $25, $50, $100, and $200. Outside, they both carry the same function and are reliable sources to choose from. In other words, you can pick whichever you feel comfortable with.
Furthermore, the cards may not both be accepted in the same areas. Where one retailer may receive a Visa, the other may not necessarily accept the Mastercard. Other notable Vanilla products include:
- MyVanilla Reloadable (By Mastercard)
- OneVanilla (By Visa)
- Vanilla Reload (By Mastercard)
Vanilla Prepaid Card Main Features
The main features of the Vanilla Prepaid Card include:
- No Expiry: The funds on your Vanilla Prepaid Card will never expire. If your card expires, you will have the option of requesting a replacement card.
- Online Availability: You can use the Vanilla Prepaid Card to facilitate online purchases similar to a traditional credit card. Once you enter your details, including adding a postal code as a security feature, you can access several goods online.
- No PIN: The Vanilla Prepaid Card does not require a PIN. This makes it an excellent gift for people under 18 who may want a product that acts similar to a credit or debit card.
How Does the Vanilla Prepaid Card Work?
Vanilla Prepaid Cards are readily available at various stores, including Walmart, 7-Eleven and several other participating retailers. Unlike other prepaid cards, you do not have to provide a personal background check or a credit score to purchase one.
This means you can also purchase as many cards as possible. The card is also straightforward and intuitive to use. Once you buy the card in your desired denomination, sign the back of the card for verification purposes, and you are off to the races. The card comes with an activation charge upon purchase, which we discuss in the coming section.
Vanilla Prepaid Card Fees
While the Vanilla Prepaid Card is marketed as having “no fees after purchase,” it is more nuanced than that. There are indeed instances when you will pay fees, including an initial activation fee when you purchase the card. For the Mastercard, fees can range anywhere from $3.95 to $8.95. Conversely, the Visa card ranges from $3.95 to $7.95. In cases where you buy a lower denomination, this activation fee can be between 10-15% of your limit!
You should also be aware of a 2.5% foreign exchange service fee charged when you make purchases in a currency other than the Canadian Dollar. So perhaps we will avoid using the card for our summer trip!
Vanilla Prepaid Drawbacks
The Vanilla Prepaid Card has several drawbacks that may be important to you:
The Vanilla Prepaid Card is not reloadable. Once you have maxed out your Vanilla Prepaid Card balance, you must purchase a new card. If you want to stay with the Visa or Mastercard prepaid options, you can consider the other Vanilla products, like MyVanilla, which have reloading capabilities.
2. No ATM
Another drawback of this prepaid card is that you cannot use the card at an ATM to withdraw money or get cash back at the point of sale.
3. No Rewards
If you thought you could eventually use this card to cash in on some great rewards points – think again. The Vanilla Prepaid Card is very basic and does not come with the perks that you may expect from a Visa or Mastercard.
All that to say that there are great alternatives to prepaid cards out there for you.
Three Vanilla Prepaid Card Alternatives You Should Consider
1. KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
Starting off with the Milesopedia’s Best Prepaid Card of 2022 & 2023, The KOHO Extra Mastercard Prepaid Card is a reloadable card with many benefits, including cashback with eligible retailers, direct deposit, and no foreign conversion fees (Extra Version only).
You can even use it at Costco! Check our review here.
If you don’t use your prepaid card outside Canada, choose the no-fee version instead: the KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card.
2. STACK Prepaid Mastercard
The STACK Prepaid Mastercard is an excellent option for our fellow travellers. It comes with no ATM withdrawal or monthly fees. While the card does come with foreign conversion fees of 2.5% for spending below $350, if you spend more than $350 to $1000 a month, foreign conversion fees are effectively waived.
Check out our review on the card to learn more or activate your account by downloading our referral link and receive $5 cash back!
3. MOGO Visa Platinum Prepaid Card
Lastly, this MOGO prepaid card comes with no annual fee (basically free) and is the only card on this list that offers a 2% bitcoin return on all purchase categories and reduces the global carbon footprint. For example, each dollar spent will reduce the CO2 output of the Amazon rainforest by one pound.
That said, our website has plenty of information on this card. Check it out if you are interested!
An honest review of this card will tell you that while practical, the squeeze is not worth the juice with this card. However, if you are using it for practical use, the Vanilla Prepaid Card may come in handy. Or you may choose a more robust prepaid card: the KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card
You should keep in mind that the perfect card does not exist…yet. Until then, we will keep providing you with helpful information.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vanilla Prepaid Card
How to Check Vanilla Prepaid Card Balance?
You can check your balance by calling customer support. Simply call 1-844-864-6951 for Visa or 1-800-652-9174 for Mastercard. You can also go online and check your account balance from there.
How to Activate Vanilla Prepaid Card?
Activating your Vanilla Prepaid Card is very intuitive and easy to do. Simply purchase the card at any participating retailer, at which the retailer will activate it for you, and you can swipe it for any in-person purchases.