Vanilla Prepaid Card Review (2024)

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: January 4, 2024
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What You Should Know

  • Vanilla Prepaid Cards are convenient and versatile gift cards that can be used anywhere Mastercard or Visa is accepted.
  • Vanilla Prepaid Cards can be purchased from a variety of retailers, including Walmart, 7-Eleven, Petro-Canada, and Best Buy, and have an activation fee paid upfront.
  • Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard cards can be purchased in predetermined or custom denominations between $20 and $500.
  • The activation fees for Vanilla Prepaid Cards in Canada vary from $3.95 to $7.95 depending on the amount of the card, and sales tax must also be paid on the fee.
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About Vanilla Prepaid Cards

Vanilla Prepaid Cards, or Vanilla Gift Cards, are prepaid gift cards that can be used anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted, depending on the type purchased. They allow you to make purchases online and in stores without the worry of overspending or using your actual credit or debit card, but they’re also frequently given as gifts as an alternative to gift cards that are limited to specific retailers.

Key Features

  • Customizable: Vanilla Prepaid Cards come in many different denominations, ranging from $20 up to $500, making them perfect for any occasion. You can choose the amount that best suits your budget and gifting needs.
  • Versatile: With a Vanilla Prepaid Card, you don't have to worry about what store to buy a gift card for.
  • Convenient: Vanilla Prepaid Cards are accepted nearly everywhere that accepts credit or debit cards. You can use them online and in stores, making it almost as good as cash

Accessibility and Functionality

Vanilla Prepaid Cards can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard or Visa, depending on whether it’s a Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard vs. Vanilla Prepaid Visa, which makes them widely accessible and highly functional. You can use Vanilla Prepaid Cards in retail stores that accept debit or credit cards, as well as online stores, including those outside of Canada.

However, while Vanilla Prepaid Cards can be an alternative to gifting someone cash, they aren’t exactly as good as cash, since you cannot use Vanilla Prepaid Cards at ATMs to withdraw the balance as cash. Instead, the cardholder can only use the card to make purchases. This limits the versatility of the card when compared to cash.

How Vanilla Prepaid Cards Work

Where to Buy Vanilla Prepaid Cards

In Canada, Vanilla Prepaid Cards can be purchased from a variety of different retailers, including drugstores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations.

Stores that sell Vanilla Visa Prepaid Cards and Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard in Canada include:

  • Walmart
  • 7-Eleven
  • Petro-Canada
  • Ultramar
  • Jean Coutu
  • Shell
  • London Drugs
  • Giant Tiger
  • Corner Store (Select ESSO, Petro-Canada, Shell, and Ultramar locations)
  • Best Buy

Activation Process and Loading Funds onto the Card

Vanilla Prepaid Cards are available in fixed denominations clearly indicated on the card itself. To purchase a card, simply select the desired denomination, bring it to the store's checkout, and make the payment. Vanilla Prepaid Cards have an activation fee that you’ll pay upfront. The amount loaded onto the card will match the denomination chosen, which means that the activation fee is not taken out of the gift card balance.

The cashier will activate the prepaid card at checkout, which means that you don’t need to activate the Vanilla Prepaid Card online or over the phone. It also means that you can’t simply take a prepaid card off the store’s gift card rack and bring it home to activate or load yourself! Without a cashier activating the card, it will simply be a piece of plastic.

Once you have purchased the card, it’s recommended that you note down your Vanilla Prepaid Card number and Customer Care number. This allows you to be able to recover and replace your card should you lose your original card. Also, just like any debit or credit card, make sure to sign the back of your prepaid card.

Online Shopping with Vanilla Prepaid Cards

When using a Vanilla Prepaid Card to shop online, you might notice that stores ask for your credit card’s billing address, including postal code. Simply enter your shipping address as your Vanilla Prepaid Card’s billing address. You do not provide your address when activating the card.

Note that there are restrictions on the use of prepaid cards in the European Union (EU). Canadian-issued prepaid cards, including Vanilla Prepaid Cards, are limited to 50€ per transaction for both in-store and online purchases at EU-based merchants. There are no transaction limits with Canadian and U.S. based merchants.

Available Card Denominations

The Vanilla Visa and Vanilla Mastercard versions have different available card denominations. Here are the denominations that you can purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card in Canada:


Vanilla Prepaid Visa:

  • $25
  • $50
  • $75
  • $100
  • $150
  • $200
  • $250
  • $20-$500 (custom)

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard:

  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $200
  • $250
  • $20-$500 (custom)

Vanilla Prepaid Visa cards have more set denominations available for purchase, with $75, $150, and $250 cards that aren’t available with Mastercard. However, for both Visa and Mastercard, you can purchase a customizable card that lets you load an amount between $20 to $500 of your choice.

Split Tender Transactions

The maximum transaction limit on your card would be the original card balance. For example, a $500 prepaid card would have a $500 transaction limit. If you’re looking to make a transaction that your prepaid card can’t fully cover, where you don’t have enough money on your card, then you can conduct a “split tender transaction”. This is where you use another form of payment, such as cash, cheque, or a debit or credit card, to pay the remaining amount.

For example, if you’re looking to purchase a $500 item with a $200 prepaid card, you can pay for the remaining $300 with cash or another card. However, not all merchants allow split tender transactions.

Cost and Fees Associated with Vanilla Prepaid Cards

Activation Fees

The activation fee for a Vanilla Prepaid Card ranges from $3.95 to $7.95, with the exact fee depending on the amount of the card. The more you load on the card, the more you will pay for the activation fee. Generally, Visa and Mastercard fees are the same.

The Vanilla Prepaid Card activation fees for 2024 in Canada are:


Vanilla Prepaid Visa:

  • $25 cards - $3.95 fee
  • $50 cards - $4.95 fee
  • $75 cards - $5.50 fee
  • $100 cards - $5.95 fee
  • $150 cards - $6.50 fee
  • $200 cards - $6.95 fee
  • $250 cards - $7.50 fee

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard:

  • $25 cards - $3.95 fee
  • $50 cards - $4.95 fee
  • $100 cards - $5.95 fee
  • $200 cards - $6.95 fee

Note that you’ll need to pay sales tax on the fee, not on the balance of the card. For example, if you’re purchasing a $100 Vanilla Prepaid Visa, there’s a $5.95 fee. If you’re buying the card in Ontario, which has a 13% HST, the total you’ll be paying for the $100 prepaid card is $106.72, from the $100 load plus $5.95 fee plus $0.77 sales tax.

The $25 Vanilla Prepaid cards have a $3.95 activation fee, making them relatively expensive compared to larger denominations. At a $3.95 fee, that makes up 16% of the card balance! The chart below compares current Vanilla card activation fees with the card amount.

Vanilla Prepaid Card Fees

Card AmountFeeActivation Fee as % of Card Amount
$20-$500 Card$7.951.6%

Foreign Transaction Fees

Vanilla Prepaid Cards have a 2.5% foreign transaction fee on all transactions made in a foreign currency. That’s the same fee that most Canadian credit cards have, with a few rare exceptions with no-FX fees.

For example, if you use your Vanilla Prepaid Card to purchase something on in U.S. Dollars, you’ll be charged a 2.5% fee in addition to the currency conversion between USD to CAD. With the relatively small card balances and purchases that you make, a 2.5% fee might not seem like much, but the fees can quickly add up on top of the 3% to 16% that you already paid to purchase the prepaid card in the first place.

Other Fees and Costs

Vanilla Prepaid Cards do not have any monthly fees. That’s why you’ll often find Vanilla Prepaid Cards displayed in stores with messages saying “No Fees After Purchase, except foreign transactions”.

There’s no account inactivity fee either. If you don’t use your card at all, your account balance will remain the same. You won’t lose the money on your card when the card expires; instead, you can request a free replacement card to be mailed to you. It can take up to 30 days for a new card to be re-issued. If your card has been expired, or has been lost or stolen, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • The card number
  • The expiry date
  • The original card value
  • Transaction history

Benefits of Using Vanilla Prepaid Cards for Online Payments

Improved Security and Safety

Unlike credit or debit cards, Vanilla cards have a small set limit, which is the amount of money on the card. If you’re going to purchase from a website that might not be fully trustworthy, then you’re better off using a prepaid card than risking your credit or debit cards. That way, if the site does not turn out to be reputable, you can limit the damage done by restricting the amount of money that is accessible on it rather than draining and overdrawing your credit card or bank account.

Since prepaid cards aren’t registered to your name or address, they also offer additional privacy. You won’t need to verify your identity or have a credit check in order to buy a prepaid gift card. However, this does make it ripe for money laundering, which is why some countries in the world have limited the amount that can be spent per transaction with an anonymous prepaid card.

Wide Acceptance for Online Transactions

One of the great things about prepaid cards is that they’re accepted by almost all online stores. This makes them a great option for shoppers who may not have access to credit cards, such as if they have a low credit score or are underage.

No Link to Personal Bank Account

When you use a credit or debit card, your bank account is linked to the transaction. This means that anyone who has access to your financial information can see what you’re buying and how much money is in your account. With Vanilla Prepaid Cards, this isn’t an issue since there is no link between the card and any of your personal banking information. This makes them an option if you’re buying something for someone else or want to keep your spending private, but don’t want to use cash.

No Interest Charges

Another benefit of using prepaid cards is that there are no interest charges associated with them. Since the money on the card is already paid upfront, you don’t have to worry about borrowing money to spend, as the card has already been paid for.

Drawbacks of Vanilla Prepaid Cards

Non-reloadable Feature

Unlike the OneVanilla Prepaid Mastercard, the Vanilla Visa and Vanilla Mastercard prepaid cards are non-reloadable. This means that once you use up all the money on the card, you won’t be able to add any more. This can be inconvenient if you need to make multiple purchases and don’t want to keep buying new cards every time. You’ll also be racking up on the activation fees each time that you need to buy a new prepaid card.

Lack of ATM Withdrawal

Vanilla Prepaid Cards don’t offer the same access to ATMs as debit cards do. You won’t be able to withdraw cash from an ATM with a Vanilla Prepaid Card, unlike some other cards that allow free ATM withdrawals and no FX fees, so if you need cash while out and about, then you’ll have to look for other options.

Absence of Rewards and Cashback

Unlike credit cards, Vanilla Prepaid Cards don’t offer any rewards or cashback. This means that you won’t be able to earn points for your purchases or get money back on things you buy. There’s also no enticing signup bonuses that are generally found on many Canadian credit cards either.

No Credit Building

Vanilla Prepaid Cards won’t help you build your credit. Since your spending isn’t reported to the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion), using a Vanilla Prepaid Card won’t improve or damage your credit score in any way.

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Using your Vanilla Prepaid Card

Check Vanilla Prepaid Balance

You can check your Vanilla Prepaid Card balance online at by entering your card number, expiration date, and three-digit CVV. You can also check your balance by calling the number on the back of your card.

Tricks to Using Prepaid Cards

Many credit cards in Canada have signup bonuses that award extra cashback or bonus points after spending a certain amount of money in the first few months. For example, a card might give 10% cashback on the first $1,000 spent in the first month, or give 50,000 Aeroplan points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Not everyone might be able to spend $5,000 in three months. However, you might be able to use Vanilla Prepaid Cards to get around that. By purchasing $5,000 worth of Vanilla Prepaid Cards, you’ll get your credit card’s signup bonus right away. You can then use the $5,000 at your own pace, rather than having to spend it all within three months. Since Vanilla Prepaid Cards don’t expire, you can keep the unused balance on the card for future use. However, check your credit card’s terms and conditions before taking advantage of this strategy to make sure it’s allowed.

Some credit cards offer bonus cashback in certain categories, such as gas and groceries. Purchasing a Vanilla Prepaid Card at some merchants, such as select Walmart or gas station convenience stores, might give as much as 5% cashback with some credit cards. That can more than outweigh the 3% activation fee for card loads of $250. You can then use the card at merchants that might have had a lower cash back return on your credit card, while locking in your 2% cashback!

Purchase Disputes and Refunds

As a prepaid Visa or Mastercard, there are purchase dispute and refund actions that can be taken when using a Vanilla Prepaid Card. If you need to dispute a purchase, you must contact Peoples Trust within 60 days of the transaction date in writing.

Refunds made to your card, such as if you return an item or after a dispute, will be added to your card’s balance. While the refund can then be spent on future purchases, it cannot be withdrawn as cash.

Alternatives to Vanilla Prepaid Cards

In addition to Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard or Visa, there are other prepaid card options in Canada that might offer better perks, such as no activation fee, no foreign transaction fee, get cashback on purchases, and earn interest on your card balance. There are other prepaid gift cards too, such as the Titanium+ Prepaid Mastercard, BMO Prepaid Mastercard, Cash Passport Prepaid Mastercard, and the Canada Post Prepaid Reloadable Visa card.

KOHO Prepaid Mastercard


The KOHO Reloadable Prepaid Mastercard is a great alternative to the Vanilla Prepaid Card. It has no fees for purchases, allows ATM withdrawals, and can be reloaded. Plus, you get 1% cash back on all your purchases and up to 2% when you shop at specific retailers, such as groceries, transportation, food, and drink with their paid subscription plan.

Their paid plans also allow you to get no foreign transaction fees and enhanced interest on your account balance, earning you up to 4.5% on your balance. The free plan of the card would earn you 0.5% interest instead.

EQ Bank Card

eq bank

The EQ Bank Card is another great alternative to the Vanilla Prepaid Card. It allows you to make purchases anywhere that accepts Mastercard, as well as access cash from ATMs all over Canada without any additional fees. There are also no foreign transaction fees or monthly fees with the card. Plus, you can earn 0.5% cashback on your purchases and earn interest on your account balance, which can help you save money in the long run.

Wealthsimple Cash Card


The Wealthsimple Cash Card offers 1% cashback on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, and no monthly or annual fees. Plus, you can use it anywhere that accepts Mastercard. Wealthsimple doesn’t charge any fees for ATM withdrawals, however, ATMs might charge a fee themselves.

Neo Money Card


Unique with the Neo Money Card is the ability to earn up to 5% cashback at select partners, which numbers at over 10,000 across Canada, making it a great option for people looking to maximize their rewards from everyday purchases. Plus, the card also offers budgeting tools and other features such as automated savings, so you can save money on your purchases easily.

Conclusion: Who is a Vanilla Prepaid Card for?

Vanilla Prepaid Cards are great for those who want to avoid using their credit card or don't have access to one, and they also make great gifts. They can be used anywhere that accepts Visa or Mastercard and offers benefits such as privacy, security, and convenience as an alternative to cash.

If you're looking for alternatives to Vanilla Prepaid Cards, there are plenty of cards that offer great rewards and features such as cashback, budgeting tools, and interest on your balance. Do your research and find one that fits your lifestyle and needs to get the most out of your prepaid card.

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What is a Vanilla Prepaid Card and how does it work?

A Vanilla Prepaid Card is a gift card that can be used anywhere that accepts Visa or Mastercard. You simply load the card with money and then use it to make purchases in-store or online, anywhere in the world. You won’t need to get a credit check or verify your identity to purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card, allowing for privacy.

Is there a fee associated with activating my Vanilla Prepaid Card?

There is a one-time fee when you purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card. After that, there’s no monthly fee or inactivity fees.

Can I use the Vanilla Prepaid Card outside of Canada?

Yes, you can use your Vanilla Prepaid Card outside of Canada. However, you will be charged a 2.5% foreign transaction fee on top of the purchase amount when making purchases in another currency other than Canadian Dollars.

How can I add more funds after using up my balance on the Vanilla Prepaid Card?

You cannot add more funds to your Vanilla Prepaid Card after using up your balance. Once your card has been used up, you can dispose of your card.

How secure is my money when using a Vanilla Prepaid Card?

Vanilla Prepaid Cards in Canada are issued by Peoples Trust Company (Peoples Group). Peoples Group, and their subsidiary Peoples Bank, are both CDIC members. However, funds on a Vanilla Prepaid Card are not covered by the CDIC, as the cards are not reloadable and deposits are not made.

This means that funds on a Vanilla Prepaid Card are not protected in the event of a bank failure. However, Vanilla Prepaid Cards do come with fraud protection and other security features to help keep your money safe. Additionally, you can always contact customer service right away if your card is ever lost or stolen.

Do I need to have a bank account to get a Vanilla Prepaid Card?

No, you do not need to have a bank account in order to get a Vanilla Prepaid Card. You can purchase one in-store and simply load it with cash.

Can I purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card with a credit card?

Yes, you can purchase a Vanilla Prepaid Card with a credit card.

Vanilla Prepaid Card Designs

Both Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard and Visa cards come in a variety of designs with different colours for different card amounts. The design that you’ll find on store gift card racks in Canada include:

vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $25 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $35 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $50 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $75 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $100 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $150 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Visa $250 Prepaid Card

Vanilla Prepaid Visa Colours

Card AmountColour

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard Card Designs

vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Mastercard $25 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Mastercard $50 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Mastercard $100 Prepaid Card
vanilla prepaid cardVanilla Mastercard $200 Prepaid Card

Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard Card Colours

Card AmountColour

Contacting Vanilla Prepaid

For Vanilla Visa Gift Cards:

1-833-502-6535 for cards beginning with 485097

1-844-864-6951 for cards beginning with 426370

For Vanilla Mastercard Gift Cards:

1-833-502-6535 for cards beginning with 520356

1-800-652-9174 for cards beginning with 533621

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.