CIBC offers a prepaid card called the Air Canada AC Conversion card which enables travelers to carry 10 different currencies on one card. It’s billed as a magic bullet that provides you with certainty on exchange rates.
CIBC allows you to load up this prepaid card using your credit card (Visa or Mastercard only) to obtain other currencies. You add them to your card and the website will show you how much your desired currency will cost in Canadian dollars.
Your credit card is billed in Canadian dollars and you know exactly what your exchange rate is. Your AC Conversion card is then loaded with funds that you can use in each currency’s respective country.
There are very few situations where it makes sense to use this card for its intended purpose.
For most of the major currencies, you will receive a better exchange rate at your local Foreign Exchange Dealer. This is because CIBC bakes in a 2.5% spread to the rates you see.
I repeat, there are very few situations where it makes sense to use this card for its intended purpose.
The real value of the AC Conversion Card
The real value of this card lies in its ability to load and unload Canadian funds for free. For you, this means you can obtain points for free with a little effort.
Yes, you heard me.
There are two things that make this possible.
1. CIBC allows you to load your card with Canadian currency. Loading the card with Canadian currency means no fees. As a result, you’ll receive points for this “purchase”.
2. CIBC allows you to withdraw the money from a CIBC ATM for free. You can literally load up your card and walk up to an ATM and obtain the cash for free.
Manufactured spending with the AC Conversion Card
Step 1: Obtain an AC Conversion card. The best way to do this is to sign up for the Drop app. I recommend signing up through the Drop app because you will earn 50,000 Drop points for your troubles. This converts into $50 worth of gift certificates from major retailers like Amazon and Bestbuy.
If you don’t want to bother, then head on directly to the website.
The signup process is straightforward with the exception of your initial load. You’ll need to load it up with $100 CAD equivalent of a foreign currency. This is the only time you will need to load it up with foreign currency.
Note: You can use most Mastercard and Visa cards with the exception of MBNA cards. Do not use an MBNA card as it codes as a cash advance.
Step 2: Load the card. The limits for loading CAD are restricted to $100 a day. The clock resets at 12am EST.
Step 3: Withdraw the cash and pay down your credit card. The card is limited to 3 withdrawals a day. CIBC ATMs are limited to $400 withdraws a transaction so the most you can withdraw is $1,200 a day.
Once you’ve withdrawn the cash, deposit it into your bank account and pay down your credit card.
Step 4: Scale and repeat. CIBC limits a person to a single AC Conversion card. You can obtain more in your spouse’s name, your parents’ names and maybe even your pet.
Things to know when manufacturing spend with your AC Conversion card
Sooner or later, your cards will be locked. This means that you will be unable to load or unload the card. This is normal.
Send an email to [email protected] and ask to have your card unlocked along with copies of your ID front and back. The whole process will take a couple of business days.
If it takes longer, give them a call at 1-800-482-8347.
Credit cards to use with the AC Conversion card
The following table lists the major card issuers and how AC Conversion transactions are coded.
|Scotiabank (Non American Express)||Purchase|
|Scotiabank (American Express)||Not accepted|
|Rogers Bank||Cash advance|
|Prepaid cards||Not accepted|
|American Express||Not accepted|
What credit cards should I use?
Cards that you are trying to make minimum spends on should be prioritized. If you have none, pick the points program with the points that you need the most (e.g. Aeroplan). If you can’t decide, pick something with the highest cash back (e.g. Canadian Tire Cashback).
Recommended load/unload schedule
I recommend batching your unloads to multiples of CIBC’s withdraw limits of $400. The machines tend to arbitrarily time out after a certain number of withdraws so it helps to go to a CIBC that has multiple ATMs.
The CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion card is one of the easiest methods to generate free points with minimal amounts of work. Manufactured spending opportunities in Canada are rare, but every little bit counts.
Even with a single card, you’d easily earn enough to take a trip anywhere in North America with very little effort. Obtain 4 cards and that’s more than 120,000 points a year!