Those who enjoy using prepaid cards now have a new option to choose from, the Vanilla prepaid Visa and Mastercard. The general opinion on these cards is mixed as they act just like gift cards and not like typical debit or credit cards. Still, there are some benefits to using a Vanilla prepaid card.

In this review of Vanilla prepaid Visa and Mastercards, we’ll cover everything there is to know about these cards. Now let's dive into the pros, cons, fees, and more.

About the Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard

The Vanilla Prepaid Card is a prepaid card available in two forms: Visa and Mastercard. You can pick the one that you find more useful. Both names are reliable and supported by millions of local and international merchants around the world.


Just like a traditional credit card or debit card, you will be able to use your Vanilla card to shop online or in-store. Unfortunately, the card isn’t as widely accepted as a traditional credit card and some retailers will deny it.


Because it is a prepaid card rather than a traditional credit card, it’s easy to get. There are no credit checks or income requirements because you are not borrowing money for purchases. Instead, you purchase the card outright and the price is equal to the amount of money you want on the card.

For example, if you want the $200 prepaid Vanilla Mastercard, it will cost you $200 to purchase it. If you want the $75 prepaid Vanilla Visa, it will cost you $75 to purchase it.

You can get as many Vanilla prepaid cards as you want without worrying about debt or the impact on your credit score. This makes the Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard a great choice if you're looking to purchase prepaid cards as gifts that your recipients can use almost anywhere for almost anything they want.

Issued by

Vanilla Prepaid MasterCard is issued by The Bancorp Bank in partnership with MasterCard. Moreover, the card is serviced and distributed by InComm Financial Services, Inc. Similarly, the Visa card is issued in partnership with Visa.

What’s the difference between Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard?

The main difference is that the Vanilla prepaid Visa can only be used on the Visa network, while the Vanilla prepaid Mastercard can only be used on the Mastercard network. The next biggest differentiator lies in the amount of money each card offers.

Mastercard offers the following 4 denominations:

  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $200

On the other hand, Visa offers more options and higher denominations:

  • $50
  • $75
  • $100
  • $150
  • $250

Buyer beware

While they both come from different brands, there are no differences in how each card works. However, we must mention that not every merchant that accepts Visa will also accept Mastercard and vice versa. You should keep this in mind when picking a card. There are also activation charges to consider, which may differ between Visa and Mastercard as well as the amount of the card – ie. the denomination.

Check the fine print when you make a purchase since activation charges can be as high as 15% of the card's denomination. That means the higher the value of a card, the more you will have to pay to activate it.

One card may be more affordable to use than the other. Make sure to compare your options so you can pick one that offers the most benefits.

We must also mention that Vanilla Prepaid Cards do not come with the perks that traditional Visas and Mastercards are known to offer. You will not be entitled to cash back offers, travel points, lounge access, etc.

If you want to enjoy such perks then you must choose a reliable rewards credit card in Canada. There are many benefits of owning a traditional credit card. In fact, it's a good idea to have a backup credit card in case your Vanilla prepaid card is not accepted or there isn't enough money on it to cover your entire purchase.

Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard costs, penalties, and fees

As we mentioned earlier, you will have to pay an activation fee when you buy a Vanilla prepaid card. Fees depend on the type of card and denomination you have chosen.

Activation fees

Activation fees range from $3.95 to $7.95 for Vanilla Prepaid Mastercards, and from $3.95 to $8.95 for Vanilla Prepaid Visas. You’ll know the exact fee when you go to a store to buy a card.

Foreign transaction fees

There is also a 2.5% foreign transaction fee for purchases made in currencies other than Canadian dollars. Therefore, a Vanilla prepaid card is not ideal if you or your recipient wants to use it abroad or to shop with foreign retailers online.

Other fees

On the upside, the company does not charge any maintenance fees, penalties fees, etc. Once you activate your card, you’ll be free to use all the money loaded on it.

How does the Vanilla Prepaid Visa or the Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard work?

The card is very easy to use. You will not even need a personal identification number (PIN) to use the card. Simply swipe it or enter the details online and the job will be done. You will, however, have to activate the card before it can be used.

The seller will activate the card when you buy it. The process only takes a few minutes. Your card must be signed for it to be valid. Also, you will always have the option to use another payment method with your card if your card doesn’t have enough balance to cover the entire cost of your purchase.

Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard features

Getting a prepaid card from Visa or Mastercard comes with benefits. Here are some of the main features of Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard:

No expiry

You will never lose your money even if the card expires. You will always have the option to get a new card and transfer funds to it. However, money cannot be transferred from one existing active card to another.


No PIN code is needed to use the card. This makes it a great pick for children and anyone under 18. However, it also makes the card slightly unsafe as anyone can use it if they get their hands on it. Therefore, make sure to keep it safe.

Online shopping

The card can be used to shop online. It works like a regular credit card and comes with all the details needed to shop online. Simply enter the card details where prompted and it will work. You can even use it at international stores, however, there will be a 2.5% percent foreign transaction fee. This is the norm and almost all prepaid cards charge this fee.

No fee

Technically speaking, this card is free to use. It’s the same as carrying money as you will not have to pay any fee when you use the card. However, the merchant may charge a commission or fee when you use your Vanilla card for payments. Plus, there are foreign transaction charges, hence, it might not be the best idea to use this card abroad.

How can I get a Vanilla Prepaid Visa or Mastercard?

Unlike some other prepaid cards, Vanilla prepaid cards do not require you to visit a bank or financial institution as they are available at a variety of retail stores, including major retailers like pharmacies, grocery stores, and big box stores like Wal-Mart.

While there isn’t much information on the official website, we found that you will not have to provide any documents to get this card. Simply go to a store, pay the required fee, and you will be issued a card on the spot. No credit score or address documents are needed.

How to add money to the Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard

It is not possible to add more money to your Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard because it is not a reloadable card. Once you have used all the preloaded money on your card, you will have to buy a new one. For this reason, it's important to check the balance of your Vanilla card before making a purchase so you're not caught off guard if the transaction is declined.

Unfortunately, this is one of the defining drawbacks of this card. Those who want a reloadable card can compare prepaid credit cards available in Canada.

Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard limits

Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard come with some limits. First of all, you cannot spend more than what your card contains since this card does not provide credit from the issuer or any overdraft functions. This means that if you only have a balance of $20.50, you cannot buy something that costs more than $20.50, unless you have another form of payment to cover the difference.

Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard: pros and cons

Like any other prepaid card, Vanilla Mastercard and Visa cards have both pros and cons that we have discussed below:



  • Very easy to get with no credit score or income eligibility requirements
  • Can be a great gift since there are no age limits
  • Your money will never expire
  • Very safe to use, especially for online shoppers

  • Cannot be used to draw money from automatic teller machines (ATM)
  • Doesn’t come with any benefits such as cash back, points, or other rewards
  • Expensive activation fee2.5% foreign transaction feesCannot be used for pay-at-the-pump gas purchasesCannot be used for recurring bill payments

Alternatives to the Vanilla Prepaid card

If you think the Vanilla Prepaid card is not for you, here are some alternatives that may be better suited to your needs. Keep in mind that Vanilla prepaid cards can be purchased as gifts for other people, but the following prepaid cards cannot. If you open one in your name, you are the only authorized user. There are no credit checks or income requirements for these cards, but you must be a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province/territory.

KOHO Mastercard® Prepaid Card (formerly KOHO prepaid Visa)

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KOHO Mastercard® Prepaid Credit Card
  • KOHO is a full-service app and reloadable prepaid credit card with no hidden fees.
  • Get $20 when you sign up for a free KOHO account with code HARDBACON and make your first purchase*.
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The KOHO reloadable card has many of the same benefits as traditional credit cards and more. It allows you to pay your bills, use it for automatic and recurring payments, and make purchases online or in-store wherever Mastercard is accepted. In addition to these convenient features, there is a premium version with even more benefits such as price-matching refunds, no foreign transaction fees, and better cash back offers than other cards of the same type. 

EQ Bank Card

EQ Bank Card
  • No fees
  • Earn 2.5% interest on all your money
  • Get 0.5% cash back on all your purchases

Open a Savings Plus Account to get your free EQ Bank Card.

Open an Account

The EQ Bank card is a reloadable prepaid Mastercard that can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted – online, in-store, and abroad. Every purchase earns 0.5% cash back and there are no foreign transaction fees, making it the ideal prepaid card for travelling abroad and shopping with foreign retailers. You can withdraw money from any Canadian ATM without having to pay any fees. In fact, EQ Bank will reimburse you for any network fees charged by the ATM provider.

Neo Money Card

The Neo Money Card is one of the best reloadable prepaid cards on the market, giving most users an average of 5% cash back, with up to 15% cash back for every first purchase you make at Neo Partner. If your average monthly cash back rate falls below 0.5%, they'll top up the difference. The card can be used online, in-store, and abroad wherever Mastercard is accepted and you can withdraw cash from ATMs.

Compare the different prepaid credit cards and choose the one that suits your needs!

FAQs: Vanilla Prepaid Visa and Mastercard

How to check Vanilla prepaid card balance?

You can check your Vanilla prepaid card balance online by visiting the official site or by calling the helpline:
Mastercard: 1-800-652-9174
Visa: 1-844-864-6951.
You will be asked to provide your card details including the number embossed on the front of the card and your name. Only provide this information to people you trust as anyone with this information may be able to use your card.

Can you use Vanilla prepaid cards online?

Yes, you can use Vanilla prepaid Visa and Mastercards online just like you would a regular credit card. You just need to confirm that the website you want to engage with accepts Visa and/or Mastercards. To complete your transaction, simply enter the 16-digit number on the front of the card as well as the 3-digit security code on the back. If your Vanilla prepaid card is not accepted, it could be that the merchant does not accept that type of card, you entered a billing address that does not match the one associated with your card, or you do not have enough funds on the card.

Does the card expire?

While the money on your card never expires, each card comes with an expiry date. You will have to call customer service to request a new card. Your new card will contain the balance of your previous card, which means you will never lose your money.

Will I have to pay a monthly bill if I get the Vanilla Prepaid card?

No, you will not have to pay any bills once you have activated your Vanilla prepaid card. The card is free to use and since there is no credit score requirement, you will not have to deal with any bills since you are not borrowing money for purchases as you do with a regular credit card. This is why the card doesn’t impact your credit score.

What are the advantages of a reloadable prepaid card?

A reloadable prepaid card is often a more convenient way to spend money. It's like a debit card  but without the associated bank account. You can combine the benefits of today's most popular payment options – credit cards, debit cards and cash – into one convenient card that lets you reload as often as you like.

How do Visa Prepaid cards work?

Visa Prepaid cards are an easy, convenient and affordable way to pay. You can use them anywhere credit cards are accepted, without needing a bank account or credit card.

Can I withdraw money from a Visa Prepaid card?

While Vanilla prepaid cards do not let you withdraw money, other types of prepaid cards do. STACK, KOHO, and EQ prepaid cards can be used to withdraw money from certain ATMs, but they may be subject to ATM network fees.

How does a prepaid travel card work? 

Prepaid travel cards are a great way to save money on airline tickets and other travel expenses. They are accepted worldwide depending on the network used, for example Visa, Mastercard or Amex.

Can I use a prepaid card on Amazon?

Yes, you can use a prepaid card on Amazon and most merchants accept Visa or Mastercard.

Does Uber accept prepaid credit cards?

Yes, Uber accepts prepaid credit/debit cards.

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