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Thursday, November 14th 2019

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YOW." - Chris Myden



2019
1
June
The Amazon Visa is no more - but here's what you can replace it with

Replace the Amazon Visa with the Home Trust Preferred Visa

I know for a lot of travelers out there (myself included), the Amazon Visa was your favorite credit card to use while traveling, or making any kind of purchase in a foreign currency.

Why?

The key feature of the Amazon Visa was that it didn't charge you the 2.5% foreign exchange fee that every bank, ATM, foreign exchange kiosk, and virtually every credit card on the planet is charging you, any time you make a purchase or withdrawal in a currency other than Canadian dollars.

Even if you don't *think* you're paying this foreign exchange fee any time you purchase something while traveling, or withdraw money from an ATM, or exchange currency at a bank / kiosk, you most likely are.

Most places hide this 2.5% foreign exchange fee from you by building it into the exchange rate itself. They charge you an exchange rate that is higher/worse than the 'real' exchange rate (technically known as the spot rate).

The Amazon Visa charged you the 'real' exchange rate, without the additional 2.5% exchange fee. On top of that, it offered 1% cashback on all purchases. Paying for items this way while traveling was tough to beat with any credit card, or any other form of payment.

It was the best way to buy anything while traveling, assuming you paid your credit card bill on time.

There were better cards to use at home, because you didn't get the 2.5% advantage when buying things in Canadian dollars. But for traveling, and buying things in a foreign currency, it was always my go to card.

Chase Bank announces they are canceling the Amazon Visa and the Marriott Visa

If you were a holder of the Amazon Visa or Marriott Visa, you've probably recently received the letter announcing the demise of these cards, as of March 15th, 2018.

I've seen a lot of people wondering if there is a similar card out there. A card with no annual fee, and one that spares you from the 2.5% foreign exchange fee.

Cards without an annual fee *and* sparing you from the 2.5% foreign exchange fee are really, really rare in Canada, but there is one out there...

The Home Trust Preferred Visa

It's called the Home Trust Preferred Visa and it has the following features:

  • no annual fee
  • 0% foreign currency conversion charges
  • 1% cashback on everything you buy (no limit)
  • roadside assistance (included free)
  • car rental collision insurance (included free)
  • purchase security insurance (included free)
  • In other words, it's virtually identical to the Amazon Visa, with a few extra features (roadside assistance, rental car insurance, and purchase security insurance).

    How to apply for the Home Trust Preferred Visa

    1. Go to the Home Trust Preferred Visa Application Page

    2. Scroll down to the bottom and click on 'Start My Application'.

    Update March 2019: My experience after using the Home Trust Visa for 1 year

    Having used the Home Trust Preferred Visa for about a year now, in various countries, here is what I've found:

    - It's worked perfectly in every country I've used it, except for one time in the Cook Islands when it wouldn't process my transaction.

    On that occasion, I received an e-mail from Home Trust asking me to click on a link to verify that it was me trying to use the card. It seemed a little unorthodox, but I clicked on the link, and the card worked fine from that point on.

    - You can now (finally!) set your own PIN number.

    - There is now an option for paperless statements.

    - It's still my go-to card for any purchase while traveling, or any purchase in a foreign currency.

    Update March 2018

    - I received my Home Trust Visa card sometime in March, approximately 6 weeks after submitting the application.

    - Home Trust has been overwhelmed with applications ever since the Amazon Visa was discontinued, and current applications are taking as long as 8 weeks to process.

    A few quirks to note about the Home Trust Preferred Visa:

    - there is a maximum of 10 transactions allowed per day

    - you cannot change your PIN. If you forget it, you need to get Home Trust to issue a new card (this is apparently going to be fixed later this year).

    - it does not support 'tap' payments











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    9 Responses to "The Amazon Visa is no more - but here's what you can replace it with"


      Has Alain L. been here?
         Alain L. on February 23rd, 2018

      Please note that, for the moment, this card is not available to residents of Quebec...

      Has Brian Wastle been here?
         Brian Wastle on January 7th, 2019

      I'm wondering if the Home Trust card is better than my current method of having a US$ bank account and a US$ no-fee credit card (the balance owing of which is automatically paid via the US$ account on the due date) , and transferring funds from my Cdn $ bank account to the US$ bank account before the due date, whenever the exchange rate looks optimum.

      Has Chris Myden been here?
         Chris Myden on January 8th, 2019

      Hi Brian,

      I'm assuming your bank is charging you the typical 2.5% to 3.5% foreign exchange fee when you make the transfer from your CAD$ bank account to your USD$ bank account.

      The banks typically charge this fee by hiding it in an inflated exchange rate.

      A true 'no foreign exchange fee' credit card does avoid this 2.5% to 3.5% foreign exchange fee.

      Has Student Traveller been here?
         Student Traveller on March 22nd, 2019

      How does Home Trust card compare with the Rogers Mastercard that gives "3%
      unlimited cash back rewards on all eligible purchases made in a foreign currency"?

      Has Chris Myden been here?
         Chris Myden on March 22nd, 2019

      The Rogers Cards are still using the inflated (fake) exchange rate (2.5% fee to the consumer) when they offer the '3% back'. So there's a little math involved:

      Home Trust = real exchange rate (0%) + 1% cashback on all purchases.

      net result: 1% in your favor

      Rogers Platinum = fake exchange rate (-2.5%) + 3% cashback on foreign purchases

      net result: 0.5% in your favor

      If you qualify for the Rogers World Elite you can get 4% cashback which gives you a net result of 1.5% and does beat the Home Trust.

      Some more info in this article: What is the best way to exchange money or pay for things in a different currency?

      Just note that the cash back from the Rogers cards can only be applied to your Rogers bill. Except, once a year, you can call in and have it applied to your Mastercard bill instead. Bit of a hassle.

      Has Student Traveller been here?
         Student Traveller on March 23rd, 2019

      Thank you @Chris Myden for providing an easy to understand explanation!

      Has Pat H. been here?
         Pat H. on May 12th, 2019

      I have been using this card for the last two years when I travel. Works great. I have used it here in Canada, in Italy, Aruba, Barbados, Belgium and the US. Do watch out for the 10 transactions a day limit and call them ahead of time to place a travel advisory when you are traveling.

      Has John K. been here?
         John K. on May 21st, 2019

      About the Rogers World Elite, there is now another way to redeem the cash back. By downloading the Rogers Bank rewards app, you can choose to apply your cash back to any purchase(s).

      I like the card, no fee and 4% cash back (as noted, you get charged the 2.5% foreign purchase fee, but the 4% gives you 1.5% net cash back). A couple of quirks I noticed on travel in Japan: 1) Even after advising Rogers Bank I was travelling and would be buying a major appliance, a purchase (around $1300) was blocked and even Rogers Bank staff on the phone were not able to unblock it: I had to use another MasterCard for that purchase. 2) When buying bullet train tickets (about $700), I noticed it was blocked as one big purchase, but if we broke it up into smaller purchases (under $300 I think), it went through. I followed up after my trip and Rogers Bank staff had no idea why it happened. They suggested the issue was on the seller side, but we confirmed that was not the case, as it worked with another MasterCard card. 3)

      Apart from those two times, it worked everywhere.

      Has Chris Myden been here?
         Chris Myden on May 30th, 2019

      Thanks for the feedback about your experiences with these cards Pat and John, definitely appreciated!

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