It’s a beautiful summer evening and you’re out for a nice stroll to your favorite ice cream shop. It’s perfect. You’re watching the sunset and trying to eat your ice cream before it melts into your hand. You couldn’t ask for anything more but you when you get home, you find yourself with 15 mosquito bites.
This is exactly how Foreign Currency Exchange Rates work for 95% of credit cards. While you might not notice it, banks are stinging you for 2.5% every single time you use your card in a foreign country or when you make a purchase online in any currency that isn’t CAD. It’s a hidden cost that most users are not aware of and banks hide this 2.5% in the actual foreign exchange rate so you never actually see the line item cost of the exchange. It’s insidious.
Here’s an example. Today, 100 USD is worth 129.12 CAD. This is supposed to be the rate you pay but instead, the credit card charges you $132.35 CAD ($129.12 * 1.025). That is unless you have a 0% Foreign Exchange (FX) Credit Card.
Before today, Canadians did not have access to a good 0% FX since the departure of the Chase Marriott Visa but thanks to Scotiabank and their new Passport Infinite Visa, we have an almost perfect credit card offering for travelers and those that make online purchases in a foreign currency.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 25,000 Scotia Rewards points worth $250 in travel, after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- 2 points per $1 on groceries, dining, entertainment, transit (a 2% return); 1 point per $1 on everything else (a 1% return)
- 10,000 points worth $100 in travel, after spending $40,000 a year (an additional 0.25% return)
- 6 airport lounge passes per year
- Comprehensive travel insurance and shopping protection
- $139 annual fee, includes one free supplementary card
- Minimum income requirement: $60,000 personal, or $100,000 household, or $250,000 in assets
Foreign Transaction Fees
The 0% currency conversion fee on the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa is a significant differentiation from the standard 2.5% FX markup we see from almost all other credit cards in Canada.
With a standard credit card, you have been paying a surcharge every time you had a payment in USD, EUR, JPY, etc. and the fees add up fast. The double whammy is when you have a return transaction in the same foreign currency and get hit with another 2.5% charge. With the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa, you pay NO FOREIGN EXCHANGE FEES. Only the exchange rate would apply.
So if you spend more than $5,000 CAD a year in foreign currency, you save at least $125 in fees a year with the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa versus a standard 2.5% FX credit card. If you are traveling to a foreign country on vacation, you can pretty easily get to that $5,000 spend to make this card worthwhile. Even if you don’t, there are other great benefits that easily offset the cost of the annual fee of this card.
Sign up bonus and Return on Spend
The 25,000 sign-up bonus you receive after $1,000 spend in the first 3 months is worth $250 on travel. If you can spend $250 on travel, it is as good as cash. Assuming points are redeemed for travel, you’re looking at a 2% return on spend for bonus categories and 1% return for everything else.
Seeing a 2% return on groceries, dining, entertainment, transit categories is nothing exciting as there are cards with 3% to 5% returns in those categories already BUT when you’re abroad and there is a 2.5% FX fee on the other cards, their 3% to 5% returns will be diluted to a 0.5% to 2.5% return.
The Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa will deliver a consistent 2% return in bonus categories even in the foreign currency and will be widely accepted as a Visa credit card.
Scotia Rewards Points
Scotia Rewards points which are a relatively simple currency to understand and maximize. The best redemption option is towards travel, 1,000 points are worth $10 towards travel at a value of $0.01 per point.
You can book your travel and redeem points instantly with the Scotia Rewards Travel Service. You can also book with another travel agency like Expedia or directly with the airline, hotel, etc and be able to redeem your points a few days after those transactions post.
I love to use Scotia Rewards points to cover travel expenses I otherwise would have paid cash for. Expenses like flights on low-cost carriers, train tickets, stays in boutique hotels, and anything I can charge to my hotel room… pay with your Passport Infinite Visa and you can apply those Scotia Reward points!
Airport Lounge Passes
With the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, you are eligible for a complimentary Priority Pass membership that comes pre-loaded with 6 airport lounge visits per year. Priority Pass is a third party airport lounge provider and grants their members access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide regardless of the airline or cabin you fly.
Six lounge visits per year will be enough for those that fly two to three times a year. And even for those who have lounge access from elite status or a business class ticket, there will still be occasions where the Priority Pass vouchers will come in handy. You can also use the vouchers for guests traveling with you.
Now if you already hold the Priority Pass membership with unlimited entries for you and 1-2 guests, the extra vouchers will still be valuable when you travel in groups of 3 or more for additional complimentary guesting privileges.
We finally have a no foreign transaction fee card that has strong travel insurance. All the insurance benefits are clearly displayed on Scotiabank’s credit card page but I want to highlight the card’s delayed luggage benefit which is a commonly claimed benefit and was recently discussed on PointsNerd.
The delayed luggage benefit covers up to $1,000 for all insured persons on the same trip for the cost of replacing eligible essential items if your checked luggage is not delivered within four (4) hours from your time of arrival at your final destination.
For a credit card with no FX and is under $149 annual fee, coverage up to $1000 if the luggage is not delivered within four hours is phenomenal as most cards have a six-hour criteria that must be met in order to make a claim.
After mentioning all the perks above, here is a conservative breakdown of the value of benefits.
$250: Sign up bonus
$180: Lounge passes [$30 x 6 vouchers]
$50: Cardholder + free supplementary, both with 0% FX fee, travel & shopping insurance
I also didn’t value the fact that this card is issued by Scotiabank. For a mainstream bank, you can expect a superior level of customer service and always walk to a bank teller if there are any issues. Not to mention the access to digital services like mobile applications and Apple Pay.
A $480 return on benefits in the first year and a $230 return in subsequent years, the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa is a no-brainer to add to your credit card portfolio.
As always, we would love for you to sign up for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card through our referral link if you find value in the blog. Your support really helps the blog continue to grow and bring you new and original Travel Hacking content.
Kudos to Scotiabank for introducing a legitimate travel credit card and sparing us from the dreaded foreign transaction charge! Having a card with no FX fee is essential for everyone and the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa is the first card that comes with relevant insurance and travel benefits.
With the slim picking of no FX credit cards, you should consider applying for this credit card even without a sign-up bonus. Right now there is a 25,000 sign up bonus, apply today!