Brim Financial promised Canadians a credit card revolution filled with unparalleled rewards, 0% instalment payment plans, 0% foreign transaction fees, and free global wi-fi. Instead, customers have been left waiting and wondering if the revolution will ever arrive.
Brim offered three flavours of the Brim Financial MasterCard, which it tabbed as Canada’s first and only non-banked credit card:
- Brim Basic – No annual fee, no frills, 1 point for every dollar spent
- Brim World – $99 annual fee, better insurance coverage, airport lounge access, 1.5 points for every dollar spent
- Brim World Elite – $199 annual fee, World Elite insurance coverage, airport lounge access, 2 points for every dollar spent
The company started accepting applications in February, 2018 with a plan to launch in March, 2018. A slick website showed the potential for customers to earn big rewards, including 5x points on travel and ‘surge multipliers’ at participating retailers. Thousands of Canadians signed up and waited …. and waited.
Meanwhile, as applicants waited for launch, several other red flags started to pop-up. One user claims he received a call from Brim asking for three pieces of identification to be sent via email for verification. Others were asked to have a signing agent such as a lawyer or doctor issue a note verifying their identity. Strange, indeed, but perhaps a sign that Brim had finally started to process these applications.
Then some of the original claims inside Brim’s terms and conditions started to change or become more clear. The Brim World Elite MasterCard, once advertised with a $129 annual fee, suddenly increased its fee to $199/year.
A member of the Red Flag Deals forum, which has a massive thread on Brim Financial, noticed an update to its foreign currency conversion:
“For foreign currency transactions, the rate will be the exchange rate posted by Brim on its Website on each business day and applied at the time of the posting of the Transaction.”
What that means is, unlike other banks and credit card issuers, Brim will not use MasterCard’s spot-rate on foreign currency but instead use its own exchange rate. It’s fair to ask whether Brim’s 0% foreign transaction fee is just a marketing ploy if its exchange rate ends up being higher than MasterCard’s spot-rate?
In another thread, this time on Reddit Personal Finance Canada, a user pointed out Brim’s 0% on instalment plans actually included some pretty hefty financing charges. Personal finance blogger Michael James does the math and estimates the ‘fees’ on these 12-24 month instalment loans can be as high as 19.4% – 26.9%!
Brim Financial: Failure to Launch
As of today (July 3rd, 2018) not one user has received a card. The phrase “coming soon” is scrawled all over Brim’s website. Brim Travel – coming soon. Brim on the go (mobile app) – coming soon.
Meanwhile, the company has unveiled a smattering of partnerships where users can earn extra points at Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and Uber Eats. It’s enough to keep customers intrigued and eagerly waiting to see an actual product rather than a bunch of marketing and hype.
As Barry Choi writes, what the F is going on with Brim Financial?
Applicants have a right to be concerned about their privacy and what exactly Brim is doing with their applications after all these months. Hopefully there is a good ending to this story and Brim finally puts out a product that lives up to the hype.
Until that day, I say avoid Brim Financial. I’d like to see a proven track record before I hand over my personal information to this fledgling start-up. Too many red flags for my liking.
In the meantime, check out these three (legit) credit cards that do not charge foreign currency conversion fees.