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82 Prepaid Cards Questions and Answers

In addition to an ATM cash withdrawal fee, do I pay other fees to get money from an ATM with my prepaid debit card?

You might pay more than one fee to use an ATM. The owner of the ATM may charge you a fee for using its ATM in addition to any ATM withdrawal fee charged by the card provider.

Some prepaid debit cards offer a network of ATMs where you don’t pay a fee to the ATM owner. These are called in-network ATMs. If you withdraw cash from an in-network ATM, you only have to pay the ATM cash withdrawal fee.

In addition, if you try to withdraw more than your account balance at an ATM, the provider may charge you an "ATM transaction decline" fee.

Am I charged a fee if I don't use my prepaid debit card?

If your card has a regular monthly fee, you may pay that each month no matter what. In addition, or instead of a regular monthly fee, you may be charged a fee if you don’t use your card for a certain period of time.

These fees are generally called inactivity fees or maintenance fees. The length of time that triggers them typically varies from 90 days to 12 months.

“Using” your card in this case may not just include making a purchase – it may also include making cash withdrawals, adding money to the card, and/or checking your card’s balance. You may be charged a maintenance or inactivity fee until you use your card again.

Are there any fees to use a payroll card?

Your employer makes the arrangements with the financial institution for the terms of the payroll card, including any fees that may be charged to you. Some employers arrange for payroll cards that do not charge you a monthly fee, but there may be other fees associated with using the card, so read the terms and conditions provided to you before you sign up.

In some states, you can’t be charged a fee to get your pay, which means that you won’t be charged a monthly fee to have a payroll card or for the first withdrawal per pay period, which can include all of your pay.

Are there fees for using a prepaid debit card?

There may be many types of fees for having and using a prepaid debit card. Some examples of fees are: monthly fee, reload fee, transaction fee, bill payment fee, stop payment fee, ATM cash withdrawal fee, balance inquiry fee, additional card fee, inactivity fee, lost or stolen card replacement fee, and card cancellation fee. Not every card has each type of fee. Think about how you plan to use the card and then look at the fees for your expected uses. You may be able to check on the card’s website to find out about the fees.

Are there limits on the amount of purchases, reloads, and cash withdrawals I can make with my prepaid debit card?

Your prepaid debit card may have limits on how much money you can have on the card, how much you can spend, and how much you can withdraw in cash. The limits vary, so you should check the materials that come with your card or you may be able to go online to find out what the limits are for your card.

Can I add my own money to my government benefit card?

Generally, no. You cannot add your own money to the federal Direct Express benefits card. Some state EBT cards will not let you add your own money, either. But these rules can vary from program to program, and may change. So you should check the rules for your particular government card.

Can I be declined for a prepaid debit card?

Usually not. Some card providers will ask for customer identification when the card is issued and initially loaded with funds, others will not do so until you seek to add money to your card, at which point you must “activate” the card. If the card provider can’t verify you are who you say you are, they can decide not to issue or activate your card. They may also decide not to issue or activate your card if they find a record that you had fraudulent activities in the past.

Can I borrow money with my prepaid debit card?

No, generally you cannot borrow money with your prepaid card. You have to add money to the card before you can spend it.

Can I buy a reload pack for someone else?

Yes, you can.

Can I overdraft my prepaid debit card?

In general, prepaid debit cards are set up so that you can’t overdraft; if you attempt to use your card and don’t have enough money in your account it will be declined.

Some cards let you overdraft by a small dollar amount each month without a fee. However, you will have to add more money to your card to pay back the overdraft.

Can I request a refund on an unused reload pack?

Yes, but you will likely need to fill out a refund request form. It normally takes seven to ten business days for you to receive the refund check.

Can I reuse the reload pack after it is used?

No, a reload pack can only be used once. If you want to add more money to your prepaid debit card using a reload pack, you have to buy another one.

Can I save with my prepaid debit card?

Some prepaid debit cards offer a savings feature.

Can I use my prepaid debit card outside of the U.S.?

Some prepaid debit cards may be used for purchases or ATM withdrawals outside of the U.S., but you may pay foreign transaction fees if you do so.

Can I use a prepaid card to build or repair my credit history?

Generally, no. The three main credit bureaus used by most lenders usually do not consider your prepaid card activities when they develop your credit report. With very few exceptions, most prepaid card providers who claim to offer a way to build your credit history report your activities only to a lesser-used credit reporting agency, not one of the three major credit reporting agencies used by most lenders.

Do I have to provide my name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number when I register and activate my card?

Usually the issuer is required by law to verify your identity before they can activate a prepaid debit card. You must provide your official name, street address (no P.O. boxes), date of birth, and Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number, or, if you are a non-U.S. citizen, another identification number. This may be your passport number, alien identification number, or the number of another government-issued document that shows where you are from and has your photograph.

Do I have to use a government benefit card to continue receiving a benefit?

It depends on the rules set by the government agency that has arranged for the card. Some state government agencies only offer two ways to disburse benefits: direct deposit to a bank account or direct deposit to a prepaid card. If you have a bank account, you may choose to have your benefits directly deposited into your bank account. However, if you do not have a bank account, a government benefit card may be the only other option. Some government benefits may only be offered by a prepaid card.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has also mandated that all federal benefits and nontaxable payments – like veterans’ benefits or Social Security benefits – be made electronically. If you apply for federal benefits you must choose either direct deposit to a bank account or Direct Express, the government benefit card offered by Treasury. If you were already receiving federal benefits by paper check, you must switch to one of these options by March 1, 2013, unless you are over 90, are mentally impaired, or live in a remote area

Do I need good credit to get a prepaid card?

No. Prepaid card providers generally don’t check your credit.

Do I need an online account for my prepaid debit card?

Many prepaid debit card providers encourage you to set up online accounts. These accounts may offer the opportunity to update your address changes, set up a direct deposit, check your balance, and review your account history.

Just like with any other financial account, follow basic internet security precautions, such as picking a password that won’t be easy to guess, logging out of your account promptly when you are finished, closing your browser each time you log off of a financial account, and taking special care if you are using a shared computer.

You can learn more about internet security for financial transactions at onguardonline.gov, a site offered by the Federal Trade Commission.

Is a gift card a prepaid card?

Yes, a gift card is a prepaid card. A gift card might have a network logo on it (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover), which usually means it can be used anywhere that accepts that brand. A gift card that doesn’t have a network logo can only be used at one store or group of stores. Generally, most gift cards are not reloadable.

How can I get cash with my prepaid debit card without paying ATM cash withdrawal fees?

If you plan to use your prepaid debit card regularly at an ATM, look for a card that doesn’t charge an ATM withdrawal fee or provides for a certain number of free ATM withdrawals per month.

You can also avoid ATM fees by getting cash back at many stores by using the PIN debit option. The retailer will set its own limit on the cash back amount.

How do I add money to my prepaid debit card?

You can usually add money to your prepaid debit card in several ways. You may be able to arrange for a paycheck or other regular payment to be directly deposited onto the card; you may also be able to transfer money from a checking account or another prepaid card; or you may also be able to buy a “reload pack” to add a certain amount to your card. You may be charged a fee for some ways of adding money to your card and not for other ways, so think carefully about your needs and about how you reload.

How do I avoid a monthly fee on my prepaid debit card?

Some prepaid debit cards have a monthly fee, and some cards are “pay as you go.” With a pay-as-you-go card there is no monthly fee, but a fee may be deducted from the balance on the card each time you use your card. If you use your card frequently, these so-called transaction fees can add up very quickly. You may pay more with a pay-as-you-go card than one with a monthly fee, so you should think about how you will use your card before you decide what type of card to get.

In addition, some prepaid debit cards waive the monthly fee if you make at least a certain number of purchases, load at least a certain amount of money during the month, or use direct deposit. Carefully read the materials that come with the card, or you may be able to go to the card provider’s website, to find out how the card works.

How do I buy a prepaid debit card online?

You can buy a general purpose reloadable prepaid card online at the card provider’s website. Think about how you will use the card and check all the fees that will apply to those uses. Fees and fee structures for prepaid cards vary widely, so do some comparison shopping before you pick a card.

When you are purchasing your card, the website will ask you to provide your official name, street address (no P.O. boxes), email, and phone number. Sometimes you must provide your Social Security number or taxpayer identification number (or other identifying number if you are a non-U.S. citizen) at the same time; other times you will have to provide your Social Security number later.

Once your card arrives in the mail, you can activate it online or by phone and start using it.

How do I buy a prepaid debit card at a retailer?

First, pick the card you want. Think about how you will use the card and look at the fees that you will pay for those uses. You may want to go online to see if there are fees that aren’t disclosed on the card packaging. When you buy the card, you pay the initial amount that you want to load onto the card – the “initial load” – plus the cost of the card. Sometimes you will have to put at least a certain amount of money on a card to get it.

How do I check my prepaid debit card balance?

There may be several ways to check your prepaid debit card account balance. You should check the terms of your prepaid card program to determine what methods to check your account balance are available.

Automated customer service: You can call customer service (the number is usually on the back of your card) to check your balance, and if you get your balance through the automated phone system, you usually won’t be charged a fee.

Live customer service: You can call customer service to check your balance, but some card providers will charge you a fee to talk with a live agent.

Online: Some cards allow you to check your balance on the internet. You must set up an online account with the card provider to check your balance online. Usually this service is free.

Text message: Some prepaid debit card providers provide your account balance through text message free of charge, but you may pay a fee to your cell phone provider for receiving the text.

ATM: Some prepaid debit cards allow you to check your balance at an ATM, but you may pay a fee.

Paper Statement: You can request a paper statement to get your balance, but many prepaid debit card providers charge a fee for a paper statement.

How do I reload my prepaid debit card using direct deposit?

A prepaid debit card may give you the chance to set up a direct deposit for future reloads. A direct deposit can come from a variety of sources, such as your paycheck, government benefits like unemployment or Social Security, a tax refund, or a transfer from a checking account. When you register your card, you should get specific instructions on how to set up a direct deposit.

How do I use a reload pack?

Select your reload pack and take it to the cashier. Tell him or her how much you would like to add to your reload pack. You give the cashier money – in some cases they will only accept cash – and he or she activates the pack. Each reload pack has a set minimum and maximum reload amount, for example, at least $20 but no more than $500.

Once the cashier has activated the pack, you can open it and scratch the back to find the pack’s reload number. Next, you can go online or call your prepaid debit card’s customer service number to provide the reload number, and the money should become immediately available on your existing card.

How much does a reload pack cost?

The cost varies depending on the pack, so shop around, but you will have to pay a fee for each reload pack in addition to the money you put on it. You might also be charged a monthly fee for each reload pack if you don’t spend the money you loaded after a certain number of days (for example 91 days).

I bought a prepaid debit card for my own use- what is this?

A prepaid debit card is a term some prepaid card providers use to market what is technically known as a “general purpose reloadable” (GPR) prepaid card. Providers market the cards under many names, for example, as a “prepaid Visa debit card,” “prepaid MasterCard debit card,” or an “online shopping card.”

The cards are sold online and in stores. They typically carry a network logo (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) and can generally be used wherever cards for that network are accepted. They are reloadable, meaning you can add more money to them.

I charged $100 on my prepaid debit card at a car rental agency, but my account shows a charge of $115. Why?

This may have happened because the car rental agency put a temporary hold on your card. When you pay for your rental using a prepaid card, the car rental agency may require a deposit in addition to the actual cost of car rental. It may take several weeks before the hold on the deposit can be removed.

You should call the car rental agency ahead of time to inquire about their deposit policy and the length of a temporary hold if you pay with a prepaid debit card.

I charged $200 on my prepaid debit card at a hotel, but my account shows a charge of $230. Why?

This may have happened because the hotel put a temporary hold on your card. Many hotels may require a deposit in addition to the room charges. If that’s the case, the hold on the deposit will be removed when the transaction is processed, which may take a few days or longer.

You should call the hotel ahead of time to inquire about their deposit policy and the length of a temporary hold if you pay by a prepaid debit card.

I have not used my gift card for a while. Will I be charged an inactivity fee?

It depends. You might be charged an inactivity fee if you have not used your card for at least 12 months. The federal law also requires the card issuer to clearly and conspicuously disclose the inactivity fee to you. In addition, you may not be charged an inactivity fee at all if the state you live in does not allow such a fee.

I made an online purchase using my prepaid debit card but later the purchase was cancelled. However, the charge is still showing up on my card. Why?

Your card provider might cancel your purchase if the address you give to make the purchase is different from the address you have on file with your prepaid card provider. If they do cancel the purchase, it takes some time for the funds to be returned to your card account.

I spent $30 on gas using my prepaid debit card, but my account shows a charge of $75. Why?

This may have happened because the $30 transaction at the pump takes a few days to process. In the meantime, the gas station may have put a temporary hold of $75 on your card to ensure the purchase is paid for. Once the transaction is processed, they will remove the temporary hold and you will be able to use the rest of the money on your card.

If my employer offers me a payroll card, do I have to accept it?

No. Your employer can’t require you to receive your wages on a payroll card.  Your employer has to offer you at least one other alternative.

For example, some employers will give you a choice between direct deposit into your bank account, direct deposit to a payroll card, and a paper check. Others may only give you a choice between the first two of these options. Depending on the state you are in, your state’s laws may also require that your employer make additional options available. 

Before you agree to receive your wages on a payroll card, you should make sure you have certain information about the card. This includes information about certain fees you may be charged for using the card, such as for ATM withdrawals and purchases. Your employer or the card issuer also must provide you with the card’s terms and conditions. 

Tip:  You should be careful to check all the fees that may come with your payroll card.  Some cards charge fees for receiving paper statements, calling customer service and checking account balances.  Some cards charge a fee if you do not use your card.  This is called an inactivity fee.

Before you agree to receive your wages on a payroll card, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand the terms and fees associated with the card so that you can compare it to the terms and fees of your other option(s). If you start using a payroll card and you don’t like it, you can ask your employer to switch you to another option.

If my prepaid card expires, do I lose my money?

If you have a prepaid debit card and the card expires while you still have money on it, you can request a replacement card to access the funds.

The funds on a gift card will be good for at least five years, even if the physical card expires at an earlier time. If your card expires and there are unspent funds on it that have not expired, the issuer may give you a replacement card or give you the money by another means, such as a check. Either way, they may not charge you a fee.

Is the money on my prepaid debit card FDIC-insured?

Not necessarily.

For bank accounts, if your bank goes out of business, the government guarantees you will get back up to $250,000 of the money in your individual bank account through FDIC insurance. There are no such government guarantees for prepaid debit cards.

If your prepaid debit card issuer is a bank, you may have some amount of FDIC insurance for your money. If the bank goes bankrupt, you may get some or all of your money back.

If your prepaid debit card issuer is not a bank, you cannot have any FDIC insurance, and whether you will get your money back depends on the issuer’s rules.

You can refer to your cardholder agreement to find out whether your card is issued by a bank and whether you are insured.

Is my college ID card a prepaid card?

It depends on the arrangement your school has made. Some colleges allow you to load money on your college ID and use it to pay for things on campus. Some colleges also have arrangements with banks and other financial companies that let you use your ID card to access your bank account.

My prepaid debit card charges a monthly fee. What is that?

A monthly fee is a fixed fee you pay each month. You pay this fee even if you don’t use your card – it is automatically subtracted from your account balance.

My prepaid debit card says I may lose up to $50 or even $500 if I don't report my lost or stolen card or card PIN. What does that mean?

In general, it means that if you notify your card provider within two business days of learning that your card or card PIN has been lost or stolen, your loss would be capped at $50.  If it takes you more than two business days, your loss would be capped at $500. Some prepaid cards require you to report the incident in no more than 60 days. If you fail to do so, you may not get back any money lost after the 60 days. (Money lost within the 60-day period is subject to the $50 and $500 caps, depending on when you report the incident.)

Your card provider may impose additional requirements or exceptions to further limit your ability to recover your money. You should check your card agreement for the specific rules.

Is a prepaid debit card that I buy for my own use a gift card?

A prepaid debit card that is reloadable and is not marketed or labeled as a gift card is not considered a gift card. When we use the term “prepaid debit card,” we are not referring to gift cards.

Is a rebate card a prepaid card?

Yes. These cards might have a network logo (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) on them, which usually means you can use them anywhere the brand is accepted, or they might be good only at a particular store or group of stores. Generally, rebate cards are not reloadable.

There's a charge on my prepaid debit card that I didn't make. How do I dispute it?

You should call your card’s customer service center or file a dispute online, and you may wish to follow up with a letter. Check with your card provider to find out their exact policy for disputing a charge.

What is an additional card fee?

Some prepaid debit card programs let you get an extra card for another person, who you designate as an “authorized user” of your card, and you may pay a fee for the additional card.

Any new authorized users will have to register online or by calling customer service just like you did when you first got your card, and their identity will be verified before they get their card. You are still responsible for all the extra cards you get.

What are some of the main types of prepaid cards?

Most prepaid cards that have a network logo on them (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) can be used at any location that accepts that brand. These cards are called “open-loop” cards. If your prepaid card doesn’t have a network logo, you can only use it at one store or group of stores, like a retailer gift card. These are called “closed-loop” cards. A card that you can only use for a specific purpose, like a transit card, is also a closed-loop card.

Prepaid cards can be reloadable, meaning you can add more money to them, or non-reloadable, meaning you can’t add money to them. You may also get your paycheck on a prepaid card from your employer, which is called a payroll card.

What is an ATM cash withdrawal fee?

If your card permits you to withdraw cash at an ATM, you may be charged an ATM cash withdrawal fee each time you use your prepaid debit card to get cash from an ATM. If you get cash from an ATM located outside the U.S., you may pay a higher cash withdrawal fee.

What is a balance inquiry fee?

You may be charged a balance inquiry fee if you check your prepaid card balance at an ATM or if you call customer service to ask about your balance. Not all prepaid cards charge a fee to call customer service. Shop around to find out the fees before you select a prepaid card.

What is a bill payment fee?

Some prepaid debit cards let you sign up to have your bills automatically paid from your card. You may be charged a fee to enroll in this program. You may also be charged a fee each time you use the program to pay a bill.

If you plan to use your prepaid debit card account to pay bills, compare these fees before you select a card.  You may also want to consider whether there are other ways to pay your bills.

What is a card cancellation fee?

You can cancel a prepaid debit card at any time. You usually won’t pay a fee to cancel your card, but there may be a fee to get a check for the remaining balance on the card. To avoid the fee, you can either spend or withdraw the remaining funds on your card before you cancel the card.

What is a card-to-card transfer fee?

You may be charged a fee if you transfer money between two prepaid debit cards – this is a card-to-card transfer fee. However, some card providers allow you to transfer money between cards online without a fee.

What is a card replacement fee?

You may be charged a fee to replace your prepaid debit card.

What is a closed-loop prepaid card?

A closed-loop prepaid card generally does not have a network logo on it (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover). You can only use these cards at certain locations – for example, a specific store or group of stores for a gift card, or your public transportation system for a transit card.

What is the difference between a debit card and a prepaid debit card?

Even though it’s called a debit card, a prepaid debit card is very different from a bank account debit card. A bank account debit card is linked to your checking account; a prepaid debit card is not. Instead, you pay in advance to load funds onto a prepaid card, and then use the money you have loaded onto the card.

In most cases, you can’t spend more money than you have already loaded onto your prepaid debit card, but with bank account debit cards, if you opt into your bank’s overdraft service, the bank may cover the cost of a purchase that exceeds what you have in your account, and charge you a fee (as well as requiring you to repay the overdraft.)

In addition, prepaid debit cards may carry fewer consumer protections in the event of loss or a disputed charge than debit cards.

What is the difference between a prepaid debit card and a credit card?

Even though a prepaid debit card may have a card network logo like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover on it, it is different from a credit card. When you use a credit card, you are borrowing money. When you use a prepaid debit card, you are spending money that you have already paid to put on the card

Also, some prepaid debit cards may carry fewer consumer protections in the event of loss or a disputed charge than do credit cards.

What is a foreign transaction fee?

Some prepaid debit cards permit you to conduct transactions in a foreign country or in a foreign currency.  Also known as a currency conversion fee, a foreign transaction fee is a fee charged when you use your prepaid debit card in a foreign country or in a foreign currency. It is usually charged as a percentage of your purchase, withdrawal, or other transaction, rather than as a flat fee.

What is a government benefit card?

Some states use prepaid cards to pay unemployment benefits, child support, and other government benefits. Instead of getting checks, recipients receive a government benefit card, and each month the benefit amount is loaded onto the card. The federal government also uses prepaid cards to pay certain federal benefits, such as veterans’ benefits or Social Security benefits. Government benefit cards are sometimes called Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

The amount you can be charged in fees for using the card depends on the contract between the government agency and the financial institution providing the card account.  You should read the cardholder’s agreement carefully before using the card.

What happens if I have not used my prepaid debit card for a long period of time?

If your card has a regular monthly fee, that fee will be deducted from the account balance each month even though you have not used your card. You may also be charged an “inactivity fee” – sometimes called a “maintenance fee”— if you don’t use your card for a certain period of time. Check the materials that came with your card or you may be able to go online to find out if your card has these fees.

If you have not used your card for several years, some or all of the balance on your card may be turned over to the state as unclaimed property. You may be able to get the money back from the state.  Contact your state government for more information about the process of reclaiming the money.

What happens if I lose the reload pack?

The reload pack is like cash. Once you lose it, you will not be able to get the money back.

What happens if I never activate my prepaid debit card?

If you never go online or call your card provider to activate your card, or if your provider does not automatically activate your card for you, you will still be able to spend the amount you put on the card when you bought it – called the “initial load.” But you will not be able to reload and reuse the card after the original load amount is spent unless the card is activated.

What happens if my payroll card is lost or stolen?

You have similar protections against loss and theft of your payroll card, or theft of your funds using your payroll card information, as you would if your money were in a bank account.

What is a health savings account card?

Your employer may offer a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA) that lets you set aside money from your paycheck to go to a special account to pay for eligible medical expenses. The accounts may be linked to a prepaid card, and the rules on what type of spending is allowed for these accounts also apply to the use of the card.

Tip: Make sure your FSA or HSA money has been added to your account before you try to spend it using your card.

What kind of protection will I get against fraud and unauthorized charges on my prepaid debit card?

It varies depending on your card. All the major prepaid card providers give some protection against fraudulent and unauthorized charges, but some card providers have stronger protection than others. In addition, you likely have the protections provided by the networks such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

What is a non-reloadable prepaid card?

If your card is non-reloadable, you can’t add money to it after it is issued.

What is an open-loop prepaid card?

An open-loop prepaid card is a card with a network logo on it (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) that can be used at any location that accepts that brand.

What is a paper statement fee?

You may be charged a fee for requesting a monthly paper statement for your prepaid debit card. However, you may be able to go online to get a statement, or at least a list of your recent card purchases and other transactions, without a fee.

What is a payroll card?

Your employer may be able to arrange with a bank or other financial institution to pay you with a payroll card. Your pay is loaded directly to your payroll card rather than deposited to a bank account or provided to you in the form of a paper check. Sometimes your employer will give you a choice between direct deposit to a bank account or to a payroll card. Some employers will give you a choice between direct deposit to a bank account, direct deposit to a payroll card, and a paper paycheck.

What is a prepaid card?

A prepaid card is a card that you use to access money you have paid in advance. A prepaid card can refer to a number of different types of cards. For example, gift cards are prepaid cards that typically are used up after you deplete the value on the card. But you can also buy a prepaid debit card that you can add money to and continue using over and over. You “load” money on the card by paying in advance, and then you spend that money by using the card. Some types of prepaid cards also allow you to take money out at an ATM.

What is a reload pack?

For some prepaid cards, you can purchase a reload pack to add money to your prepaid card. You may be able to buy a reload pack at the same retailer where you bought your prepaid card. The “pack” is actually another card that is activated when you buy it. In some cases, you can only buy a reload pack with cash.

What is a reloadable prepaid card?

If your card is reloadable, you can add money to it after it is issued.

What should I do if my prepaid card or card PIN is lost or stolen?

Contact the card provider right away if your card or your card PIN is lost or stolen.

Your rights to recover money taken from your prepaid card account depend on what type of card it is, what your contract promises, and how quickly you report the loss after you discover it. Generally, payroll cards and government benefits cards are protected under the same rules that protect your bank debit card. The federal Direct Express card provides similar protections by contract.  Network-branded prepaid debit card providers usually give some protection, but you should check your card provider’s website to find out the specifics.

If the card that was lost or stolen was a gift card usable at just one retailer or retail group, your ability to recover any money will depend on the retailer’s policies and on whether you registered the card.

What is the text alert service for my prepaid debit card?

Some prepaid cards offer a text alert service. Through the service, you can receive notice of activity on your card, check your card balance, and review transaction history. The service is often free of charge, but you may pay a fee to your cell phone provider for text messages.

When can I start using a prepaid debit card?

After the card is activated, you will get a personalized card in the mail in about seven to ten business days. Your personalized card will have your name and an expiration date on it. You should start using your personalized card once it arrives and dispose of the temporary card.

When I use a prepaid debit card, should I choose "debit" or "credit"?

When you pay with a prepaid debit card at a store with a PIN pad, you may have the option to choose whether to run the card as “credit” or “debit.” The money will come out of your prepaid card account either way. In this case, “credit” and “debit” just have to do with how the payment is processed.

If you choose “debit,” you enter the PIN you created when you registered your card. If you choose “credit” you sign your name instead.

Some prepaid cards charge you a higher fee if you choose debit, so check your card agreement to find out what your card’s fees are.

Where can I buy or get a prepaid card?

You can buy prepaid cards at stores or online. Some prepaid cards, such as payroll cards or government benefit cards, are provided to you by your employer or government agencies.

Where can I use my prepaid card?

Most prepaid cards with a network logo (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) can be used anywhere that brand is accepted: grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, online shopping, etc. However, some prepaid cards with a network logo can only be used at certain locations or for certain purchases. If your card does not have a network logo on it, you can only use it at certain locations – for example, a specific store or group of stores for a gift card, or your public transportation system for a transit card.

Why am I charged fees to spend my unemployment benefits using a card?

Your state contracts with the bank or other financial institution that provides the card. The contract between the state and the bank determines what fees you can be charged.

Why was my online purchase using a prepaid card declined?

Your online purchase using a prepaid card could be declined if you don’t have enough money left on your card. Your online purchase also could be declined if the address you give to make the purchase is different from the address you have on file with your prepaid card provider. Also, some prepaid cards don’t permit online transactions.

Will I be charged for checking my prepaid debit card balance at an ATM?

It depends. Some prepaid debit cards charge you a fee for checking your balance at an ATM, called an ATM balance inquiry fee. But others may only charge you such a fee if you inquire about your balance at an out-of-network ATM.

Will I pay a fee for using a prepaid card?

It depends. Read the terms of the specific card carefully to understand the fees that may be associated with it. For some types of cards, important information is included on the card itself. Consider how you plan to use the card and shop for the best deal.

Generally you pay fees for using a prepaid debit card, payroll card, or government benefit card. Store gift cards normally do not charge you a fee. Usually, you have to pay a fee when you buy open-loop gift cards, but no fees to use them. Some transit cards charge you a purchase fee, but no fee to reload money or use the card.

Will I receive a monthly online statement for my prepaid debit card?

Some card providers offer monthly online statements, and others do not. Ask about statements before you select a card if they are important to you. You may be able get a statement, or at least a list of your recent card purchases and other transactions, without a fee online.

Will I receive a monthly paper statement?

Many prepaid debit card providers don’t provide monthly paper statements, though they may give you one if you request it – and charge a fee for that service. However, you may be able to go online to get a statement, or at least a list of your recent card purchases and other transactions, without a fee.




Copyright © 2013 by Mark McCracken , All Rights Reserved