Through the years, prepaid cards have become widely popular. A Pew survey even indicated that prepaid card use from 2012 to 2014 increased by as much as 50 percent. From the time they were first introduced, prepaid cards have truly come a long way. Nowadays, it has evolved into one of the most preferred payment options available.
What are Prepaid Cards? Here’s All You Need to Know!
If you are reading this, it is likely that you are considering getting a prepaid card. Or maybe you may already have one but don’t know how to use it fully yet. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. This article can serve as your short but comprehensive guide to one of the best financial tools you can get your hands on.
What are Prepaid Cards
Prepaid cards look no different than the typical credit and debit cards. However, unlike the two, prepaid cards are not linked to any bank account. They also need to be preloaded with money before they can be used for ATM withdrawals and purchase transactions.
In addition, unlike prepaid cards, you won’t be “borrowing” money from the bank when you use it. With credit cards, the bank pays for your purchases first and you’ll just pay the bank at a specified date. With a prepaid card, you will be using your own money—the balance that’s available on the card.
Many people mistake prepaid cards for gift cards. While they do have certain similarities, they are actually two separate and distinct financial tools. Unlike prepaid cards, gift cards are designed for one-time use only. In other words, once the balance available on the gift card has been depleted, you won’t be able to load money onto it or use it again.
How to Use Your Prepaid Cards
Just like debit and credit cards, prepaid cards can also be used for online and merchant transactions. And unlike gift cards, prepaid cards can be used to withdraw money. Prepaid cards are typically affiliated with established financial networks. That means, they are also honoured and accepted in establishments associated with the financial network.
Each time your prepaid card is used, the money is deducted directly from the balance that’s available on the card. If the balance is not enough to pay for a specific purchase, the transaction will be declined. Also, if the balance available on the card has been depleted, you have the option to load money onto your card at any time you deem convenient.
The frequency of the loading will also depend on what’s convenient for you. You can load money, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, whichever suits your needs. You even have the option to load money on the card daily if you want to!
What to Consider When Choosing a Prepaid Card
Nowadays, there’s no shortage of prepaid cards you can choose from, that picking the one that’s best for you has become quite challenging. Fortunately, you can narrow down your options by asking yourself a few key questions about your possible use of the card. For instance, it is more convenient to load money through direct deposits or through network reloads?
If you prefer the latter, it would be ideal to pick a prepaid card whose reload network is easy for you to go to. Another important factor you should take into account are the fees and charges. In line with this, examine the transactions you often do using your prepaid card.
Take note of the patterns you’ll notice in terms of card use and identify those transactions you perform more often. Understandably, it would be best to choose a prepaid card that charges less for those transactions you perform often.