Dec 09, 2011 — There is no doubt that Prepaid Cards come with fees as does most any financial tool available. Interest carry, minimum balances and overdraft protection may not sound like fees, but you better believe that financial institutions make money on those services as well. It has been said before that not all plastic cards are created equal, and that is definitely the case for prepaid debit as well.
Whether you are a frequent purchaser, heavy ATM withdrawal-er or online bill payer, there are some cards that will work great for you and others that will not. The only way you will know for sure is to research and compare various prepaid debit cards out there. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you in your quest. In the meantime, here is a list of some of the most frequent fees that you will see charged by prepaid companies. We hope it helps.
- ATM Withdrawal – A very common fee for most cards usually $1.50-3.00. In some cases, you can find an ATM network associated with a prepaid card that will give you one or more FREE ATM withdrawals per month.
- ATM Balance/Inquiry – Also very common and usually $1.00 or less. Just about every prepaid card has FREE mobile phone text alerts, email alerts or access to the company’s website to check you balance.
- Activation or Set up – Not all cards charge this one and some charge up to $20. Unless there are some unique features that you just have to get, find a card that doesn’t charge am activation fee.
- Monthly Maintenance – Most cards do have a monthly fee anywhere from a few bucks to $15. Many will waive the fee if you load a certain amount of money each month or participate in direct deposit through your employer or government benefits provider.
- Paper Statement – This fee can run from $1 to $20 per statement. There is no need for you to receive a mailed statement when you can view it free online with your prepaid provider.
- Online Bill Pay – Typically a per transaction fee of $1-2 although lots of prepaid cards offer this as a FREE service. If not, just use your branded card to pay online at each vendor’s website.
- Card Replacement – Most prepaid companies charge $10-20 for replacing a lost card, but there are some out there that don’t charge this fee because it might be included in a higher monthly fee.
- Expedited Card Delivery – Avoid this charge if at all possible. This fee can be outrageous from $20 to over $50 depending on the company.
- International Currency Conversion – Almost all cards that can be used internationally will charge this fee that will run from 2 to 4 percent of each transaction.
- Retail Load – This can be a tricky one as the retail merchant will charge approximately $5 on top of another fee charged by the prepaid card company. Many cards won’t hit you a second time or will waive the fee for a large or frequent load.
The best advice on how to get a prepaid card and avoid harsh fees is to do your homework and compare different cards next to one another. Determine what a typical month of expense activity will look like in your world, and then eliminate the cards with high fees for those activities. Don’t forget to take advantage of websites available to help you analyze what is best for you.