Recent turmoil in the banking industry has consumers scouring the countryside and cyberspace to find a decent banking relationship where they don’t feel taken advantage of. According to several sources, including The New York Times, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a very complex, seemingly “leaderless” movement that has thousands of people protesting in the streets of several cities and have no real demands, ethnic makeup or typical profile. It appears that the underlying theme is discontent with big banks and the government catering to them. If you are one of those “discontented”, then there are other avenues available to you when it comes to your money.
Some customers may just want to move away from the big banks to a smaller regional or community bank, which might be a good move. Others may consider a credit union, which can provide some great products to its members. Cash only may be the solution for people completely frustrated with the system, although there are definitely safety, logistics and cost issues associated with carrying cash around or even trying to cash a paycheck. A solution growing in popularity for many people seeking a simple way to manage their money is getting a prepaid debit card. There are several benefits of using prepaid cards, here are a few:
- Cards can easily be purchased at a retail merchant or online
- There is usually no credit check required
- Many cards are FDIC insured by their issuers
- Most cards are open-loop network-branded (i.e. – Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express)
- Fraud protection is offered through most of the card networks
- ATM withdrawals are a popular feature with most prepaid cards
- There are several options for loading cards including direct deposit, retail reload and card-to-card transfer
- Great wireless and online account management features come with many cards like text alerts and online bill pay
- When used carefully, some cards actually have little or no fees
- Rewards, perks and even savings account features are available with some prepaid cards
As with any financial tool, there can be negative experiences with prepaid cards if the terms and conditions aren’t carefully read. For instance, some cards might have high monthly maintenance fees, inactivity fees, replacement card fees, reload fees, ATM fees and activation fees, just to mention a few. When using the internet, it becomes much easier to compare different card options as there are several sources available. Prepaid cards are not for everyone, but for those fed up with traditional banks, prepaid debit cards have already become a fast growing market segment in the financial realm.