Tips for prepaid card customers
• Find and read the fee schedule before you buy the card: Make sure you understand all the different ways you can be charged for using your card. Your cost will vary widely depending on which card you pick and how you use it.
• Try to figure out how you will use your card and compare the fees: In addition to a monthly fee, you may be charged for making purchases, depositing money, making cash withdrawals, paying bills, checking your balance, inactivity, or using customer service.
• Take steps to reduce your fees: If you decide to get a prepaid card, you may be able to reduce your fees by using direct deposit to load money onto your card. Avoid non-network ATM charges by getting cash back when making purchases and checking your balance online or over the phone.
• Keep track of your balance: Be sure to keep track of your balance to avoid potentially high fees for charging more than the amount you have loaded onto your card.
• Beware of debit card holds: Do not use prepaid cards to purchase gas at the pump or for hotel charges or rental cars. If you do, you may be subject to an extended hold on your funds for more money than what you purchased.
• Your fees may vary depending on how you make purchases: See if your card has different fees for choosing signature instead of PIN, or selecting the “credit” option instead of “debit” when you make purchases. Some prepaid card issuers may charge different fees depending on which option you choose.
• Get a bank account instead: Think about getting a bank account instead of using a prepaid card. You’ll get better consumer protections to protect your money if your debit card is lost or stolen.