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Prepaid Cards 101

Jan 12, 2017

What is a prepaid card?

Prepaid cards are called different names, such as prepaid debit cards, but they usually refer to the same thing. A prepaid card might look like a debit or credit card, but they are a different type of payment product. With a prepaid card, you have to load money onto it first before being able to use it, and there’s typically no effect on your credit score because it’s not a credit card and there’s no credit check involved. They are different from gift cards because they don’t have to be used at a specific store, are reloadable, and many people use them in place of a traditional bank account.

Why use a prepaid card?

There are many different reasons that people decide to open a prepaid account. Prepaid cards are a great option for those who can’t open a traditional bank account due to bad banking history. They are also good for those who want to avoid traditional banking or live in an area without many banking options.

Some people with traditional bank accounts will also have a prepaid card for making purchases online or over the phone. They can transfer the amount they want to spend to their prepaid account and don’t run the risk of their traditional bank account being compromised if they become the victim of fraud.

Where can I use a prepaid card?

If you have a Netspend prepaid card, it can be used anywhere Debit MasterCard or Visa debit cards are accepted, including online, in stores, and over the phone. You are also able to withdraw cash at ATMs and get cash back. (Fees may apply.)

How do I choose the best prepaid card for me?

There are lots of options to choose from if you want to open a prepaid account, which can be overwhelming. When choosing which prepaid card is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle, be sure to check the following:

  • Can I get my paycheck and/or benefits direct deposited to my card?
  • Is there a mobile app for my smartphone so I can check my account while on the go?
  • What fees are associated with the card? (You can see Netspend’s here.)
  • What additional features are available that are important to me?

For more questions about Netspend prepaid cards specifically, read our Frequently Asked Questions.