If you are shopping around for a product, you need to know the criteria to use to distinguish between them. So to compare prepaid cards, what should you be looking for? You could start by asking the following questions.
Is there an initial fee?
When the card is issued, some providers charge an admin fee for producing it. They might also charge for the postage and packaging costs involved in sending it to you.
What are the monthly fees?
Some card providers charge a monthly fee to cover the administration costs of running the scheme. Other card providers do not charge monthly fees, but make their money in other ways like transaction fees.
Does the card issuer charge transaction fees?
Transaction fees can be charged for withdrawing cash, or making purchases. When you compare prepaid cards, you will find that card issuers might score well on one criteria, but no so well on other. In that case, you need to weigh up the overall costs of the fees and charges involved to assess how much it would actually cost you to use the card every month. For instance, if you do not get cash out very often, then it does not really matter whether your card provider charges for this service. However, if you withdraw money every day, this will be more of an issue.
Is the card easy to top up?
Some card providers have an arrangement with the Post Office, so their customers can pay in cash over the counter which can be credited directly onto their card. Also, at PayPoint terminals in shops (which are also used for gas and electricity), you can also upload money to your prepaid card. You may have to pay a fee for this service.
Other ways of getting funds to your prepaid card include direct bank transfer, telephone banking and having your wages paid directly in.
Is the card widely accepted?
Consider also where cards are accepted. Widely available services like VISA, Maestro and MasterCard are accepted in most retail outlets. You should also be able to access your funds using an ATM with these brands.
Can the card be used abroad?
Finally, when you compare prepaid cards, make sure that you choose one that fits your lifestyle. So if you have a few foreign trips coming up, select a card that can be used abroad.