If you have a prepaid debit card you want your money to go toward your purchases, not to the credit card companies to cover any fees or penalties. The AARP offers these seven tips for how to reduce the potential fees for reloadable prepaid debit cards.
Minimize Initial Purchase or Setup Fees
Do your research to identify pr-paid cards that don’t have or come with a small initial activation or set up fee.
Limit Monthly Fees
Monthly maintenance fees are common in the pre-paid card world, but ask the provider if there are circumstances that the fee would be waived, such as maintaining a certain number of transactions or depositing a certain amount each month.
Use the ATM Wisely
Plan ahead and use in-network ATMs to take out cash. Many cards will slap you with a couple-dollar fee every time you use an out-of-network machine.
Look for Fee Disclosure
Fee disclosures should be on the top of your list when looking for the right card. Some cards have their fees printed on the inside of the packaging so you won’t know the fees and terms until you purchase the card. Others print them on the outside or online, so be sure to check before committing to one.
Look for Special Purchase Fees
Not all purchases are created equal with some cards charging a fee for certain kinds of purchases at retail locations. So when looking over the fine print, be sure to watch for any special fees.
Often you can add money to many cards for free by direct deposit or electronic transfer. Know your reloading options so you can plan accordingly and use one of the options won’t cost you.
Have FDIC Protection
Make sure your card has FDIC insurance, it will protect your account balance up to the maximum allowed by law if the bank were to fail.
Prepaid debit cards have become more popular in the wake of the Great Recession, but these cards can bring added fees that are often confusing and misunderstood by consumers. Here’s what you need to know.