New card for young people doubles as ID


A variety of prepaid card products promise to give children a head start on using plastic responsibly. Now, the newly launched Visa Prepaid CitizenCard promises to give children age 12 and older a taste of adulthood by combining two features that are important to young people -- the ability to prove their identity and age, and the option to make both online and in-store purchases.

Card offers both proof and pay
Billed as the only prepaid card with government proof-of-age approval and the ability to make prepaid card payments, the CitizenCard sports the Government PASS mark (considered valid proof of age and identity by government entities, businesses and banks). prepaid-card

In addition to the cardholder's photo, the new card displays both the cardholder's date of birth and the age-band (12-15, 16-17, 18+ or 21+) to which he or she belongs. This makes it easy for retailers selling age-restricted goods to determine whether they should allow a sale to proceed. The card number, which is tied to the cardholder's age, adds another layer of age verification. If a cardholder under 18 attempts to use it to buy alcohol or use a gambling website, the transaction is denied. Over-18s, meanwhile, will be able to use the card to prove they can get into clubs -- and enjoy the convenience of paying with plastic without the risks of credit.

Safer spending
Beyond its identity- and age-verification features, the CitizenCard sports many of the same benefits as other prepaid cards. For one thing, it allows children a more secure option than cash -- if the card is lost, further spending can immediately be blocked (and the ID photo can make it more difficult for a thief to use the card).

Another useful feature allows parents to set up a standing order to give their kids regular pocket money, or to top up a child's card with extra funds in an emergency. This means they can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing their children will never be short of cash -- while also knowing that they can control how much money their kids have and keep an eye on their spending habits.

Card fees
As with most prepaid cards, there are fees for the CitizenCard. It costs £15 to purchase the card -- or to replace it if it gets lost. The ATM fee is £1, and it costs 3% of the loaded amount to top off the card at PayPoint retailers (2% at the Post Office).

However, some fees often associated with prepaid cards are waived. There is no monthly fee. And the card can be reloaded for free online, via standing order, via bank transfer or at any Barclays branch.

See related: Editor's pick: Five user-friendly prepaid cards, Choose the right card to fund your child's gap year

Published: 27 July 2012