5 questions to ask when comparing prepaid debit cards

By UK CreditCards.com

There are lots of prepaid debit cards on the market. To help you find the right card, here are five questions you should ask when comparing prepaid cards.

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1. What are the fees and charges?
Prepaid debit cards can be a convenient tool for managing your money. However, some cards do have charges for operating the account. Charges vary according to provider, but you should generally look out for ATM withdrawal charges, fees for topping up your card, monthly fees and charges for replacing your card if it is lost or stolen.

Always make sure that you check what fees, if any, are applicable to the prepaid cards you are considering.

2. How easy is it to top up the card?
You may be topping up your card regularly, and so make sure that there are plenty of options for loading cash onto your card. Many companies allow you to transfer funds online, whilst others let you top up your card at a bank, Pay Point or by telephone.

3. Can you use the card abroad?
Many people are using prepaid debit cards as alternatives to traveller's cheques or foreign currency when they travel overseas. You can load your prepaid card with foreign currency before you depart and then use the card to withdraw francs, euros or dollars at a local ATM.

If you're planning to use your card abroad, you may want to consider a prepaid debit card that offers travel benefits.

4. Should I pick Visa or MasterCard prepaid cards?
The vast majority of prepaid debit cards carry either the Visa or MasterCard logo. Whilst both Visa prepaid cards and MasterCards are accepted at millions of locations across the world, you may have a particular preference for the type of card you choose. The fees may also be slightly different between Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards. When shopping around for the best card, you will need to make a decision about what type of prepaid card will suit you best.

5. Is the card easy to manage?
Many people lead busy lives these days. If you are short on time, then you will want a card that is convenient to your lifestyle. When comparing cards, always check what online, telephone and other services are available and pick a card that suits your needs.

For example, lots of prepaid card providers now allow you to manage your account online. You can log onto a secure website 24 hours a day to make transactions, check your balance and top up your card.

Other prepaid cards come with telephone or branch-based services, which may be less convenient for you if you work long hours or can't get to your local branch during opening hours. 

Before signing up for a new card, check that it offers a wide range of account management options that fit your busy lifestyle.

See related: 7 facts about the prepaid debit card; Online shopping: More secure with prepaid cards?

Published: 6 July 2011