The prepaid sector in the financial market has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years – and in 2012, these financial products saw huge increases in the number of Americans who are increasingly choosing them over traditional bank accounts. This new trend has resulted in an 18% increase this year alone. All have their own unique benefits, but in recent months, a healthy competition by some of the nation’s biggest banks have resulted in lower fees – which is ironic because many consumers began turning to prepaid cards as an effort to avoid rising costs and fees associated with their traditional bank accounts.
As we see the finish line in sight that will ring out 2012 and propel us into a new year, full of promise, prosperity and hope, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the better prepaid debit cards introduced in the past twelve months. Take a look –
Green Dot Prepaid MasterCard
This prepaid MasterCard has been on the market for a few years now and it’s had plenty of time to prove itself to a far more disciplined and prepared society. There are no interest rates, annual fees or other common charges to cut into your balance. You can also easily manage your Green Dot prepaid card online – pay bills, make deposits – you can do it all in your online account. Looking for a direct deposit feature? The Green Dot MasterCard has it. Easily have your payroll or government checks deposited right onto your debit card. It’s fast and safe. For those who appreciate those convenient CoinStar kiosks, you can have your change quickly moved over to your Green Dot.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions. A $9.95 application fee is deducted from the card account after it’s activated and any time you load funds onto the card, you’re looking at a 4.95 fee as well as a $4.95 maintenance fee. ATM balance inquiries will cost you $1.50 and if your transaction is declined, you’re hit with a .50 fee each time. Cash advances cost $4 and if your card is lost or stolen, your cost is $10 to replace it. Card members receive weekly balance updates via email while the convenient online account management provides for easy account monitoring. The Green Dot MasterCard is issued by Columbus Bank & Trust Company.
We know that the Chase Liquid prepaid card is new to the market, but it’s already resulting in a wave of new consumers who have tried, liked and are now convinced this is the last prepaid debit card product they’ll ever need. This Chase card makes withdrawing cash much easier with its 18,500 Chase ATMs around the nation. Plus, you can withdraw up to $500 a day – which is higher than most prepaid cards allow. Withdrawals at Chase banks are free, too. No fees whatsoever.
Not only that, but loading your card is easy too. There are close to 11,000 deposit friendly ATMs, transfer and deposit your checks via your smartphone or you can opt for Direct Deposit, which is also free. Near a Chase branch? No problem – load your card at any Chase bank free of charge.
This really is a great prepaid card for consumers. Whether you’re picking up the pieces from tough financial times and are unbanked or if you’re just looking for a way to save money on the ever-growing fee structures associated with many of today’s bank products, the Chase Liquid is sure to meet all of your needs.
AccountNow Prepaid MasterCard
This guaranteed approval debit card is still a very popular choice. It’s quickly become one of the most respected prepaid offers on the market. It’s the low fees, the versatility and safety mechanisms built into it that has kept it a formidable player. Issued by Meta bank, customers don’t have the traditional approval frustrations either. In fact, your employment or credit history plays no role in your approval process. While there’s no annual fee, there is a monthly service fee that is based on the plan you select. The two plan options are the classic and premium. The former has $4.95 monthly fee while the latter incurs a $9.95 fee each month.
Take advantage of the online billing and statement management features and do your part in saving the environment by declining the monthly paper statement – and save $5 each month in the process.
ibankUP Prepaid Visa Card
The iBankup prepaid Visa Card is one of the newer prepaid offers on the market today. You’ll enjoy many of the same conveniences found in a traditional bank account along with bonus cash back points and no annual fee. Approval is guaranteed and is a fine alternative for bank accounts. Plus, it’s also a great resource for the teens in your life, too.
Complimentary direct deposit and hundreds of ways to load your card with cash are just a couple of this offer’s many features. You can also use MoneyPak to load your money onto the card. The sign up is so easy and can be completed in just a few minutes. Once you have those bases covered, you immediately begin earning bonus cash back points.
The benefits are many and there’s no doubt the addition of big banks into the mix will ensure fees are kept reasonable. Remember, too, that thanks to the Durbin Amendment, which is part of the Dodd Frank financial overhaul, banks were significantly limited in what they could charge in the way of fees. It’s interesting then that so many are turning to prepaid debit cards as a way to offset those losses – and yet, some of their fees are lower than those not issued by a traditional bank.
As with all financial products and services, be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions. Because of their prepaid dynamic, there’s plenty that’s different from what a traditional checking account offers.
Do you have a favorite prepaid card? If so, let us know about it – we’d love to review it!