What to Know Before You Buy a Prepaid Credit Card

If you want to buy a prepaid credit card there are a few things you should consider before getting one. Several companies offer prepaid credit cards, and though many of the cards are the same, it is important to recognize the differences so you can choose the best card for your needs. 

You will pay for the card.

Unless there is a "free card" promotion, you will have to pay a nominal fee for the card itself. The fees will vary from vendor to vendor and from card to card. Typically, you will be able to find them from anywhere around $3.95 each to $9.95 each, depending on the card and where you live.

The fee is a one-time fee. Once the card expires, you will have to pay the same fee again to renew the card.

You will get a temporary instant use card.

When you visit a vendor in person, rather than ordering online, you will get a temporary instant use card to use until the actual card with your name on it has been issued and mailed to you. This allows you to load a balance on to the card and start using it immediately.

Watch out for fees.

There are generally fees associated with using a prepaid credit card that will vary from card to card. Paying close attention to what these fees are and how often you will incur them as a user will get you a better grasp on which card to purchase and use.

Fees may be incurred for loading the card, for using the card as either a debit or credit card at the point of sale, for checking the balance via phone, for using the ATM--on top of the ATM fee itself-or for monthly maintenance of the account.

Read the fine print. 

While the fine print will detail information on the fees you will incur as a user, it will also contain important information about the maximum balance limitations, and the maximum spending per day, week and month. If you believe your spending will potentially exceed these limits, you may want to find another card that doesn't have limits at those levels.

Though most of the time when you buy a prepaid credit card the money on the card is protected from loss or theft just like a traditional card, it may not always be the case. If you read the fine print and find out the money is not protected, you most certainly do not want to invest in that card. 

Before you buy a prepaid credit card, you need to shop around to find the best deal for your shopping habits. A person who is going to use the card strictly for online purchases will not require the same kind of card as someone who is going to use the card for the majority of or all of the purchases he or she intends to make. 

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