Your Quick Guide to Prepaid Debit Cards

Granted, things were a little bit different back when I was still at Uni, but I think I can say with the greatest of conviction that had I took the time to search long and hard enough, I would have definitely come into the information about prepaid debit cards which I have right now. You see we were bombarded with offers to take up credit cards, believe it or not, on the premise that we can get credit as students and all we had to do was sign away our futures as surety.

Okay, okay, I’m perhaps being a little dramatic, but I’m sure you get what I mean. We were offered credit on grounds that any debt we rack up as part of that deal would be incorporated into the existing credit structures of our student debt. Somehow this flew with the financial and lending regulators, simply because the world loves credit, doesn’t it?

So going back to the better alternative to credit cards and forget about your pre-approved credit cards, particularly credit cards which are offered to students, prepaid debit cards come into focus. These days they’re perhaps not as significant as they once were, given the many different ways through which we can access our money, but they most definitely have their use.

I remember the first ever prepaid debit card I came into contact with was one which was offered by Virgin Money. You just know it was a big deal back then (a mere seven years ago, I’d say). It sort of defeated the purpose of having a prepaid debit card because there was a monthly card maintenance fee to be paid and there were all sorts of minimum transaction parameters which had to be honoured if you wanted to keep your card and the associated service “activated”. But it was a start and the cards were really sexy, I must say.

These were specifically branded as Debit MasterCards, but functioned just like a regular debit card in every way, except back then there were limitations to the pay-points at which one could use their debit card. Maestro cards weren’t accepted everywhere for example, especially the online services such the standard e-commerce store, so the prepaid Debit MasterCard in actual fact acted like a credit card except no credit facilities were available.

These days, as I suggested, you can pretty much get a prepaid debit card anywhere. You can buy one as a gift voucher, but those aren’t reloadable. You can also get one from the likes of virtual banking institutions which are backed by real banks, such as Payoneer (backed by Choice Bank), but again, that’s for a specific purpose – for freelancers to be able to withdraw their earnings in their own countries, in their own currencies or use their cards at a local Point of Sale.

If you want a prepaid debit card which effectively functions like a bank card issued by a virtual bank, the likes of Neteller makes for a great choice. Skrill also offers prepaid credit cards, but only for residents of the EU, whereas Neteller is open globally. You can add funds and even withdraw them via bank wire, so it’s a great way to segment the manner in which you store you money.

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Tim Spafford

Tim is a student who works hard to get a degree in finance and build a successful career in business consulting. Being a student and living in London Tim has a real-life experience in budgeting, saving, money making, traveling and having fun.