If you want to pay with plastic, but don’t want a debit or credit card, a prepaid bank card might be the right option. There are lots of different cards out there, and they can be particularly useful for young people and holidaymakers.
- What are prepaid cards?
- Charges and fees
- Why use a prepaid card?
- Picking a prepaid card
- Don’t think a prepaid card is right for you?
What are prepaid cards?
A prepaid card is like a pay-as-you-go mobile phone - you top it up with money in advance. You use it like any other payment card, in shops or online. Most prepaid cards work at cash machines too.
The difference is that the card isn’t linked to a bank account. You can only spend the money you put on it, so there’s no way of going overdrawn or running up a debt.
Charges and fees
No two prepaid cards are the same when it comes to fees, so always check before you choose. The fees can include:
- Application fees
- Monthly fees
- Top-up fees
- Transaction fees (for example, 3% of the value of each purchase)
- UK and overseas cash machine withdrawal fees, and
- Inactivity fees – you get charged if you haven’t used your card for a certain period of time
Why use a prepaid card?
Prepaid cards are a good way to make sure you stick to a budget. However, they do usually charge fees so they might not be the best solution for you.
If you’re interested in a prepaid card because you’ve been rejected for another type of card, then a Basic bank account might be a better solution.
They can be a good idea if you’re looking for:
- A way to give kids an allowance. When the money runs out, you can choose to top up the card, just like a pay-as-you-go phone. For more ideas visit You, your kids and money.
- An alternative to traveller’s cheques. You load a prepaid travel card up with money before you go and you’ll be able to spend it while you’re away. Read more in Travel money options – cash, cards and traveller’s cheques.
Picking a prepaid card
You can compare prepaid cards using price comparison websites, but make sure you use more than one as they don’t all have the same deals.
We recommend using the below:
Don’t think a prepaid card is right for you?
Take a look at your other options: