Learn What to Know Before Choosing a Prepaid Card

ATM balance inquiry fee: 

This price, which normally ranges from 49 to $2, is levied when you check your balance at an ATM. There should be no issue obtaining a card that allows free in-network ATM balance queries. Most cards allow you to sign up for online access to your account, allowing you to check your balance for free.


Bill-pay fee:

If you want to use your card to pay bills online or to set up automated repeating payments for monthly bills, seek for a card that does not charge a cost for bill payments—they exist. If you can’t discover a card that doesn’t charge a cost for bill payments, go with one that has a low fee in comparison to other cards.

Funds transfer cost:

There may be a fee if you need to move money to another cardholder. If you intend to transfer money on a frequent basis, seek for a card that does not impose this cost.

Foreign transaction and currency conversion fees: 

It is not commonplace for card issuers to impose a fee when you use your card abroad, though not all do. If you intend to use your card outside the United States, look for one with lower-than-average costs in this category.

Inactivity fee: 

If you do not use your card for a prolonged period of time, you may be charged a cost (typically three months or longer). The fee—both the amount and the time frame for which it is assessed—can vary greatly. For example, one credit card company may charge $2 per month after 180 days of inactivity, while another charges $5.95 after 90 days. Consider this cost when shopping around if you believe your card will go unused for an extended length of time. Additionally, make certain that the inactivity fee does not exceed the standard monthly service fee or the maximum monthly per-transaction fee limit. Many cards that charge an inactivity fee will waive it if you make a balance query, an ATM withdrawal, or a call to customer support at least once throughout the month (even if you don’t make a transaction).


Paper statement fee: 

Many, if not most, credit cards impose a fee to send you a paper statement, which can range from $5.95 to $10.95. However, by checking your statements and account activity online, you can simply avoid this cost. Choose a card that does not charge a fee to access your account online.

Customer service fee: 

You should not have to pay a fee to speak with a live customer service agent, but some credit card companies do. There are many that don’t, so look around.

Other fees, such as those charged to replace a lost card or to close an account (each of which can be $10 or more, though many cards charge less or even nothing), are either avoidable or assessed so infrequently that they are not a significant factor when choosing a card.

Aside from the types and amounts of fees, the “transparency” of the fees is critical. Any card you choose should clearly indicate any potential costs; double-check them before you buy. Because card packaging may not allow for the disclosure of all fees, it’s recommended to examine the card’s website before making a decision. You can only make an informed decision if you know exactly what costs you might be charged.