Pros and Cons of Prepaid Debit Cards

Pros and Cons of Prepaid Debit Cards

August 04, 2020

Today more than half of all Americans use prepaid debit cards for personal use, compared to just 19% in 2008.¹

A prepaid debit card is established when an individual provides cash to a financial institution in exchange for a card that can be used like any debit card or credit card, except it is limited to purchases in an amount not to exceed the card’s cash balance. When the balance runs low, or is exhausted, the card can be reloaded with additional cash.

There are reasons why you might consider using a prepaid debit card, including:

  • For individuals with poor credit, who may be unable to get a credit card, carrying a prepaid debit card means they don't have to carry cash.
  • For individuals who have trouble managing their spending, prepaid debit cards can act as a restraint on poor habits.
  • As an alternative to credit cards for college students, they can help protect parents from their children's excessive spending, while teaching important budgeting lessons.
  • They offer potential protection against the loss of cash when traveling.
  • In a world of data theft, prepaid debit cards do not house personal data, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, shielding that data in the event of theft.

They do come with drawbacks, such as:

    • They do not provide any advance of credit, like a credit card. So if you have an emergency expense that exceeds your prepaid debit card balance, the debit card will be of limited use.
    • Prepaid debit cards may come with considerable fees, including account opening fees, transaction fees, and monthly charges. Depending upon the balance, fees can represent a high percentage of your cash value.
    • You will not earn reward points or rebates, like you might with a credit card.

Recently, Money.com re-published their list of the best credit cards for 2020. Included on the list is a secured credit card. Unlike a prepaid debit card, the secured credit card  goes a step further by helping those with weak or no credit establish credit and provides the same benefits listed above as the prepaid debit card. The secured credit card uses similar set-up methods as the prepaid debit card.

If you are considering a prepaid debit card, secured or unsecured credit card, Money's list may be a good place to start comparison shopping. Fees can vary widely with all cards, so look for one that is appropriate for you.

About Terrell Dinkins, MBA, ChFC®, CDFA®

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Terrell Dinkins, MBA, ChFC®, CDFA® is an investment adviser representative of and offers investment advisory services through OBN Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the State of Georgia and other jurisdictions where registered or exempted. Main Office: 950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 216, Stockbridge, GA 30281. Tel: 404-723-9780. Website: OBN Wealth Advisors

1. CreditCards.com, June 20, 2016

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2020 FMG Suite.