Prepaid Cards Report – 2012

CardHub-2012-Prepaid-Card-ReportThe growth rate for prepaid card transactions was more than 20 percent between 2006 and 2009, according to the Federal Reserve, making prepaid cards the most rapidly growing form of electronic payment during that time. Since that time, interest in prepaid cards has only increased, partly due to debit card regulations that  cost large banks $8.04 billion in annual revenue and forced them to emphasize unregulated alternatives such as prepaid cards. Consumers loaded $57 billion onto prepaid cards in 2011, a nearly 33% increase from 2010, and that number is expected to rise by 44% to $82 billion in 2012, according to the Mercator Advisory Group. By 2013, the group predicts consumers will load $117 billion onto prepaid cards, which would mark a 200% usage increase in just three years. A number of major celebrities have also signed on as prepaid card endorsers, speaking to the investment that issuers are making in the product. In light of their ever-growing role in the personal finance landscape, CardHub.com conducted a report evaluating how useful 20 popular prepaid cards are based on their fees and features.

Prepaid cards have three primary applications: 1) Alternative to a checking account; 2) Tool to give your child their allowance; or 3) Alternative check cashing tool. With that in mind, we came up with three hypothetical scenarios to determine which card is the most cost effective and convenient for each application. If a card is not suitable for a given application due to its lack of a key feature, it will be disregarded and noted with “Not Suitable.”

  • Scenario 1: Alternative Checking Account - This person receives a monthly paycheck of $2,000.00, is able to use direct deposit, goes to the ATM once a week, makes five purchases using their prepaid card each week, and needs to pay two billers by check per month (i.e. they do not accept card payments). How much will each card cost him? Note: In order for cards to be suitable for this scenario, they must have, at a minimum, the following key features: direct deposit and online bill pay.
  • Scenario 2: Child’s Allowance - This person gives their teenager a monthly allowance of $100.00, using their bank account or PayPal. The teenager goes to the ATM twice a month and makes two purchases using their prepaid card each week. How much will each card cost them? Note: In order for cards to be suitable for this scenario, they must allow funds to be loaded via a bank account or PayPal since most parents would not want to go to the store every time they give their kids an allowance.
  • Scenario 3: Alternative Check Cashing Tool - This person has a monthly income of $1,600.00, which they receive in weekly allotments. Direct deposit is not an option for them, and as a result, they will need to load money to their prepaid card and make ATM withdrawals on a weekly basis. This person will also make three purchases using their prepaid card each week. How much will each card cost them? Note: In order for cards to be suitable for this scenario, they must have, at a minimum, the following key feature: the ability to deposit checks directly into a prepaid card account for free.

Below is a summary table of each scenario’s monthly cost for each card.

Alternative Checking Account Child’s Allowance Alternative Check Cashing Tool
Green Dot Gold Prepaid Visa Card $0.00 $5.95 Not Suitable
NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage $26. 32 N/A* Not Suitable
NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Pay-As-You-Go N/A* $17.66 Not Suitable
ACE Elite Prepaid Visa – FeeAdvantage Plan $26. 32 N/A* Not Suitable
ACE Elite Prepaid Visa – Pay-As-You-Go Plan N/A* $17.66 Not Suitable
AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card $19.95 $14.95 Not Suitable
AccountNow Visa Classic $30.00 $13.00 Not Suitable
MoneyGram AccountNow Prepaid Visa Debit Card $21.27 Not Suitable Not Suitable
American Express Prepaid Card Not Suitable $6.66 Not Suitable
American Express Pass Card Not Suitable $6.66 Not Suitable
Capital One MasterCard Prepaid Card Not Suitable $11.56 Not Suitable
Young Money Prepaid Discover Card $21.27 $17.56 Not Suitable
Suze Orman Prepaid Card $5.00 $3.00 Not Suitable
Mango Prepaid Card Not Suitable $13.66 Not Suitable
Original RushCard – Unlimited Plan N/A* N/A* N/A*
Original RushCard – Pay-As-You-Go Plan N/A* N/A* N/A*
Original RushCard – Monthly Plan $24.27 $14.61 $24.27
Chase Liquid Card Not Suitable $4.95 $4.95
Western Union Prepaid MasterCard Not Suitable $9.56 Not Suitable
Walmart Prepaid Card Not Suitable $11.66 Not Suitable

*”N/A” does not mean that a card cannot be used for the respective purpose due to a lack of requisite features.  Instead, it is meant to indicate that the cost under this scenario is not applicable given that cardholders can call customer service and immediately change their payment plan for free in order to minimize expenses.  For example, the Netspend Fee Advantage Plan is listed as “N/A” on Scenario 2 because cardholders can easily switch to the Pay-As-You-Go Plan, which is cheaper.

For all scenarios, if the company has a nationwide network of participating ATMs, it is assumed that the cardholder can use one of these ATMs and therefore avoid ATM fees. The numbers for all scenarios take into account an average ATM surcharge fee of $2.33 for using out-of-network ATMs.

The number of debit purchases cardholders are expected to make under each scenario was based on usage information from The 2009 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. According to this survey, the average debit card user makes roughly 20 purchases each month, and given that Scenario 1 involves an alternative checking account, that was the number used. For Scenario 2, we assumed two purchases per week (8 per month) due to the fact that the child using the card only receives a $100.00 monthly allowance and will make purchases mostly on weekends. Scenario 3 assumes three purchases per week (12 per month) because consumers in this group are more accustomed to using cash and therefore will not make as many purchases with plastic as cardholders in Scenario 1. In addition, some cards charge different fees for signature and PIN transactions, and in those cases we assumed cardholders would make signature transactions because their fees are smaller.

It is important to note that every card has different fees based on the specific usage of each card. How often a person uses an ATM and how much money they load onto the card each month are the most important drivers in the cost of each card, so depending on the cardholder’s habits, the cost and rank order of the cards could change. For example, if a person loads $3,000.00 instead of $2,000.00 a month, the monthly cost for the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card under Scenario 1 would come down from $19.95 to $10.00.

Conclusions

Best Card for Alternative Checking Account: Green Dot Gold Prepaid Visa Card

Green Dot is the clear choice for a checking account alternative based on the above scenario. Its fee structure and large number of in-network ATMs allow its users to avoid all fees. Additionally, it offers direct deposit, online bill pay, and has a reasonably large balance limit of $10,000, making it a very practical checking account alternative.

Worst Card for Alternative Checking Account:  AccountNow Visa Classic

While the AccountNow Visa Classic Prepaid Card does not assess a monthly fee, it does charge $2.50 per ATM withdrawal and $1 for each purchase, which makes it the most expensive alternative checking account. A consumer who is looking to escape rising checking account fees is not likely to be interested in paying roughly $30 per month for a prepaid card.

Best Card For Child’s Allowance:  The Suze Orman Prepaid Card

The Suze Orman Prepaid Card is the least expensive option for giving your child their monthly allowance based on the above scenario. The only fee it charges in this scenario is a $3.00 monthly fee (assuming parents load funds via bank account transfer).

Worst Card For Child’s Allowance:  NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage / ACE Elite Prepaid Visa – FeeAdvantage Plan

Both the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage and the ACE Elite Prepaid Visa – FeeAdvantage Plan charge high monthly fees during months in which relatively small amounts are loaded. Furthermore, ATM withdrawals are expensive with both cards due to fees assessed both by the issuer and the ATM owner. As such, the the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage and the ACE Elite Prepaid Visa – FeeAdvantage Plan are the most expensive options for a Child’s Allowance, costing $26.32 per month based on the above scenario.

Best Card For Alternative Check Cashing Tool: Chase Liquid Card

The Chase Liquid Card is without a doubt the least expensive option when used as an alternative check cashing tool. Rather than pay to cash checks and load funds via MoneyPak, Chase Liquid cardholders can do both for free at Chase Bank branches. They can also withdraw cash for free from Chase ATMs.

Worst* Card For Alternative Check Cashing Tool:  Original RushCard – Monthly Plan

*Only two cards met the criteria of an alternative check cashing tool, and though this resulted in one card being labeled the “best” and the other the “worst” with no intermediate ground, both cards must be given credit relative to the cards that did not qualify due to their lack of requisite features and services.

Of the two cards that received scores for this scenario, the Original RushCard – Monthly Plan is the most expensive, due to high monthly and ATM withdrawal fees. However, this may not be a fair characterization because the Original RushCard – Monthly Plan is one of only two prepaid cards, along with the Chase Liquid Card, that are even suitable to be an alternative check cashing tool. In order to load a check onto the other 18 cards, one would have to first pay to cash the check and then in most cases pay again to load cash, which would completely defy the purpose of using a prepaid card in this manner to begin with.

Detailed Findings

Green Dot Gold Prepaid Visa Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: Free when you load at least $1,000.00 or have 30 posted transactions in a month; $5.95 otherwise
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: Free at in-network ATMs; $2.50 otherwise.
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: Over 22,000 in-network ATMs; no withdrawal fee and no surcharge fees at these ATMs. A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at out of network ATMs.
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit or from a bank account; up to $4.95 at a retail establishment
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free) [Only available with Green Dot cards issued out of GDOT Bank (i.e. not Synovus)]
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $2,500.00 with cash load, $10,000 with direct deposit

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $0.00 each (given Green Dot’s nationwide fee-free ATM Network) + $0.00 monthly fee (scenario assumes $2,000.00 of monthly direct deposit) + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $0.00 [Not suitable if card is issued by Synovus given lack of online bill pay feature]
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $0.00 (given Green Dot’s nationwide fee-free ATM Network) + $5.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $5.95
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Teller cash advance: $2.50
  • Balance Inquiry at Non-Network ATMs: $0.50
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of transaction amount
  • Lost/Stolen Card replacement: $4.95
  • Second Card: $4.95

NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: $9.95 ($5.00 with direct deposit of $500.00 or more in a single month)
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.50
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: A portion of cardholders have access to the Allpoint® surcharge-free ATM network (those cardholders are still subject to the NetSpend ATM cash withdrawal fee); At all other ATMs, both the withdrawal fee and any surcharge/ATM owner fees apply
  • Reload Fees: Free with Direct Deposit; Free with bank transfer; Free account-to-account transfers; Up to $3.95 at retail locations
  • Customer Service Fees: Free for Transaction Inquiry, $0.50 for Balance Inquiry
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: No cancellation fee; $5.95/month after 90 days of inactivity

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes ($1 per transaction)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $15,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee assessed by NetSpend and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $5.00 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $1.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $26.32
  • Scenario 2: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would obviously switch to the Pay-As-You-Go Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee assessed by NetSpend and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $9.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $19.61
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • ATM decline fee: $1.00
  • Balance Inquiry via toll-free number or ATM: $0.50 each (Waived if you received more than $500 in direct deposit)
  • Account-to-Account Transfer via toll-free number: $1.00 each (automated service), $4.95 each (Customer Service Agent)
  • Bill Payment Fee: In addition to the one or more no-cost bill payment methods made available through third-party service providers, a full range of options and applicable fees appear at the Site
  • Pre-authorized Payment Fee: $1.00 each
  • Stop Payment Fee for Pre-authorized Payment: $10.00
  • Instant Bank Transfer: $1.95 each
  • Check or Additional Statement Mailing Fee: $5.95 each
  • Additional Card Fee: Up to $9.95
  • Lost, stolen or damaged Card Replacement Fee: Up to $9.95

NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Pay-as-You-Go

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.50
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: A portion of cardholders have access to the Allpoint® surcharge-free ATM network (those cardholders are still subject to the NetSpend ATM cash withdrawal fee); At all other ATMs, both the withdrawal fee and any surcharge/ATM owner fees apply
  • Reload Fees: Free with Direct Deposit; Free with bank transfer; Free account-to-account transfers; Up to $3.95 at retail locations
  • Customer Service Fees: Free for Transaction Inquiry, $0.50 for Balance Inquiry
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: No cancellation fee; $5.95/month after 90 days of inactivity

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes ($1.00 per transaction)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $15,000

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would obviously switch to the Fee Advantage Plan.  They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be:  4 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee assessed by NetSpend and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $0.00 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $1.00 each + 20 purchases made at $1.00 each (assuming signature transactions) = $41.32
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee assessed by NetSpend and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $0.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $1.00 each (assuming signature transactions) = $17.66
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Signature Transaction Fee: $1.00
  • PIN Transaction Fee: $2.00
  • ATM decline fee: $1.00
  • Balance Inquiry via toll-free number or ATM: $0.50 each (Waived if you received more than $500 in direct deposit)
  • Account-to-Account Transfer via toll-free number: $1.00 each (automated service), $4.95 each (Customer Service Agent)
  • Bill Payment Fee: In addition to the one or more no-cost bill payment methods made available through third-party service providers, a full range of options and applicable fees appear at the Site
  • Pre-authorized Payment Fee: $1.00 each
  • Stop Payment Fee for Pre-authorized Payment: $10.00
  • Instant Bank Transfer: $1.95 each
  • Check or Additional Statement Mailing Fee: $5.95 each
  • Additional Card Fee: Up to $9.95
  • Lost, stolen or damaged Card Replacement Fee: Up to $9.95

ACE Elite Prepaid Card – FeeAdvantage Plan

While you might assume that ACE, one of the largest check cashing chains in the U.S., would offer terms particularly well-suited to consumers looking for replacement checking accounts or check cashing tools, its products are merely co-branded versions of Netspend’s Prepaid Cards. The ACE Elite Prepaid Card – FeeAdvantage Plan offers the same features and charges the same fees as the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Fee Advantage, with one exception: cardholders have to pay the $0.50 fee for balance inquiries made via toll-free number or ATM, regardless of how much they directly deposit.

Back To Table

ACE Elite Prepaid Card – Pay-As-You-Go Plan

While you might assume that ACE, one of the largest check cashing chains in the U.S., would offer terms particularly well-suited to consumers looking for replacement checking accounts or check cashing tools, its products are merely co-branded versions of Netspend’s Prepaid Cards. The ACE Elite Prepaid Card – Pay-As-You-Go Plan offers the same features and charges the same fees as the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard – Pay-As-You-Go Plan, with one exception: cardholders have to pay the $0.50 fee for balance inquiries made via toll-free number or ATM, regardless of how much they directly deposit.

Back To Table

AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: $0.00 when you load $2,500.00 or more on your Card in a month; $9.95 otherwise
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.50
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: Over 6,000 surcharge free ATMs at participating 7-Elevens nationwide (withdrawal fee still applies); A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at out of network ATMs (in addition to withdrawal fee)
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, from another AccountNow account, from a bank account, or with PayPal; Up to $4.95 at a retail establishment
  • Customer Service Fees: None with Direct Deposit; Without Direct Deposit: Calls to a Customer Service Agent: $1.00 per call, Automated phone system for account information: $0.50 per call
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $15.95 (to request a check to bring balance to $0)

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes ($25 Bonus Credit)
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $10,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $2.50 each (no surcharge at 6,000 nationwide 7-Eleven ATMs) + $9.95 monthly fee (given that the scenario assumes $2,000.00 of monthly direct deposit) + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $19.95
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $2.50 each (no surcharge at 6,000 nationwide 7-Eleven ATMs) + $9.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $14.95
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Using ATM to obtain balance: $1.00 per transaction
  • Bank Teller Cash Advance: $4.95 per transaction
  • Express Delivery Charge: $40.00 per occurrence
  • Bill Pay Expedite:
    • Electronic Payment: $9.95 per request
    • Payment by Check: $19.95 per request
  • Bill Pay Stop Payment: $20.00 per request
  • Additional or Replacement Card: One free Card per year for AccountNow Gold Direct Deposit customers, $10.00 per request otherwise.
  • Paper Statement: $2.95 per request
  • Foreign Currency Conversion Fee: 2.95% of transaction amount after conversion

AccountNow Visa Card “Classic” (Pay-As-You-Go)

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $4.95
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.50
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: Over 6,000 surcharge free ATMs at participating 7-Elevens nationwide (withdrawal fee still applies); A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at out of network ATMs (in addition to withdrawal fee)
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, from another AccountNow account, from a bank account, or with PayPal; Up to $4.95 at a retail establishment
  • Customer Service Fees: Calls to a Customer Service Agent: $1.00 per call, Automated phone system for account information: $0.50 per call
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $15.95 (to request a check to bring balance to $0)

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $10,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $2.50 each (no surcharge at 6,000 nationwide 7-Eleven ATMs) + $0.00 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $1.00 each = $30.00*
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $2.50 each (no surcharge at 6,000 nationwide 7-Eleven ATMs) + $0.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $1.00 each = $13.00
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

* It’s important to note that cardholders can upgrade to the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card for free by calling AccountNow or visiting the company’s website.  While this would enable consumers looking for an alternative checking account to save money, the upgrade is not as simple as just changing payment plans.  One must cancel their existing account, apply for a new account, and wait to receive a new card.

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Signature Transaction Fee: $1.00
  • PIN Transaction Fee: $1.00
  • Using ATM to obtain balance: $1.00 per transaction
  • Bank Teller Cash Advance: $4.95 per transaction
  • Express Delivery Charge: $40.00 per occurrence
  • Bill Pay Expedited:
    • Electronic Payment: $9.95 per request
    • Payment by Check: $19.95 per request
  • Bill Pay Stop Payment: $20.00 per request
  • Additional or Replacement Card: One free Card per year for AccountNow Gold Direct Deposit customers, $10.00 per request otherwise.
  • Paper Statement: $2.95 per request
  • Foreign Currency Conversion Fee: 2.95% of transaction amount after conversion

MoneyGram AccountNow Prepaid Visa Debit Card*

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $4.95
  • Monthly Fee: $3.95
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.0
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit; For $3.95 at MoneyGram locations or $1.00 at Visa ReadyLink locations
  • Customer Service Fees: One free call to a live customer service agent per month with direct deposit, $2.00 otherwise; Automated customer service is free with direct deposit and $0.50 otherwise
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $15.95 to close your account and request a check to bring your balance to zero

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $10,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM Withdrawals at $4.33 ($2.00 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM owner surcharge) + $3.95 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $21.27
  • Scenario 2: Not suitable since you cannot add money with a bank account or PayPal
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Signature Transaction: Free
  • PIN Transaction: $0.95
  • ATM Balance Inquiry: $1.00
  • International ATM Withdrawals: $4.95, plus an ATM owner surcharge
  • International Purchases: $1.00
  • Paper Statement: $2.95
  • Bank Teller Cash Advance: $4.95
  • Express delivery charge: $40.00
  • Bill Pay Stop Payment: $20.00
  • Special research and documentation fee (may include authorization hold removal, card account verification, card account balancing false claims, etc): Up to $50.00
  • Currency conversion: 2.95% of transaction amount after conversion

*starting July 23, the MoneyGram AccountNow Prepaid cards program will be changing with new fees and additional and better features.

Back To Table

American Express Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: One free ATM withdrawal per month, $2.00 afterward
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No ATM network; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with Direct Deposit, Account-to-Account transfers, or from a Bank Account; Up to $4.95 at retail locations
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $5,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable since there is no online bill pay feature
  • Scenario 2: 1 ATM withdrawal at $2.33 (only ATM surcharge applies to the first withdrawal) and 1 ATM withdrawal at $4.33 ($2.00 withdrawal fee assessed and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $0.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $6.66
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • None

American Express Pass Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: No charge for first ATM withdrawal per calendar month. $2.00/withdrawal thereafter
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit or bank account transfer; Up to $4.95 at retail locations
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $5,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable since there is no online bill pay feature
  • Scenario 2: 1 ATM withdrawal at $2.33 (first monthly withdrawal is free, but an ATM owner surcharge may still apply) + 1 ATM withdrawals at $4.33 ($2.00 ATM withdrawal fee + ATM owner surcharge) + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $6.66
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • None

Capital One MasterCard Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: Free when you load at least $500.00 in a month; $4.95 otherwise
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: One free ATM withdrawal per month; $1.95 afterward
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: Capital One has over 2,000 ATMs, but they are not nationwide; While Capital One does not assess a surcharge/ATM owner fee for in-network ATM withdrawals, such a fee may apply at out of network ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with Direct Depositor from a bank account; $4.50 at Western Union
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $7,500.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable given that online bill pay is not available.
  • Scenario 2: 1 ATM withdrawal at $2.33 (only ATM surcharge applies to the first withdrawal) and 1 ATM withdrawal at $4.28 ($1.95 withdrawal fee assessed by Capital One and $2.33 ATM surcharge fee) + $4.95 monthly fee (given that the scenario assumes loading less than $500.00 per month) + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $11.56
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Foreign Transaction: 1% of the total transaction amount
  • Transaction History (By Mail): $1.95 per month request

Young Money Prepaid Discover Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $6.95
  • Monthly Fee: $3.95
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.00 (US ATM)
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No ATM Network; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit; Up to $4.95 at retail establishments
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $5,000

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.33 ($2.00 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $3.95 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $21.27
  • Scenario 2: Not suitable since you cannot add money from a bank account or PayPal
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • International ATM Withdrawal: $3.00
  • Paper Statements: $2.50
  • Lost/Stolen Card Replacement - Active Cards Only: $5.95

Suze Orman Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $3.00
  • Monthly Fee: $3.00
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: Free for 30 days following a qualifying Direct Deposit or Bank Transfer of $20.00 or more; $2.00 otherwise
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: 43,000 Allpoint ATMs (no surcharge fees at these ATMs); A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at out of network ATMs, in addition to the card’s ATM fee
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit or a bank account transfer; Cannot load money at retail locations Customer Service Fees: One free call per month; $2.00 per call thereafter
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (free for billers who accept plastic; $1.00 for those that will only take checks)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $9,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 4 ATM withdrawals at $0.00 each (given use of direct deposit) + $3.00 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $1.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $5.00
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM Withdrawals at $0 (given parents’ bank transfer of $100 per month) + $3.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $3.00
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $1.00 (waved for 30 days with a qualifying Direct Deposit of $20.00 or more or Bank Transfer) plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator
  • Domestic ATM Declined Fee: $1.00 per transaction (waived for 30 days with a qualifying Direct Deposit of $20.00 or more or Bank Transfer) plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator
  • International ATM Withdrawal Fee: $2.00 per transaction plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator
  • International ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $1.00 per transaction plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator
  • International ATM Declined Fee: $1.00 per transaction plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator
  • Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawal Fee: $2.00
  • Card Replacement Issuance Fee: $3.00
  • Express Card Delivery Shipping Fee: $20.00 per request
  • Paper Statement Fee: $2.00 per statement
  • Bill Payment Fee – Paper Check: $1.00 per bill
  • Bill Payment Fee – Expedited/Same Day Payment: $9.95 per transaction
  • Bill Payment Fee – Check Copy: $15.00 per transaction
  • Bill Payment Fee – Payment Inquiry: $30.00 per transaction
  • Bill Payment Fee – Postal Reject: $25.00 per transaction

Mango Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: Free if you load at least $500.00 per calendar month; $5.00 otherwise
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.00
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No ATM network; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, PayPal, or from a bank account; up to $4.95 at retail establishments
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $10.00 cancellation fee

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: A limit may be placed on the maximum amount of funds you can deposit into your account. This limit may be exceeded by interest accruing on the funds. The limit may be changed from time to time

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable since card does not offer online bill pay
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.33 ($2.00 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $5.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $13.66
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • ATM Balance Inquiry: $0.50
  • Mobile Phone Payment: $0.50
  • International Currency Conversion: 2%

Original RushCard – Unlimited Plan

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $3.95
  • Monthly Fee: $5.95 when funds loaded viaACH (electronic transfer of funds from payroll, child support, government benefits, bank transfers, PayPal, etc); $7.95 without direct deposit
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.50
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, check, money order, or PayPal; free between your own RushCards (personal card-to-card); $0.99 for cardholder-to-cardholder transfer; Up to $4.95 at retail establishments
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: Yes
  • Maximum Balance: $9,999.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $5.95 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each = $25.27
  • Scenario 2: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $5.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases at $0.00 each = $15.61
  • Scenario 3: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would obviously switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each + $7.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 12 purchases made at $0.00 each = $27.27

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • International ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $1.00
  • International ATM Withdrawal Fee: $2.50
  • Currency Conversion Fee: Up to 2%
  • Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry: $0.50
  • Paper Statement: $1.00
  • Express Cash Fee: $30.00

Original RushCard – Pay-As-You-Go

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $3.95
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $1.95
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, check, money order, or PayPal; free between your own RushCards (personal card-to-card); $0.99 for cardholder-to-cardholder transfer from another Rush Card; Up to $4.95 at retail establishments
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $1.95/month after 90 days of inactivity

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: Yes
  • Maximum Balance: $9,999.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would obviously switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.28 each ($1.95 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $0.00 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $1.00 each (capped at a $10 per month) = $27.12
  • Scenario 2: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would obviously switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.28 each ($1.95 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $0.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases at $1.00 each = $16.56
  • Scenario 3: N/A; cardholders have the option to switch fee plans with a simple phone call, and any consumer whose usage matches this scenario would switch to the Monthly Plan. They would switch because if they kept this plan, the cost would be: 4 ATM withdrawals at $4.28 each ($1.95 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $0.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 12 purchases made at $1.00 each (capped at $10 per month) = $27.12

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Purchase Fee: $1.00 (capped at $10.00 per month)
  • International Purchase Convenience Fee: $2.00
  • International ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $1.00
  • International ATM Withdrawal Fee: $1.95
  • Currency Conversion Fee: Up to 2%
  • Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry: $0.50
  • Paper Statement: $1.00
  • Express Cash Fee: $30.00

Original RushCard – Monthly

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: $3.95
  • Monthly Fee: $9.95
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: Two at No Charge each month; $2.50 for each ATM withdrawal after first two
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, check, money order, or PayPal; free between your own RushCards (personal card-to-card); $0.99 for cardholder-to-cardholder transfer from another Rush Card; Up to $4.95 at retail establishments
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: Yes (Free)
  • Able to Add Money by Check: Yes
  • Maximum Balance: $9,999.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: 2 ATM withdrawals at $2.33 each (ATM owner surcharge) + 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $9.95 monthly fee + 2 bills paid by check at $0.00 each + 20 purchases made at $0.00 each (assuming signature transactions) = $24.27
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $2.33 each (ATM surcharge) + $9.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases at $0.00 each (assuming signature transactions) = $14.61
  • Scenario 3: 2 ATM withdrawals at $2.33 each + 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.83 each ($2.50 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $9.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 12 purchases at $0.00 each (assuming signature transactions) = $24.27

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Signature Transaction: Free
  • PIN Transaction: $1.00
  • International ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $1.00
  • International ATM Withdrawal Fee: $2.50
  • Currency Conversion Fee: Up to 2%
  • Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry: $0.50
  • Paper Statement: $1.00
  • Express Cash Fee: $30.00

Chase Liquid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: $4.95
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: Free at in-network ATMs; $2.00 otherwise
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: 17,500 in-network ATMs (no withdrawal fee and no surcharge fees at these ATMs); A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at out of network ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit or at Chase Bank branches and ATMs (only loading methods available)
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: Yes
  • Maximum Balance: None

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable since there is no online bill pay feature
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $0.00 + $4.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $4.95
  • Scenario 3: 4 ATM withdrawals at $0.00 + $4.95 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 12 purchases made at $0.00 each = $4.95

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • Deposited Item Returned Fee: $12.00 for each check you cash or deposit that is returned unpaid.
  • Exchange Rate Adjustment: 3%
  • Rush Replacement Card: $5.00 (free with standard shipping)
  • Legal Process: Up to $125.00 per order. Processing of any garnishment, tax levy, or other court administrative order, whether or not the funds are actually paid.

Western Union Prepaid MasterCard

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $1.95
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No in-network ATMs; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit; $4.95 at a Western Union agent location; $1.00 to transfer funds from a bank account
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: $2.95 monthly fee after 120 days of inactivity

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $10,000.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable since card does not offer online bill pay
  • Scenario 2: $2.00 ATM Withdrawals at $4.28 ($1.95 withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM owner surcharge) + $0.00 monthly fee + $1.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $9.56
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • ATM Decline and Balance Inquiry Fee: $0.45
  • Paper Statement Fee: $3.00
  • Re-issue Lost or Stolen Card Fee: $5.00
  • Cash Withdrawal at Bank Counter Fee: $25.00
  • Stop Payment Fee: $4.95
  • Check Processing Fee: $25.00

Walmart Prepaid Card

Key Costs:

  • Activation Fee: None for cards ordered online; $3.00 issuance fee for temporary cards purchased at Walmart
  • Monthly Fee: $3.00 (waived when you load $1,000.00)
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: $2.00
  • In-network ATMs and ATM Surcharge Fees: No ATM network; A surcharge/ATM owner fee may apply at all ATMs
  • Reload Fees: Free with direct deposit, from a bank account,or at a Walmart location (must pay for check cashing); Up to $4.95 at a retail establishment
  • Customer Service Fees: None
  • Cancellation & Inactivity Fees: None

Key Features:

  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Online Bill Pay: No
  • Able to Add Money by Check: No
  • Maximum Balance: $7,500.00

Cost Breakdown By Scenario:

  • Scenario 1: Not suitable given the lack of an online bill pay feature.
  • Scenario 2: 2 ATM withdrawals at $4.33 each ($2 ATM withdrawal fee + $2.33 ATM surcharge) + $3.00 monthly fee + $0.00 reload fee + 8 purchases made at $0.00 each = $11.66
  • Scenario 3: Not suitable since you cannot add money directly into your account by check

Secondary Fees to Watch Out For:

  • ATM Balance Inquiry: $1.00
  • Teller Cash Withdrawal: $2.00
  • Rush Delivery Fee for Personalized Card: $20.00
  • Additional Personalized Card Fee: $3.00
  • Lost/Stolen Replacement Card Fee: $3.00
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2%

The above information was confirmed by the issuer of each card, with the exception of the Mango Prepaid Card and The Approved Card from Suze Orman. Despite multiple attempts to garner verification, neither issuer responded, and the respective information was gleaned from each card’s Terms and Conditions.
For questions or more information regarding this report, please contact our media department.

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