Financial Dictionary - Prepaid cards
A prepaid card is a type of debit card that allows you to load a certain amount of money for purchases and payments until it is used up.
The limit for these cards is the amount of money loaded onto them. Once this amount has been used, you can decide to top it up. These cards are usually loaded with small amounts for everyday purchases.
Like other cards, prepaid cards can be physical or virtual. With virtual prepaid cards, the user is given a card number and a CVV code for each purchase they are going to make, but they never have a physical card.
What are the most frequent uses of prepaid cards?
- They are especially useful when we want to control our spending.
- They are very common in online purchases, to avoid using credit cards in purchases where we do not want to use our card number.
- Another very common use is when we cannot, or don't want to, use conventional credit cards. This happens when families want to control their children's spending, for example.
- On trips to places with greater risks of theft. In this case, it is a good idea to make sure that you can top them up from you destination, if you need to.
- They are often used as gift cards.
Prepaid cards are usually associated with mobile apps or web pages that allow us to check things like our balance and movements, tops ups and their value, and the available balance, in real time.
But the characteristics of payment cards mean they also have some limitations. For example, it is not always possible to link them to another payment method, such as PayPal, or to use them as a guarantee for regular payments, such as subscriptions or rent payments.