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What are prepaid cards?
How prepaid cards work
Uses and benefits
What you need to get a card
Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions
 Where can I use a prepaid card?
 What are the fees and costs for having and using a prepaid card?
 Can I use prepaid cards to withdraw money from an ATM?
 Can I use prepaid cards abroad?
 Can I use prepaid cards to shop on-line, over the phone and by mail order?
 Can I use a prepaid card to make regular payments, such as for monthly subscriptions?
 What makes prepaid cards safe?
 What happens if my card gets lost or is stolen?
 How do I load money onto my card?
 What's the difference between a 'reloadable' and a 'non-reloadable' card?
 Is there a limit to how much money I can put on my card?
 Can I see a history of how I have used my card?
 What is the minimum age for having a prepaid card?
 How many cards can I have?
 Where can I get one?
 Which prepaid card is the best card for me?
 How does a prepaid card compare to a debit or credit card?
 Where can I use a prepaid card?
 You can use your prepaid card wherever MasterCard and/or Maestro cards are accepted, including: retail shops, over the Internet, mail order and by phone - at home and abroad.

To keep track of your spending every time you use your card, the balance will be checked electronically with your card company before payment is made. In some circumstances your card may be declined because there is not enough money loaded onto it. This security feature exists to protect you from spending money that you do not have.

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 What are the fees and costs for having and using a prepaid card?
 There are many types of prepaid cards available for different purposes. You'll see gift, travel and everyday money cards, to name but a few - and the services they provide are charged for in different ways. Compare the features and costs of similar types of prepaid cards to find the best deal for you.

Some of the common fees and charges for prepaid cards:

  • Card application fee - to set up your account and provide you with a card.
  • Monthly service charge - this may entitle you to certain services such as a helpline or on-line service.
  • Card loading fee - to load more cash onto your prepaid card. This may vary depending on how you top up your card (if you load funds onto your card from a bank account, you may be charged a fee by your bank).
  • ATM withdrawal fee - there may be a charge for withdrawing money from an ATM (cash machine). A higher charge may apply when withdrawing money from ATMs abroad. You may also be able to use certain ATMs free of charge and/or make a limited number of free ATM withdrawals or deposits each month.
  • Purchase or on-line fee - you may be charged for each transaction, or for certain types of transactions.
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 Can I use prepaid cards to withdraw money from an ATM?
 You can use your card to withdraw money from any ATM worldwide wherever MasterCard and/or Maestro and/or Cirrus cards are accepted, provided this feature is available on your card.
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 Can I use prepaid cards abroad?
 You can use most prepaid cards anywhere in the world that accepts MasterCard and/or Maestro cards - just like a debit or credit card. Please check with your card provider for details.
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 Can I use prepaid cards to shop on-line, over the phone and by mail order?
 Yes you can. You can use your prepaid card with any retailer that accepts MasterCard and/or Maestro.
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 Can I use a prepaid card to make regular payments, such as for monthly subscriptions?
 Some prepaid cards can be used to make regular payments. Please check with your card provider.
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 What makes prepaid cards safe?
 Because you must enter your PIN code to use most prepaid cards, it's a safer way to carry money instead of cash. If your card is lost or stolen, most card providers will allow you to 'stop' the card and some may arrange for a replacement to be sent to you.
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 What happens if my card gets lost or is stolen?
 If your card is lost or stolen, you must report it to your card company immediately. Usually your money will be frozen so no one else can use the card. You will then be sent a new card with your remaining balance on it. Some card companies will voluntarily replace money stolen from your card - but not all of them do.
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 How do I load money onto my card?
 There are a number of ways to reload (or 'top up') your card, for example: cash top-up at post offices or convenience stores, by funds transfer from a bank account, or on-line through the Internet.

The ways in which you can reload your card will vary. Please read the information provided by the card provider for details of how and where you can load money onto your card.

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 What's the difference between a 'reloadable' and a 'non-reloadable' card?
 A 'reloadable' prepaid card can be 'topped-up' with money. Cards that are loaded once (e.g. gift cards) are 'non-reloadable' and can't be 'topped-up'.
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 Is there a limit to how much money I can put on my card?
 Some card companies may set a limit on how much money you can load onto your card at any one time. For prepaid cards that you can buy without any proof of address and/or identity, the maximum amount of money that you can load onto the card will generally be much less when compared to reloadable cards.
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 Can I see a history of how I have used my card?
 Yes, many card companies provide this option. When you pay with your card, details of the transaction are stored on-line. This information includes the dates, locations and amounts of your transactions. All of this will appear on your on-line statement, so you can check and access details easily.
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 What is the minimum age for having a prepaid card?
 Prepaid cards are generally available to all ages, although some companies require you to be at least 18 years of age to use their cards.

There will be restrictions on cards that are available to persons under 18 to prevent their use for inappropriate spending (e.g. gambling and alcohol).

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 How many cards can I have?
 There are no limits on the number of prepaid cards that you can hold.

Bear in mind that there could be fees and charges for each card that you buy - think carefully about how you will manage these costs.

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 Where can I get one?
 Prepaid cards are available from a variety of companies and locations. Some of the places that you can get prepaid cards include banks, over the Internet, and at participating retailers. To find out more about the types of cards that are available, click here.
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 Which prepaid card is the best card for me?
 There are many types of prepaid cards for you to choose from. Look at the features of each card and consider those which are important to you, such as on-line account management, the ways in which you can reload the card, and the availability of additional cards on the same account. It makes sense to choose a card that has low fees and charges for the way in which you want to use the card most.

For example, if you just want to use a prepaid card for travelling abroad, a card that has low foreign exchange fees and overseas charges is likely to be the most appropriate. Shop around to find the card that has the best deal for you, then compare the features and benefits on offer.

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 How does a prepaid card compare to a debit or credit card?
Prepaid card Debit card Credit card
No credit checks Credit check to open the bank account to which the card is linked. Credit check to approve card, decide credit limit and set interest rate.
No line of credit (so no borrowing and no debt). Account can have an overdraft facility. Line of credit that can be increased over time
No interest charges Interest charges on money borrowed against an overdraft and with no interest-free period. Interest charges on money borrowed against the credit limit, if there is an outstanding balance after the interest-free period.
Fees may be charged depending on the type of card. Read T&Cs carefully where they will be clearly explained. Fees if you exceed an agreed overdraft. Charges such as late payment fees, over- limit fees, cash advance fees, foreign exchange charges, duplicate statement fees and non-activity fees. These are explained in the T&Cs for each card product.
Only require basic customer information. Require full customer information. Require full customer information.
Can be used wherever MasterCard and/or Maestro cards are accepted, depending on which Brand Mark is shown on your card. Can be used wherever MasterCard and/or Maestro cards are accepted, depending on which Brand Mark is shown on your card. Can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
Can sometimes be used at an ATM Can be used at an ATM Can be used at an ATM
Can be cancelled/blocked if lost or stolen. Can be cancelled/blocked if lost or stolen. Can be cancelled/blocked if lost or stolen.
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