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Budget, Save, Even Win Money With Today's Prepaid Debit Cards

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Budget, Save, and even Make Money With Today's Prepaid Debit Cards
By Spencer Tierney Senior Writer | Certificates of Deposit, ethical banking, banking deposit accounts Spencer Tierney is a consumer banking writer at NerdWallet. He has been writing about personal finance since 2013 with a particular focus on certificates of deposit, as well as other banking topics. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He is located in Berkeley, California.

Sep 19 Sep 19, 2017

Edited by Amy Hubbard Amy is a former editor in the banking industry and copy editor at NerdWallet. She previously worked as a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Daily News and the Hollywood Reporter, among other publications.

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Back in 1999 in 1999, entrepreneur Steve Streit created the first merchant-exclusive prepaid debit card later dubbed Green Dot as an opportunity for teenagers to shop online for items.
The way we use prepaid cards has changed in the past, and now they are more than just helping people spend to assisting them in the opposite direction: spending less and budgeting. With customized budgeting features or creative incentives to make money more efficient Prepaid debit cards enable you to make smart banking decisions, and without having to go through the bank.
>> If you're ready to compare cards, see the list below of .
Here's how debit cards that are prepaid can assist you:
Get your budget under control
Prepaid debit cards have a card network logo like Visa or Mastercard, work at merchants all over the world and are loaded with funds regularly. Most don't require a credit check. However, they're not suitable intended for all. They are primarily for those who need a new approach to budget or a replacement for a checking account.
One of the major advantages of prepay cards is the absence of overdraft services and the associated fees traditionally found on checking accounts. A card balance is a standard spending limit. A card typically gets declined, without charge, if it's not enough to cover the purchase or payment.
In addition, more prepaid debit cards include tools to help you set goals or budgets than prior. Around 54% of the prepaid market sampled had these tools in 2016, as compared to just 30% in 2014, according to . The sample included the cards of 18 in 2014 as well as 22 cards in 2016, and each sample was a representation of 90 percent or more of the debit card market that is prepaid.
Like bank accounts, many prepaid debit cards give you online and mobile access to your account with options like check deposit via mobile and money transfers. But the more extensive budgeting tools on some cards permit you to:
You can customize your spending limit. You can make budgets using spending categories like clothing and entertainment.
Visualize your history of purchases. Some cards have pie charts, or other graphic images that categorize your spending.
Set up text and email alerts to be notified whenever you spend more than a specific amount.
Utilize sub-accounts to handle the different costs of household. The ability to designate one of your cards' sub-accounts to a specific type of expense, like food, makes it simpler to set the spending limit.

Bluebird from American Express and Akimbo are two cards that provide four to five sub-accounts, that are linked to a master account but have separate account balances and physical cards.
They can function as a modern-day envelope system. You can use one card for shopping at the grocery store, another for dining and a fourth for holidays and so on.
If you have children accounts, sub-accounts could grant them spending privileges with a set amount of money per card which you set.
Beef up your savings (and perhaps win some cash)
Budgeting is a good method to manage your money, however you may require a motivation to continue it.
"Budgeting just for the sake of it isn't going to work," says Thea Garon director at the Center for Financial Services Innovation. When it comes to debit cards with prepaid cards Garon says it's more effective "when the budgeting experience is tied to the savings experience and aspirational goals."
The Walmart MoneyCard is issued by Green Dot Bank, has the ability to budget, such as account alerts, however it is distinguished by its savings program linked to prizes. In August of last year, Wal-Mart and Green Dot added a monthly sweepstakes to the card's "vault." This vault is similar to savings accounts by preventing you from spending money from that balance, without moving it to the balance of your card's spending.
The vault you save money in offers you the chance of winning a prize monthly 1 dollar saved is one sweepstakes entry, and you could win up to 500 entries. Each month, there are 499 winners who receive $25, and one winner who wins the jackpot of $1,000.
"Especially in an environment with low interest where you can win just a bit of cash [is] captivating," says Mark Matthews who is the director of senior management at Walmart Services.
The real prize isn't the sweepstakes itself -- it's the incentive to save more, and it's working. The savings account's average balance rose over 35% from $413 to $572 from the end of August until December. According to Walmart, about 175,000 people were registered in June. usage on the Savings Vault on the MoneyCard has risen 233% from a year earlier.
"The goal here is to provide a meaningful mechanism and an incentive to build up a reserve over time in order to manage emergency situations," he adds. Matthews noted that all savings were manually added since there's an automatic transfer of savings feature on the MoneyCard.
Prepaid cards have spiked in popularity, however ...
For banking options, and with more recent added features, prepaid cards have gained popularity since Streit's 1999 inspiration. The amount of transactions made on prepaid debit cards increased by almost 34% from 2009 to 2012, and by 5.6 percent from 2012 to 2015, based on the Federal Reserve Payments Study in 2016. While growth has slowed in recent months, the cards hold an important place in millions of Americans' pockets.
They are also secure and are getting safer: NerdWallet recently looked at 44 cards from the industry, including major issuers and newcomers, and found all the cards to be insured. Prepaid cards will take effect in April of 2018.
However, that doesn't mean that you should always use prepaid debit cards as the best option. Here are some reasons they may not be the right choice for you:
They don't help make credit. If you're looking to build your credit score, consider a .
It's not the most cost-effective method to budget. Many cards have monthly fees -- the average of a study by NerdWallet was $4.67. Check out some of the here.
Certain bank accounts offer better rewards to help save. Certain online savings accounts offer rates of interest that exceed 1% annual percentage yield. There are also new banks like Chime which reward you for saving. The debit card transactions are rounded to the nearest dollar, and the cents go into a savings account. At the end of each week, you earn a 10% bonus on all the cents that have been rounded, at least $500 per year.

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Author bio Spencer Tierney is an expert on certificates of deposit at NerdWallet. His work has been highlighted by USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

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