banking

Look out for fees on prepaid debit cards

 

Bankrate.com just released its annual look at the ever-evolving prepaid debit card landscape. A total of 30 widely held cards were surveyed, up from 24 last year.

There were many new or altered offerings since last year, and the specific fee structures vary considerably. Some cards have many fees; some have few. Some will waive or reduce monthly fees; others won't. Some allow in-network ATM withdrawals; others don't. But funds loaded onto all the cards in this year's survey are FDIC-insured.

Monthly fees are commonplace, but one-third of those surveyed will waive the fee, typically based on the amount loaded onto the card. Altogether, half of the cards either have no monthly fee or will waive it. But more than half of the cards -- 53 percent -- have an activation fee ranging from $2.95 to $9.95, depending on where the card was purchased.

Of the prepaid cards affiliated with an ATM network, 64 percent do not charge for in-network withdrawals, but go outside that network and all 30 cards have a fee.

Things like fees for calling customer service, inactivity fees, declined transaction fees and fees for swiping the card at the point of sale remain rare, but they're out there and consumers should be mindful of them.

To see the breakdown of fees for each card so you can assess the best card for your circumstances, see the Prepaid Debit Card Survey at Bankrate.com.

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