A prepaid card can be loaded with funds and used to pay in-store, shop online and withdraw cash. Some of these cards are designed for travelling and can be loaded with international currencies. Use this guide to compare prepaid cards and learn how they work.
- Up to 10 currencies on 1 card
- Lock in exchange rates
- No overseas ATM fees
Travelex Money Card
Load and hold up to 10 foreign currencies at a time. Lock in exchange rates. Pay nothing for international ATM withdrawals.
- No international ATM fees
- 24/7 emergency assistance
- Access wherever Mastercard is accepted
- PIN security
- Prepaid so you can manage your spending
Compare prepaid travel money cards
What is a prepaid card?
You can load a prepaid card with funds and use your own money to make transactions. Prepaid cards are different from a credit card, which is linked with a line of credit, attracts interest rates and must be paid. Prepaid cards don't impact your credit history and you don't need a good credit score to apply for one.
They work in a similar way to debit cards, but can be a useful way to keep your spending under control as you can only spend what you've loaded on your card.
What features and benefits come with prepaid cards?
Some of the most popular features and benefits you can get with a prepaid card include:
- The ability to load and top up your balance with cash
- Access to multiple currencies
- Lower fees and charges than credit cards
- No interest rates
- Usually available to people at least 16 years old
- Some earn rewards points
- Money tracking tools
- Security against theft, loss and fraud
What types of prepaid cards are available in Australia?
- Everyday prepaid cards. These cards offer convenience for day-to-day spending and could include tap-and-go payments, balance-tracking features and fast, easy money loading options.
- Prepaid travel cards. You can use prepaid travel cards to load Australian dollars and convert them into a number of supported foreign currencies at a locked-in exchange rate. This means that you can access your own funds overseas without the cost of a currency conversion fee.
- Gift cards. Prepaid credit cards can be gifted as an alternative to cash and can be loaded with a nominated amount or purchased with a set amount already on the card. These gift cards are usually branded and can be used at specific stores.
- Money transfer cards. Money transfer cards allow multiple people in different countries to access the funds in one account. These accounts come with two cards. One person deposits money in the account and the other person who has the card in a different country can access the funds as soon as they clear in the account.
- Reward cards. Some prepaid cards are also linked to reward programs and earn points as you spend. The Qantas Travel Money and Velocity Global Wallet are examples of cards that you can preload and earn points with.
Are there any prepaid cards for teenagers?
While there are debit cards and bank accounts designed especially for teenagers and some for younger children, you could also consider a prepaid card to help a teenager learn how to manage their money on plastic by limiting the temptation to overspend. A prepaid card could also be useful when they are travelling, and to help keep online or gaming transactions in check. There are no specific prepaid cards for teens, but they could be eligible to apply for most options as the minimum age limit typically ranges from 14 to 16.
How to compare prepaid cards
Considering the following features will help you find a prepaid card that is right for you.
- Pre-loaded vs. reloadable. Some prepaid cards, like gift cards, come with a fixed amount of money to use. Meanwhile, travel cards and other reloadable cards allow you to top up your balance.
- Purchasing or set up fee. Prepaid cards may charge a one-off fee when you buy them, usually ranging from $5 to $11. Some cards don’t charge a fee or will waive it for existing customers.
- Loading fees. Some prepaid cards charge an initial loading fee and others may charge a fee every time you add more money to the card.
- Currency conversion fees. A fee of around 3% could be applied for any currency conversions associated with the prepaid card. If you’re spending in a supported currency, you can usually avoid this fee with a travel card.
- Other fees. Prepaid debit cards can include a number of other fees including card replacement fees, cancellation fees, declined transaction fees and ATM withdrawal fees. Check these charges before you apply to find an affordable prepaid card for your needs.
- Load limits. Prepaid cards usually have a maximum amount of money you can carry on the card at one time, ranging from $30 to $10,000 or more. Check these details before you apply to make sure these limits don't restrict the way you use the card.
Remember, every prepaid card is different, so checking individual details now will help you make a more informed decision when choosing the right option for you.
Compare prepaid, travel and gift cards
How can I get a prepaid credit card?
Depending on the prepaid credit card you choose, you will be able to apply online or in person at participating retailers and bank branches. While the application details are different for each card, here are the most common requirements you need to meet to get a prepaid credit card:
- Age. Some prepaid credit cards specify a minimum age for cardholders or will limit the available balance if a person is under a certain age. For example, you must be at least 14 years of age to get the CommBank Travel Money Card. Similarly, the Velocity Global Wallet card requires you to be over 18 years of age to use it.
- Personal details. You may need to provide personal details such as your full name, residential address, contact phone number and date of birth to help verify your identity.
- Initial load amount. Some cards require you to load a minimum amount onto the card when you first get it.
- Card activation. You will need to activate the card before you can use it. This can be done in person, over the phone or online depending on the card.
- PIN. Prepaid credit cards may come with an assigned PIN, or require you to choose a PIN when you activate the card.
- Signing the card. Make sure you sign the card once you receive and activate it. This step is necessary to validate the zero liability policy that helps protect you against any unauthorised transactions.
If you apply in person, you should receive your card and be able to use your card straight away. If you apply online you will have to wait for the card to arrive in the post, which takes up to 5-10 working days in most cases.
Prepaid cards combine flexibility and affordability by allowing you to load and spend your own money. With so many different prepaid cards available, learning more about them and comparing prepaid options will help you get the most out of these cards whenever you choose to use them.
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personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.