Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Prepaid Cards

   My oldest son is a senior in high school and lately we have had 'everything college' on the brain! We've visited 5 schools and my son is fairly sure which college he'll be attending. My husband and I are definitely the worrying type and our goal is to stay ahead of the game in every aspect. We've witnessed family members and friends end up with serious financial woes because they didn't research their college funding options or plan ahead. Our obsessive-compulsive worrying can be annoying, but in this case we hope it will help us avoid making similar mistakes.

   Meanwhile, we watch the news every day and hear about all of the credit problems people face because of the financial situation in our country. We've read articles relating to this issue as well as listened to news shows discussing the credit crunch. One topic that we leaned about and have considered an option for our son is reloadable prepaid cards.
   The thought of handing any of our children a credit card makes my husband and I super nervous. We trust our kids, but they are still too young to handle the responsibility of a credit card. But a reloadable prepaid card? Hmmm...this might be a good way to help our kids learn how to handle their money. And, at the same time, this would allow us to have debt control and prevent them from getting in over their heads by using a regular credit card.

   Just recently I learned about the Green Dot prepaid card. This company offers a prepaid card that is reloadable and you can choose between a debit MasterCard or a Visa debit card. You can use it where ever Visa and MasterCard debit cards are accepted. Plus your card will be personalized with your name. And while it's the same as having cash in hand it can be considered safer than cash. If your card is lost or stolen your money is protected. (Limitations and fees may apply so make sure to read the fine print.)

   Green Dot has a number of available products but the one that caught my attention was the prepaid student card. This could certainly be something my son will be able to use when he heads  off to college.

   And something else that I appreciated about the Green Dot prepaid card is that they have a service available on their site where you can reload a card online. This would be beneficial if my son calls at the last minute in panic mode saying that he needs some cash right away.

   A few other advantages of a prepaid card---there are no interest rates, credit checks are not necessary, and you don't have to disclose your income or bank account information.

   Now, I'm not being naive and I don't intend to give you a 'pie-in-the-sky' impression about these cards. There are some negative issues with prepaid cards that you absolutely need to consider. There are fees involved. There is a fee to purchase one, a fee to reload a card, more fees if you use a non-participating ATM, plus a few more that you need to be aware of. And one important point is this--if you want or need to build credit prepaid cards are not going to benefit you simply because the money is not being borrowed. There are a few other things to consider as well, so always make sure to read the fine print before you buy one.

   The bottom your homework! Read and learn.There are many articles about prepaid cards all over the Internet. Just as my husband and I are spending lots of time planning to get our son prepared for college we also have to prepare him for the responsibility of handling his finances. I think and hope and pray he'll be okay. But we can't take anything for granted!  We must take responsiblitly and educate ourselves first! Then hopefully our child will follow suit.

   Okay...time to get moving on my day! More on the way...until then,

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