Not all pre-paid debit cards are created equal

6 On Your Side Answers: Not all pre-paid debit cards are created equal


6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Across America today, there are more than 570 million debit cards in circulation.

Of course, debit cards look like a credit card, but work like an electronic check because the payment is deducted directly from a checking or savings account.

Now pre-paid debit cards are on the market.

Peggy from New Market asks: "I've noticed pre-paid debit cards charge high fees. But why aren't all pre-paid cards equal?"

A recent survey among 30 prepaid cards found that while all charge fees, the charges vary.

While fees are commonplace, 83 percent of the prepaid cards surveyed charge monthly fees.

On the other hand, 33 percent reported they will waive the monthly fee, if a certain amount is loaded on the card. 

Fifty-three percent of those responding to the survey report activation fees, ranging from $2.95 to $9.95, depending on where the pre-paid debit card is purchased.

More than half, 53 percent, will charge you for sending an account statement by mail, with fees ranging from $1 to $5.95.

However, 37 percent report no charge at all for sending your statement by mail.

Now, be careful if you have to make a customer service call, because 27 percent of pre-paid card providers will charge you.

Those fees range from 50 cents to $4.95.

There's also a fee if you don't use the card. Seventeen percent of the cards that surveyed report charging an inactivity fee.

Those monthly fees range from $1.95, to $5.95, just for not using your card.

You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side Answers every Tuesday and Thursday on 6 News at 4:00.

If you have a question you can send Don an email at or call his 6 On Your Side hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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