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What should I consider when I buy a prepaid card at a retailer?

You should always compare fees when purchasing a prepaid card.  Once you buy a card, be sure to register the card  to ensure you get the strongest consumer protections should your card or card number be stolen or misused by someone else.

You should compare prepaid cards to select the one that best suits your needs.  Consider both how you plan to use the card and the associated fees that could apply to you.  The CFPB’s prepaid rule requires providers to give you certain disclosures before you purchase or select a prepaid account. The Bureau’s rule requiring these fee disclosures came into effect April 1, 2019, although it may take some time before you start seeing the required disclosures on card packages in retail stores due to phase-in rules. In time, the card packaging will include a chart that contains certain key fees and other information about the prepaid account, to comparison shop between cards at the store. The packaging will also list a website with similar information regarding fees and other key information about the card. You may want to go online to review this additional information.

When you buy the card, you pay the initial amount that you want to load onto the card (known as the “initial load”), plus the cost of the card. Some cards will require you put a minimum amount on the card upon purchase. Be sure to register the card after the sale since that registration provides you more consumer protections in case someone misuses your card or card number.