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Why do I need to register my prepaid card?

If you don’t register your prepaid card, you may not be able to use some of the prepaid card’s features. You may also have fewer protections in the case of loss or theft. 

Some providers require you to register your card upon purchase, while others ask that you register after you get the card. To register, you give certain personal information to identify who you are to the prepaid card provider. 

If the card provider is unable to verify that you are who you claim you are, you might not be able to register your card. The provider will either allow you to use the card to spend down the amount you put on the card at purchase—called the “initial load”—or will cancel your card and mail you a check for the balance. But, you will not be able to reload and keep using the card after the initial load is spent unless you register your card. 

If you do not register your prepaid card, you may also be limited in how you can use the card. For example, you might not be able to use it online or at an ATM unless you have successfully registered the card. In addition, the federal rules on prepaid cards give you fewer consumer protections if your card is not registered and it is stolen, misused by someone else, or there is an error, such as the wrong amount being taken out. Once you register your prepaid card, your provider will be required to provide protections in case of errors, loss, or theft. Also, if your card offers deposit insurance, you generally will need to register your prepaid card to become eligible for deposit insurance.

Registering your card may be a separate step from activating the card. Some cards require activation by calling or going online to provide the card number before you start using it. If you don’t go online or call your card provider, or if your provider does not automatically activate your card for you, you will not be able to use your card.

In most cases, once you successfully register your card, you will be able to use all of the card’s features.