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American Express’ prepaid card offers the convenience and service of an American Express charge card, with accessibility for anyone, regardless of credit history.
Unlike the American Express gift cards, which carry a $5.95 activation fee, the card is free to order.
Historically, pre-paid debit cards were targeted at lower income individuals, people with a poor credit history, or the otherwise “unbanked,” who, for whatever reason, did not have a checking account and could not get (or did not want to get) a credit card.
As prepaid cards moved into the mainstream, however, today they stand as a more convenient way to manage money, without worrying about bank fees, overdraft charges, or paying interest on a credit card.
Now, American Express gets into the game, adding their prestigious name to a growing trend of careful money management for people at every income level.
As they do with many of their products, American Express has gone above and beyond, offering many of the same features and benefits available on other American Express cards. Let’s take a look.
How this Card Works:
You can order up to three cards, for yourself or for others. This makes the card convenient for high school and college students whose parents may provide them with spending money, or for spouses with joint checking accounts.
American Express also recommends business owners use the card for employees who travel or independent contractors who may accrue expenses during a project.
Some of the testimonials on the website include parents, brides-to-be, and small business owners. The ability to track spending online when you issue a card to someone makes this a convenient money management tool for families and businesses.
Use the card just like a credit card, anywhere American Express is accepted (including overseas) or, set up a pin and use the card as a debit card to take out up to $200 per month at ATM locations worldwide.
When you set up an online account, you can also check the card balance, view transactions and set up alerts.
When your card balance runs low, fill it up online or by phone through your bank account, through your American Express card, or with cash by purchasing a “MoneyPak” at one of 50,000 locations. It may take three to five days to transfer money from your bank account.
If a purchase you want to make exceeds your card balance, in most cases it will be declined. If the merchant processes the transaction anyway and your card goes into the negative, you will be contacted by American Express and asked to make a deposit to the card immediately.
But there are no overdraft fees associated with this situation, which means the American Express prepaid card may actually save you money.
The American Express prepaid card offers many of the same benefits as an American Express charge card, and its own online shopping portal, American Express Selects, which provides discounts and deals from American Express partner retailers.
Additional benefits include:
- 24/7 customer service by phone
- Purchase protection if an item you bought with the card is damaged or stolen in the first 90 days after purchase
- Roadside assistance
- Global Assist if you are traveling more than 100 miles from home
- No activation fee
- $2.00 ATM fee after the first withdrawal, which is free, each month. (Fees from the ATM may apply, as well.)
- Up to $4.95 to purchase a MoneyPak. For a limited time, purchase a MoneyPak to load your prepaid card, and American Express will refund the purchase price (up to $4.95) of the first MoneyPak.
- Convenience of a debit card, benefits of an American Express card
- Track your spending easily online
- Order up to three cards
- No activation fee
- Safer and easier than carrying cash
- Benefits typically associated with credit cards
- Easy to load the card through your bank, through your Amex card, or with cash
- American Express is not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard
- Fees after the first ATM withdrawal each month
- Fee to reload for those without a checking account