Prepaid FAQ

Q: Where can I use a prepaid card?

A: You can use your prepaid card wherever MasterCard is accepted at home and overseas, including retail shops, over the internet, mail order and by phone. To keep track of your spending every time you use your card, the balance will be checked electronically with your card company before payment is made. In some circumstances your card may be declined because there is not enough money loaded onto it. This security feature exists to protect you from spending money that you do not have.

Q: What are the fees and costs of having and using a card?

A: There are different types of prepaid cards available for different purposes—gift, travel and everyday money cards to name but a few—and the services they provide are charged for in different ways. Compare the features and costs of similar types of prepaid cards to find the best deal for you. These are some of the common fees and charges for prepaid cards:

  • Card application fee — to set up your account and provide you with a card.
  • Monthly service charge — that may entitle you to certain services such as a help line or online services.
  • Card-loading fee — to load more cash onto your prepaid card. This may vary depending on how you top up your card. (If you load funds onto your card from a bank account, you may be charged a fee by your bank).
  • ATM withdrawal fee — there may be a charge for withdrawing money from a cash machine. A higher charge may apply when withdrawing money from ATMs overseas. (You may be able to use certain ATMs free of charge and/or make a limited number of free ATM withdrawals or deposits each month).
  • Purchase or online fee — you may be charged for each transaction, or for certain types of transactions.

Q: Can I use prepaid cards to withdraw money from an ATM?

A: You can use your card to withdraw money from any ATM worldwide wherever MasterCard and/or Cirrus® cards are accepted, provided this feature is available on your card.

Q: Can I use prepaid cards overseas?

A: You can use most prepaid cards anywhere in the world that accepts MasterCard and/or Cirrus cards, just like a debit or credit card. Please check with your card provider for details.

Q: Can I use prepaid cards to shop online, over the phone and by mail order?

A: Yes you can. You can use your prepaid card with any retailer that accepts MasterCard and/or Cirrus.

Q: Can I use a prepaid card to make regular payments for things like monthly subscriptions?

A: Some prepaid cards can be used to make regular payments. Please check with your card provider.

Q: What makes prepaid cards safe?

A: Because you must enter your PIN to use most prepaid cards, it's a safer way to carry money instead of cash. If your card is lost or stolen, most card providers will allow you to 'stop' the card and some may arrange for a replacement to be sent to you.

Q: What happens if my card gets lost or is stolen?

A: If your card is lost or stolen, you must report it to your card company immediately. Usually your money will be frozen so no one else can use the card. You will then be sent a new card with your remaining balance on it. Some card companies will voluntarily replace money stolen from your card, but not all of them do.

Q: How do I load money onto my card?

A: There are a number of ways to reload prepaid cards, including cash top-up at post offices or convenience stores, by funds transfer from a bank account, or online through the internet. It varies from card to card. Please read the information provided by the card provider for details of how and where you can load money onto your card.

Q: What's the difference between a 'reloadable' and a 'non-reloadable' card?

A: A 'reloadable' prepaid card can be 'topped up' with money. Cards that are loaded once (e.g., gift cards) are 'non-reloadable' and can't be 'topped up'.

Q: Is there a limit to how much money I can put on my card?

A: Some card companies may set a limit on how much money you can load onto your card at any one time. For prepaid cards that you can buy without any proof of address and/or identity, the maximum amount of money that you can load onto the card will generally be much less when compared to reloadable cards.

Q: Can I see a history of how I have used my card?

A: Yes, many card companies provide this option. When you pay with your card, details of the transaction are stored online. This information includes the dates, locations and amounts of your transactions. All of this will appear on your online statement, so you can check and access details easily.

Q: What is the minimum age for having a prepaid card?

A: Prepaid cards are generally available to all ages, although some companies require you to be at least 18 years of age to use their cards. There will be restrictions on cards that are available to persons under 18 to prevent their use for inappropriate spending (e.g., gambling and alcohol).

Q: How many cards can I have?

A: There are no limits on the number of prepaid cards that you can hold. Bear in mind that there could be fees and charges for each card you buy, so think carefully about how you will manage these costs.

Q: Where can I get one?

A: Prepaid cards are available from a variety of companies and locations. Some of the places that you can get prepaid cards include banks, over the internet, and at participating retailers. To find out more about the types of cards that are available, click here.

Q: Which prepaid card is the best card for me?

A: There are many types of prepaid cards for you to choose from. Look at the features of each card and consider those that are important to you, such as online account management, how you can reload the card, and the availability of additional cards on the same account. It makes sense to choose a card that has low fees and charges for the way you want to use the card. For example, if you just want to use a prepaid card for travelling overseas, a card that has low foreign exchange fees and overseas charges is likely to be the most appropriate. Shop around to find the card that has the best deal for you, then compare the features and benefits on offer.

Q: How does a prepaid card compare to a debit or credit card?


Q: How can I find out my prepaid card balance?

A: You can obtain your balance by following the instructions provided with your card. Usually this requires you to visit your card issuer's website or call the phone number provided on the back of your card.

Q: Is there a limit on the top-up amount?

A: Yes. If you want to check or need advice on what limits apply, please contact your card issuer.

Q: Is there a minimum reload amount?

A: Minimum reload amounts vary by card issuer.

Q: What do I do if there's a problem with my reload?

A: You should always contact your card issuer in the event of any problems with your prepaid card. Get in touch with them using the contact details that were supplied with your card.