Are prepaid credit cards assisting or hurting customers?

The middle for Responsible Lending is really a research that is non-profit policy company focused on protecting home-ownership and household wealth.

Why don’t we start with the after premise: In terms of technology and therefore fundamental item expenses, basic function reloadable prepaid cards are indistinguishable from debit cards connected with checkless checking accounts.

Both prepaid and debit cards must keep a database of specific account documents; both access the payments that are same by way of a bank person in a funds transfer system such as for example Visa or MasterCard.

Both prepaid and debit cards have actually a necessity to “know your client” considering that the records must go through a bank to gain access to the re re re payments system.

Ergo, the largest differences when considering prepaid cards and debit cards are differences maybe not in technology however in legislation, or what exactly is usually referred to as “regulatory arbitrage” and only the unregulated providers.

A few examples of regulatory arbitrage between bank providers of checkless debit card reports and presently unregulated card that is prepaid consist of:

  • Debit cards have periodic written statements of account under Regulation E;
  • Regulated debit card providers have actually mandated capital that is minimum;
  • Debit cards have customer protections for missing cards or card that is unauthorized; and
  • Prepaid cards are exempt through the Durbin interchange needs, at the least for the smaller, rent-a-charter banking institutions.

Prepaid cards needs to be necessary to meet up with the after three guidelines:

  • No arbitration that is mandatory
  • No tie-in to financial obligation items, either ahead of the card that is prepaid or following the card stability is expended.
  • No penalty costs such as for instance nonsufficient funds or fees that are overdraft


We pulled yesterday evening the account disclosure type for Netspend, among the biggest prepaid credit card providers. Clients must read and consent to these terms before becoming a member of a Netspend prepaid card online.

We challenge anyone in this space to see this disclosure kind, 12 pages of microscopic print presented horizontally across two pdf print pages. Hidden when you look at the printing in the page that is tenth a element mandatory arbitration, and just as a person, never as a team action.

Real discrimination or consumer deception cannot be re-dressed by a person customer in a mandated arbitration forum.

Financial obligation item tie-in

A prepaid credit card should don’t have any tie-in to a financial obligation item whatsoever. From the end that is front making use of an online payday loan to finance a prepaid credit card can be an invitation to abuse.

A 450 percent annual interest rate payday loan has been deceptively converted into a 700 percent APR loan, thereby circumventing state or federal usury restrictions, including those protecting military personnel if prepaid card fees take 10 percent of the prepaid card balance to convert to cash.

The Netspend tie-in with payday financing, and its own trying to provide pay day loans straight through its card that is prepaid merely unsatisfactory. Any office of Thrift Supervision had been straight to prohibit Netspend’s i-advance system.

Overdraft charges

The solitary most-cited reason behind consumer range of a prepaid credit card would be to restrict investing to funds actually present in the account. The extremely label “prepaid card” communicates the vow that the account can’t be overdrawn, which by meaning would otherwise be a “postpaid” card.

Overdrafts really should not be allowed in almost any kind on a card that is prepaid. Prohibiting overdraft and fund that is nonsufficient is the single-most important step for CFPB to take at this time.

Comments are closed.