Alert
Close

Top the Treasure Hunt leaderboard by 5 p.m. Friday to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

Donate

Be part of the solution.

Help AARP Foundation win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50 and over.

Charity Rating

AARP Foundation earns high rating for accountability from a leading charity evaluator. Read

 

Supporter
spotlight

BACK TO WORK 50+ is made possible in part by the generous support of Walmart Foundation.

 

Connect with the
Foundation

Email:

foundation@aarp.org

 

Toll-free Nationwide:

888-OUR-AARP

(888-687-2277)

 

Toll-free TTY:

877-434-7598

 

AARP Foundation Tax ID

52-0794300

7 Ways to Minimize Prepaid Card Fees

Reloadable debit cards can have hidden costs

3. Use ATMs wisely. You'll generally avoid ATM fees if you stick to machines on your card's network and pay attention to other fine points of your card's ATM rules. The AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard offers free use of the 20,000 ATMs of the MoneyPass network, but charges $2.50 for out-of-network ATMs. The Magic Card allows free use of 77 ATMs owned by OneWest Bank; the first two uses of an out-of-network ATM are free each month, but after that they cost $2.50 per use. The Approved Card from Suze Orman allows free use of machines on the Allpoint ATM nework within 30 days of a bank transfer or a $20 direct deposit; out-of-network ATMs are $2 per use.

Also, the cards will charge you if you use an out-of-network ATM to check your balance — 50 cents with the Magic Card and AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard card and $1 with the Approved Card. The company that owns the ATM may levy an additional fee.

4. Look for fee disclosure. Some cards print their fees only on the inside of the package, so you don't know what the costs are until after you buy the card. Others list fees on the outside of the package or online. For example, the AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard lists the fees on the back of the package. You can't buy the Magic Card or the Approved Card at retail stores — you have to order them online at www.onlymagiccard.com and theapprovedcard.com — but you can view their fees online before purchasing a card, as you can with the AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard.

5. Watch out for special purchase fees. Some cards charge a fee for certain types of purchases at retail locations. For example, the RUSH card's Monthly and Pay as You Go programs charge $1 for point-of-sale transactions that require no signature but not for ones that do. The Magic Card, the Approved Card and the AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard do not charge this fee for either type of transaction.

6. Be careful how you reload the card. Adding money to your card via direct deposit or electronic transfer is free on many cards, including the three compared in this article. All three cards let you load cash at retail locations, such as Western Union and MoneyGram, at a cost of up to $4.95 each time. The AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard also allows you to load cash via a Green Dot MoneyPak, which costs $4.95 and acts like a gift card: You load cash onto the MoneyPak (typically up to $500 at most retailers) when you purchase it, and then, via a website or an 800 number, use the MoneyPak's PIN or ID number to transfer the money to your prepaid card.

7. Make sure your card has FDIC protection. One more suggestion: Make sure that your prepaid card offers FDIC insurance — not all cards provide this critical benefit. But if yours does, and you are named as the cardholder, your account balance is protected up to the maximum allowed by law should the bank holding company fail. All the cards mentioned in this article offer FDIC insurance.

You can compare cards by reading the fine print, visiting CreditCards.com, a card-industry site, or using NerdWallet's comparison tool, which also allows you to assess the costs of reloadable prepaid debit cards against having a checking account.

Also of interest: Your guide to public benefits.

Income
Resources

Use the navigational menu to learn more about the tools and resources that will help low-income Americans age 50 and over regain control of their financial stability.

Featured
Programs & Services

AARP Tax Aide

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

This program offers free assistance with tax-return preparation. Go

grandmother with her two grandaughters

AARP Benefits QuickLink

See if you qualify for public assistance and you can save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, and more! Go

AARP Foundation Finances 50+

Finances 50+

This financial capability program is a collaboration between AARP Foundation and Charles Schwab Foundation. Go

Couple standing outside home, Create the Good

Housing Solutions Center

This program offers free HUD-certified counseling and assistance to 50-plus homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure. Go

Medical team at a computer, AARP Foundation Back to Work 50+

Back to Work 50+

We are partnering with workforce services providers to strengthen the bridge between 50+ job candidates and respected employers. Read

Income in the
News

Tips for Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

(PRWeb.com, June 2014) - The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA), the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation (SHCPF) and the nation's more than 6,500 community banks are providing tips for preventing the disturbing trend of elder financial abuse. Read

Finances, Desire to Work Keeping Seniors in the Workforce

(The Intelligencer, May 2014) The number of workers 65 and older rose 3 percent between 2010 and 2013, while the number of younger workers under 50 years old fell, according to a recent Gallup poll. Read

Are Boomers Confident About Retirement Saving? Survey Says No.

(Marketwatch, April 2013) - A new survey by the Insured Retirement Institute notes a marked drop in the last two years in boomers' confidence that they are saving enough for retirement. Read