Signing up for a free debit card is amazingly simple, with few exceptions. The only things you’ll need to provide are your name, some contact information, and an email address or a phone number. Depending on what type of an account you’re signing up for, you may be asked to provide your social security number, birthday, address, and employer information to set up “direct deposit.”
But just because signing up is a no-brainer, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things to consider.
1 How will you use the card?
Different cards have different purposes. Some cards offer price protection, whereas others offer rebates or discounts on gas. Maybe the card has a cash-back program on internet purchases at certain retailers. Know the purpose of the card before signing up for it.
2 Know the interest rate.
Most debit cards also allow you to use them as credit cards. Some draw from the bank account regardless of whether you select credit or debit. Others are designed to charge you interest for your purchases if you don’t pay the money back immediately. Know which type of card for which you’re signing up.
A debit card’s interest rate can benefit you, too. How? If you’ve signed up for a card that doubles as a savings account, your money in the account can work for you by earning high-interest savings account.
3 Know where the card’s free ATMs are.
When you sign up for a debit card, it’s best to check where the card’s ATMs are. It’s somewhat useless to sign up for a card that the ATMs are places you rarely or never visit.
In a similar vein of thought, know where you can load cash onto the card. Having a prepaid card does you no good if you can’t reload it.
The more places you can use free ATMs and cash loading sites, the better off you’ll be.
4 Know what fees you’re paying
- Some cards cost money to activate; other debit cards are free to use.
- Some cards get fees for checking account balances. Others ask for a nominal fee, somewhere between $0.50 – $5.00 per time.
- Some cards offer a free card if it’s lost; others have to pay a fee for each new card issued, but the value you had on it is accessible with the new card.
- Some charge you a fee per purchase. Others you pay by the month
- Some require you to use them once a month or get an inactivity fee for nonuse. Others don’t care.
- Some make you pay extra when you’re out of the country. Others don’t charge any additional fees for foreign transactions.
- Most prepaid bank cards charge a paper statement fee.
- Some cards will charge a fee for declining a purchase.
- “Bill payment fee” is a fee for using bills, typically things like phone, gas, or lights.
When deciding on which free debit card to sign up for, choose the card that has the least number of fees possible. Also, the fees that are charged should be nominal. If you’re fortunate, you might find a bank card that doesn’t charge fees at all, but this is exceedingly rare.
5 Know all the different ways you can use the card
Some cards have a “chip” and require you to insert it into the machine. Others are “swipe only.” Some cards have protections that disallow internet transactions above a specific dollar amount or will monitor the card’s location, thus making it impossible to purchase on a computer with an active VPN. Others allow you to connect the card to phone apps, like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Cash App. Most prepaid cards come with an app that you can download to check the balance and move money around or use to pay bills.
6 Know what protections the card offers
Reputable cards are FDIC insured against unauthorized purchases.
Some cards have an additional layer of security by sending out alerts regarding purchases and the ability to lock and unlock the card using their app.
7 Know the card’s terms and restrictions
Any time you sign up for a card, there are several pages of terms and restrictions – things you’re allowed to do and things that will break the card’s terms of service (TOS) agreement. Even though it’s mostly the same from card to card, it’s still a good idea to skim through it before signing. There may be services you want from a card that the card doesn’t provide. Conversely, there may be things you regularly do the TOS agreement disallows.
The Yotta Card
Sign up for the Yotta Card. It’s a free debit card insured by the FDIC, with the extra benefit of having 55,000 in-network ATMs and 90,000 places where you can load money onto the card. Unlike other cards, you can win money simply by using the card. Sign up for yours today!
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