Have you ever bought or received a prepaid credit card as a gift? There are certain things about these cards that you may not be aware of. With information from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, here’s what you need to know.
What’s a prepaid credit card?
Prepaid cards are preloaded credit cards issued by a financial institution and are linked to certain payment card networks, such as American Express, Mastercard or VISA (and their logo will be on the card). When you use the card, the merchant deducts the amount you use from the total amount on the card.
You can find them at grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and many other retailers. You can use these cards at most places that accept credit cards.
Prepaid credit cards: what you need to know
- You need to put money on the card before using it (unless someone gives it to you as a gift and they put money on it)
- Some prepaid cards charge an activation fee or purchase fee
- Other fees may apply so it’s important to review the terms and conditions of your prepaid card
- You may be able to make cash withdrawals
- You usually won’t have to pay for transactions you didn’t make or approve, such as fraud
- You can check your balance (but you may be charged a fee)
Do these cards expire?
Yes. The physical card will eventually expire but the money on it will never expire. This means that if your card expired but there’s still money left on it, you can request that the card issuer sends you a new card (you may be charged a fee). You can also reload the card as many times as you want, until it eventually expires.
Looking for more information?
Visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website for more information about prepaid cards.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
4 thoughts on “Do you use prepaid credit cards? You should read this”
This is great information about prepaid credit cards. Thank you.
Hi Elaine, glad to hear you found the article useful!
Twice I have been gifted with VISA prepaid cards that did not work when I tried to use them. There was no information about how to contact the issuer on the back of the card. The gifts were from a close family member who would never gift an empty card. I think there were not properly activated at the point of sale. What recourse do I have if this happens again. Unfortunately the ones I had have expired.
Hi Barbara, thanks for the question. That sounds frustrating! In the future, I would suggest making sure you keep the receipt (or ask your relatives to keep the receipt) so they can be returned or properly activated if an issue arises. To your other point, while the physical card for prepaid credit cards eventually expires, the money on it will never expire, as written in the blog post above. This means that if your card expired but there’s still money left on it, you can request that the card issuer sends you a new card (you may be charged a fee). This information should be on the back of the card which is why its strange you don’t see anything there. If you have questions, I would suggest reaching out to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (linked in the blog post) to see what they have to say. I hope this helps.