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.