Prepaid cards are slowing making their way into people’s lives across the world. These look like regular debit or credit cards but are functionally different from either of them.
As the name suggests, a prepaid card is a card issued by a bank or a financial institution which is preloaded with funds. This is a payment card and can be used like any debit or credit card. However, unlike a credit card, it doesn’t offer you credit and it is not directly linked to your banking accounts either [which is the case with debit cards]. Prepaid cards can be loaded with money by you or a third party and can be used up to the amount available. In short, when you use a prepaid card, there is no loan involved. You are spending the money that is already deposited with the bank or financial institution that has issued the card to you.
Let’s look at some of the basic features of a prepaid card:
- No credit approval required to avail this card.
- Almost immediate issuance of the card.
- It can be used everywhere a credit or debit card is being used.
- A cashless and debt-free option to transact.
- Funds can be reloaded online, through direct deposits and ATMs.
- ATM withdrawal option available.
- Some banks might charge a small fee to provide the service.
- Usually, there is a limit on the amount that can be loaded and withdrawn in a specific period.
- These cards have an expiry date too.
- Some banks offer loyalty points or rewards for transaction done using a prepaid card.
- They can be used as gift cards and also as travel cards when you travel abroad.
The only criteria to avail a prepaid card in UAE is that the applicant must be over 21 years of age. You don’t need any documents or even an account with the bank issuing the prepaid card. However, this must be checked with the individual bank before approaching them for a card.
Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of a prepaid card:
- Global acceptance being powered by VISA or MasterCard
- No credit scrutiny
- It’s not a loan hence no debt-worries
- Immediate issuance
- Possibility of earning reward points or a cash back
- Not linked to your account so purchase can be made only to the extent of the amount loaded
- Fees can be charged by the issuing institution for various services
- No interest on the money lying in the card’s account
- Reloading the card can be a cumbersome process
- Transaction will be outright rejected if the it exceeds the amount available on the card
To bring things into perspective let’s draw a comparison between prepaid and credit cards:
|Interest to be paid
|Credit history scrutiny
||Usually ATM, POS and online
||ATM, POS and online
Consumers are increasingly getting debt averse and are looking for alternatives to make online payments without having to use their credit cards. Most banks and financial institutions in UAE have identified this need and offer prepaid cards to customers. Here are some prepaid card offers from banks and financial institutions in the UAE:
Majid Al Futtaim Finance Prepaid cards
Majid Al Futtaim offers nine different types of prepaid cards:
- MyNet card – is an online shopping prepaid card. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 10.
- VISA Gift card – is a prepaid card that can be used to shop in your country or abroad.
- You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 15.
- Business Solutions – is a prepaid card that can be given to employees for official expenses.
- Design your own card – is a personalisation option wherein you can design the card with your own images. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 25.
- Mall gift card – is a prepaid card that can be used at any of the Majid Al Futtaim City Centre Malls and Mall of the Emirates. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 7.
- Game gift card – is a prepaid card designed for those who love gaming. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 15.
- VOX Cinema gift card – is a prepaid card designed for movie-buffs. It covers standard, gold, max and 4dx seats. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for no fee.
- Happy Birthday gift card – is a prepaid card that is designed for birthdays and can be used across millions of outlets around the world. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 15.
- Congratulations baby card – is a prepaid card which is an ideal gift to parents of a new-born baby. You can load any amount between AED 100 and AED 3500 for a fee of AED 15.
RAKBANK Prepaid cards
RAKBANK offers three kinds of prepaid cards:
- Travel Prepaid Card - Single Currency – is a prepaid card maintained in Dirhams. You can load up to AED 50,000 on the card.
- Travel Prepaid Card - Dual Currency – is a prepaid card where your AED transactions are billed under the AED wallet and all other transactions are billed under the USD wallet. You can load up to AED 50,000 on the card.
- Bling Prepaid Card – is a basic prepaid card offered by RAKBANK.
Emirates Islamic Bank Prepaid cards
Emirates Islamic Bank offers two types of prepaid cards:
- Emirates Islamic Football prepaid card – is a prepaid card designed for the football fanatics. Reloading the card is absolutely free of fees and charges.
- Union Co-op Tamayaz prepaid card – is a prepaid card as well as a Tamayaz card [loyalty card from Union Coop].
Q. Can I avail of a prepaid card if I am not on a job?
A. Prepaid cards are offered to people with basic documentation. You should not face any problem applying for a prepaid card. Do check with the concerned bank before applying.
Q.What is the validity period of a prepaid card?
A. It is usually one year from the date of issuance. However, you can check with the issuing bank before availing the facility.