What exactly are cash cards and why should you consider them?
Is it truly just another name for a bank issued debit card?
Well if you’re even a tiny bit curious, read along and find out!
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What Are Cash Cards?
A long time ago, cash used to be king. It was the most liquid form of payment.
It was the easiest way to pay back a friend, or family member.
But with the emergence of electronic payments and credit cards, cash has taken a step back.
And not by choice.
Technology has improved a lot with the growing presence of the internet and most people (or at least in the United States) are more comfortable with cashless payments.
We have had debit cards, credit cards, electronic checks and now cash cards.
So what are cash cards?
You can think of them as cards with money preloaded into them before spending.
And before you jump the gun, thinking it’s another alternative name for debit cards, just wait one second.
Debit cards are issued by the banks so they have to be linked to your bank account.
However, cash cards may not have to be.
Think of them as a general category with debit cards falling underneath them.
Along with preloaded cards as well.
Several companies have jumped into this business opportunity including: Square, Paypal, Venmo, Greendot, etc.
And I think it’s because there’s are a couple of reasons.
Why Do They Exist?
I think the main reason why cash cards exist is because it acts as a tool to control spending.
But the newest products also offer incentives for using them.
Like getting discounts at favorite restaurants or stores.
If you live in the US, you may be aware that we live in a country that has a lot of debt. And this principle applies to a lot of our day-to-day purchases as well.
Don’t have money to buy a car? You can finance it.
Don’t have money for a mattress? You can finance it.
Want a new laptop but don’t have money?
You can also finance it.
And there’s TONS of examples where you can finance your purchases.
I’m not saying this is wrong but for some people who cannot control their spending, it’s very dangerous for them to take advantage of this convenience.
Leading down into a slippery slope where these individuals damage their credit score and take YEARS to fix their credit.
So if these individuals need a way to pay with a card and don’t want to deal with credit cards until they are ready, they have cash cards as an option.
Because with some large purchases it may be very awkward to use cash (not to mention how uncomfortable it may be).
But I think these cash cards are also catered towards another audience.
Another Potential Age Audience?
Lo and behold teenagers and their spending habits.
I have the fortune (or not) of helping close family friends watch over their kids and a few of them are pre-teens.
They know enough about money that they are eager to spend it if given the chance.
But sometimes what they want to buy is on the internet. So what can they do?
Borrow their parent’s credit card without knowing anything about them?
It’s probably better to teach them good personal finance habits by opening up a cash card for them and then teach them how to track their spending through an app.
Then (hopefully) these kids will realize that they can quickly spend all of their money through the convenience of the card.
Which will give them an incentive to be frugal. Or at least give them the awareness to build healthy spending habits.
For any parents out there reading this, consider having cash cards to help teach your future teenagers on how to appropriately spend their money.
Because they will eventually get their hands on a credit card one day.
So where can you get these cards?
Where Can You Get Them?
1. Your Local Grocery Store
Have you ever purchased a gift card from your local grocery store?
You may have noticed that there’s not only gift cards but “prepaid visa” cards as well.
And even prepaid mastercard cards.
These can be loaded with cash at the checkout counter.
There are variety of difference brands.
Including Greendot, Amex Gift, NetBank, etc.
2. Online Websites
However there are some that are ordered online.
Head over to their own individual sites to get a copy of those cards if you think those are right for you.
And how do you know which ones are right for you? Check out the features and see if it fits into your spending habits.
Are There Limitations?
Depends on which one you are asking.
If it’s the bank-issued debt card then YES.
You are limited to ATM withdrawals of 6 per month and you can only spend up to however much you have in your savings/checking account.
Unless you want to hit overdraft fees.
For the other cash cards, the amount you can spend is tied to how much you loaded into the card.
And some of the cards offer free-check writing and bank to bank transfers as well. So please check out the specifics of each card before you make your decision.
Now if you’re wondering what are currently the best ones, here is the current list!
7 Best Cash Cards & Other Alternatives
Square has recently entered this space with their own version of prepaid debit cards that they dub cash card.
The card is tied to an app called the cash app and has various benefits.
Such as discounts for certain restaurants and stores.
Plus, you can potentially load cryptocurrency onto it.
And with the growing influence of cryptocurrency, I think it’s a great feature.
Bluebird offers bill pay, money management and some additional features that it make seem more than just a card for transferring money to your friends.
Because you can also write checks.
So if you looking for a card that seems like a bank debit card but not really (because of it’s additional features) then check out Bluebird!
When I originally heard of Greendot, it was in the grocery stores as a way to load money into a credit card lookalike.
Because I was young and didn’t have access to a credit card to purchase online game currency.
But they have changed a lot since then.
They offer a variety of products and even have a debit card that offers cash back!
As well as a secured credit card to help rebuild your credit score!
So don’t dismiss them if you’re looking for a great credit card alternative.
Looking for a prepaid debit card that has no monthly fees? Check out Movo.
There are no monthly fees and it’s super easy to transfer money to and from your bank accounts to this card (if you need to).
5. Simple Bank
Simple Bank is a bank dedicated to making your banking experience simple and hassle-free.
The debit card they offer is essentially the same as any debit card obtained from a bank.
A card that is tied to either your savings or checking account.
But they include a neat budgeting app that goes hand-in-hand with it. As well as some pretty high yield savings rates (2.02% at the time of this post!).
This is another prepaid card you can get at the grocery stores and this company makes it easy to set up and use immediately.
No minimum balances and fees.
7. Chime Bank
Last but not least is another internet bank with a different focus. Chime is interested in helping you save automatically.
So they have a feature that allows round-ups.
Similar to the Acorn App, but this is based off of the spending on your debit card.
Putting saving on auto-pilot!
If you’re interested in cash cards, what’s your primary use case?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my 3 Personal Finance Tips to help you get started on your own personal finance journey!