A prepaid credit card, which really is more of a debit card, is one in which you pay in advance to put a certain amount of money on the card, and then the card can be used for purchases up to that amount.
So, for instance, if you pay $100 for a card (plus whatever fees there might be), you then have what looks like a standard Visa or MasterCard or other credit or debit card, and is accepted any place such cards are accepted, but the most you can spend with it is $100. You can’t go beyond that and get sent a bill-that’s what it means to say it’s not literally a credit card. Once you’ve spent the $100, it is worthless and you can dispose of it. (Or reload it with more money.)
So what’s the point, if you’re just paying $100 (or more) to be able to spend $100 with the card? Why not just spend the $100 directly?
In some cases, people prefer paying with a card. Consider an online purchase. They might have provisions where you can mail them a check or money order, but if you have a card, you can place your order and pay immediately.
There is also the theft issue. If you have $100 in your wallet and it gets stolen, you’re out $100. If you have that $100 on your card, you report it just like any lost or stolen credit or debit card, and you may get your money back.
Then there’s also the issue of building credit. You might have bad credit and not be able to get a standard credit card. In that case, obtaining and using these prepaid debit cards can build up a credit history to change that.
One interesting recent twist with the prepaid cards is that you can have them personalized with a photo. Putting your own photo on it is certainly one possibility, but some people prefer a photo of their children, a nature scene, etc.
One of the fun uses of the personalized prepaid debit card is as a gift card. It used to be that Grandma would send a $20 bill or a $50 check inside the birthday card. The modern version of that is to send one of these prepaid cards with a suitable photo-perhaps something goofy to get a laugh, perhaps a nice photo of Grandma and grandchild posed together, perhaps a puppy or a rainbow.
There are many places to order cards like this online. You simply fill out the form and upload the photo you want to use.
Now, there are going to be restrictions on the photos, and if you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop or a similar editing program, that will really help. There might be a cap on the file size of 1 MB or 2 MB, for instance, which might necessitate lowering the resolution. Or you might want just the face from a photo, so you’ll need to know how to crop it.
Also, you’ll want a photo that looks good in that small size it’ll have on the card, so be sure to shrink it to that size to see if you like how it looks. A group photo, for instance, might look great enlarged and framed on the wall, or even in a snapshot, but will you even be able to make out who is who if it’s a little rectangle on a credit card?
Here are a few examples of the many places offering prepaid, personalized debit cards:
Gift Card Lab