NEW YORK (5/20/13)--A study of 24 widely issued prepaid debit cards indicates all charge fees of some kind. However, two-thirds either have no monthly fee or offer a fee waiver.
The fees vary widely by card and how the consumer uses it, said Bankrate.com, which conducted the survey in February. Credit union prepaid debit cards were not among those in the study.
"The biggest development in the prepaid card market over the past year was the entry of several large national and regional banks," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. Many offer cards with fixed monthly costs. "The ability to know the monthly cost in advance is valuable to consumers, particularly with the decline in free checking accounts," McBride said.
Only 39% of banks offer stand-alone free checking accounts. That compares with 72% of credit unions, according to a previous Bankrate.com survey.
In the prepaid debit cards study, 15 cards (63%) charged a monthly service fee of $3 to $9.95. Eight of these offer either a fee waiver or fee reduction, based on how much is automatically loaded onto the prepaid card.
Other fee findings:
For a list of cards with their specific fees, use the link.