Are prepaid charge cards assisting or harming consumers?

The middle for Responsible Lending is really a non-profit research and policy company aimed at protecting home-ownership and family members wide range.

Let us start with the following premise: when it comes to technology and therefore main item costs, basic function reloadable prepaid cards are indistinguishable from debit cards related to checkless checking reports.

Both prepaid and debit cards must maintain a database of specific account documents; both access the exact same repayments system via a bank person in a funds transfer system such as for instance Visa or MasterCard.

Both prepaid and debit cards have actually a requirement to “know your consumer” because the records must go through a bank to get into the re re re payments community.

Ergo, the largest differences when considering prepaid cards and debit cards are distinctions maybe maybe not in technology however in legislation, or what exactly is frequently called “regulatory arbitrage” in support of the unregulated providers.

Some situations of regulatory arbitrage between bank providers of checkless debit card reports and presently unregulated card that is prepaid consist of:

  • Debit cards have periodic written statements of account under Regulation E;
  • Regulated debit card providers have actually mandated capital that is minimum;
  • Debit cards have customer protections for missing cards or unauthorized card use; and
  • Prepaid cards are exempt through the Durbin interchange demands, at the least when it comes to smaller, rent-a-charter banking institutions.

Prepaid cards should be needed to meet up with the after three rules:

  • No arbitration that is mandatory
  • No tie-in to financial obligation services and products, either ahead of the prepaid credit card load or following the card stability was expended.
  • No penalty costs such as for instance nonsufficient funds or overdraft charges


We pulled yesterday the account disclosure kind for Netspend, one of several biggest prepaid credit card providers. Clients must read and consent to these terms before registering for a Netspend prepaid credit card online.

We challenge anybody in this space to learn this disclosure type, 12 pages of microscopic print organized horizontally across two pdf printing pages. Hidden into the printing in the page that is tenth a dependence on mandatory arbitration, and just as a person, much less a team action.

Real discrimination or consumer deception can’t be re-dressed by a person customer in a mandated arbitration forum.

Financial obligation item tie-in

A card that is prepaid do not have tie-in to a financial obligation item whatsoever. In the front end, making use of an online payday loan to finance a prepaid card is definitely an invitation to abuse.

If prepaid credit card charges simply take 10 percent regarding the prepaid credit card balance to transform to money, a 450 % annual rate of interest pay day loan is deceptively changed into a 700 % APR loan, therefore circumventing state or federal usury limitations, including those protecting armed forces workers.

The Netspend tie-in with payday financing, and its own wanting to offer payday advances straight through its prepaid credit card, are just unsatisfactory. Any office of Thrift Supervision had been directly to prohibit Netspend’s i-advance system.

Overdraft charges

The solitary reason fruitful link that is most-cited consumer selection of a prepaid credit card is always to restrict investing to funds actually contained in the account. The label that is very card” communicates the promise that the account can not be overdrawn, which by meaning would otherwise be considered a “postpaid” card.

Overdrafts shouldn’t be allowed in virtually any kind for a card that is prepaid. Prohibiting overdraft and fund that is nonsufficient is the single-most important step for CFPB to just simply take at this time.

If a client requires financial obligation, allow them to get yourself a regulated bank card, which will be made for that function.