If you don’t qualify for a traditional credit card but want the convenience and security that comes with one, consider getting a prepaid credit card. Prepaid credit cards are available from both Visa and MasterCard. Each has its own set of fees and terms. At the time of purchase, make a deposit on the prepaid credit card. The amount you deposit becomes the card’s balance. You can buy a prepaid credit card with a check. Here’s how it works:
Method 1 Finding a Prepaid Credit Card to Purchase
1. Choose the type of prepaid credit card you want to purchase. Prepaid credit cards can be purchased online. If you want to pay with a check, you’ll have to go to a physical store to make the purchase. Prepaid credit cards are available at many drug stores, including CVS and Walgreens. They are also available at discount stores such as Target and Walmart. They are available in most major supermarket chains as well as gas stations.
2. Investigate Visa prepaid credit cards. Visa provides a wide range of prepaid credit cards. They’re simple to use and reloadable. You don’t even need a bank account if you buy with cash. There is no need for a credit check.
Navigate to the Visa Product Finder website. Enter your location to find out where you can buy Visa prepaid credit cards in your area.
Although Visa does not require you to have a bank account to purchase one of their prepaid cards, you will need a checking account if you want to write a check to the retailer.
3. Investigate MasterCard prepaid credit cards. MasterCard prepaid cards can be used anywhere a MasterCard credit card is accepted. This includes things like online shopping, bill payments, and everyday purchases. They are available for purchase online or at participating retailers.
To find out where you can buy a MasterCard Prepaid Card in your area, go to the MasterCard Prepaid Cards website.
4. Learn about the fees that come with prepaid credit cards. Some credit cards charge activation, initial load, or monthly fees. You may also be charged fees for certain types of transactions, such as ATM withdrawals or bill-pay services. Read the card’s packaging to learn about the fees that come with it. Compare several cards and select the one with the lowest fees.
Activation and initial load fees are sometimes added to the purchase price. Assume you’re purchasing a $100 prepaid card with a $6 activation fee. To obtain the card, you must write a check for $106.
The activation and initial load fees are sometimes deducted from your available balance. For example, if you buy a $100 prepaid card with a $6 activation fee, you’ll write a check for $100, but your available balance will be $94.
Transaction fees, if any, will be deducted automatically from your balance as you use your card.
5. Load money onto your prepaid credit card. The credit card has no value until it is funded and validated by the cashier. When you present your card to the cashier, he or she will ask you how much money you want to load onto the card. Predetermined amounts, such as $25, $50, $100, or $200, are sometimes printed on the cards. Other cards allow you to select any amount.
In the store, look for a display rack that holds the cards. You can select from a number of different designs.
Choose the card you want to buy, go to the register, and pay the cashier.
Tell the cashier how much money you want to put on your card.
Make a check for the total amount loaded onto the card, plus any activation fees.
Method 2 Writing the Check
1. Look for a store that accepts checks. Checks are accepted at the majority of major supermarkets, discount stores, and gas stations that sell prepaid credit cards. However, as newer, more convenient technology replaces checks, some retailers are phasing them out. If you’re unsure, ask a cashier or someone at the customer service desk if the store accepts checks as payment.
Many stores will not accept a check unless you show identification. Be prepared to show your driver’s licence or other form of photo identification.
2. Fill out the check correctly. Some people are unsure how to write a check because other, more convenient payment methods are so widely available. The check must be correctly filled out in order for it to be valid.
In the upper-right corner, write the date. Enter the entire month, day, and year. You can either write the date (for example, October 8, 2017) or use numbers (10/8/17).
Fill in the recipient’s name on the line next to “Pay to the order of.” On this line, write the retailer’s name. If you bought the prepaid credit card at Walgreen’s, for example, you would write “Walgreen’s” on this line. If you are unsure about what name to write on this line, consult with the cashier.
On the right-hand side of the check, next to the dollar sign, write the exact amount of the check. For example, if you are paying $106.71, write that amount exactly. There is no need to round up or down.
On the line under the recipient’s name, write the check amount in words. Write the monetary value in words and the change in fractions. For instance, if your check is for $106.71, write “one hundred six and seventy-one cents.” You do not need to write “dollars” if it is already printed on that line.
The procedure is the same if you’re dealing with a different currency.
Fill in the memo field in the bottom-left corner. This is entirely optional. It’s a note explaining why the check was written.
Sign in the bottom right-hand corner of the check. Please use your full legal name. It must be the same name as the one used to open the checking account. Only sign the front of the check. Please do not sign the back. (This is for later endorsing the check.)
Fill in the blanks in your check register. In your check register, record the date, recipient, and amount of the check, as well as any memos. Subtract the amount of the check from your register’s available balance.
3. Check the balance in your checking account. Before you write a check, make sure you have enough money in your checking account to cover it. Many banks offer online services that allow you to check account activity, including your balance, from your computer or mobile device. To verify your account, you can also call your bank’s customer service number.
Prepare to enter your account number or a user name and password. To gain access to information about your account, you may also be required to answer a previously arranged security question.
You will be charged an overdraft fee if you do not have enough funds to cover a check you have written. Instead, your check may be returned. This means that instead of an overdraft fee, you will have to pay the retailer a returned-check fee.
4. Check your checking account to ensure that the check has cleared. After you’ve written the check, keep an eye on what’s going on in your account. You can access your account information online using a computer or a mobile device. Check to see if the check has cleared.
Method 3 Reloading the Prepaid Credit Card
1. Reload your credit card. Once you’ve used up all or most of the money you loaded onto your card, you may be able to reload it so you can keep using it. This is known as reloading the card.
Some cards may be non-reloadable. If this is the case, you can simply discard the card once the funds have been depleted. For example, prepaid gift cards may not be reloadable.
2. Read the small print. All of the terms and options, including how to reload the card, are explained in the packaging that comes with your card. Look at the back of the card if you don’t have this packaging. You should be able to find a customer service number or a website that will provide you with instructions on how to reload the card.
3. Online reloading of the card Consider linking your checking account to the card if you purchased it with a check. You will most likely be able to reload your card using a linked checking account online.
Overdraft protection for your prepaid credit card can also be provided by a linked checking account. If you go over your pre-loaded balance by mistake, it may prevent a transaction from being declined if you have enough funds in your checking account to cover the transaction.
4. At the register, reload the card. Some prepaid cards allow you to reload the card at a retailer’s register. Pay the cashier the amount you want to charge to your card. If the retailer accepts checks, you can pay for reloading the card with a check. To activate this amount on your card, the cashier will swipe your card.
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