New Pre-Pay Card Launched: 360Money

I’m quite a fan of the idea behind “pre-pay cards” that seem to be appearing quite regularly at the moment.

In theory, they allow people without a credit or debit card to shop online for goods, and their nature means that the holder can only spend money that they already have. For those people that are wary of using their credit cards online, they also provide a safe(-ish) way to transact on websites,  as any fraudsters could only spend up to the amount on the card, if they got hold of the details. But unlike with a credit card, you’re not protected if something nasty happens to your supplier, and the goods don’t turn up, for example.  Pre-pay cards could also be put to good use by parents looking to control their kids’ spending.

A new card, the 360Money card, has just been launched which aims to do just this, plus it will make a donation to charity for each card application and transaction. The 360Money website explains the cards:

360money cards are not credit cards, do not have any credit attached to them and are designed especially for those who want to use their cash without going through the process of setting up a bank account. This money can then be spent at millions of retailers on the high street, the Internet or over the telephone, wherever the Maestro or Solo logos are displayed. Some 360money cards even allow cash to be withdrawn from cash machines (ATM).

However, where these cards often seem to fall down is in the charges, and the 360Money card is no exception. For their Premium card, you pay both a monthly fee (£1.99), plus 2.5% of any transaction. Also, if you wish to top up the card on the internet, you have to pay another £1.50.

The target audience for these types of card are largely going to be those with bad credit ratings, low earners and children. So charges such as these seem pretty prohibitive.

I’m quite surprised that one of the big banks hasn’t (in my knowledge) come out with a similar pre-pay card with low fees – they’d be able to use their network of ATMs to provide top-ups easily, would have access to other technology to keep running costs down, and could probably use it as a way of targetting the customers to sell them other more profitable financial products.

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