9 Creative Ways to Use a Prepaid Debit Card
Prepaid debit cards are big business in the United States. According to Time magazine, consumers used them for $77 billion worth of transactions in 2012. That’s a lot of swiping.
We all know about using them to pay for lunch or a pair of shoes. But have you ever thought about a prepaid card for:
1. A door prize. You want lots of butts in the seats at the community cleanup or the first PTA gathering of the year? Advertise that a $50 prepaid debit card (or a couple of $25 ones) will be given away. Advertise it extensively. Sure, it would be nice if people would attend such things without coaxing, but be realistic: If someone’s on the fence about attending (“Do I want to get up that early on a Saturday?/Be out that late on a school night?”) then the chance of winning might tip them over into Do The Right Thing territory.
2. An employee incentive. Whether it’s for putting (usable) ideas in the suggestion box or for making it through the holiday crush without losing their minds, your workers might appreciate the chance to get a little something extra. Do it through a random drawing or as an out-and-out prize for a really smart suggestion. (Note: These are considered taxable income, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But they’re still fun to get.)
3. Help to a relative/friend in need. Sometimes handing over cash feels weird. Giving a prepaid card lets the person you love get what he needs: medicine, a bag of groceries, a tank of gas. Better yet: Slip it under the person’s door or mail it anonymously.
4. Moving expenses. Donna Freedman, who blogs at Surviving and Thriving (http://www.donnafreedman.com)
5. Kid travel gift. If your preadolescent or teen is heading cross-country to visit his grandparents or to spend the summer with the noncustodial parent, a prepaid card will let him buy his own snacks and incidentals.
6. Blog giveaway. Want to build subscriber loyalty and get the attention of additional readers? Have a monthly giveaway – and every so often, make it a prepaid debit card. “This is something that we definitely plan on doing for our readers of our website and Facebook page. With our website name talking specifically about prepaid cards, it just makes sense,” says Shane Tripcony, co-founder of BestPrepaidDebitCards.com. Regular gift cards are popular, too, but not everyone drinks coffee or shops at Target, whereas a prepaid card is good just about anywhere. Heck, I wish I could win one.
7. New grad gift. It can be tough to guess the needs/desires of an 18 or 22-year-old. A prepaid gift card means not just buying power, but choice. It’s up to him whether he spends at a grocery store or at The Gap.
8. Tax refund. The major tax preparers let you have the option of a refund via prepaid debit card. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the fees, but if you’re unbanked, you want the refund a little faster or you just want to really manage how you spend your tax refund, this could be the right option.
9. Teacher present. Believe me when I tell you that your kid’s teacher has waaaaay too many mugs already. Please don’t add to that problem. Give a prepaid card because it can be spent at any merchant the teacher chooses. However, I predict at least some of it will be rung up at a bookshop or educational supply store. Teachers are just like that.
This is a short list of potential uses for a prepaid debit card. What are some creative ways you have used your prepaid card? We welcome your comments below and would love to hear from you.