Prepay 'credit' cards ('prepayment' cards)

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I have seen a number of posts on 'prepayment' cards recently. These are sometimes referred to as prepaid 'credit' cards. Although personally I don't like that term since there is no credit involved. (If there is a better/official name for these types of cards I would be interested to here what it was.)
Whilst I have no need for one of these cards myself I like to keep up to date on what options are available as I have a number of friends from overseas who sometimes ask my advice on financial options in the UK. These types of cards might be useful if they are only able to get a solo or electron cards at UK banks due to lack of UK credit history.
Anyway I realised that it is pretty hard to directly compare each card since they have a wide range of different costs and charges and none of the supplier websites are particularly easy to navigate. As a service to others (since it is a slow day at work for me) I have compiled all main costs below.
Although I have tried to be careful I'm only human so there is a possibility of mistakes. Also the terms and the conditions may have changed by the time you read this, so I would recommend you double check everything if you are planning on getting one of these cards. I have provided links to each of the cards terms and conditions, which is where I obtained all the figures myself.
Anyway here is a summary of each card that I am aware of. (If you know of other prepayment cards not covered here please feel free to follow up, even if only with the name of the card and a link to their website.):
*American Express (AMEX) Travellers Cheque Card*
Primarily aimed at people travelling despite the fact that it is unsuited for this due to rip off exchange rates (see Charges 2 and 8). It might actually be better for people who can't get credit to use within the UK, although the lower acceptance of AMEX is also a drawback. One thing worth noting is that the card can have funds stored in Euro, Sterling or US Dollar.
Main site: http://www.americanexpress.co.uk/travellerschequecard
Terms and conditions: http://www.americanexpress.com/uk/tcc/terms.shtml
Charges:
1. Card cost = 20 (plus minimum initial currency load of 200)
2. An Issuance Fee may apply when you first load a Travellers Cheque Card. (Recommended Issuance Fee [per Card] 20.00).
3. When you purchase a Travellers Cheque Card in a currency other than Sterling, the Initial Load Amount, and any Reloads, will be converted from Sterling to the currency of the Travellers Cheque Card. Currently, the conversion rate we use for initial loads and Reloads is 4% above the Amex Foreign Exchange rate.
4. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 1.50 (EURO 2.00, US$2.50)
5. Shortage Fee (This is for going over the set spending limit) = 15.00 (EURO 20.00, $25.00).
6. Card closure fee (for refund of cash value in the Account) = 8.00 (EURO 11.50, $14.50)
7. Reissuance Fee (upon Card expiry) = 5.00 (EURO 7.00, $8.00)
8. Paper Statement Fee = 3.50 (4.50, $5.50)
9. Transaction in a currency other than your card currency = Interbank rates increased by a single conversion commission of 4.5%.
*Raphaels Bank/ICE Cash2Go Maestro*
ICE stands for 'International Currency Exchange' so presumably they are trying to position this to the same kind of people as AMEX's Travellers Cheque Card. Again the card is available in Euro, Sterling or US Dollar formats. The fact that this is a Maestro card and not a full mastercard may slightly limit acceptance.
Main site: http://www.cash2go.com/
Terms and Conditions: http://www.cash2go.com/terms.shtml
Charges:
1. Card cost = 5.00 or 1% of the amount loaded (whichever is the higher) up to a maximum charge of 18.75. (Minimum load value is 50 [,$,Euro]).
2. Card replacement fee = 3.00
3. Card closure fee = 3.00
4. Card balance replenishment = 3.00
5. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 1.75
6. ATM balance enquiry = 0.30
*CashPlus Mastercard*
Aimed at people who need Mastercard acceptance but can't get or don't want a credit card. There are two forms of the card, activeplus which appears to be for regular users and has a monthly subscription but limits other charges and flexiplus for infrequent users (no monthly fee but higher costs elsewhere).
Main site: http://www.cashplus.co.uk/
Terms and Conditions: http://www.cashplus.co.uk/uploads/Image/T&C_July_06.pdf (this link may change, check the main site)
Charges:
1. activeplus subscription = 4.95 (per month)
2. flexiplus cost per transaction = 1.00
3. flexiplus account maintenance = 4.95 (only applies if Account has no transactions including reloads for a period of 120 days from date of last transaction)
4. Card issue or replacement = 9.95
5. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 2.00 (UK) 3.00 (Non UK)
6. Cash withdrawal (at bank) = 3.00
7. Check your balance and recent transactions by automated phone service = 0870 call
8. Check your balance and recent transactions by speaking to a Customer Service Advisor = 0.50 per minute, minimum 0.50
9. Card closure fee (for refund of cash value in the Account) = 10.00
10. Foreign transaction fee = 2.75% (of amount withdrawn/spent)
*TalkSPORT Maestro card*
Seems to be aimed at the same group of people as Cash Plus, however as this is a Maestrocard it will have less acceptance than Cash Plus's Mastercard.
Main site: https://www.talksportcard.co.uk/
Terms and Conditions: https://www.talksportcard.co.uk/terms.php
Charges:
1. Card cost = 9.95
2. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 1.00
3. Foreign transaction fee = 2.75% (of amount withdrawn/spent)
4. Upgrade To Other Card Issued By Us (in the future) = 10.00
5. Card Replacement Fee (Lost/Stolen/Expired) = 5.00
6. Card closure fee (for refund of cash value in the Account) = 10.00
7. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals (Any load amount) = 3% of the load amount (minimum charge of 1.00)
8. Cost of topping up at the post office (Any load amount) = 75p
*360 money Maestro card*
Two card types, a 'Splash Plastic' card aimed at under 18s (actually from 10 upwards) and a 'Premium' card aimed at the adult market. The Splash Plastic cards are missing certain features available on the Premium cards, most notably the ability to withdrawn funds from an ATM machine or get cash back. Also the Splash Plastic cards subdivide into two tariffs, one has a monthly fee but drops several other charges, whilst the other has no monthly fee. There is only one type of Premium card and it has a monthly fee. All the cards are Maestro cards.
Main site: http://www.360money.com/360money/index.html
Terms and Conditions: http://www.360money.com/premium/termsconditions.html http://www.360money.com/splashplastic/termsconditions.html
Charges:
1. Splash Plastic PAYG (Pay As You Go) application fee = 6.99
2. Splash Plastic PAYG annual renewal fee = 6.99
3. Splash Plastic PAYG cost per transaction = 0.25
4. Splash Plastic PM (Pay Monthly) membership fee = 1.49 (monthly)
5. Premium Card membership fee = 1.99 (monthly)
6. Internet top up = 1.50 (free at PayPoint shops and the Post Office)
7. Splash Plastic PAYG signature verified, Internet or telephone transactions = 0.25
8. Premium Internet or telephone transactions = 2.5% of Transaction value
9. Premium Cash withdrawal at ATM = 1.50
10. Premium Cash withdrawal (at bank) = 1.50
11. Premium cash back fee = 1.50
12. Foreign transaction fee = 4% (of amount withdrawn/spent)
13. Splash Plastic PM reactivation fee = 3
14. Premium reactivation fee = 4
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*CashPlus Mastercard*
Aimed at people who need Mastercard acceptance but can't get or don't want a credit card. There are two forms of the card, activeplus which appears to be for regular users and has a monthly subscription but limits other charges and flexiplus for infrequent users (no monthly fee but higher costs elsewhere).
Main site: http://www.cashplus.co.uk/
Terms and Conditions: http://www.cashplus.co.uk/uploads/Image/T&C_July_06.pdf (this link may change, check the main site)
Charges:
1. activeplus subscription = 4.95 (per month)
2. flexiplus cost per transaction = 1.00
3. flexiplus account maintenance = 4.95 (only applies if Account has no transactions including reloads for a period of 120 days from date of last transaction)
4. Card issue or replacement = 9.95
5. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 2.00 (UK) 3.00 (Non UK)
6. Cash withdrawal (at bank) = 3.00
7. Check your balance and recent transactions by automated phone service 0870 call
8. Check your balance and recent transactions by speaking to a Customer Service Advisor = 0.50 per minute, minimum 0.50
9. Card closure fee (for refund of cash value in the Account) = 10.00
10. Foreign transaction fee = 2.75% (of amount withdrawn/spent)
You can check your balance online for free as well. You can also pay money to the card via other online bank accounts as well as at post office. PO takes 24hrs to clear if paid before noon. Online transfers take longer (as usual!)
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On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, linkuk wrote:

Yeah I did notice that. Several of the other cards have this for free as well. I just decided to only list stuff that costs money (since my post was getting way too long). Hence if I haven't mentioned it then it is probably free. For those finer details it is probably best to refer to the websites.
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It would probably have been safer to give the websites just to avoid confusion. To list to fees but to leave out free bits can be misleading. You meant well so 10/10 for that. The trouble with details is that they are forever changing and its an endless task.
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On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, linkuk wrote:

It is a fair comment, though I still think there is value in having all the costs laid out together. Even if nobody else uses it I still learn't a fair bit compiling it. I would guess that either Money 360's Splash Plastic PM or TalkSPORT's Maestro card would work best for most people in the majority of situations where such a card would be required.
I was least impressed with Cash Plus as they seem to have the worst combination of costs for their two cards. In fact pretty much the only thing going for them is the fact that they are the only true Mastercard (and hence have the greatest level of acceptance).
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In fact pretty much the only thing going for them is the fact that they are the only true Mastercard

Thats exactly why i chose it. Probably why its called a prepaid "credit" card as well. Up to the time cashplus came out there were a few offerings but all the ones i saw had large jioning fees payable to agents. Cashplus seemed to be the first mainstream one that was nationally released and mentioned on reputable websites like the bbc news business site.
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On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Ruari Callow wrote:

0
*Extreme Cred Maestro card*
This is clearly a varient of the Talksport card aimed at the youth market. The basic website, bar the images and different wording is almost identical.
Apart from more complex pricing when topping up anything less than 200.00 via the Internet and Paypoint Terminals it is on the whole cheaper than Talksport's varient.
Main site: https://www.extremecred.com/
Terms and Conditions: https://www.extremecred.com/terms.php
Charges:
1. Card cost = 8.95
2. Cash withdrawal at ATM = 1.00
3. Foreign transaction fee = 2% (of amount withdrawn/spent)
4. Card Replacement Fee (Lost/Stolen/Expired) = 3.99
5. Card closure fee (for refund of cash value in the Account) = 3.99
6. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals Up to 20.00 = 0.85
7. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 20.01 to 30.00 = 1.00
8. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 30.01 to 50.00 = 1.50
9. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 50.01 to 100.00 = 2.00
10. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 100.01 to 150.00 = 3.00
11. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 150.01 to 200.00 = 4.00
12. Cost of topping up over the Internet and Paypoint Terminals 200.01 to 500.00 = 3% of the load amount
13. Cost of topping up at the post office (Any load amount) = 0.70
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Ruari Callow wrote:

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*Blue corner/Affinity Cards Limited Maestro cards*
A whole selection of branded prepay cards (Match, Bliss, i-Travel, Magic 105.4 FM, Smash Hits, Max Power, i-Money, with a 'gift card' on the way). All the cards are issued by Newcastle Building society, which is the same bank providing cards for Talksport and Extremecred, so they function in pretty much the same way. The bigest advantage of these cards is the 0% Foreign Transaction Fee. In fact none of the other cards I have mentioned so far offer this. It is vastly better than the 4% charged by AMEX who position their card as a 'travel card'.
One possible downside of these cards though is that you only appear to be able to top up online.
Main site: http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/
Terms and Conditions: http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/terms/index.html
Charges:
1. Card cost = 9.95
2. Lost/Stolen Replacement or Cancellation Fee = 4.99
3. Customer Service telephone enquiries = 0.50 (per minute)
4. PIN Issue / Re-Issue = 1.00
5. Cost of topping up to 20.00 = 0.85
6. Cost of topping up 20.01 to 30.00 = 1.00
7. Cost of topping up 30.01 to 50.00 = 1.50
8. Cost of topping up 50.01 to 100.00 = 2.00
9. Cost of topping up 100.01 to 200.00 = 3.00
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Ruari Callow wrote:

All

k

A few more things I have found. First is from the FAQ:
Q. What happens when my Prepaid card expires? A. Your Prepaid Card will be valid for 12 months. When it expires, you will no longer be able to use your Prepaid Card and we will arrange for the balance of funds to be transferred to your new Prepaid Card, after deducting any outstanding transactions and fees (including the replacement fee). However, we will not issue a new Prepaid Card if you tell us in writing at least 28 days before the date your Prepaid Card expires that you want a refund instead or if insufficient funds exists on the Prepaid Card account to meet the replacement fee.
The second is from some of the reviews of this product.
There is an 0.85 charge for getting cash from an ATM.
Finally, it looks like Bluecard will be providing other top-up methods in the furture, such as bank transfers and direct debits (no idea of the costs involved).
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Ruari Callow wrote:

A very big downside, as if you are able to top it up online, you probably don't need the card.
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Jonathan Bryce wrote:

I looked into this a bit more. Here is the weird thing. In the FAQ (http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/i-money/faq.whtm ) it states, "Instructions for cash top-ups, and top-ups using direct debits and standing orders, are also available on the Website."
I have searched that website from top to bottom but it does NOT tell you how to do this anywhere, nor does it state the costs involved. I suspect it can be done because the Extremecred and TalkSportcard allow this but it seems they have missed a couple of things off in their terms an conditions.
I have also found a couple of errors on the website, for example the FAQ link above states that topping up 150.01 to 200.00 costs 4.00. However the Terms and Conditions state that topping up 100.01 to 200.00 costs 3.00.
In the end I sent customer service an email and asked them about everything that was unclear. I'll let you all know if they reply.
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Ruari Callow wrote:

Sorry scratch that. Extremecred and TalkSportcard do allow post office and PayPoint top ups but neither of them mention top ups via direct debits and standing orders (as far as I can gather).
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Ruari Callow wrote:

ng

I got a reply to *some* of my questions.
On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, bluecorner Customer Services wrote:

1

Here is my response:
Actually you are incorrect. None of the cards vary at all according to your own website. Check out the following FAQs:
http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/match/faq.whtm http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/bliss/faq.whtm http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/magic/faq.whtm http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/smashhits/faq.whtm http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/maxpower/faq.whtm http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/i-money/faq.whtm
Every single one* states that the card costs 4 to top up 150.01 to 200.00. So effectively the "Terms and Conditions" contradict all of the FAQs. What is the point of having a terms and conditions if it is invalid? If the cards are really are different then you need to provide individual terms and conditions. Where can I find these.
*i-travel is different in that its FAQ http://www.bluecorner.co.uk/i-travel/faq.whtm has no pricing table at all. In fact I suspect that its FAQ is completely messed up since several of the questions, e.g. "Can I have the balance on my account refunded to me?" and "How do I transfer credit from my card to another prepaid card?" have no answers at all.
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Thats not really correct. Most people can get a basic account such as the one i have with nationwide but it doesnt provide any sort of card that allows mastercard type transactions iether online or on the shops. Its a cash card only that lets you draw from link machines etc. Thats why i like my pre paid mastercard. The big draw back with online transfer is the time it takes for funds to be cleared which is a few days. cash loading is 24 hours.
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, linkuk wrote:

I think you and Jonathan might be talking about different things. The bluecard online top up requires a debit card whilst I believe that Cash Plus allows you to do a BACS funds transfer. I think you are talking about this (the online part being that you are doing it via your online bank).
All that said bluecard are targetting their cards to kids in particular, where a parent or someone else with a debit card could do the funds transfer, hence it would still be useful to many, though admittedly not as good as the options from the other cards I have listed. However, it may be that bluecard does indeed allow other forms of top up. The site does seem to imply this at various points, though it is not clear in the details or the costs or how it works. This may be because it is something they will offer in the future or it could simply be that their website is out of date. The letter/pack you receive with the card when you purchase it may explain how to do this type of thing. As I stated previously I have asked bluecard about other ways of topping up and I'll update here if it is indeed possible.
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