NEW YORK, April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- All 24 widely issued prepaid debit cards that Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE) recently surveyed charge fees of some kind. The specific fees, which are detailed below, vary widely by card and by how the consumer uses the card.
"The biggest development in the prepaid card market over the past year was the entry of several large national and regional banks," said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. "Many offer cards with low, fixed monthly costs. The ability to know the total monthly cost in advance is valuable to consumers, particularly with the decline in free checking accounts." Bankrate has previously reported that 72% of credit unions and 39% of banks offer standalone free checking accounts.
Fifteen of the 24 cards (63%) charge a monthly service fee ranging from $3.00 to $9.95.
Eight of the 15 cards that charge a monthly service fee offer a fee waiver or reduction, which is usually based upon how much money is automatically loaded onto the card.
In total, two-thirds of the cards that Bankrate surveyed either have no monthly fee or offer a fee waiver.
Two-thirds of the cards are free of activation fees if purchased online. Fifty-four percent can be purchased in-person without an activation fee.
The activation fees range from $2.99 to $14.95.
None of the issuers that Bankrate surveyed charge reload fees.
ATM Withdrawal Fees
All 24 cards charge a fee to withdraw money from another institution's ATM; the fee ranges from $1.50 to $2.75 per transaction.
Fifteen of the 24 cards have their own ATM networks. Ten of those 15 (67%) charge a withdrawal fee to in-network consumers that ranges from $1.50 to $2.75.
ATM Balance Inquiry Fees
Thirteen of the 24 cards (54%) charge an ATM balance inquiry fee ranging from $0.45 to $1.00 regardless of which network the ATM belongs to.
Of the remaining 11 cards, five charge balance inquiry fees only at some ATMs, four do not charge at all and the other two do not permit ATM balance inquiries.
PIN/Signature Point-of-Sale Fees
Seventy-one percent (17 of 24 cards) do not charge for PIN-based point-of-sale transactions. Two cards do not permit PIN-based point-of-sale transactions. Among the five cards that charge this fee, it ranges from $0.49 to $2.00.
Eighty-three percent (20 of 24) do not charge a signature-based point-of-sale fee. Among the four cards that charge this fee, the fee is either $0.95 or $1.00.
Monthly Statement Fees
Fourteen of the 24 cards (58%) charge a monthly fee ranging from $1.00 to $5.95 for statements by mail. Thirty-three percent do not charge this fee and eight percent do not offer statements by mail. None of the 24 cards offer a statement that can be printed at an ATM.
Bill Payment Fees
Ninety-two percent (22 of 24) do not charge a fee for any bill payments. One card charges a $0.99 fee for each bill payment and one charges a $1.00 fee for bills paid via paper checks.
Customer Service Fees
Only 17% of the cards that Bankrate surveyed charge for all customer service calls, with $2.00 the most common fee. Eighty-three percent provide at least one free call per month and two-thirds never charge for telephone customer service.
Declined Transaction Fees
Fifteen of 24 cards (63%) do not charge for declined transactions. Five cards (21%) charge between $0.25 and $1.95 for each declined transaction. Four charge only for transactions that are declined at an ATM; their fees are either $1.00 or $2.00.
These are only charged by 29% of the cards that Bankrate surveyed. The monthly inactivity fee ranges from $1.95 to $5.95 and typically does not begin until there have been at least 90 days without activity. The remaining 71% of cards do not charge an inactivity fee but may close the card after three to six months of inactivity.
Methodology: Bankrate.com surveyed 24 prepaid cards offered by prominent issuers from February 12-19, 2013.
About Bankrate, Inc.
Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, our flagship website, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsuranceQuotes.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, InsureMe, Bankrate.com.cn, CreditCards.ca, NetQuote.com, and CD.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of nearly 600 local markets in all 50 U.S. states, Bankrate generates over 172,000 distinct rate tables capturing on average over three million pieces of information daily. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 80 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe.