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Prepaid Cards May Help You Spend Less [AUDIO]

If you’re not smart with spending, or you want to keep a close eye on your child’s allowance, there’s a product growing in popularity that may be perfect for you.

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Chris Hondros, Getty Images

The use of prepaid cards has increased dramatically in recent years, according to CardHub.com. Deposits to prepaid cards nearly tripled from 2008 to 2012, and they could rise an additional 120% by 2015.

PREPAID CARDS - COMPARE THE FEES

A prepaid card acts as a debit card, and serves as an alternative to a checking account, without all the bells and whistles. Perhaps its most attractive feature is that it won’t allow a consumer to spend beyond their means; what you put out up front is all you can use.

Prepaid cards came into existence when many people were struggling to get approved for a checking account, according to CardHub.com CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. However, users also tend to obtain the cards for their children or elderly parents, as a way to efficiently distribute funds and watch where their money is going.

“It’s very important that when someone considers a prepaid card, they pick the right one because the cost differential can be all the way from $0 to $360 per year,” Papadimitriou said.

The average card charges 10 different fees. Papadimitriou said most people pay attention only to whether or not there is a monthly fee, but it’s the other charges that can really add up. Some cards charge the user every time it’s swiped; others charge whenever the user wants a statement.

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