Prepaid Cards in Spain – Pros & Cons
Along with the increased use of technology, there is an increased risk of your data being stolen. Prepaid cards can be useful in removing this risk, but they normally come with a a series of fees. We’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of these cards and where to get them in Spain.
Advantages of Prepaid Cards
Normally prepaid cards are not linked to any bank account but are topped-up (or loaded) as necessary, so you won’t need to open another account just to get a card. This can be useful if you don’t have (or don’t want) a Spanish bank account or if a family member needs to have a card for emergencies.
As the cards don’t allow for credit, there’s no need to prove any source of income. Even if your name is on a debtors list or your accounts have been frozen you won’t have any problems getting a card.
Cards are issued immediately – normally after requesting one it will be sent out within 1-2 working days.
Most cards can be used worldwide, but check before requesting one. Cards that come with the logo MasterCard will be accepted at any country at establishments that accept MasterCard. Again, these cards can be useful for any family member when travelling (and for parents to feel more at ease!)
Prepaid cards can be used to get cash out at ATMs worldwide, however check the commission applicable that varies by company. Additional charges levied by the owner of the ATM will be shown when making a cash withdrawal – if you don’t agree with the cost you can just cancel the operation without withdrawing any money.
Undoubtedly prepaid cards are the safest way to buy online. As they aren’t linked to any bank account, even if your details were stolen you would only lose up to the amount that’s currently on your card.
For those who find traditional credit cards a temptation to spend and spend, prepaid cards can help control your expenditure. They often also come with free insurance; usually covering travel insurance, theft and fraudulent usage.
Some prepaid cards are virtual – in other words you won’t have another piece of plastic in your wallet. You’ll receive by email / post the 16-digit card number, expiry date and CCV (the 3-digit code normally found on the back) along with your online access details. Virtual cards are normally issued immediately.
Disadvantages of Prepaid Cards
One of the main disadvantages are the fees, which vary depending on the bank or company. Check carefully the fees that apply and take your own circumstances into account. If you want a card with a low balance and you’ll be carrying out regular top-ups, then it would be better to look for one that offers these for free.
You have to remember to top-up the card and remember how much you have on it at any time to avoid problems (and embarrassment) if your card is declined due to lack of funds.
Some companies impose a top-up limit, check before you request a card as the limit may not be high enough for your needs.
Where To Get a Prepaid Card
Many banks in Spain such as La Caixa or BBVA offer prepaid cards, although it’s not their main business and they aren’t heavily promoted. Check online or ask at your local branch for a “tarjeta prepago”.
Other companies that offer prepaid cards include:
- Correos – A MasterCard with a 6€ initial fee which you can get immediately at any Correos office or online. There’s a 2€ recharge fee online or 1€ at Correos offices. Additionally if you have several cards you can transfer money from one card to another for only 0.10€. Cash withdrawals cost 1€.
- Spark – Website in English and Spanish; 3 types of MasterCard with limits of 250€, 2500€ or 15000€ (must provide a valid ID by email for the latter). The card comes with a monthly 1.20€ charge, cash withdrawals cost 1€, cash loads via bank transfer cost 2€ (additional charges can be checked online).
- ViaBuy – First 3 years free, then 29.90€ annual fee BUT 89.70€ issuing fee. Website available in English
- MoneyToPay – owned by CaixaBank, website available in English. They have 3 different Visa cards to choose from (depending on intended use): the virtual card is free, the gift card has a 5€ issue cost and the standard prepaid card has an annual fee of 6.95€. The first top-up is free, subsequent top-ups cost 1% with a minimum 1€ charge.