5 Reasons Why All Prepaid Cards Are Not the Same

“What does it matter? They’re all the same.”

You hear this frequently, on any topic, and prepaid cards are no exception. Obviously, we don’t believe all prepaid cards are alike, although there is one sense in which it can be true. If the only goal is to “give somebody something they can buy something with,” then sure, pretty much any card will do — just as if the idea is to “give somebody something to eat,” either lobster or a hot dog will meet that need.

But if you’re reading this, that’s not likely what you’re after. So let’s look at the reasons all prepaid cards aren’t created equal. The reason it matters is this question: What are you trying to accomplish with your prepaid card program? The information below will help you with your answer.

How would you like it to look?

It wasn’t that long ago when a typical prepaid card consisted of a piece of plastic, some generic design, a dollar amount and the network logo. In other words, a prepaid card looked a lot like the half-dozen credit cards next to it in your wallet.

Today, you can customize. You can choose from a selection of sleek designs or, to support your program or promotion, create your own design. You can also co-brand the card with your company logo.

Why bother with all that? Because customization turns your plastic card into a mini-billboard. Whenever a consumer uses it, they’ll see your logo and remember where they got it. When an employee uses it, they’ll remember where they got it and also what goals they had to achieve to get it. Customization gives your program legs.

How would you like to fund it?

Sometimes, prepaid cards are a one-and-done deal. You provide your recipient with a predetermined nominated amount like $25 or $50, and once it’s spent, that’s that. Other times, a reloadable card is the right fit for an ongoing program. As your consumer or employee recipient continues to perform the desired actions, more funds are loaded on the card. Both types have their roles, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

Where would you like it be used?

Here’s the fun part of prepaid cards: spending them. And here you have as many options as there are stores. If you have a good grasp of what your audience would like, then a single-merchant gift card can be a sound choice. If you have a large and varied audience with large and varied tastes, then an open-loop card, welcome wherever cards from that network are accepted, can be the smart choice.

And then there are RAN cards, which stands for Restricted Authorization Network. This is ultimate customization. With a RAN card (ours are known as DirectSpend®), the client determines exactly where the card can be spent. You can filter the card by industry group, shopping category, individual merchant or even individual geographic location. It’s literally up to you where your recipients can use their cards. (Or can’t, if you want to keep them safely away from competitors.)

By doing so, you can achieve one or a pair of critical goals. By filtering spend to a group of merchants you know your recipients will enjoy, you provide a personalized, meaningful reward experience — a guilt-free indulgence, since the card can only be used for a reward — which is fundamental to motivation. Also, you can support your promotion or program with appropriate rewards. For a wellness program, for example, you can restrict spend to only sporting goods stores, exercise equipment or apparel, or merchants known for supporting a healthy lifestyle.

Would you prefer a digital prepaid card?

As you may have heard, we live in a digital age. Everyone wants everything right now, and millennials want it faster than that. So there will be times when the immediacy of a virtual card (or ecard, egift, ecode, etc.) will be the right choice. The card number and other information can be linked in an email, and once redeemed the reward can be spent online immediately.

It’s not hard to think of applications for an “instant card.” For consumers, fill out a survey, get a virtual card on the spot. For employees, managers can reward them in the time it takes to send an email, and the employees can spend it without leaving their desks. Not that anyone ever shops at work, of course.

What other benefits would you like?

There are a number of additional options to consider that can take your prepaid card program from good to great. For example, 5% back on the card on purchases from select merchants. Or different activation choices, different fulfillment options, and different networks. What about ATM access? Client and customer service, streamlined ordering? It’s not only the card itself, but everything behind it as well.

As you can see, prepaid cards are far from created equal. That’s because you’re the one who gets to do the creating. We’ll be here to help you when you’re ready.

Explore more

Interested in more information on how reward choice can enhance your consumer, sales, channel, or employee incentive program? Check out our Rewards section or give one of our experts a call at 866.219.7533.



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