Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Kaiku and Visa Clear Prepaid for working with us to bring you this content.
I recently added a new card to my wallet: the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card. I didn’t have much experience with prepaid cards, but the more I looked into it, the more budgetary sense this card made.
I think the concept of a prepaid card is simple: Load funds onto the card, and use it just like a debit card. If you’re trying to stick to spending a certain amount on groceries, entertainment or travel, one of these cards can be a great tool for limiting yourself to a specific amount.
Unlike a credit card, you can’t carry an interest-generating balance from month to month. And unlike a bank debit card, for prepaid cards meeting the Visa Clear Prepaid standards you can’t spend more than your account balance by overdrafting — which we all know could lead to hefty fees. Sounds appealing, right?
I recently completed a 21-Day Challenge in which I used my Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card, part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program, to stick to my grocery budget.
Along the way, I discovered a few handy features that reeled me in. Here are some of my favorites!
1. No Fees If You Load $750 a Month
The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card is essentially a modern-day spin on envelope budgeting. If you use it enough, you can avoid surprise fees. You just need to direct deposit at least $750 each month, and the $3 monthly fee is waived.
If you plan to use your card to help you stick to your budget in a certain category or for all your day-to-day expenses, this can be a no-brainer.
2. Access to ATMs Outside Your Bank Network
I don’t like to carry cash, but sometimes I find myself out with friends at a cash-only bar. And of course, my bank never has a nearby ATM.
Inevitably, I have to use an out-of-network ATM, so I get slammed with a $2-3 fee from the ATM and a $2-3 fee from my own bank. I’m literally throwing dollars down the drain — just to use my own money!
With a network of 55,000 Allpoint ATMs across the country, Kaiku gives you access to lots of ATMs where you can withdraw cash and avoid fees. Use the app to find one nearby.
I discovered I could use my Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card to withdraw cash at several ATMs at no charge, including ATMs at 7-11, Target and CVS. Even my favorite cash-only bar just down the street from my apartment has an in-network Kaiku ATM. Win!
3. An Easy Way to Deposit Checks to Your Card
Waiting in lines and filling out forms are on the top of my list of least-fun things to do, which means I don’t enjoy trips to the bank. So I do most of my banking online and use my bank’s mobile app to deposit checks.
The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card was clearly designed for people like me, because their app has a feature where you can snap a photo of a check to send the money to your card. Who wouldn’t love that feature?
4. Simple Money Transfers to Friends
Sometimes it’s easy to split costs with on activities with your friends, but not always.
But if your friends also have Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Cards, you can easily send them money you owe for shared expenses.
Kaiku calls these card-to-card transfers, and you can set them up through the app. They’ll instantly move money from one card to another, so there’s no waiting for the transfers to go through.
You can also schedule recurring payments to a friend or family member. So if you need to pay a roommate a certain amount each month for rent or cover your portion of the family plan phone bill, just set up automatic transfers through the Kaiku app.
5. Auto-Pay for Your Bills
One of the easiest ways to avoid late fees on bills is to schedule auto-pay.
The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card has a Bill Pay feature so you can make recurring payments to your gas, cable or electric company.
If you just need to make a one-time bill payment, you can do that, too. It’s all done through the app.
6. Budget Tracking
Staying on track with a budget usually entails cutting out some fun. That’s why we sometimes go over budget a little bit — maybe we eat out a few more times than we planned to. Or we decide to just go for those concert tickets because… well, why not?
Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card tracks spending in “fun” categories and lets you know if it’s time to scale back.
When you log into the app, you’ll see the “Funds-Ometer” at the top. It tracks your average spending in certain categories like eating out, bars and entertainment. The Funds-Ometer compares your 60-day spending average and lets you know if you’re spending more than usual.
As I started using my Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card more, I realized it could also be a helpful tool for day-to-day spending. It’s different than other prepaid cards because the benefits extend beyond the physical card you keep in your wallet. When I used my card alongside the app, I was surprised to discover that Kaiku offers many of the same mobile banking features as my bank.
Your Turn: Have you tried using the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card? What did you think?
Betsy Mikel is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter. She loves biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria.