American Express Prepaid Credit Card Review

There’s only one fear greater than being a parent of a teenager who has just passed his driver’s exam. Being the parent of TWO teenagers who have just passed their driver’s exam. I’ve never worried as much as I do when they are five minutes late getting home. And if concern for their safety weren’t enough, car insurance skyrockets like the shuttle heading for orbit.

But there is one issue I hadn’t anticipated—paying for gas. The other day my daughter called from the van to inform me she was running on fumes and had no money. Fortunately, she made it home with fumes to spare. But it was clear I needed a solution to this problem. And that brings me to the American Express reloadable prepaid card.

AMEX entered the prepaid card market with a bang. Their new prepaid card called simply the American Express Prepaid Card, it comes with many of the features of an American Express credit card and with none of the fees of most prepaid cards. In fact, as free prepaid cards go, the Amex card is about as free as you can get. And it’s perfect for teenagers, as I’ll get to in a moment. But first, let’s look at the fees.

AMEX Prepaid Card Fees

As I’ve written before, fees are the most important consideration when it comes to prepaid cards (or any banking for that matter). And the AMEX prepaid card has one and only one potential fee—ATM withdrawals. The first ATM withdrawal each month is free. After that it costs $2 per transaction, in addition to any fees charged by the ATM owner.

And that’s it. There are no fees for activating or reloading the American Express Prepaid Card. There are no fees for using the card. The Green Dot’s and Rushcard’s of the world surely took notice and must realize that the days of high fees are numbered.

Who Can Use The Card

This is where the card is perfect for teenagers. A parent (or anyone 18 or older for that matter) can order up to three cards. One of the three cards can be in the parent’s name, or all three cards can be in the names of the children. A cardholder must be just 13 years of age or older to use the card.

In our case, I’ve ordered three cards—one for me and one for each of our teenagers. We’ll keep the kids’ cards in the car they drive so they can buy gas in a pinch.

Monitoring Card Activity

Because our kids will be using the card, it’s important to have some control of the card’s activity. AMEX provides the following control and monitoring options:

  • Turn on/off ATM access (limited to $200 maximum withdrawal per week)
  • Suspend/reactivate the card
  • Turn on/off e-mail notifications
  • View transaction history

Just being able to track every purchase is enough control for me. But getting email notifications after each purchase is a nice bonus.

Loading The Card

Your options for loading this card are just like any other prepaid card. You can load the card through a transfer from your bank account or you can load cash. Making a transfer from your bank account is free, but there is a cost for loading cash.

You can load cash by purchasing a MoneyPak for $4.95 at any Walmart, CVS/pharmacy, Kmart, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven and Walgreens stores. You may load any amount from $25 to $500 onto a MoneyPak at most retailers.

Limited Time Offer: When you add cash with a MoneyPak and Amex will refund the purchase price of the first MoneyPak you use to load the Card.

While there is no minimum balance requirement, the minimum load amount is $25. The maximum load amount is $2,500.

Other Features

While the low fees are great, there are other features of the AMEX prepaid card that set it apart:

  • 24-hour Customer Services: While some prepaid cards charge a fee if you call customer service, American Express offers free 24-hour assistance.
  • Roadside Assistance: This is perfect with teenagers on the road.
  • Purchase Protection: If an eligible item purchased with the card is accidentally damaged, or is stolen, Purchase Protection can reimburse you—up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

It will be interesting to see how other prepaid cards respond. But for now, the AMEX prepaid card is head and shoulders above the competition, with one exception. If you use a prepaid card to receive your paycheck via direct deposit and to pay bills online, the AMEX card is not for you. For more info, check out the American Express Prepaid Card.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are authors alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Published or Updated: June 4, 2012

Comments

  1. Greg says:

    It is very interesting that AmEx is pushing into prepaid cards. They have their own reasons, but the card is actually very good, especially for consumers with low credit scores and no access to credit cards and bank accounts. http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/amexs-new-prepaid-card-shows-how-issuers-will-fight-debit-fee-limit

  2. This does seem like a great card. Although I don’t know if I’ll be so gracious with my kids as to give them pre-loaded money on a card! I never was doled money out to as a kid and neither was my girlfriend–we had to work for what we wanted. For my girlfriend that meant if she wanted to drive she had to have the means to do so–AKA gas money, insurance money. But having a card for emergency sake only is a really great idea!

  3. Dave says:

    Really great…. “PREPAID” written all over the card. How embarrassing to let the world know ITS NOT A REAL CARD!!!!

  4. Creditschmedit says:

    But the best part about this card is you don’t have to use your debit card everywhere anymore! That is great to me. There are so many ways you open yourself up to unscrupulous activity that could potentially DRAIN your checking account. I can’t get traditional credit cards so this is awesome for me and I get the protection I need.

    Now I can put the debit card away.
    I don’t care that much that it says directly on the card “prepaid”.

  5. steve says:

    It sounds like a good card, but to add money to it from a linked checking account at a bank takes “three to five business days”. Kind of a long time, don’t ya think?

    • Toya says:

      Hi Steve:
      Decided to reply to you since your the newest date/your dilema. If having trouble loading from your bank account, the cardmember agreement (fine print) says that you can use direct deposit. I’m gonna try this, b/c it sounds like a faster alternative to loading. So far this card sounds awesome, although, I’m waiting for my bubble to burst, somewhere. Cheers

  6. heidi peters says:

    Are there any fees if you want to transfer your earnings from your paypal account under 25.00?

  7. nelly says:

    I would advice to open student’s checking and saving accounts. The great options are offered by many banks now. Bank of America was the first to give this accounts for kids starting 14 years old (actually that was a gift for my daughter 15 birthday).She still has the same account and building her credit history since that age. No fees. Master Card or Visa logo so kids may do purchases using debit or credit options. Online transaction with the mobile option. The kids may monitor their usage and transactions at any time.

  8. Dino dude says:

    Does anyone have any experience with using this card oversees?

  9. terry leonard says:

    yes can u swipe this card at the pumps I ride a motocycles. so i can use this this or not thanks big t.

  10. Duan C says:

    I’ve had the card now for 4 months and I have my funds transferred from a bank account. They are very slow in loading your funds, very very slow.

    I’ve had funds withdrawn from account on the 31st of the month and not show up on my AMEX card until the 5th of the month. I’ve spoken with customer service reps on numerous occasions and they always indicate, that after there’s a resular pattern from the account I use, the funds will appear a lot faster.

    So far I’m not pleased and I’m considering getting a secured credit card and call it the day.

  11. Mary says:

    I too find that loading from your bank account is extremely slow during this time of high tech devices. Net Spend put your money in the same day with a small fee of 1.65. It’s worth the fee and you don’t have to wait 5 days. I will cancell my American Express Prepaid as soon as they get through with the slow transactions.

  12. Fiona David says:

    Please let me ‘how does card work for okay ‘
    Thank ‘you
    From ‘-Fiona David ‘Celina

  13. Fiona David says:

    Please let me ‘how does card work for okay ‘
    Thank ‘you
    From ‘-Fiona David ‘Celina

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