Update: The YAP MasterCard is no longer available. You can find popular alternatives on our list of low cost prepaid debit cards.
You’ve probably never heard of the YAP Prepaid MasterCard. While it’s not the most popular prepaid card, there were two things about this card that caught my attention. First, as I’ll explain below, it has really low fees. And second, it enables you to send and receive money from your cell phone. In fact, YAP is first and foremost an electronic payment system. The prepaid MasterCard just comes along with the service.
The ability to send money, receive money, and conduct money transfers instantly with any mobile phone is a unique feature not offered by other prepaid MasterCards. This can be done from any cell phone by sending a test message. Here’s how it works.
- Text YAP at 88988: Send an SMS message (text) to 88988 specifying the amount you want to send, a space, and the mobile phone number of the person you want to send money to.
- Confirm Your Identity: YAP will send you a text message to confirm your payment. Just reply with your 5-digit YAP PIN to complete the transaction.
- YAP Confirms Your Payment: YAP will send you another text message to let you know your money was sent.
- If someone is enrolled in YAP, then no action is required for them to receive money. The money from the sender will go directly to the receiver’s YAP Card. YAP will send a confirmation text message to both the sender and the receiver.
- To get the money, the receiver must reply to this text message within 12 hours. They will then go to a Web site that tells them how to get their money. There is no charge to receive the money.
Checking Your Card Balance
- Text YAP at 88988: Send a text message to 88988 with the command BAL.
- YAP Replies with Your Balance: To keep your information secure we recommend that you delete the text message after reading it.
A great thing about this service is that you don’t have to have a YAP account to receive money. So you can send money to anybody with a cell phone.
One of the coolest features YAP offers is the iPhone Yapplet. With the Yapplet you can do two things: (1) Send and receive payments for free; and (2) Shop online or over the phone immediately. We’ve covered sending and receiving money with your cell phone. The only thing to note here is that it costs $0.50 to send money via a text message, but it’s free with the Yapplet.
The really cool feature of the Yapplet, however, is that you can shop online or over the phone with the Yapplet as soon as you are approved for the card. You don’t have to wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail. I’ve tried this feature with the Mango MasterCard (which comes with YAP technology, too), and it’s very easy to use.
YAP Prepaid Card
When you sign up for YAP, you also get a prepaid MasterCard. For many, they just use the prepaid card and not the mobile payment technology. But the choice is yours. The YAP prepaid MasterCard comes with the features you’d expect from a prepaid card.
Loading the Card
There are a variety of ways to load funds to your YAP MasterCard. All card members can take advantage of direct deposit, mobile payments, online transfers, bank account transfers and retail locations. Direct deposit is free and allows you to have your pay check or government benefits check electronically deposited to your account.
Setting up direct deposit is simple. You will receive a direct deposit form with your card or you can get the form anytime online. You fill out the form and give it to your employer’s HR department. If you have a bank account you can also transfer funds to your YAP card anytime. Members also have the option to go to any retail location and add cash to their card. You can do this by using a Green Dot® MoneyPak®, or going to such stores as Walmart, Walgreens and Kroger. Unlike direct deposit or bank transfers, however, there is a fee for the MoneyPak.
YAP Prepaid Fees
As I noted above, the low fees of this card caught my attention. For me, fees are the most important factor in picking a prepaid card. In assessing the fees, you have to consider how you will use the card. For somebody who uses direct deposit of $500 or more each month and doesn’t use an ATM, the YAP card costs nothing. If you plan to use an ATM, however, there will be some fees. Here are the details:
- To get the card: Free
- Activation Fee: Free
- Domestic PIN Transactions: Free
- domestic Signature Transactions: Free
- Monthly Account Fee: $5 (WAIVED when you load at least $500 during the previous month. Excludes card to card transfers.)
- Receive Mobile Payments: Free
- Send Mobile Payments: $0.50 with text message; free with Yapplet
You can get more details and apply for the card at the YAP website.