General purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards are often thought of as an alternative to a checking account. They are a burgeoning product; in 2009, consumers loaded USD28.6 billion onto these cards and by 2013, that figure is expected to reach USD201.9 billion.1Used much like a debit card, these cards allow the customer to load funds on the card through a variety of means, and can be used to make purchases, withdraw money from an ATM, and pay bills. Many cards have other features like savings accounts and online bill pay attributes that make them more closely resemble checking accounts. In this study, Pew focused on the GPR prepaid market by examining 52 cards that cover at least 75% of the market—based on the volume loaded onto these cards during 2011.
This white paper by The Pew Charitable Trusts elaborates further on prepaid cards and checking accounts.