Please note: This card is no longer open to new applications.
The Durbin Amendment dominoes continue to fall. Following the disappearance of debit card rewards and the rise of bank account fees – two of the main compensatory moves predicted for banks after the Federal Reserve’s debit card interchange fee cap cost them roughly $8 billion in revenue annually – major banks are stepping up their prepaid card game, as expected. Chase, on May 8, 2012, became the latest banking power to make a big splash in the prepaid card space, launching its first prepaid card, dubbed the Chase Liquid Prepaid Card.
“We are working hard to deliver great service to all of our customers, and to create a wide range of products that meet many different needs,” said Todd Maclin, CEO of Chase Consumer and Business Banking, in a press release announcing the new product’s launch. “Chase Liquid will be a terrific option for customers who want a prepaid card and also want the security and convenience of Chase. Chase Liquid’s affordability and transparency will set a new industry standard for prepaid products.”
Part of this transparency stems from the Liquid Card’s simplified disclosure. Consumer advocacy groups, like the Center for Financial Services Innovation, have long complained about how confusing the terms and conditions of cards are. Apparently, Chase was listening.
When consumers examine this revamped fee disclosure, they’ll discover that while the Liquid Card does charge a flat $4.95 monthly fee, it’s devoid of many of the fees that have become characteristic of prepaid cards as the market has expanded over the years. It does not charge for account opening, in-network ATM withdrawals, paper statements, or customer service.
It can therefore serve as a viable option for someone looking to replace a traditional checking account – one of a prepaid card’s primary roles. You see, prepaid cards provide basically the same services as checking accounts, except for the whole paper check writing thing. They give you the option of signing up for direct deposit, provide handy access to cash, and can be used to make purchases like any other plastic payment method.
But is the Liquid Card the best prepaid card for the job? That’s what consumers really need to know.
The answer depends on where you live, how often you withdraw cash from ATMs, and whether you plan to take advantage of direct deposit. You see, the GreenDot Prepaid Card is the best replacement checking account on the market, according to WalletHub’s Prepaid Card Report, due to the fact that it’s free to use for people who load at least $1,000 per month and only get cash from GreenDot’s ATM network, which boasts roughly 18,000 locations nationwide. If you don’t meet this direct deposit requirement, though, you’ll be assessed a $5.95 annual fee, and out-of-network ATM withdrawals are $2.50 a pop.
People who don’t wish to directly deposit their monthly paychecks or otherwise load considerable sums to their prepaid cards might therefore prefer the Chase Liquid Card, as would consumers who can more conveniently access Chase ATMs. For everyone else, the GreenDot Card is likely a better choice.
Unfortunately, those keen on this new offer might have to wait a while to get it. The Liquid Card is currently in a pilot phase, available in only 200 branches in two undisclosed markets, according to Chase, but a nationwide rollout is promised for this summer.