GPR Cards An Alternative To Banks, Credit Cards

    If you like the convenience of a credit card, but lack discipline and overspend when using one, a general purpose reloadable (GPR) card could be the way to stabilize your finances.

    GPR cards, more commonly referred to as pre-paid credit cards, are safer than carrying cash and accepted almost everywhere because most are sponsored by the major players in the industry: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

    Unlike credit cards, however, you can’t overspend with them.

    That is one of the reasons they are popular with people trying to rein in their credit card purchases. They also have become the card of choice for the millions of Americans who don’t want a relationship with a bank or have been refused service by banks.

    GPR cards have a specific dollar amount loaded on it. Reach that limit and the card automatically declines any purchases. There is no going over that limit. You can’t put off a payment, pay it late or just make a minimum payment and settle the debt somewhere down the road.

    It’s game over until you load more money on to the card, which is usually done with income from paychecks or government-issued checks.

    That is why GPR cards are considered “budgets in a wallet.” They are not linked to a checking account, but can be used as an alternative to one. You can use GPR cards to pay for just about everything … as long as you have enough money on the card. No money on the card means no more spending.

    That has practical application for people trying to cut back on credit card spending as well as the surprisingly large number of people who don’t have a bank account.

    According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), seven percent of American household – 16.7 million adults — don’t have a bank account of any kind. Twenty percent of household (almost 25 million households) are classified as unbanked, meaning they have an account, but use alternative financial services to conduct their business.

    GPR cards are the most popular alternative. In fact, 55 percent of the GPR cards in use belong to people who are unbanked or underbanked .

    Another surprising aspect of GPR card use is the income of people who use them. According to a 2013 survey, 52 percent of GPR card users have income over $50,000. Their average income is $63,217.

    Though GPR cards represent a tiny portion of overall consumer spending – just 4 percent compared to 53 percent for credit cards and 43 percent for debit cards – the amount spent is skyrocketing. GPR spending is up 211 percent over the last five years.

    Card owners use them in much the same way people with bank accounts use checks, meaning to pay bills.

    Other popular reasons to own a GPR card include:

    • Ease of use. They are accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted.
    • No credit check necessary when signing up for a GPR card.
    • Can be used to make bill payments online.
    • Using GPR cards does not affect your credit score.
    • Customer can reload the card automatically through paycheck or government-issued checks such as Social Security, SSI, tax refund, etc.
    • Can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs.
    • Make online purchases without having to give up personal information.
    • Not subject to identity theft and credit card theft problems when major retailers like Target, Home Depot, etc… get hacked.
    • No overdraft fees. When GPR card reaches spending limit, it will be declined by merchant.
    • Teaching tool for children. Parents can pre-set an amount on a card and limit children’s spending as they learn how to handle financial responsibilities.

    The major drawback for GPR cards is the fees associated with their use. There are activation fees, transfer fees, fees for using ATMs and several other fee categories, depending on what card provider you use.

    Some fees can be negotiated based on direct depositing checks; maintaining a minimum balance; using a network ATM; and avoiding transaction fees for going over you balance


    Bill Fay
    Staff Writer

    Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at

    In debt? We can help!

    • Amount
    • Type
    • Contact

    How much do you owe?

    What can we help you with today?

    Related Articles

    Chalkboard with graph of rising credit card rates

    Why Credit Card APR’s Are Rising, Despite Fed’s Third Rate Cut of 2019

    Typically, a decrease in the federal funds rate means your credit card APR should fall as well, but that’s not what is happening lately in the U.S. economy.Banks have backed themselves into a corner with an influx of cash-back and travel rewards credit ...

    Continue Reading
    People sitting at computers and tablets looking up personal loans to submit an application

    Personal Loans on the Rise

    The loan business is getting personal.We’re talking personal loans, and they are exactly what they sound like. You borrow money from a lending institution and pay it back.The big difference from mortgages or car loans is that you don’t need ...

    Continue Reading
    Bag of Payday Loan Money Exchanging Hands

    Payday Loan Alternative a Good (Or Risky) Thing?

    If you’re one of the millions of Americans for whom payday can’t come soon enough, technology is catching up with your dreams.Uber, McDonald’s and Outback Steakhouse are among a growing number of employers that are offering workers an on-demand ...

    Continue Reading
    American families are having trouble with understanding finance

    Financial Literacy a Tough Test for Most Americans

    The latest trends in spending and debt indicate that America already has forgotten any lessons we might have learned when the bubble burst on the U.S. economy in 2008.The reputable and renowned Pew Charitable Trust says that 80% of American adults are in ...

    Continue Reading
    Tips for banking and their new rules

    How Credit Unions And Banks Are “Gamifying” Savings

    Nobody wants to play games with their investment dollars, but what if the game was rigged so you couldn’t lose?Credit unions in five states have come up with a savings account – remember them? – that includes a chance to win monthly, quarterly and ...

    Continue Reading
    Man Filing Papers For Bankruptcy

    3 Reasons To File For Bankruptcy

    There aren’t many words in the English language less understood and more avoided than bankruptcy.“There definitely is a stigma attached to it,” Jeff Badgley said. “When people hear it, they get really uncomfortable.”Badgley sees the ...

    Continue Reading
    Couple Stressed out over Finances

    Most Americans Still Stressed Over Money

    If money is causing stress and anxiety in your house, take it easy. You’ve got company.The same thing is happening in the house next door. And the one across the street. And just about every other home in your neighborhood.The American Psychological ...

    Continue Reading
    Save money while helping the planet

    Save Some Money While Saving The Planet

    Most people know their financial footprint in the world, but probably couldn’t tell you their carbon footprint on the planet.Earth Day celebrations, which happen every year on April 22, remind us that we are responsible for keeping the planet clean, ...

    Continue Reading
    Get Help Now

    Overwhelmed with debt? You have options for lower monthly payments!