You can check the balance on a list of prepaid cards using several different methods. You can make a phone call, check online, visit an ATM, check your latest purchase receipt or use the issuer’s mobile app, if it has one. You don’t want to have transactions declined because you haven’t kept track of your balance, so reviewing how to keep up with the amount of money you have will help you avoid this.
How Do These Cards Work?
Unlike credit cards, debit cards only let you make purchases using your money, not a bank or credit union’s credit. Debit cards usually come with checking and savings accounts, which have varying balances, depending on how much you deposit into or withdraw from the account.
With a prepaid debit card, you deposit a specific amount into your account, “loading” your card. These cards aren’t connected to a bank account. Unlike a checking or savings account debit card, your prepaid debit card keeps your loaded amount available for spending. For example, if you have a checking account with $500 in it, that amount might go up or down by $300 as you make transactions, but you can still use your debit card.
With a prepaid debit card, if you load $500 onto it, that’s all you have available to spend. You can load cards using a checking or savings account transfer, at an ATM, using cash or a check at a bank, credit union branch or retail store or using an online app, depending on the card issuer.
Prepaid debit cards don’t come with all the services of a debit card tied to a bank account such as free ATM transactions or digital money transfers.
Checking By Phone
The quickest way to check your card balance for many on the list of prepaid cards might be to turn it over, look on the back and call the toll-free customer service number. You will need your account number, card expiration date, Personal Identification Number (PIN) and the security code on the card. You can follow the prompts to get your balance or wait to be connected with a live agent.
Checking Your Balance Online
Depending on the card issuer, you might be able to set up an online account. These accounts let you check your balance, view recent transactions and check other information. To set up your account, you’ll need your account number and other personal information.
To check your balance after you’ve set up your account, you’ll need to enter your user name and password, or account number and PIN, then navigate to the link for checking your balance (unless it’s displayed on your entry page). If you’re using a prepaid store gift card, you might be able to check your balance at its website, like this Costco Shop Card example.
Using an App
If your card issuer has a mobile app, download it (usually from the Apple Store or Google Play). Set up your account and you’ll be able to check your balance from your phone whenever you want.
Check Your Latest Receipt
Many prepaid gift and debit cards provide your balance on your receipt each time you make a transaction. Keep your latest receipt in your purse or wallet and you’ll have your balance handy. At some stores, like Home Depot, you can ask an associate to write your balance on your gift card with a permanent marker each time you make a purchase. This is convenient if you’re using a card you plan on using up within several transactions.
Checking by ATM
You might be able to check your card balance at an ATM. There is usually no charge to do this, especially if the ATM is part of your network. You can perform an online search to find an ATM location near you. After you insert your card into the ATM, you’ll be asked for your PIN. Once you enter it, you’ll be asked what type of transaction you want to perform – select “Check Balance.”
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.