The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Final Update!

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For the last two months, I’ve been writing about our prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control.  (See post 1 and post 2.) We’ve been doing the experiment for two months now, and today, I have the final update for you on how things have been going and my final thoughts on the card.

 As I mentioned in the first post, we partnered with the Visa Clear Prepaid Program and the Prepaid Visa® RushCard and quickly learned of the program’s standards for clearly communicated fees and great consumer protections.  The RushCard meets those standards and it’s accepted everywhere Visa Debit is accepted.

 

Let’s get started on the final thoughts…

These are the questions I was looking to answer at the start of the experiment:

  • How convenient are these prepaid cards really? – Conclusion: Super convenient. The card is accepted at many places we shop, including online, and it’s easy to reload the card online.
  • How easy is it to find out the balance and stay up to date on where you stand with your remaining balance for the month? – Conclusion: Again, super easy. It was simply a matter of logging into the RushCard site.
  • Were we able to get our grocery budget under control by using this method? – Conclusion: Yes. Having a set limit that we weren’t allowed to go over helped us keep the budget under control since we couldn’t spend what we didn’t have on the card at the time, due to there being no overdraft. The only issue came into play when we didn’t physically have the card with us. More than once we ended up using our regular checking account simply because we didn’t have the card with us which made it easier to lose track of where we were at with the budget. After we’d get home we’d have to do some manual adjusting of the budget online. If we always had the card with us then that problem would have been avoided. Ultimately, our prepaid card did what we set out for it to do: it helped us reign in our grocery budget.

 

PROS:

  • It’s convenient. It’s accepted nearly everywhere Visa Debit is accepted.
  • While fees do exist for this card the fee structure is very clear so at least we were able to understand what we were going to be charged; we never had any surprises.
  • Easy to use. Everything we needed to know about our balance was online and loading/re-loading was super simple.
  • It helped us become more conscious about what we were spending.
  • No Overdraft. We couldn’t spend what we didn’t have on the card at the time, due to there being no overdraft.
  • Visa is a tried-and-true brand that we have used for a very long time.
  • High-standards. They have a set of standards and protections in place and that gave us peace of mind.
  • Unlike cash or an “envelope system” our money was protected by Visa’s Zero Liability Policy*.
  • No credit check. While we personally don’t have a credit issue it is a concern for some people. This card is available to everyone regardless of credit history.

 

CONS:

  • The fees. A one-time $3.95 fee for the cost of the physical card and then each month there is a $7.95 fee (if you are enrolled in direct deposit it’s $5.95) for the use of the card. After a year, those fees would add up to $99.35 ($75.35 if on direct deposit). That’s clearly a big chunk of money that could be used for other things, like, you know, groceries.
  • Its a physical card. Which meant we had to remember to keep it with us.

 

OTHER WAYS THE PREPAID CARD COULD BE USED:

  • Traveling abroad. I obviously didn’t travel abroad for this experiment but if you do you’d be covered since Visa Debit is accepted in many places all over the world.
  • Giving money to out-of-state relatives. Prepaid cards would be handy if you’re a parent with a college student in another state that you want to help out. It would just be a matter of the parent going online and loading money onto the student’s card.
  • Saving for a trip with friends. One person could be the keeper of the card and have friends all contribute a set amount of money to the card so when you’re on the trip you could pay for meals with the one card rather than splitting the bill a million different ways.

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the experiment and if you think you’ll give the card a try.

 

This post is sponsored by the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Prepaid Visa® RushCard. I am an ambassador and have been compensated for my participation. However, like always, my opinions are completely my own (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).

*Visa’s Zero Liability Policy covers U.S.-issued cards and does not apply to certain commercial card transactions, or any transactions not processed by Visa. You must notify your financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult your issuer.

5 comments

5 thoughts on “The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Final Update!

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  1. Ardith

    Why would I consciously hand over almost $100/year to Visa? In view of that monthly fee, I’d much rather apply that money to buying food. I’ll wrangle my food spending on my own, thank you.

    Reply
  2. Maureen

    We buy gift cards to the grocery stores we use on our credit card because it accumulates airline points. I simply deposit the amount from my grocery budget and buy the store cards each month.

    Reply
  3. Kayleigh

    I like the idea for helping me with my ‘miscellaneous spending’. My grocery spending is fine, it’s just all the other odds and ends. But it doesn’t seem worth it to bay $6-8/month just for that. I guess if it saved me over $8/month then it would be worth it but I’m still not a fan of having to spend that.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    I discovered a website called Smarterbucks.com that partners with Radius Bank. Each week we have a set dollar amount transferred to the Radius Bank MasterCard for groceries. A percentage (I think it 1%) of what I spend goes towards my student loan. It’s a small percent but the account is FREE & I have had over $72 go toward my student loan this year. They also have a Marketplace of partners that will give you a percentage of your online shopping to go towards your student loan. It’s working for us so I just thought I’d share…

    Reply
  5. Susan

    Grocery shopping is the hardest part in my budget – you always see something you want when it’s not on your list and worse, you feel like you can justify buying it, because food is a necessity…right? :P

    I used to love the prepaid visa cards when I was in middle school, since we weren’t eligible for a credit card yet. But, I realized the fees is not worth it in the long run. I rather just take out cash and only be allowed to use what I have in the envelope technique for making sure I don’t overspend.

    Reply

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