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Tips for Choosing the Best Debit Card for Your College Student

With many companies and restaurants taking most payments via credit and debit cards, it’s no surprise that teenagers prefer plastic over cash. According to a study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research in 2014, 1 in 4 college students had a reloadable prepaid debit card. Reloadable prepaid debit cards allow guardians to oversee and control the amount of money placed onto the card. The card can be used to make virtually any purchase and helps eliminate the need to carry around cash. Money can be loaded onto the card at a bank, a retail location, online or by direct deposit.

It is important to consider any fees associated with the card before signing up. Some prepaid cards will charge an activation fee, monthly service fee, fees for making a purchase, and/or a fee per ATM withdrawal. If you’re student is traveling overseas, make sure to opt in with a card that will allow them to use the card with minimal fees. Student’s that have jobs can ask their employers to directly deposit their paycheck onto the card as opposed to a checking account. Lastly, choose a card that allows you and the user to monitor card usage online or through an app. This will help with learning money management and eliminate being unsure of how much is left on the card.

Also consider advising your student on how to protect their cards and account information. The following are tips provided by the Federal Trade Commission:

  • “Don’t carry your PIN inyour wallet, purse, or pocket — or write it on your ATM or debit card. Commit it to memory.
  • Never write your PINon the outside of a deposit slip, an envelope, or other papers that could be lost or viewed by someone else.
  • Carefully check your ATM or debit card transactions; the funds for this item will be quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit account.
  • Periodically check your account activity, especially if you bank online. Compare the current balance and transactions on your statement to those you’ve recorded. Report any discrepancies to your card issuer immediately.

It is important to always do your research before signing up for any credit or debit card. Be sure to read the fine print to avoid unwanted fees or charges and understand how the issuing company will use and safeguard your personally identifiable information.

Source: Time, Family Circle, and Federal Trade Commission ; United States Federal Trade Commission,– not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403. To report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit