Loading a prepaid card with a check can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are all the ways to load that check to your card–including 3 ways that don’t cost a thing.
We all like to get paid, but when you’re handed a check you need a way to actually spend your money. For prepaid debit card users, the issue becomes how you load the check on the prepaid card. Preferably without it costing an arm and a leg.
The good news is there are a number of ways to load a prepaid card with a check, including several free or low cost options.
For payroll, government benefit, and tax refund checks, you can opt to skip checks altogether using direct deposit. Direct deposit is free on almost all prepaid cards and can even help you gain access to your funds up to 2 days earlier.
Direct deposit means receiving the money electronically rather than by paper check. Most employees are already using it–82% and growing.
You’ll need to provide your employer or benefit network with your card’s routing number and your personal account number. You can find both numbers in your prepaid card’s app or online. If you’re stuck, you can also call the number on the back of your card for assistance.
Upload Check to Prepaid Card with a Mobile App
Many prepaid card mobile apps allow you to upload your check to your prepaid card. Endorse the back of your check by signing it and writing “For Mobile Deposit” underneath your signature. Then log into the app, enter the amount of the check, and take a picture of the front and back of your check.
Mobile check deposit can take time. On the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, processing a mobile check deposit can take up to 10 days. If you want same-day processing, you’ll have to pay a 1% to 4% fee. This is pretty typical. Many prepaid cards, like Netspend, use Ingo Money for their mobile check deposit and the fees and timeframes are set by Ingo Money.
If you regularly deposit checks and want access faster, consider bank sponsored cards like the Chase Liquid prepaid card. Mobile check deposits with Chase Liquid are usually processed within two days.
Deposit to Your Bank Account and Transfer to Your Prepaid Card
Many prepaid card users also have a checking account and may not want to deposit all of a check on their cards. Perfect. You can deposit checks to your bank account for free, either through direct deposit or a deposit at the ATM or teller, and transfer money from your bank account to your prepaid card. It’s easy and free.
Visit a Reload Location
For many prepaid debit cards, you can load checks at any reload location where you can load cash onto your prepaid card. There is usually a load fee but paying one fee is better than getting hit with a check cashing fee then an additional fee to load that cash onto your prepaid card.
The Walmart MoneyCard offers a free cash load when using Walmart’s check cashing service. This service costs $3 for checks under $1,000 and up to $6 for larger checks.
Any prepaid card in the Netspend system, such as the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, and Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard, can use one of the 130,000 reload locations across the country to load cash or checks. Reload fees are $2.00 – $4.95 but average around $3.95.
Ingo Money App
If your prepaid card doesn’t offer mobile check deposit through its own app, you will likely still be able to use the Ingo Money App to load a check onto your prepaid card. Ingo Money can be used to fund most prepaid cards.
With the Ingo Money App, you can deposit a check onto your prepaid card for free if you choose to have the funds processed within 10 days. You can also use this option to buy an Amazon gift card.
If you need your money faster, there are fees involved. To get your funds in minutes, Ingo charges 2% for payroll and government checks and 5% for all other accepted checks, with a $5 minimum fee per check. If you regularly use Ingo’s fast check deposit, you can become an Ingo Gold member with slightly lower fees. Deposit six or more checks with rapid processing in 90 days and fees are reduced to 1% for payroll and government checks and 4% for all other checks. But fees are still a minimum of $5 per check.
Ingo’s rapid processing feature is expensive, especially for small check sizes or personal checks. But if you have the time to wait for 10-day processing, this can be a low-cost load option.
Cash Your Check, Then Load Cash
Americans spent a staggering $56 billion in check cashing services in 2015.
And when it comes to loading your prepaid card with a check, this is (almost always) the most expensive option. You’ll be hit with fees twice. Once when you cash the check, and again when you load the cash onto your card.
Many retail stores, such as Walmart, Kmart, grocery stores and gas stations will cash checks. But costs can be $1 to $10 or more, depending on the store location and size of the check. Check cashing stores are even worse. Fees at check cashing stores are usually a percentage of the check balance that can run up to 12% (though 5%-7% is typical).
After you have your cash, you’ll need to visit a cash reload location for your prepaid card. Fees at these locations can run up to $4.95 per transaction. And since most of these reload locations also take checks, it is likely more efficient to just go straight there and skip the check cashing fee.
Perhaps the only exception is the Walmart MoneyCard. The MoneyCard charges $3 for check cashing but waives the cash reload fee for loading the cash to the card.
Skipping checks altogether and opting for direct deposit on your prepaid card is the fastest and cheapest way to gain access to your funds.
Prepaid card apps often offer mobile check deposit to your prepaid card, but it takes time, although some bank-issued prepaid cards can cut that time considerably.
If you don’t have direct deposit and don’t have time to waste, you can also visit your prepaid card’s reload locations to load funds from a check for a fee that can range from $2.00 to up to $4.95 per check.