Prepaid Cards Research Project

Prepaid Cards Research Project



Pew’s Prepaid Cards Research Project builds awareness about the general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards marketplace including how and why consumers use them. While millions of Americans use these products every year, little is known about their impact. Pew aims to provide greater insight into the prepaid marketplace as a whole and examine the consumer protections that govern their use.

Why Prepaid Cards Matter

Prepaid cards may well reshape the landscape of how consumers manage their money, particularly when used as an alternative to traditional checking accounts. However, compared to ordinary debit and credit cards, prepaid cards contain few consumer protections. While analysts estimate that consumers loaded $28.6 billion on these cards in 2009, the industry is expected to top $200 billion by 2013, an increase of over 600 percent.  

How We Conduct Our Work

The project works to assess the GPR prepaid card marketplace and examine business practices and consumer protections with objective research, including consumer surveys. It educates consumers and policy makers about these products and the options for their governance. 


February 26, 2014

Better Disclosures for Prepaid Cards

In an effort to improve prepaid card disclosures, The Pew Charitable Trusts developed a model summary disclosure box that provides information on the key fees, terms, and conditions of the cards in a concise, easy-to-read manner.  More
  • Report
February 6, 2014

Prepaid Cards Gain in Popularity

Prepaid cards became increasingly accessible in 2013, and in many instances are now more affordable than basic checking accounts. But, while prepaid cards offer many benefits, consumer protections lag far behind other banking products. More
February 6, 2014

Why Americans Use Prepaid Cards

Survey finds that most customers’ primary motivation for using prepaid cards is to gain control over their finances, including avoiding credit card debt and overdrafts. More
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