GPR Prepaid Card Accounts

The Compass Guide to Prepaid (the Guide) is a tool for improving the quality of general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid card accounts by establishing guidelines for their design and delivery. GPR prepaid accounts are open-loop accounts issued by financial institutions. Money can be added repeatedly to a GPR prepaid account. The funds may be accessed at any location that accepts the card’s payment network1 for any type of purchase. This Guide focuses exclusively on GPR prepaid card accounts. As used in this Guide, “prepaid accounts” refers only to general purpose, open-loop, reloadable prepaid accounts. At the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), we believe strongly in the potential for prepaid accounts as a financial tool that can actively contribute to improving people’s lives. Especially for underserved consumers, quality prepaid accounts can provide tremendous value, including:

  • Safety and security: Consumers can make purchases and pay bills without carrying large amounts of cash. Convenience: Consumers can make purchases and access funds at many locations and at all hours.
  • Accessibility: Prepaid accounts offer many features of conventional card accounts, including network branding and near-universal acceptability.
  • Immediate liquidity: Funds directly deposited to a quality prepaid account are available immediately. Many low-income consumers cannot afford to wait for a bank to clear a deposited check.
  • Predictability and discipline: Quality prepaid accounts can help consumers limit spending and stay on budget.
  • Acceptance and inclusion: Because prepaid cards are a form of plastic, customers have a way to pay that does not differentiate them from more financially advantaged consumers. Unlike money orders, for example, which are visible signs of not having a checking account, prepaid cards act and look like credit or debit cards.

Because they have such important benefits, prepaid accounts are the focus of this first product specific guide developed as part of the Compass Principles initiative, an effort by CFSI to establish quality standards in financial services.