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Capital One's prepaid debit card is one of just a handful that offer you the flexibility to access your account on your smartphone. And even if you don't have a smartphone, as long as you can receive text messages, you will always know your balance and other important updates.

Unlike most other prepaid debit card companies, Capital One does not charge an activation fee. On the other hand, you will be charged a monthly maintenance fee of $4.95 if you do not load a minimum of $500 in each monthly transaction cycle. Your transaction cycle begins the day you activate your card and ends the following month. For example, if you active your Capital One card on April 15, your transaction cycle will end on May 14.

As with all prepaid debit cards, there are fees associated with using the features. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, you have one free ATM withdrawal per transaction cycle. If you choose to use the ATM to withdraw cash after that, you will be charged a fee of $1.95 for each transaction. Additionally, you can view your transaction history online at no cost. However, if you prefer to have a hard copy statement sent to you, it will cost $1.95 per request.

Direct deposit and customer service are free. You also have unlimited free Signature and PIN transactions. Unlike many other prepaid cards, Capital One does not charge you to check your account balance, which you can do online or by calling the customer-service number on the back of your card, 24 hours a day.

If you are traveling out of the U.S. for business or pleasure, you can still use your prepaid debit card, but be aware that you will be charged one percent of the total amount for every transaction, in addition to all other charges.

If you have a son or daughter in college (who is 18 years or older) the Capital One prepaid credit card may be a good option for you and your adult child. You can get a secondary card, although Capital One must approve it first. Your card and the secondary card are linked to the same account, and both cardholders can access any money that you add to the account. Note: any transactions made by the secondary cardholder count toward your monthly transaction limits.

You are able to sign up for free automatic text and email alerts for both cards. You will receive automatic purchase and load alerts, as well as daily balance alerts.

We appreciate the mobile connection that Capital One provides its customers. You can get text alerts on any phone that has texting options. If you have an iPhone or Android, however, you will also have access to the company's free apps and the Capital One mobile banking site. With your smartphone, you can pay your bills online, view account balances, see the latest transactions, transfer funds to and from your Capital One accounts and locate the nearest ATM or location where you can load funds. All of your account information is protected by 128-bit encryption.

The Capital One prepaid debit card is a great option for traveling because it is safer to carry around than cash. If your prepaid credit or debit card is stolen, the MasterCard Zero Liability feature can protect you. There are, of course, terms and conditions that apply to this Zero Liability feature, so make sure to read your user agreement closely.

Just for your information, according to the user agreement, you cannot, under any circumstance, use your card for online gambling or illegal transactions.

According to the Capital One cardholder agreement, "You may buy goods or services and withdraw cash up to a combined total of $2,500 per day at retail locations and ATM terminals." To spend money with your debit card, you must, of course, load money first. You can load money to your card up to 10 times every 30 days with these three options:

Direct deposit – When you sign up for your Capital One prepaid debit card, you will also receive a personalized form. Simply fill out the form and give it to your employer. Then, every paycheck, your money will be automatically deposited into your prepaid card account.

Western Union – This is a cash option. You will need to fill out a form, like a deposit slip at a bank, and give your money to an agent. Make sure the Western Union you go to is a participating location. You can go to the Capital One website to see a list of authorized locations.

Bank Account – Aside from direct deposit, this may be one of the easiest ways to load money onto your prepaid debit card. You will receive an account and routing number for your debit card. Submit this information to your bank for simple money transfers.

While these three options are accessible and acceptable, we are disappointed that there are not more ways to load money onto your card, such as using PayPal, MoneyPak or even a card-to-card transfer.

You can speak to a live agent between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. EST, Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday, not including holidays. You can send requests and inquiries to a support email, or visit a FAQs page for answers to your most basic questions. Although the FAQs section only includes five questions and answers, those answers do provide detailed information.

Summary:

Despite the fees, which are actually quite reasonable, the Capital One prepaid card is a fine option for everyday use. We would like to see more ways to load money on to the card, but we do like the options of using direct deposit and bank transfers.

 
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$4.95

Capital One MasterCard

Pros
Capital One does not charge a fee for speaking to their customer service department.

Cons
The options for adding money to this prepaid debit card are useful, but they are limited.

The Verdict
: 8.3/10

This prepaid MasterCard offers enough features to help keep your spending in check while giving you the flexibility of using plastic.