Consumers loaded $247.7 billion onto prepaid cards in 2008, according to data collected by the Mercator Advisory Group. The use of prepaid debit cards offers convenience and safety. It may also cost less than a traditional bank account. Western Union offers two cards — MoneyWise and Gold Card — and several methods by which to add money.
Long lines and laughable fees make the check-cashing process an effort. Direct deposit — the electronic transfer of funds from one account to another — provides a convenient method by which to receive your recurring payments. You can load earned income, social security benefits and other qualifying deposits directly to a Western Union prepaid debit card. Western Union offers free payroll direct deposit but imposes a daily load limit, which can exclude your account from the service. For example, if the load limit is $950 per day and your direct deposit is $1,000, you cannot receive direct deposit. The direct deposit authorization form initiates the process once submitted to your employer.
Small or large, losing any amount of cash can rile your feathers, ruin your day and wreak havoc on your finances. You can add money to a Western Union card by visiting a participating Western Union agent. The Western Union Prepaid Services Transaction form initiates the deposit and requires a fee — typically $4.95, as of 2011 — to complete the transaction. You must add a minimum of $5.00, and you cannot exceed $950 in one 24-hour period. It can take 24 to 48 hours before the funds become available in your account.
Western Union’s In Minutes and Next Day money transfer services provide another convenient method for loading a prepaid card. You, or someone else, can add funds at a participating Western Union location, over the phone or online. Western Union provides a Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) to track the transaction. When the sender completes the transaction, the receiver contacts Western Union, provides the MTCN and the funds are loaded to the account. Western Union charges the sender a fee depending on the total amount of the transaction.
The bank account transfer works like a direct deposit. The sender must have the Western Union prepaid card bank name, routing and account numbers, and account type, which is located on the direct deposit form. The account number corresponds to the digits on the prepaid card. Western Union charges a $1.00 fee for this service, and the transaction may take several days to process.