Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter
Joined: Oct. 2003
||Posted: Jan. 03, 2008, 12:01 am
An update on something unfamiliar to me up until now: those Visa prepay cards. A good idea in theory, and something I'm still going to do/doing. But there are better options out there depending on your financial situation and vacation plans.
For example, if I had more money at the moment I'd instead take out a short-term CD or look into that AAA vacation account I've heard about. If you have extreme restraint/willpower, putting money into your savings account would be a great option. (In my case I'd be tempted to transfer money to my checking account when things got tight, so I'd wind up spending it. So at the moment trying to actually save $ in my savings account isn't a great option for me.)
Anyway, about the greendot prepaid "credit" cards... I picked up a Visa at Rite Aid. They have a few drawbacks, for any of you who may be considering them as a way to save for your WDW vacation. I thought I'd share them with you, along with some of the positives I thought of.
Drawback 1: You must pay for them with cash, like a money order. (Luckily my bank was right across the street and my kids weren't with me, but this is a pain in the neck.)
Drawback 2: They charge you $10 on top of whatever you opt to put on the card initially. (I put on $90, so it was $90 + $10 = $100)
Drawback 3: They charge you $5/month just to "use" the card (or in my case, just to have it since I'm just using it to save). That means after a year (I plan to use mine in about 11 months) it eats $60. Compare this to a savings account that pays you interest rather than charging you just to have the account! Yuck.
Drawback 4: Every time you add money you must buy another card, and that card costs $5. (In other words, try to put as much money on at any given time to make the most of your $5.)
Drawback 5: You are capped at $500 on your card at any one time, if you choose the regular "plan."
Drawback 6: To activate my card, I selected the Premium plan (the regular plan cost money too, I just forget how much) so that I could add up to $2500 and get a second card for my husband to use while we're at WDW. The premium plan cost $20.
Drawback 7: You do not receive a real card right away. What you purchase is just a piece of cardboard. You have to register it online or over the phone and they send you the actual plastic card in the mail. I haven't received mine yet.
A few potential positives:
+1: This card is not connected to your bank, so you may not be as tempted to spend the money on it. This is the only reason I'm going with it. You could always opt to keep it in your dresser drawer and not on your person if you're using it to save for a trip and not for daily purchases.
+2: If you compare it to using a credit card (which I'm not), the fee situation seems inconsequential. $60 a year ($5/month) + $10 to purchase + $20 to activate + $5 each time put on money = total of +$95 is still nothing compared to what most cards wind up getting out of you!!! Don't even get me started on credit cards. We are living without any credit cards (not counting bank cards, of course) and God willing will never have one again.
+3: The card (there are AE, Visa, and Mastercard versions) is able to be used, so far as I know, exactly like any other credit card. The only difference is that they are prepaid.
+4: When compared to "Disney Dollars" (which was not my means of comparison, but I know others live near Disney Stores and make use of DD) you can still use your prepaid credit card anywhere you like when you get home from WDW, and you aren't locked into using your money at a Disney Store, for example. If there's any $ left on it you can get a pizza to eat the evening you return and don't feel like making dinner.
+5: Compared to a Disney package... You can use it to create your own "package." You can effectively prepay your entire trip by putting all the money you'll need on your card. This costs less than any package Disney has to offer and is almost as convenient.
+6: You can add money all year in anticipation of your trip, and budget accordingly. (Encourages responsible budgeting and discourages superfluous spending.)
+7: You register your card online/over the phone. I have no idea as of yet, but it is possible that this online registration adds some means of protection. I also do not know if this means you can add money over the phone/online just like a prepaid calling card or pay-as-you-go cell. As I find out more details I'll let you know.
I plan on using extra money I make working on weekends to the card. It's not much, but this is mostly work for which I'm paid cash. I will stash the money until I'm able to throw it on the card.
Do any of you have experiences with these prepaid cards or experiences of creative ways to save for a trip, such as Sandra has suggested?
Snakes don't walk, they slither. -Hiss, Robin Hood