Prepaid cards: a safe option for your online purchases


Although credit and debit cards are very widely used in Spain, prepaid cards are becoming increasingly popular. With this type of card, also known as an “e-wallet”, you can make purchases (in shops and online) up to the cash limit you have previously loaded to the card.

There are also virtual prepaid cards, specifically designed for online shopping, which have no physical existence but for which you will be provided with a card number, expiry date and CVV number. Moreover, if you link it to a mobile payment platform, you can use it in conventional shops with your mobile.

  • Ideal for online purchases. They are often used exclusively for online shopping, since you can load the card with the exact amount you need.
  • Added security barrier. If your card is lost or used fraudulently, the loss incurred would be limited to the amount of money on the card at that time.
  • They have enhanced authentication systems. In most cases, the purchase needs to be confirmed by entering a code received via SMS  .
  • Greater spending control. The fact that the card needs to be regularly reloaded makes us more aware of how much we are spending, and helps us to avoid compulsive purchases.
  • No current account is required, unlike for debit and credit cards, which do need to be associated to one.
  • As the availability of funds is not always guaranteed, some companies, for example, car rental firms and hotels, may not accept them as a means of payment.
  • Similarly, you may not be able to use them to pay for subscriptions.
  • If you travel abroad, make sure that you can reload the card wherever you are, since you will not have access to the bank's branch and ATM network.
  • These cards have shorter expiry periods and you will need to renew them more frequently.
  • Make sure you find out about the fees applied. In addition to the usualAbre en ventana nueva fees, some cards charge a fixed amount each time you reload your balance.

Did you know that…

  • Prepaid cards are considered to be electronic money, that is, “electronically, including magnetically, stored monetary value as represented by a claim on the issuer” (Article 1(2) of Law 21/2011 of 26 July 2011 on electronic money).
  • Some developing countries, such as Egypt or the Dominican RepublicAbre en ventana nueva, pay wages, welfare benefits and pensions through prepaid cards to foster financial inclusion.
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