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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Best stored value card

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


If you're part of the great unbanked masses of the United States, you're probably familiar with stored value cards. Now there's a new way to know which one is best for your money.

First, here's how stored value cards work: You pay a fee, usually around $5, to open an account. Then you get a Visa or MasterCard that holds your stored value. So you don't have a credit card per se, but you've got a card that you can electronically load cash onto and use as a payment system.

Stored value cards are popping up everywhere from convenience stores to gas stations to discount stores and elsewhere. They can help you make online purchases, for example. Be sure to read all the terms and conditions because additional fees usually apply. You can find stored value cards at discount stores, but don't purchase them at convenience stores. The fees you'll face there will defeat the purpose.

Consumer Reports has identified the best stored-value card as Bluebird, the joint venture from American Express and Walmart.

With Bluebird, you get an essentially fee-free alternative to debit and checking accounts in the form of a stored value card branded with the AmEx logo.

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