American Express Prepaid Card – A New Budgeting Tool – Frugal Novice

American Express Prepaid Card – A New Budgeting Tool


As the name of my blog might suggest, we’re always working on trying to live more frugally – sometimes more successfully than others! I will fully admit that when it comes to budgeting, we’re still working on it, even after almost 8 years of marriage. Through the years we’ve accumulated more bills, two dogs and two miniature people that add to our expenses.

We’ve tried several different options for budgeting, one of which is a well-known plan suggesting that people use envelopes for various spending categories. I love this idea in theory, but am not one to have cash on hand. And honestly, I don’t love the idea of carrying around a lot of cash with us at all times.

Then I discovered the American Express prepaid card, and the solution was right in front of me.

The card is a safe, easy way to manage spending, and it fits right in with our lifestyle of using debit cards for most purchases. There’s no need to carry cash – you can just load your desired amount on the card!  You can add money online or by phone, from a bank account or with cash.  You or the people you choose can use the card at millions of locations around the world: in stores, online and at ATMs, and then it’s incredibly simple to reload once you’re ready: You can reload your card as often as you wish either online or by phone. Plus, you and the people you choose can set up online accounts to check the card balance, view transactions and set up alerts.

I ordered one for us to use, and will be ordering another connected to the same account so that Brian and I can each have one on hand. We’re planning to use ours for our dining out and “fun” money each month, since that’s where we tend to go overboard on spending. It’ll be nice to know we have an allotted amount each month, but have a limit in place so we’re not able to go over each month. It’ll also make it easier for us to roll over any spending from month to month.

When it gets closer to the holidays, we’ll probably load gift money on the card as well. We love to shop for our family and friends, but it’s way too easy for us to get carried away and spend too much. This will keep us on track and make holiday finances much less stressful.

I love I can create an account online to monitor how much is left on the card, and that there’s protection against fraudulent activity. I can even sign up for email alerts if my balance is getting low! I can view my transaction history online as well, letting me keep track of where we’re spending money the most.

If you’re like us and are trying to make wiser choices when it comes to budgeting, the American Express Prepaid Card may be just what you’re looking for! This would also be a great way to provide your teenagers with spending money. It’s more secure than cash, you can see how they’re spending it, and you’re able to limit the amount they’re spending. There are so many possibilities for how this card could work to make your life easier!

How would you use the American Express Prepaid Card? What are your favorite budgeting tips? I’d love to hear from you!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of American Express and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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  • Samantha September 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

    What a great idea! Easy and effective way to budget your money and not have to worry about carrying cash. Wow!

  • David September 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Have you had any issues with the amount of time it takes to load funds from a checking account? I loaded funds last week and its been over 4 business days. I checked my bank account and the funds were debitted from my checking account the next business day after I placed the fund request. I contacted American Express and the customer service rep told me it would take 3 – 5 business days. I advised them the funds were already taken out of my checking account. They said it takes a minimum of 3 days for the funds to be available for use on the card. Its coming up on the end of business day 5 and it seems to me like AMEX holds funds from availability to either earn some kind of interest on it or add it to their monthly financial statements. Its 2011, it doesn’t take 3 – 5 business days to verify anything these days. Just wondering if you ran into the same problem or what your experience has been loading funds using a checking account on the AMEX prepaid card. Thanks!

    • Christi September 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      Hi David! Thanks for your comment. Yes, there was a delay of three days for the funds to be transferred to my card. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time because I wasn’t needing to use the card immediately, but I can see how that would be really frustrating if you’re needing to use it quickly (i.e. if you’re sending funds to your child at college). I haven’t done my second transfer yet (will be at the start of October) but I wonder if it gets faster after the first instance, once AmEx has verified your account the first time around.

  • Alex October 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I recently discovered the American Express Prepaid card while looking for ways to get around new debit card fees. I am a recent college grad working my first (entry level) position, and really do not want to spend $60 a year to use my debit card. At the same time, I am not settled down enough to commit to a local credit union, because who knows where I will be in a year from now? Anyway, I think this card has a lot of potential for people who are upset about the end of free debit cards and who do not want to switch to relying on credit cards and/or carrying a lot of cash. Now that you have been using this card for over a month, do you have any other comments on the service? Any surprise fees or unforeseen difficulties? I have read a lot of reviews, but few have been written by people who actually use the card. Any feedback would be great! Thanks!