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by Donna M. Airoldi | June 27, 2011
No monthly, recurring, or activation fees—that is the promise for the new American Express Prepaid Card, introduced on June 16. 

Unlike some other prepaid reloadable cards, there also are no fees for purchasing the card online, balance inquiries, alerts, card replacement, foreign currency conversion, or loading via bank account. The funds on the card do not expire, and a card can be replaced if lost or stolen. 

The only fee for the new card is a two-dollar charge for each ATM cash withdrawal after the first one, which is free. Depending on the bank network used, additional charges may apply. The maximum balance for the card is $2,500.

“We created a simple, transparent, and easy-to-use everyday payment card to address a real pain point that consumers have with existing prepaid products that are laden with fees and confusing terms, including monthly and maintenance fees,” says Dan Schulman, group president of American Express’ Enterprise Growth Group. “We believe giving consumers freedom from fees with a best-in-class option from American Express will set a new standard for the $36 billion open-loop U.S. prepaid industry.”

American Express' online management tools allow cardholders to:

• View real-time transaction history and monitor spending
• Receive e-mail or text alerts of low funds or notifications when transactions have occurred
• Disable/enable ATM access for the card
• Inquire about card balance 24 hours a day, seven days a week
• Schedule automatic fund reloading. 

Protection services and options for the American Express Prepaid Card include:

• Purchase Protection, which can protect against accidental damage or theft of eligible items for 90 days from date of purchase, up to $1,000 per occurrence and up to $50,000 per account per calendar year
• Roadside Assistance, which provides dispatch services including towing, battery recharge, gas delivery, locksmith service, and flat-tire changes
• Global Assist Hotline, which provides trip-planning assistance, as well as emergency assistance, when the cardholder is traveling more than 100 miles from home
• 24-hour customer service
• American Express Selects, which provides discounts at select merchants.

Meanwhile, American Express is partnering with Consumer Action, a consumer education and advocacy organization, to launch a national program that will educate thousands of consumers about prepaid cards. They will co-produce education materials for consumers on how to compare and select a prepaid card and how to use prepaid cards. The program will kick off later this year.

For more information, visit www.americanexpress.com/prepaid