Types of Open Loop Prepaid Cards

Single load open loop prepaid cards are purchased and loaded with funds for a one-time use. The most common examples are an open loop gift card and a rebate or promotional card. Once the funds are spent the card is discarded. No consumer information is collected to use a single use, open loop prepaid card.

Reloadable open loop prepaid cards can be purchased and loaded with funds on a recurring basis. As the funds deplete, they can be reloaded with funds through a direct deposit, online transfer or “top-up” of cash at a retail location. Reloadable open loop prepaid cards require registration of personal information from consumers to adhere to banking regulations. Registering a card with personal information also ensures that the card can be replaced if lost or stolen, per the zero liability policies of the card networks.

GPR cards are purchased by a consumer for his/her personal use to pay for purchases, pay bills and/or access cash at ATMs. The cards may be purchased online and in retail locations from a variety of providers, and funds may be loaded onto the card through direct deposit of wages or benefits or at locations that offer reload services. The cards are not connected to a bank account, are safer than cash and cheques, and offer a secure way to shop online without revealing confidential information. GPR cards are available with EMV chip and PIN technology. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online. In 2015, general purpose reloadable card loads totaled CAD$ 1.84 billion in Canada and the average load per card was CAD$ 2,016. 

Purchased by a parent for a child, a teen card provides a safe, convenient and educational payment option for teens. Teen cards are a type of GPR card that can be reloaded. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online. They also provide parents with options to monitor and control the child’s spending.

Requested by an employee to receive regular electronic fund transfers of the cardholder's wages, salary, or other employee compensation, on a recurring basis to a card. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online.

Given to an employee, vendor or contactor by a business to pay a reimbursement of an expense, commission or wage payment. It offers the business tracking, reporting, cost savings and manual efficiencies. The employee, vendor or contractor gets immediate access to funds through an electronic payment tool. These cards can be single use or reloadable. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online, and can be limited to certain merchants or types of goods. In 2015, the average load onto corporate-funded prepaid cards was CAD$ 125.

Given to an employee or contactor by a company as a reward, incentive or bonus. It offers the business tracking, reporting, cost savings and manual efficiencies. The employee, vendor or contractor gets immediate access to funds through an electronic payment tool. These cards can be single use or reloadable. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online, and can be limited to certain merchants or types of goods. In 2015, the average load onto corporate-funded cards used for consumer and employee/partner incentives was CAD$ 110.

A card given to a consumer from a business as a reward for engaging in a behavior or purchasing a product or service. The reward funds are available for a certain period of time, commensurate with the promotion, and should be used right away. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online.

Reloadable prepaid cards used for the purpose of disbursing government payments such as social assistance, tax refunds, employment insurance, pension and other program disbursements. Government disbursement cards are designed to look like credit and debit cards, and carry card network branding. Government disbursement cards can be reloaded. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online.

A single-use prepaid card that is purchased by a gift giver to give to a gift recipient. The recipient can use the card for the gift of their choice. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online. In 2015, open-loop gift card loads totaled CAD$ 1.03 billion in Canada and the average load per card was CAD$ 83.

Travel cards replace travelers cheques and/or allow a consumer to avoid using their debit or credit cards while travelling. Most travel cards offer lower cost or no foreign transaction fees, and provide consumers access to a secure payment method with the option for EMV Chip and PIN. Consumers can lock in the exchange rate at the time of purchase to prevent currency rate fluctuations. In addition, multi-currency cards can be loaded with several currencies at the same time. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online and can be used globally.

Insurance/disaster relief cards create a more cost effective and efficient method to distribute one-time and recurring payments such as workers compensation or property claims after a disaster. Insurance/disaster relief cards are designed to look like credit and debit cards, and carry card network branding. They are accepted everywhere the card network is accepted including in-stores and online.