Q: The only issuer I can find that offers a prepaid business card is MasterCard. I can’t find an application anywhere, how do I apply for it?
A: There are a couple prepaid business cards from Visa but indeed, MasterCard does seem to have a bigger presence when it comes to this niche. There are a few different options, depending on your needs:
Debit MasterCard Public Sector Card (for government and non-profits)
What is it? A program geared towards the government and organizations that needs a high quantity of prepaid cards (for distributing funds for things like Social Security benefits, disaster relief, contractors/employees, etc).
Who qualifies? According to the information inquiry form that’s on the MasterCard website, this prepaid business credit card program is for: government entities (city, federal and state), schools, hospitals, utilities, and non-profit organization. Normal businesses can’t get the Public Sector cards.
How to apply? There is no online application. Interested parties can submit their info on the MasterCard website to be contacted by financial institutions that actually issue the Public Sector MasterCards.
Commercial Prepaid Card Solutions (for businesses)
- Business prepaid card – a card for general usage, in lieu of a regular business credit card.
- Prepaid payroll card – a reloadable prepaid card for employers to pay their employees with, instead of using checks
- Business gift and incentive – Cell phone companies, tire stores, and other businesses frequently give out prepaid debit cards to customers who make qualified purchases. These can be purchased in bulk.
- Prepaid travel cards – these are similar to those for general usage, the main difference being that the currency conversion fees are avoided, presumably by paying a slightly higher fee upfront
Who qualifies? Small, mid-size, and large businesses.
How to apply? The application process varies by type. You will have to submit an information request to talk with a sales rep first – there is no online application to apply on the spot.
As of 2011, the general usage prepaid business credit card is currently offered by 8 different financial institutions – check the MasterCard website to compare what’s currently available and find out how to get in contact with the issuers. Remember, MasterCard is only a payment network and does not actually issue cards themselves, the financial institutions are who issue the cards.
The downside of prepaid business credit cards
Well technically, they are not actually credit cards since they only allow the amount on the card to be spent (they’re more like debit cards). For this reason, these cards are totally useless if you want to work on building your business credit. In order to do that with a card, you will need to apply for a traditional business credit card (which will also give you a wide array of additional purchase protection benefits as well as rewards). Even if your company doesn’t have any credit yet, you can still apply and get approved with a personal guarantee. I did that with my LLC using the Ink card.