Prepaid Cards in Poland – How It Works and Its Pros And Cons

Let me tell you about prepaid cards, which work similarly to your regular debit or credit card. The funds on these cards come from a technical bank account. This account is purely for card transactions and you can’t use it for creating deposits or savings accounts.

Prepaid cards have a specific purpose – they’re often used to control expenses. These cards aren’t limited to individual customers, enterprises use them too. So, if you’re looking to manage your money better, a prepaid card might be a good idea!

Understanding Prepaid Cards in Poland

Getting a prepaid card is simple. You can opt for a physical card, just like your debit card, or go with the increasingly popular virtual prepaid cards. But be aware, getting a prepaid card might involve some costs. I am convinced that you might be curious about these costs.

Prepaid Cards in Poland Are Very Popular Way For Paying in POS

Physical cards come with production costs, sometimes a few zlotys. You can acquire a prepaid card at a bank branch or, if you need a faster alternative, apply via online banking or a mobile app.

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How Do Prepaid Cards Function?

Here’s how it works. You first load the prepaid card with funds, essentially making a prepayment. You can fund the account via a transfer from your personal account. Once the card has funds, you can use it multiple times to finalize payments.

Although technically a prepaid card can be used for any transaction, it’s mostly used for budget control. Let me say, it is worth to note that the amount you spend for shopping can’t exceed the funds in the prepaid card’s technical account. This is how it helps to keep your expenses in check.

Who Can Own and Use Prepaid Cards?

The good news is, any adult person can be a prepaid card holder. Even minors from 13 years of age can use these cards. There’s nothing stopping the same person from being both the holder and the user of the card.

However, often the card holder and user are two different people. For example, a parent might issue a card and give it to their child, particularly during holiday trips. The parent remains the owner, but the child is the user.

The same model applies to businesses. The company owner can issue a prepaid card and give it to an employee. This arrangement comes in handy, especially when an employee goes on a business trip.

In this case, the employee gets a specific budget. Meanwhile, the employer can rest assured knowing that the budget limit won’t be exceeded. I know it might sound impressive already, but there’s more.

You can also get a multi-currency prepaid card which is super useful for managing finances during foreign trips. In short, a prepaid card can be an effective tool to manage your or your business’s costs.

Prepaid Cards from MasterCard and Visa in Banks

Prepaid cards, usually marked with the MasterCard or Visa logo, are quite common in many Polish banks. And let me tell you, banks don’t just offer one kind of prepaid card. Each card is tailored for a different purpose.

Take mBank as an example. They provide as many as eight types of prepaid cards just for business purposes. Some are designed for easy settlements with employees, while others play a crucial role in marketing campaigns.

I think it’s worth saying that you can personalize your prepaid card. Imagine having a card that matches the visual identification of a specific advertising campaign, cool right?

Personal Use of Prepaid Cards

Besides businesses, many banks also offer prepaid cards for personal use. For instance, banks like ING and Millennium offer a MasterCard prepaid card, which can be used by anyone above 13 years old. This method is often referred to as the 'pocket of the 21st century’.

I believe giving a prepaid card to a child can be a valuable lesson. It teaches them about money management and financial responsibility, both crucial life skills.

Using Prepaid Cards Without a Bank Account

Let me clarify a misconception. You might think that prepaid cards are limited to the banking sector, but that’s not the case. Yes, they are one of the many payment services available at the bank, and often customers get a prepaid caryd from the same bank where they hold their personal account.

However, the application of prepaid cards is vast. Non-bank financial institutions also issue them, meaning you can get a prepaid card outside your bank. I am convinced that this might intrigue you.

How does it work? You simply top up your card, maybe via an online transfer. Take paysafecard and Revolut as examples, they are global leaders in the prepaid card market. So, if you’re looking for a prepaid card solution outside of your regular bank, these options might be worth considering.

Refilling Your Prepaid Card

So, how do you top up your prepaid card? Most of the time, these cards can be loaded up multiple times. You could do it the old-fashioned way at a bank branch, but I think you’ll agree with me when I say that the easiest and quickest way is online.

Typically, all you need to know is the technical account number that’s linked to your prepaid card. Then, you just make a standard online transfer to this account. Sometimes, you might also be able to use the BLIK mobile payment system to refill your card in real time. But, let me tell you, be careful to check if this option comes with extra fees.

Prepaid Cards and ATM Withdrawals

Most people use prepaid cards to make purchases at stores. But, allow me to explain, they’re not just for shopping. These cards have many of the same features as other payment cards.

Prepaid Card in Poland can be used in ATMs

Usually, you can also use them to take out money from ATMs. But remember, there’s a limit on the funds you can withdraw. It’s based on the amount loaded onto your card. I believe it’s important to note that ATM withdrawals could come with extra charges.

The exact capabilities of your prepaid card depend on its specific offer. Some even let you get cash back at checkout, which lets you skip the ATM.

The Prepaid Gift Card

Prepaid cards aren’t just for banking. They’re often given as gifts as part of a larger marketing campaign. They might be a reward in a VIP program for top customers, or an award for an employee. A good example is the Sodexo prepaid card. I am convinced that this could be a great way to recognize and motivate your team.

There are also targeted prepaid cards that can be used at specific stores. Actually, this idea of targeted prepaid has been popular in the mobile phone service market for years.

You can transfer funds to someone’s prepaid card via app

You might know of prepaid phone plans, where you top up a card to pay for calls, texts, and data. Orange and Play are just two examples of companies offering such prepaid cards. If you want to have a clear limit on your phone usage, I know this could be a good choice for you.

Anonymity and Prepaid Cards

I think it’s worth saying that prepaid bank cards were once thought of as providing a high level of anonymity. But, this changed after the Polish Financial Supervision Authority stepped in. They decided that prepaid cards couldn’t stay as anonymous for safety reasons.

The concern was that these cards could be used for illegal stuff. They might be used to hide income or move money out of the country. Plus, due to their anonymous nature, prepaid funds were seen as „electronic money„. That meant banks weren’t making obligatory contributions to the NBP reserve.

So, the days of highly anonymous prepaid cards are gone. But really, that’s not a problem. I believe that as long as you’re using your prepaid card for legal transactions, you won’t run into any issues.

Prepaid vs Debit Card

Prepaid and debit cards can seem pretty similar. In fact, sometimes people even call prepaid cards „prepaid debit cards”. But let me tell you, there are some differences.

AspectDebit cardPrepaid card
Allocation of fundsUniversalUsually for specific purposes
PopularityThe most popular type of payment cardThe prepaid card is less popular than debit and credit cards
Assigned accountPersonal accountDedicated technical account

In many cases, a prepaid card is often treated as a supplement to a standard debit card. If you need to control your spending or keep certain funds separate, I know a prepaid card could be just what you’re looking for.

Benefits of a Prepaid Card

I believe it’s worth noting that prepaid payment cards have been a big hit in Poland for quite some time. They come with several benefits, including:

  • Budget Management: A prepaid card helps you easily set money aside for specific needs.
  • Variety: You can find a prepaid card not just in banks, but also in non-bank financial services.
  • Ease of Use: Using a prepaid card is as easy as any other payment card. Just tap it on the payment terminal while shopping.
  • Application Simplicity: You can apply for a prepaid card online or through a mobile app.
  • Transferable: You can give a prepaid card to a family member or a co-worker. It’s also a great gift idea for promotional campaigns.
  • Online Payments: Often, a prepaid card can be used for both in-store and online payments. You’ll need the CVV/CVC code, which is on the back of the card.

In addition, prepaid cards offer a high level of security, just like other payment cards, they are secured with a PIN code. Plus, you can always check your transaction history to stay on top of your spending.

If you ever lose your prepaid card, or it gets stolen, you’re only at risk of losing the remaining limit on the card. That’s usually much less than what you might have on a debit card. However, if you do lose your card, you need to call the hotline right away so they can lock the card.

Limitations of Prepaid Cards

Just like anything else, prepaid cards have their limitations. Compared to a debit card, a prepaid card is a bit less flexible. The technical account associated with the card is only for making payments. So, you can’t use it to set up something like a term deposit.

Getting a prepaid card, especially a physical one, might involve a few procedural hurdles. And, there could be costs involved. You need to check the fees and commissions for the specific financial service you’re looking at.

These might include costs for issuing the card and a monthly fee. But, it’s worth to say, you can often avoid some fees by making at least one transaction with the card.

Profitability of Prepaid Cards

Often, you’ll find a debit card is more than enough to manage your financial transactions smoothly. Therefore, a prepaid card might seem unnecessary. Especially, considering that issuing one often comes with extra fees.

But, there are times when a prepaid card can be a good idea. If you need to manage a family or business budget more effectively, a prepaid card can be handy. It makes it easier to stick to spending limits for specific categories over a certain period of time. For business owners, prepaid cards can be a useful tool in planning marketing campaigns.

Current Prepaid Card Offers

Let’s look at some of the current prepaid card offers:

  1. Citi Simplicity Credit Card from Citi Handlowy offers up to 1200 PLN cashback. It comes with 0 PLN for issuing and using the card and has an APRC of 26.35%. You can also enjoy hundreds of rewards through the Priceless® Moments program.
  2. Another offer from Citi Handlowy is the Citi Simplicity Credit Card with a Motorola phone. There are no costs for issuing and using the card, as long as you use it. It comes with up to 50% discounts and transaction rewards, and has the same APRC of 26.35%.
  3. The ByCard’s Your Virtual Credit Card has a quick online process that gives you cash access for 360 days with just one application. You only pay charges for the used limit. It guarantees quality and safety through its cooperation with Mastercard. For new customers, the first 30 days are free, and it has an APRC of 341.94%.
  4. Credit Card with Bison by Bank Pekao offers you up to 800 PLN. The APRC is 19.86%. It’s an atractive choice if you’re aiming to grab some extra funds.
  5. The Citibank-BP Motokarta Credit Card from Citi Handlowy lets you gain an extra 20 PLN per month. This is the same gain you’d get if fuel was even 31 gr cheaper. They don’t charge you for issuing and using the card. Plus, you get access to exclusive offers through the Citi Specials Program. The APRC for this card is 22.54%.
  6. Another great offer from Citi Handlowy is the Citi Simplicity Credit Card with a 600 PLN voucher to Allegro. This card has no issuing and usage fee, as long as you use it. It offers rebates up to 50% and transaction rewards. The APRC stands at 26.35%.
  7. The Installment Card by Santander Consumer Bank is the first of its kind with always equal repayments. The APRC for this card is 32.56%. It operates like a card but you pay back like installments.
  8. The Citi Simplicity Credit Card with Lux Med Medical Package is a unique deal. It’s about caring for your health while managing your finances. Of course, granting a credit card depends on a positive assessment of creditworthiness by Bank Handlowy. The APRC for this card is 26.35%.
  9. The Citibank MasterCard Credit Card 900 PLN offers up to 900 PLN, with no issuing and usage fee, as long as you use it. You can also enjoy rebates up to 50% and transaction rewards. The APRC for this card is also 26.35%.
  10. The Citibank World Mastercard Credit Card brings quite a few exciting perks. It offers a refund of commission for currency conversion for two selected 30-day periods. That’s up to 60 days a year. The card is free for 3 years, and it provides a better offer for Installments in the Card (currently APRC 10.46% instead of the standard 22.54%) for hotels, travel agencies or tickets. Plus, you get a cashback of 200 after 12 months.
  11. The Citi Simplicity Credit Card with CitiKonto and Savings Account shows you how to gain 9.5% on a Savings Account up to 100 PLN with the Strong Trio! This card has no issuing and usage fee, as long as you use it, and offers rebates up to 50% and transaction rewards. The APRC for this card is 26.35%.
  12. The CITI SIMPLICITY Credit Card with a voucher up to 900 PLN to Allegro provides up to 900 PLN, with no issuing and handling fee for the main card if conditions are met. Enjoy rebates up to 50% and transaction rewards with this card too. The APRC for this card is 26.35%.

Please note that above mentioned offers may have changes, so please investigate that yourself using bank’s website.

If you need a card that serves more than just your financial needs, you may find these offers interesting. I believe, before deciding, it’s worth to say that you should consider your needs, financial situation and lifestyle. This way, you’ll make the best choice for you.