What Is a Cash Card?

A cash card is an electronic payment card that stores cash for various types of payments. Cash cards may include bank debit cards, prepaid debit cards, gift cards, and payroll cards. They do not include credit cards since credit cards are a form of debt rather than cash.

How Do Cash Cards Work?

Cash cards provide a convenient way for cardholders to make electronic payments. Standard branded cash cards are typically allowed for use at all merchants where the network processor is accepted. Alternative cash cards may have certain limitations on their use.

Standard Cash Cards

Banking debit cards are the most common type of standard cash card. These cards are typically linked to a bank account at a financial institution. They allow a cardholder to make electronic payments that deduct cash. Standard cash cards can also be easily used at an ATM to withdraw cash from an account. If tied to a bank checking account cash card ATM transactions are generally offered without fees if made at a bank-operated or affiliated ATM.

Gift cards are another type of standard cash card. These cards are pre-loaded with cash and can be purchases at certain retailer locations, grocery stores and convenience stores. Some gift cards may only be used at a particular store such as Costco or Subway. Other gift cards, such as those offered by Visa, Mastercard and American Express can be purchased in various denominations along with a service fee and can be used anywhere that accepts credit cards. Most gift cards are not reloadable, allowing the cardholder to only make purchases up to the pre-funded limit.

Alternative Cash Cards

Several alternative cash cards also exist with varying terms and available uses. These cards are generally known as prepaid cards and help to support the underbanked population by providing a cash card that is not linked to a bank account. Payroll cards are also an alternative type of cash card that employers may provide for their employees

  • Square: Square is one of the leading providers of cash cards and prepaid cash card services. Services are provided through the Square Cash application. Square Cash users also have access to a Square cash card for making all types of electronic purchases. The Square Cash card can be obtained by mail and is linked to the balance in a user’s Square Cash account.
  • Payroll Cards: Payroll cards are a type of cash card that can be provided by an employer. Payroll cards are an employee benefit that employers arrange for through partnerships with prepaid debit card issuers. They'll allow an employer to make scheduled payments to an employee’s payroll debit card. These payments are a simple form of direct deposit and provide the cardholder with immediate access to funds. Payroll cards can be easily integrated into an employer’s payroll system while also providing easy access to wages earned for the employee. These cards carry a balance from month to month and can be used the same way as a debit card.