Fifth Third Bank announced the launch of a reloadable prepaid card product, Access 360°, this week.
Banks are hurrying to launch prepaid cards, which can serve as checking account alternatives to those who want to avoid minimum balance fees and overdraft fees. Early entrants in this field were JPMorgan Chase with Chase Liquid, and Regions Bank, with Regions Now.
The card carries a $7 monthly fee, which drops to $4 with a Fifth Third checking account or by direct-depositing $500 monthly. Compare this to Chase’s $4.95 flat fee for Liquid, and the $5 fee from Regions Now, which drops to $0 with a $500 monthly direct deposit. Fifth Third’s product also comes with text alerts for balance inquiries, access via the Fifth Third mobile app, and fraud protection from MasterCard. The card can be used anywhere MasterCard Debit is accepted.
In recent weeks, Walmart and American Express have grabbed headlines with Bluebird. The prepaid space is growing more competitive as products such as Bluebird are explicitly positioned as alternatives to checking accounts from financial institutions — making this an important space for banks to hold. There are customers out there looking for these products, both the underbanked and college-age customers. This latter group in particular may become customers of more traditional banking products in the future, so it should be easy for these customers to move between products under their bank’s umbrella.
Fifth Third Bank is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. It holds $117 billion in assets and has 1,300 branches.