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My new employer is to give me my relocation money in form of a prepaid debit card that will be valid for one year. Can I withdraw all the money from the card at ATMs? Can I transfer the money from the card to my bank account? Since first I have to cover the relocation expenses from my own pocket, it would be disappointing to find out that I can't really cash the relocation money.

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    it would be disappointing to find out that I can't really cash the relocation money You do realize that you will have expenses, after moving, which you can pay from the prepaid card. So what is the urgency to transfer to your bank account ? And you can draw cash from prepaid debit cards, but you might be charged, have limits etc etc which you can get from the T&Cs of the prepaid debit card. – DumbCoder Jul 14 '17 at 9:51
  • It's far larger amount than what you could spend on groceries in one year. If you can neither withdraw cash or transfer the money to another bank account, you can't pay your rent with it, you can't buy a car from an individual seller, you can't pay fees for government documents like driving license. In such case, the card is literally useless. And on top of that, why would I spend the money to begin with? It's perfectly reasonable choice to save it for the future. – user2648421 Jul 14 '17 at 19:29
  • @user2648421: Do you not spend money on anything but groceries? You may be able to use the card to pay your utility bills, buy gas, eat out at a restaurant, buy clothes, purchase all manner of goods online, or any number of things. You can then instead save the money you otherwise would have spent on those things. – BrenBarn Jul 15 '17 at 19:35
  • @BrenBarn You're absolutely right, however, the yearly total cost of such "miscellaneous" expenses is nowhere close to the money on the prepaid card. Moreover, please note that first I have to cover the relocation expenses myself, then I receive the money after I have already relocated. This means that most of the stuff you mentioned like new clothes or house accessories will have been already bought by the time I receive the compensation money. Finally, I'm just a temporary worker, I want to save as much money before coming back home from the US. – user2648421 Jul 16 '17 at 12:20
  • Just to clarify, it is a big difference whether you use the money for reimbursable moving expenses or deposit the money in a savings account. Likely your company is required to provide evidence that the money actually went towards relocation expenses. – Eric Nov 28 '17 at 16:36
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Yes, overall, it is a big inconvenience to you.

This same issue applies for those that for example, receive Social Security benefits (and perhaps other government cash benefits) on a pre-paid card (rather than direct deposit to a bank account). They allow a few ways to get cash from the card:

  1. You can go to an ATM and withdraw (subject to daily limits) for no fee, but possibly subject to a fee from the ATM owner (yes, there are still some no-fee ATMs, but you may not be able to find one in your area).
  2. You can get cash back (no fee) when you make a retail purchase. You could use the card for relatively small items you would purchase anyway, and get $100 or more back in cash each time. Every store/chain will have it's own limits on how much cash back they will allow per transaction. And, be careful, some stores charge a fee for cash back, but it's not at all common.

    If even these small purchases are an issue, you can then (presumably later) return the item you purchased without returning the cash-back you received (if the store allows returns/refunds).

    And, since a transaction with cash back is processed as a debit (rather than a credit), usually if you later return the purchased item, you will be refunded in cash (rather than a credit back to your card/account).

  3. You can (supposedly) go to a teller at ANY bank and withdraw cash from the card (the entire balance if you wish) for a flat $1.50 fee.

Also, for other cards, sometimes you can go to a branch of the bank that issued the card and make a no fee withdraw, sometimes in cash and sometimes by check. This depends on the policy of the issuing bank, and the card account.

Finally, most of this assumes that you are given a pin (or the opportunity to create one) with the card, because cash-back and ATM access requires a pin. And there are some banks/cards that don't allow any of this.

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You generally need to use the prepaid debit card in the form it is received. Many don't allow you to remove the money from them at an ATM. If you can find out the prepaid debit card brand ahead of time, this would tell you whether or not it can be used at an ATM. For example, MoneyPass does allow ATM access for its prepaid debit cards. You could always try asking your employer to choose one that specifically allows for ATM access.

Source: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/prepaid-debit-cards-what-you-should-know/

  • The card allows me to shop in the internet. Maybe there is some service that acts like a "pseudo shop" that would sell me nothing in exchange for all the money from the card and then transfer it to my bank account? – user2648421 Jul 14 '17 at 19:25
  • These kind of services do exist but there is a risk of losing some of the value of the card. Or depending how much is on the card, the online services may not accept it. If there is going to be a large amount on the card, your employer will probably choose a card that allows for ATM access. I would definitely ask your employer to do this if at all possible. – CSRenA Jul 17 '17 at 16:55
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The T&C that comes with the card would usually tell you whether the card allows ATM withdrawal, though my experience with prepaid debit cards is that it usually does not.

If that's the case, you have two options -

  1. Some prepaid card issuers would issue a check for the balance at your request. Call them to find out if that's the case.
  2. Check T&C to see if it allows PIN-based debit purchase. If it does, you might be able to go to your local grocery store or postal office and buy a money order with it.

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