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(NBC News) More and more consumers are skipping the traditional checking account or paying with a credit or debit card and are using prepaid debit cards instead.
Experts say there's good reason to do so.
"The prepaid debit card really puts some boundaries around their spending, so they can only spend what they have and not have to worry about either overdraft charges on a checking account or racking up significant debt as they would on a credit card," explains Greg McBride of Bankrate.com.
A prepaid debit card allows you to load money onto a card and spend it anywhere plastic is accepted.
Still, they can be expensive.
Various fees can add up to $350 a year unless you're willing to do direct deposit.
Odysseas Papadimitriou at CardHub.com says at the most you should pay about three dollars a month for a prepaid debit card.
Research by his firm shows there are cards out there for less.
"One has no monthly fee and has a lot of ATMs that you can access and has online bill-pay," he explains.
Greg McBride also points out that the cards are secure.
"You typically will have a PIN number that you enter, and depending upon the issuer, you may also have some protections against fraudulent use," he says.
That will help in the event the card is lost or stolen.