North American PaymentsInsights – Prepaid Cards: Shifting Purchase Channels


Reloadable prepaid growth continues to be strong among U.S. consumers.

Mercator Advisory Group survey finds that one-third of U.S. consumers have purchased an open-loop reloadable prepaid card in the past year, up from 28% in 2019.

Author: Peter Reville
Published on: October 26, 2020

Mercator Advisory Group’s most recent Insight Summary Report, Prepaid Cards: Shifting Purchase Channels, from the bi-annual North American PaymentsInsights Survey Series reveals continued growth of reloadable cards in the United States. Furthermore, the purchase channels for many types of prepaid cards (closed-loop gift, open-loop gift, open-loop reloadable, gaming, phone and transit) are also shifting, particularly in the area of online purchasing.

Prepaid Cards: Shifting Purchase Channels, the latest Insight Summary Report from Mercator Advisory Group’s Primary Data Service, is based on a sample of 3,001 U.S. adults surveyed in the annual online Payments survey of Mercator’s North American PaymentsInsights Survey Series, conducted in June 2020.

The study highlights consumers’ use and interest in prepaid cards and, in particular, store cards, general purpose (or open-loop) cards and general purpose reloadable cards. The report explores where consumers buy and redeem prepaid cards, whether the cards are purchased for themselves or as gifts, how the cards are used, sources of funds for the cards, and other key aspects of prepaid cards in consumers’ lives.

“The prepaid market is changing with neo and challenger banks, use of reloadable prepaid cards, and more governments and corporations issuing prepaid cards instead of checks for disbursements of all types. That said, the use of gift cards continues to be strong, particularly online,” stated the author of the report, Peter Reville, director of Primary Data Services at Mercator Advisory Group, which includes the North American PaymentsInsights Survey Series.

This report in slide form is 65 pages long.

Highlights of this report include:

  • Type of prepaid cards used and purchased
  • Profile of the buyers of the different types of cards
  • Prepaid cards for personal use versus gifts and reasons consumers are buying prepaid cards for personal use
  • Types of retail locations Americans buy prepaid cards from and where they redeem them
  • Awareness and usage of the prepaid card websites available
  • Specific reasons for using closed loop and open loop prepaid cards
  • Card spending habits
  • Source of funds for reloadable cards
  • Reasons for users of reloadable cards to stop using them



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