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BancABC will give you US$20 to open a prepaid VISA. But is the card worth it long-term?

BancABC Western Union, scheduled maintenance, RTGS transfers, Shelter Afrique

BancABC has followed in EcoBank’s tracks by launching a Prepaid US$ Card promotion to lure in more customers in this the second era of the US dollar. BancABC is not offering a transaction free period like Ecobank but instead is offering the first 340 people who sign up for their prepaid VISA US$20.

The conditions

All you need to do is apply for the VISA card by either going to a BancABC branch or using the bank’s Dail-A-Visa platform which brings the card to your doorstep. You’ll then have to make a minimum US$20 deposit and you will get an extra 20 free.

If you don’t want it in USD you can get the equivalent in Euros, Rands or British Pounds. The promotion runs until the 19th of February, and if you don’t have a prepaid US$ card or you want to add another to your collection you might just make it before the 340 applicant cut off. That’s if the threshold hasn’t already been reached.

But is the card worth it long term?

Freebies are great and the 20 bucks is probably worth it in the short term. But when it comes to using the card long term for those who don’t have another prepaid USD card its debatable.

The following is more for those who are just getting one for the first time, more than those who already have an FBC, Ecobank, Steward or any one of the other prepaid VISA or Mastercard services on offer.

It is also for those who may have missed the cut-off point for the promotion and might want to know if BancABC’s VISA is a good option.

Accessibility

This is where BancABC really shines through because of the aformentioned Dail-a-Visa. All you need to do is call Branch X and they will arrange for a delivery of your card to your home or workplace.

You’ll need to have a few documents like a copy of your ID but BancABC’s VISA is probably the easiest to get. The normal deposit is US$10 which will be split US$5 for the card and the other five as a deposit. For the promotion, you will of course have to deposit a minimum of US$20 to get the extra cash.

Monthly fees

This is where BancABC’s card comes into a little bit of trouble because they charge US$0.50 a month as a service fee. As far as we are aware there is no other bank charging a monthly service fee. This, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t but as far as we have seen from the gazetted bank charges, BancABC is alone in this.

This obviously means that you will have to pay US$6.00 a year which if you are on FBC’s Mastercard, for example, you won’t pay a cent in this respect. The promotion does sort of make it worth it but you will theoretically only be able to spend US$14 of the 20 that the bank gives you.

You will also have to keep the card topped up in order to avoid a negative balance. This will be bad if you forget to top up and then deposit money for emergency purchase.

Insufficient funds fee

This is a strange bank charge because it a fee for when you don’t have money on your card, swipe to pay for something and get the dreaded “insufficient funds” message on the POS. BancABC charges US$0.30 and is one of two banks we know of who charge this on their prepaid US$ cards. The other is Steward bank which charges US$0.50 if you use your card and it doesn’t have any money in it.

Couple this with the monthly fee and this card is looking pretty expensive.

Deposit fee

[Update] An earlier version of this article said that BancABC charges a US$0.30 deposit fee this was incorrect. The folks at BancABC reached out to us and informed us that they don’t charge a deposit fee for the Prepaid Visa card

POS Swipe or Online transactions

BankBancABCCABS MasterCardFBC MasterCardSteward VISAEcoBank VISAStanbic VISAZB VISA
Fee1% Min US$11% of purchase amount (plus 5c stamp duty)1.88% of amount1.75% of transaction value with minimum $2 and a maximum of $1001.5% of amount3 % of the purchase amountUS$1.75 for transactions up to US$175.00

And over US$175.00 it’s 1% of the amount

(so basically 1% of amount transacted)

BancABC in this respect is probably one of the fairer ones when it comes to POS and Online purchases. They charge a modest 1% when compared to the pricer FBC, Steward and Stanbic.

Conclusion

The only drawbacks to owning BancABC’s US$ VISA card long term are the monthly fees and the deposit fee. But as mentioned above BancABC is in the middle to the low end in other respects.

I own a BancABC VISA which I rarely use and I was ok with the US$0.50 per month charge because of the Dail-a-Visa service. It was convenient because I didn’t have to go anywhere and I saved on fuel and the precious time it would take to jump through all the hoops.

That easy of entry made me overlook the two drawback fees. It makes the card worth for me long term but I always have to remember to keep a little extra in the account. Another thing that makes BancABC’s card worth it is because as far as I have heard there have been no problems paying for international services with it. A few people I know have faced a brick wall with FBC’s Mastercard when trying to purchase on certain websites.

Most of this is just my opinion after all and I’d very much like to hear if you think that outside of the promotion if BancABC’s Visa card is worth it or you prefer another of the cards on offer.

[Update] Without a deposit fee the BancABC card only has the one drawback which is the monthly fee, making this card in my opinion even better. This, of course, as said above is my view and we’d like to hear yours.


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12 thoughts on “BancABC will give you US$20 to open a prepaid VISA. But is the card worth it long-term?

    1. Ecocash is very convenient but extremely, expensive. I think it’s the worst when it comes to transactional charges. It seems like you get to pay twice every time you make a single transaction.

  1. Correction on the FBC transaction charge. They charge 1.8% or $3 per transaction. That means if you are buying something worth $5 online. FBC collects $3.

  2. editor, for zb bank being charged 1.75 for transactions of upto 175 usd means that all transactions below 175 will be getting charged more than 1 % and upwards as the transaction value drops, so i don’t feel it’s right to put up in brackets ( basically 1 %) …. that’s irresponsible

  3. When you deposit money in to the Banc ABC you can’t withdraw it easy. You have to wrote a letter requesting withdrawal of funds then the bank has to approve first.

  4. FBC charges a fee to deposit into the card. I deposited $140 a few days ago and it ended up as $137.50 in my account.

    The issue is these banks are doing badly in terms of investment income so they are now relying on income from retail banking.

    That is where these shady practices are now coming from.

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