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Womansway

The Money Man - Prepaid Credit Cards

Dear Simon

I'm looking for a credit card for online purchases and some travel. I don't plan to use it much and wouldn't carry a balance but my bank turned my application down. Is it possible to get a credit card anymore?

Susan, Newbridge

Dear Susan,

You're not alone. Over the last few years, credit from Irish banks has all but dried up and it's become very difficult to get any kind loan.

Credit cards generally provide revolving unstructured and unguaranteed credit, so they are considered to be pretty risky by the banks. Which is why the interest rates are higher than regular loans, and another reason why it's getting harder and harder to get your hands on one these days.

Luckily there are some alternatives. Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB are now offering Visa Debit Cards which work everywhere Visa is accepted, so you can use them online and abroad. What makes them different from standard credit cards is that purchases are deducted from your current account rather than adding to a credit card balance.

Another option would be to look at prepaid cards. Again, these work just like credit cards in that you can use them wherever Visa or MasterCard is accepted, but you top them up from your current account or at a paypoint. They are a bit like prepaid mobile phones. When you run out of credit, you can't use the card until you top it up again. An added benefit of prepaid MasterCards is that you don't have to pay the booking fee when you use them to book flights with Ryanair.

Prepay cards available in Ireland include the Moneybookers MasterCard, the O2 Visa Money Card and the Payzone MasterCard. I like the Moneybookers card as it has the lowest fees for general use.

I hope this helps

Simon

Personal Finance Expert Simon Moynihan from www.bonkers.ie, a financial comparison site, is here to answer your money queries. If you've a question you'd like Simon to answer for this column, please contact Woman's Way directly through publisher www.harmonia.ie.

This piece appeared in the November 7th edition of Woman's Way

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