3 Common Questions About Prepaid Cards - Hydrogen
3 Common Questions About Prepaid Cards

3 Common Questions About Prepaid Cards

Here at Hydrogen, we talk with organizations of all sizes and from all over the world about prepaid, debit, and virtual cards on a daily basis. After numerous conversations and countless questions, three questions we get asked on a regular basis are: 

  • Can I use a prepaid card for payroll?
  • Can I use a prepaid card for a small business?
  • Can I add prepaid cards to Apple or Google Wallet?

Let’s dive into each one of these questions. 

Can I use a virtual or prepaid card for payroll?

Yes, a virtual, prepaid, or debit card can be used for payroll purposes. A payroll card is essentially a prepaid or debit card where the employer puts the employee’s wages or salary onto the card. This is an alternative form of payment to direct deposit or a paper check. Employees can use prepaid and debit cards anywhere electronic payment cards are accepted, as these cards are manufactured by major payment providers such as Visa or Mastercard. Even employees without a bank account can access their wages through these cards, as no bank account is linked to the card. 

There are, however, some regulations with regard to payroll cards. While they are considered prepaid cards (i.e. general purpose reloadable cards), payroll cards carry the same liability protections as debit cards. Payroll card issuers are required to disclose their fee structure and how they resolve customer disputes, but prepaid card issuers are not. Prepaid card issuers can also change the terms of the card agreement at any time, however, debit card and payroll card issuers can’t change the terms of the card agreement without a 21-day notice. 

There are a few advantages of payroll cards for both the employee and the employer: 

  • Employees don’t have to go to the bank to get access to the money.
  • Employees can use the card immediately.
  • Employers save money, as they don’t have to print and mail paper checks.

Can I use a virtual or prepaid card for a small business?

Yes, you can use a virtual or prepaid card for your small business. A prepaid card for your small business can be a good alternative to using a company credit card if your company struggles with budgeting and managing spending habits. A prepaid card is a lot like a gift card. An employer or employee can load money onto the card, and once the money runs out, you’ll need to reload the card again. There are some advantages as well as disadvantages with prepaid cards for your business. 


  • You can’t overspend, so this keeps your spending under control.
  • You can set limits on employee spending.
  • If you don’t have good credit, you may not qualify for a good credit card (since small business credit is based on the business owners’ credit history), but you can still get a prepaid debit card.


  • You aren’t able to borrow money from the bank. With a credit card, you can actually spend money you don’t have. You can’t do this with a prepaid card. 
  • You may not get as many points or rewards with a prepaid card as you can with a traditional credit card. This is quickly changing though, thanks to fintechs that are building rewards networks in the prepaid card space.
  • If the physical card is lost or stolen, it may be difficult to recover the funds, but technology advancements for virtual card issuance have allowed money to be loaded onto digital wallets.

Can I add prepaid cards to an Apple or Google Wallet?

Absolutely. You can add a prepaid card to Apple or Google Wallet, or any other mobile wallet, just like you can add a credit or debit card issued by a traditional bank. One advantage of adding a prepaid card to a mobile wallet is instant issuance. You don’t need to wait for the physical card to be delivered; the funds can be added to the wallet and you can begin using it immediately. Tiger King on Netflix is at your fingertips!

Card Enablement with Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a leading fintech enablement platform that has done all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve established strategic partnerships and built integrations with key program managers and card issuing banks, and have negotiated the best pricing on your behalf. We can help you get pre-qualified, even with the most selective of vendors.

We also have a no-code library of widgets, frontend, and apps, that can help you to issue prepaid cards in minutes. Below we show an example of a no-code card issuance widget.

To get started, sign up to start the process of easily adding prepaid cards to your app.


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