Prepaid Cards vs. Checks – The Money Disbursement Showdown

Businesses, nonprofits, and others have several choices when it comes to disbursing money. Whether you’re paying employees, sending money to vendors, or distributing funds elsewhere, the most traditional choice has always been the humble check. Innovation keeps moving things forward, and with prepaid cards becoming more popular, it’s important to see how they stack up to paper checks.

It’s time for the showdown—to see how checks and prepaid cards compare when it comes to sending out and spending money from your organization.  In the blue corner, we have the tried-and-true printed check, in use since the 18th century. In the red corner we have the prepaid card, a new challenger bringing some innovative moves to the ring.

Our showdown will take place over several rounds:

  • Safety and security when distributing money
  • Acceptance of payouts and funds
  • Speed for getting money where it’s needed
  • Topping up funds and reusability
  • Administration, management, and overhead
  • Financial tracking and reversals

Alright ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.


Safety and Security When Distributing Money

Round one! Check flexes his shoulders, cracks his neck, and takes a strong stance, he’s had plenty of time to bulk up his security. Watermarks, micro-printing, woven safety patterns, and special ink means he’s a good contender.

But, Prepaid Card is fast out of the corner, so quick that he darts around, showing one of Check’s flaws—their security is only as good as the person reviewing the transaction. Prepaid Card has some pretty good security too—powerful integration with fraud detection systems, easy tracking and traceability, electronic protection, and built-in restrictions on how much money can be spent or withdrawn.

Check has come a long way over the past 250 years, but the modern security features built into Prepaid Cards means he scores an early victory.

Acceptance of Payouts and Funds

Check is ready to fight back, and he’s got some momentum. Being around for a couple of centuries teaches you a thing or two, and everyone knows what Check offers. He’s widely accepted and a known quantity. Many people like the tradition that Check offers, and trust him for sending and receiving money.

But, Prepaid Card has some tricks of his own. He’s issued by a bank and network branded by VISA, Mastercard, and Discover, which means he’s accepted by millions of merchants around the world. He’s a great international traveler, too, with automatic currency conversion.

Check isn’t quite done, though, and this one goes to the bell.

Speed for Getting Money Where It’s Needed

The rapid pace of the match is starting to wear Check down a bit, and this round he’s simply outclassed. The problem is, Check is just a bit too slow—from the time it takes to print him, to putting him in the mail, to receiving him and taking him to a bank, to waiting for the funds to clear—it can take days.

Prepaid Card, on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem. Modern technology means he gets the funds at the speed of light and the tap of a key. He’s just ready, for any situation where money is needed. 

This round is a resounding triumph for Prepaid Card.

Topping Up Funds and Reusability

Prepaid Card really has the momentum now, and is pushing toward victory. He knows it’s easy for businesses to top him up with funds whenever and wherever they’re needed. He’s also extremely reusable—issue him once, then spend, collect wages, distribute funds, or make disbursements with a simple swipe, ATM withdrawal, or online purchase.

Check is showing his age, and when it comes to funds and reusability, he’s one and done. In past decades, that was enough—but the world is changing, fast. He can’t be reused, and he’s only good for the money in his “amount” box.

Prepaid Card takes this round, leaving Check in the dust.

Administration, Management, and Overhead

Don’t count Check out quite yet. If there’s one thing he’s got, it’s staying power. He thinks of himself as the “de facto standard,” with dominance in millions of businesses around the globe. Almost every business has a printed check run, sending out millions of his relatives every day. There’s just one small problem—overhead.

All of those manual processes, legacy equipment, and reliance on the postal system are starting to creak under the strain. But, he’s an established player, so maybe he’ll endure the modern demands of sending and receiving money.

Prepaid Card, on the other hand, still faces a problem of awareness and understanding. Not everyone has heard of him, which means people don’t know how easy it is to make him a part of their business. He knows he’s fast and lightweight, easy to integrate, and low cost. 

Prepaid Card has fast hands and knockdown combos. His digital payments move at the speed of need, with the 1-2-3 of point, click, paid! Now it’s just a case of convincing the world.

Even though Check is more expensive and creates greater overheads, he  still has some momentum. This round goes to the bell, and Check is back in with a chance.

Financial Tracking and Reversals

It’s the last round, and the advantages of Prepaid Card are showing even more. When it comes to tracking money, he’s definitely got the edge. Instant notification of usage, controls on how much can be spent, and easy reversals of funds make him the favorite.

Check can’t compete, with his only tracking being a day or two after he’s cashed or paid into an account. Reversals are difficult and time consuming, and he’s stuck in his old ways.

As the match draws to a close, it’s Prepaid Card that’s the clear winner. Check put up a valiant fight though, and Prepaid Card applauds the effort. It’s time to look forward though, and that’s where Prepaid Card shines—a step away from tradition and into widespread acceptance. The crowd is cheering, and Prepaid Card is declared the victor.