Preloading Credit Card: How & Why To Do It Today

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1.5 million Americans have preloaded debit cards, according to a 2009 Pew study. But will the trend catch on with credit cards?

One of the most convenient features of preloading a debit card is that customers can instantly access any money they've loaded onto their card by withdrawing cash from an ATM or making a purchase at a store.

Because credit cards require two separate approvals (from the bank and from a retailer) for each preloaded transaction, some people find it inconvenient to use them as prepaid debit cards.

However, some banks are trying to make the process of buying with a credit card easier by offering instant purchasing, or "instant loading." With this service, customers can deposit money into their checking account, and then instantly send it by using their credit card to make a purchase.

5 reasons why customers might be tempted to push the preload button on their credit cards

The convenience of instant loading - As opposed to waiting for two separate approvals, customers can use an instant load feature to immediately access the money in their checking account.

Access to credit card perks - If a customer already has a credit card that they use for daily purchases, it might be worth the hassle of preloading in order to gain access to reward points or other exclusive benefits offered by the issuing bank.

Better interest rates - For people who don't plan on using their credit card for daily purchases, a preloaded card can be an easy way to get a lower interest rate on balance transfers.

Fraud protection - In the event that a thief gets hold of your credit card number and tries to use it to make unauthorized transactions online, some cards offer zero liability. That means if someone uses your card without permission, you aren't responsible for reimbursing the bank.

Keeping the balance below your credit limit - Keeping a small balance can help prevent you from incurring interest charges on your monthly bill.

Here are some reasons why preloading might not be worth it

No need for an initial deposit or funding - Some people don't want to drain their checking account by depositing money in order to preload their credit cards. Having an empty checking account can also make it harder to build a good credit score since the bank might consider you to be in a negative cash flow position.

Lengthy intro APR periods - If someone doesn't want to incur interest charges on their balance transfer, they need to pay off the balance within a certain amount of time. Some credit cards charge a lengthy intro APR for balance transfers, which is usually around six months to a year. In that period, they'll be accruing interest on their current balance without earning rewards.

Limited instant load options - Customers need to check with each bank before preloading in order to find out if the instant load feature is available on their account.

Fees for both deposits and withdrawals - For customers who don't own a checking account that has a small daily balance, the best option might be to visit an ATM for cash withdrawals instead of preloading a credit card.

Here are the advantages of preloading a card

Minimizing the risk of losing or forgetting it - Customers don't need to worry about carrying their credit cards around with them since they've already loaded the necessary amount. If someone does lose their card, it won't be as costly as other options because there's no longer an alive balance on that account.

No need to wait - Since the card has already been loaded before hitting the road, customers can head to their destination without having to worry about finding a cash machine or running into issues with purchasing online when they're traveling abroad.

Filling in for other cards - If someone doesn't have access to a debit or credit card when they're traveling, they can preload their cards in order to make purchases online.

How does Preloading a Credit Card work?

For customers who want the convenience of using their credit cards for purchases, but lack the funds to do so at the moment, preloading offers a convenient solution.

By depositing money into your checking account before you leave home or work, you'll know that you have enough money to cover any unexpected expenditures. It also ensures that your checking account doesn't become overdrawn, which can hurt your credit score.

For those who want to use their credit cards for balance transfers or cash advances, preloading isn't a very practical strategy.

Because of the lengthy processing time required for these transactions, customers are better off making purchases with cash or another card until they get access to their checking account funds.

How can customers quickly preload their credit cards?

Some customers might not want to use their checking accounts for transactions due to the inconvenience of dealing with checks or fees. The best option for these individuals is to deposit money into their credit card account before they leave home so that it's available as soon as they shop. If you don't want to use a credit card, here are some other options:

Debit card - If you want instant access to your money without incurring a fee, withdrawing from an ATM with a debit card is the best choice. Most checking accounts have unlimited transactions that don't charge fees.

Prepaid cards or gift cards - Some banks offer prepaid cards for use with their credit cards, which come in the form of Visa or Mastercard. You can also find prepaid gift cards at most stores that sell financial services, along with store-branded cards that are only accepted by certain retailers.

Cash - Keeping a few hundred dollars in your pocket can be a good idea for emergencies. By knowing that you have the money on hand, you won't need to risk overdrawing your checking account by using a credit card.

Preloading isn't the best option for every bank customer. For those who don't want to use their credit cards for purchase transactions, it's an unnecessary hassle.

Those who want to use their balance transfers or cash advances for immediate access to funds are better off making purchases with their debit cards or withdrawing from ATMs.

With some research into your bank charges and account features, you can decide if preloading is the best option for you.

What is the difference between a Credit Card and a Preloaded Credit Card?

A credit card is a plastic card that allows you to purchase items or withdraw money from an ATM without cash. Often, a credit card will have a specified spending limit and require the customer to pay the balance within a specific time period. The interest rate can be higher than other bank services, due to the increased risk of non-payment.

A preloaded credit card is a charge card that comes with an amount of money already loaded onto the account. The customer can use this money to make purchases or withdraw cash, but won't be able to spend any more than their balance allows. Because no interest is charged until the balance reaches zero, it's possible to save up for larger purchases over time.


In summary, preloading is a good option for customers who can't afford to make purchases with their credit cards. By knowing exactly how much money is available in the account, people won't risk incurring fees or going into debt by overspending.

Anyone who wants immediate access to their funds without having to worry about interest rates will be able to save time and money with this method of transaction.

Michael Restiano

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.