How Do You Activate a Prepaid Debit Card?

Adam Rust

So you’ve signed up for a new prepaid debit card. It is time to activate the account so that you can start spending. But how do you do that?

The short answer: It's no problem at all.

Unless you are working with a smartphone-first prepaid debit card account, you’ll have to wait until you get your card in the mail. Because prepaid card companies use regular mail to send the card, there is a waiting time of several business days between application and activation. 

When you see the letter in your mailbox, open the envelope and call the bank immediately. There are four steps:

·         Call the card company.

·         Tell the 12-digit code on your card to the customer service representative.

·         Confirm your identity.

·         Pick a PIN code.

The activation process only takes a few minutes. Once done, you can put funds on the card. If you have already deposited funds before activating, then you can start to spend right away.

Picture of card
Person holding payment card and cellphone

Activating inside the app is another option

Two of the cards on WiseWage make use of the smartphone to hurry up the process of going from application to spend. Both the MoCaFi and the Akimbo cards will also let a person apply and activate from inside their respective apps. It is very intuitive. If you sign up for the card inside the app – and that is the only way you can sign up for a MoCaFi card - then you are where you need to be to take the next step and activate.  

One other thing: you can begin to put new deposits onto the card as soon as you have completed your application.

Before I finish, I would like to point out one more benefit that comes when you can deposit the proceeds from your paycheck before activation. If your employer hopes to pay you by direct deposit, the ability to arrange the deposit minutes after applying for a card can be convenient. It’s a “get it done” kind of thing. Request a new account, and boom – your employer can stop writing checks and start using direct deposit. That’s a good thing for you, as well: one goal of having a bank account is so that a person can avoid paying a check cashing fee.

The upshot with an in-app activation is that you will be able to start saving on the cost of check cashing immediately, but you will still have to wait to start spending at the point-of-sale.

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