Thanks to the pandemic, thousands of vulnerable people have become dependent on others to shop, withdraw money and pay bills on their behalf. Many banks now offer caregiver cards, special accounts that allow a trusted person to have restricted access to someone’s money. If caregivers, friends or family help with the groceries, these cards offer a secure means of payment, without the need to “settle in”.
Lloyds, Santander, Halifax, Starling and Natwest all offer their own free version, which comes with its own “PIN” number, but limited purchasing powers. The card can be handed over to a trusted person of your choice and typically used for in-store purchases or small cash withdrawals.
How do caregiver cards work?
They generally work in two ways; either in “prepaid” version, where you choose the amount to be loaded on the card (made by bank transfer) or as a “debit card”, on your current account, where you define spending limits, so that debts cannot be run.
These cards are usually a supplement to your existing account, so you can only apply if you are already a customer.
Concerned about security? “Banks have put in place safeguards so that the account holder does not have to divulge their bank details, which is vital, and limiting the amount a ‘caregiver’ can access,” says Andrew Hagger, expert in personal finance and founder of MoneyComms.
If your bank doesn’t offer one of these cards, there are stand-alone providers, like GuardianCard and Carercard, that do, although both charge a monthly fee.
Caregiver card request
With banking options, you will need to register yourself, as the account holder, usually by phone or at a branch.
Once you have a card, it can be handed over to your trusted person and used for in-store purchases and for withdrawing cash. Depending on the provider, some can be used online or for purchases over the phone.
What are the caregiver cards available?
Here are some of the options available …
It comes from Starling Bank and can only be used for in-store spending. You choose how much to put on the card, which can range from £ 1 to £ 200.
Personal trust card
It comes with a fixed weekly spending limit of £ 100 and a separate weekly limit of £ 100 on cash withdrawals.
Caregiver card account
the Santander version is slightly different, because with this one, the caregiver has their own separate “named” account and account number.
It comes with a debit card for in-store and online spending and cash withdrawals and the caregiver has a separate online and mobile banking account, but cannot set up direct debits or standing orders .
The customer can fund the account up to a maximum of £ 1,500, and both parties receive monthly statements. Mobile alerts can also be set up to track caregiver spending.
As this is a separate account, both parties must be present for the opening, either in a branch or by phone.
Paid childcare cards
GuardianCard is called a debit card; although you need to preload it. You can have up to five cards with this option, with individual limits of £ 20 to £ 1,000. It can be used in stores, ATMs and online, but comes with a monthly fee of £ 7.95, after the one-month trial.
“It offers good guarantees, with real-time spend notifications and the ability to block and unblock the card with just the push of a button,” says Andrew Hagger, “but for me it feels like they spotted a loophole in the market to make money – £ 95 a year seems a bit steep ”.
Guard card offers a three month trial, after which it’s £ 7 per month. This prepaid card can be used in-store and online, with a charge for cash withdrawals.
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