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Feature
Buying Chips with PrePaidATM
by Stuart Kernaghan, WINNERonline.com
6 Jun 2002
Links

PrePaidATM
NETeller
PayPal/FirePay

Editor's Note: WINNERonline contacted PrePaidATM for additional details on the cards but Rich Geisinger, president of PrePaidATM, refused to provide any information. During a telephone conversation, Geisinger strongly expressed his concerns about perceived associations between his product and online gambling. Nevertheless, a number of online casinos do use PrePaidATM.

WINNERonline is continuing its exclusive series of articles on online payment alternatives. So far, we've looked at NETeller, as well as PayPal and FirePay. This time it's the new online debit card from PrePaidATM.

PrePaidATM offers two cards, the PrePaidATM card and the Virtual PrePaidATM card. The regular card is just like a debit card you'd get from a bank, and the virtual card is an online debit card. The concept is the same as a regular debit card, except for the fact that PrePaidATM cards aren't directly tied to a bank account and they draw funds from the same account.

The cards also offer a few features that you don't get from other online payment companies. One is that you can use them both online and at land-based merchants that accept debit cards. Another is that you can use the PrePaidATM card at bank machines around the world. Try doing that with your PayPal account.

Signing up for PrePaidATM is relatively painless and automatically provides you with both cards. Funding your card isn't much more difficult, with the choice of Quick Collect from Western Union, PayPal, credit cards, ACH electronic checks, or bank wire deposits. Unlike other online payment services, however, you cannot deposit money directly from your bank account. The maximum deposit limit is generally $5,000 in a 24-hour period, and funds are available in your account within an hour for every option except ACH or wire transfers.

Purchases with the PrePaidATM are as simple as you'd expect. Find a casino or online merchant that accepts PrePaidATM and select the card as the payment method. You'll be sent to PrePaidATM's secure fund transfer center where you enter your account code, security code, select the amount to transfer, and verify the transfer. The withdrawal options are limited - PayPal and credit cards are out - and you're basically left requesting some form of check.

Like almost everything else in life, there are costs associated with the PrePaidATM. Unfortunately, you have to pay for deposits and withdrawals in most cases, with PayPal and credit card deposits costing 3% and 4%, respectively; Quick Collect deposits are free. Bank check withdrawals are free but a bank wire will cost you $15. Go to the fees page for the full details.

Security is always an issue with online transactions, and PrePaidATM has three levels of security: purchases take place on PrePaidATM's secure server; you use an account code, a security code, and a PIN to access your account; and account ID is validated with your birth date. Another security benefit that isn't mentioned is that the merchant site doesn't receive your credit card number or banking information. No banking info means there's nothing to steal if the merchant's site gets hacked.

There are shortcomings to the PrePaidATM, and some are more of an issue than others. One of the biggest is that the card is only available to users in the U.S. Another problem is that the number of casinos accepting PrePaidATM is pretty low right now. A Google search shows that many of the casinos that do take PrePaidATM are Unified Gaming licensees. The Wizard of Odds likes the rules at Unified Gaming sites, but reports that he's had problems with dropped connections. As always, do a little checking before you make a deposit.

There are benefits to the PrePaidATM card that you won't find with other online payment services, but it adds another step to the deposit process and your casino options are limited.

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