For a few years now, the Italian banking and financial market has undergone a major change. A change that bears a very precise name: that of prepaid smart cards. Although in many ways they might remind us of the rechargeable prepaid cards that have existed in Italy for decades, the former offer dozens of advanced services and are completely controllable by smartphone (or, at most, by computer).
Online credit cards have thus brought tens of thousands of boys and girls closer to a world that would otherwise have remained unknown for who knows how long. They can be used practically anywhere, and can also be requested by minors or while travelling abroad. In short, an extremely versatile product that adapts to the most diverse needs, and not only of "ordinary citizens": in many cases, in fact, there are plans designed specifically for professionals and small companies, which find in prepaid smart cards a trusted business companion.
In such a rich panorama, however, it is also possible to fall easily into error. That is, choosing an account card that has far too many features compared to your needs or one that doesn't have everything you really need. Let's see together what are the main features of an online credit card.
Prepaid credit cards: how to choose them
To understand which is the most suitable credit card for your needs, you must first understand what is a rechargeable prepaid card and what are the features that make it smart. When we talk about prepaid cards we refer to payment instruments that are not linked to any current account. Questo vuol dire che gli unici fondi a disposizione dell’utente sono quelli che lui stesso depositerà all’interno della carta: per molti versi una limitazione, ma per altri anche una forma di sicurezza aggiuntiva.
Ciò che rende queste carte “smart" è la possibilità, come detto, di richiederla e gestirla dallo smartphone, senza necessità di recarsi in una filiale o in una sede fisica. Ma non solo: le carte di credito online offrono ai loro clienti decine di funzionalitàche consentono una gestione “snella" dei propri risparmi e dei propri guadagni.
- Gestione da app. A differenza delle carte prepagate “ordinarie", quelle smart si richiedono e si gestiscono da smartphone. Per limitare costi e spese, infatti, le startup fintech (o gli istituti di credito) che le emettono non hanno alcuno sportello o sede fisica cui i clienti possono rivolgersi. Tutto si fa da telefonino, dalla richiesta ai pagamenti, passando per ricariche e altre operazioni
- Carta conto. Non può mancare, ovviamente, la possibilità di richiedere e utilizzare una carta fisica del circuito Mastercard o del circuito Visa. Tutte le carte prepagate smart, inoltre, sono anche carte conto: ossia, hanno un codice IBAN univoco, che permette di effettuare e ricevere bonifici e, in alcuni casi, richiedere l’accredito dello stipendio o l’addebito delle bollette e altri pagamenti ricorrenti
- Pagamenti da smartphone. Molte delle carte prepagate smart possono essere sincronizzate con sistemi di pagamento digitali come Apple Pay o Google Pay. In questo modo si potrà pagare in locali e attività convenzionate direttamente con lo smartphone, senza bisogno di portare con sé la carta
- Modalità di ricarica. Dal momento che la carta prepagata smart è anche carta conto, il modo più semplice di trasferirci denaro è effettuare un bonifico bancario da un altro conto corrente. Se ciò non fosse possibile, si può chiedere a un amico (o un conoscente) che ha la stessa carta di trasferirci del denaro. Alcune, poi, permettono la ricarica in contanti presso punti vendita convenzionati: per ricaricare Hype in contanti o N26 in contanti, ad esempio, è possibile recarsi presso i supermercati Pam o Penny e seguire la procedura da smartphone
- Utilizzo all’estero. Trattandosi di carte prepagate del circuito Mastercard o Visa potranno essere ovviamente utilizzate uvunque, sia per pagare da POS sia per fare prelievi di contanti. Alcune, però, sono più convenienti di altre: offrono tassi di cambio vantaggiosi e prevedono costi di commissione molto bassi o addirittura nulli
- Assicurazioni viaggi. Restando in ambito “turistico", molte carte prepagate con servizi per chi viaggia mettono a disposizione pacchetti assicurativi che proteggono in caso di cancellazione o ritardo del volo, perdita del bagaglio o copertura delle spese sanitarie
Carta Hype, caratteristiche e costi
Nata all’interno del SELLALAB, Hype è una carta prepagata pensata per i più giovani, ma non solo. It can be requested from 12 years old and offers customers three different plans: Start, Plus and Premium.
Hype Start is completely free and, in addition to the rechargeable card with which to pay in any store (physical and online) and withdraw cash in Italy and abroad (in the latter case there is a 3% commission to pay), it offers an Italian IBAN, advanced features for the management of monthly expenses and the ability to use the card with Apple Pay and Google Pay. With Hype, moreover, it will be possible to pay pre-marked or blank bills and taxes with the PagoPA system. It is, therefore, a very convenient and versatile solution, but it also has some limitations: the basic Hype account, in fact, has a maximum recharge limit of 2,500 euros, after which it will no longer be possible to credit money to the card.
Hype Plus costs 1 euro per month and, in addition to offering all the features of the basic one, raises the annual recharge limits to 50 thousand euros and thus gives the possibility, for example, to request salary credit.
Hype Premium costs 9.90 euros per month and, in addition to not having any recharge limit, also eliminates all the "management" costs provided by the other plans. With Hype Premium, for example, there will be no commissions to pay for foreign currency withdrawals, and even the payment of bills will not require any payment. In addition, this "plan" offers a comprehensive travel policy, ATM theft policy and protection of fraudulent purchases.
N26 account, features and costs
N26 is a real German bank that allows you to open an online bank account with Italian IBAN completely free of charge (there are, however, costs and fees for some operations). The procedure can be completed in a matter of minutes from your smartphone, but you will need to be of legal age to do so. In addition to N26 "basic" there are also two other profiles: N26 You and N26 Metal.
The "basic account", which is totally free, offers users a Mastercard debit card that can be used worldwide both to pay and to withdraw money from ATMs (a 1.7% fee is applied to withdrawals in foreign currency). In addition, the card can also be used for online payments and to pay with your smartphone through Google Pay and Apple Pay. The card's PIN is set by the user during registration and, in case it is forgotten, it can be reset whenever you want directly from the app.
N26 You costs 9.90 euros per month and, in addition to eliminating most of the fees and commissions provided by the basic plan, offers the user a "customizable" card, discounts from selected partners; travel medical emergency, baggage and airplane delay insurance; ski and winter sports insurance; and car, motorcycle, bike, scooter and scooter sharing insurance.
N26 Metal costs 16.99 euros per month and, as the name also suggests, offers a metal Mastercard debit card. The package, among other features, also offers damage and theft insurance for smartphones and electronic devices.
One of the most interesting features of N26, available for all three of the described pricing plans, is that of Spaces. Each user can create "private spaces" within their account where they can accumulate savings. The amounts that are moved in the Spaces, in fact, will not go to compose the balance of the general account and can not be spent (unless they are transferred back to the main account).
Revolut, features and costs
For many it is the card to travel abroad par excellence. And it's not hard to see why. Revolut was born in the UK in 2016 to revolutionize the world of banking and finance. And, given the high number of customers it can boast around the world, it seems to be a winning bet. Since the second half of 2019, moreover, Revolut has obtained the European banking license, which offers more guarantees for end users.
The Revolut account is "divided" into three different plans: Revolut Standard, Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal. All three plans share most of the features offered by the British online bank: multi-currency current account (handles over 150 different currencies at no additional cost); British IBAN; physical VISA circuit debit card and virtual debit card (ideal for online purchases); compatibility with Apple Pay and Google Pay; ability to trade online and forex; purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies. Cash withdrawals in foreign currencies are made with interbank exchange rate and without any commission. Depending on the plan chosen, however, change some limits of use and commission costs.
Revolut Standard is free and allows you to withdraw up to 200 euros per month (or equivalent in foreign currency) without commission costs, beyond this amount will be applied a commission of 2% for each withdrawal. Currency exchange within the account is free up to a maximum of €5,000 per month.
Revolut Premium costs €7.99 per month and raises the free withdrawal limit to €400 per month, while travel insurance is included in the monthly fee.
Revolut Metal costs €13.99 per month and raises the withdrawal limit to €600 per month. By choosing this plan you will have a metal debit card and, in addition to the features and services of the other two plans, you will have free access to over 1,000 lounges in major airports around the world.
Yap, features and costs
Of the prepaid cards for minors is probably the most convenient and simple to apply and use. Yap, in fact, is an all-Italian service (created in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo) that allows you to request and obtain in a few minutes a virtual prepaid card with IBAN, thanks to which you can manage the weekly or monthly "pocket money" of your parents.
Yap is completely free, even if it provides for some management and commission costs. For example, if you want to apply for a physical card (basically, Yap is only virtual to pay via smartphone with Apple Pay and Google Pay) you will have to pay 9.95 euros for the issuance, while for cash recharge at SisalPay points you will have to pay 2.50 euros for each transaction. Withdrawals from ATMs in Italy and the Eurozone will cost 1 euro, while withdrawals in foreign currencies have a fixed fee of 4 euro.
This is, therefore, a product aimed primarily at boys and girls (it can be requested from 12 years old and up) looking for a convenient and versatile method of payment that requires nothing more than their smartphone. Thanks to the app, in fact, it will be possible to manage the balance and any other function of the service, while for payments at physical stores you can take advantage of compatibility with Google Pay or Apple Pay.
Qonto, features and costs
Born in France, Qonto offers services tailored to the needs of professionals, self-employed and small and medium-sized enterprises. It is, therefore, a "professional" product, designed more for business users rather than consumers. Also for this reason, Qonto does not offer free plans: the three offers (Qonto Solo, Qonto Standard and Qonto Premium) require the payment of a monthly fee that starts from 9 euros per month.
Qonto Solo costs 9 euros per month + VAT, allows the creation of a single user profile (suitable, therefore, for self-employed and professionals) and allows you to request a debit card (Mastercard circuit) for free. In the basic package, Qonto includes 20 transactions per month between incoming and outgoing transfers (from the 21st onwards there is a fee).
Qonto Standard costs 29 euros per month + VAT and allows the creation of 5 user profiles within the same current account. It is calibrated to the needs of micro-businesses with more than one employee and provides up to 2 "physical" credit cards. The number of transactions included increases up to 100, while you will pay a commission of 0.90% on transfers in currencies other than the Euro.
Qonto Premium costs 99 euros per month + VAT and does not provide for major limitations. There are no limits to the number of users that can be created and the number of monthly transactions included is raised to 500. The monthly fee also includes 5 physical debit cards and 5 virtual cards, which can be used indifferently by one of the company's employees. The commission on transfers in foreign currency is 0.80%.
To each account, then, you can associate one of the different cards offered by Qonto: Carta One, Carta Plus and Carta X. The Qonto One card is free of charge and has a spending limit of 20 thousand euros per month and 1,000 euros of withdrawals (with a 2% commission on withdrawals); the Qonto Plus card costs 6 euros per month (in addition to the cost of your plan) and brings the spending threshold to 40 thousand euros per month and the withdrawal threshold to 2.000 the withdrawal threshold (with a 1% commission); the Qonto X card costs 20 euros per month and brings the withdrawal and spending limits to 4,000 euros and 60,000 euros respectively.
Monese, features and costs
Born in 2015 in the UK, Monese is a fintech startup that allows its customers to open a multi-currency (euro and sterling) online current account with a European IBAN. Like all other prepaid smart cards, Monese has the core of its operation in the app: account opening is done with the smartphone in a matter of minutes, while all features are easily accessible from the various sections of the app for Android and iPhone.
Monese has three different "plans" (Monese Simple, Monese Classic and Monese Premium), which provide users with different services and features. Monese Simple is free, allows you to withdraw up to 200 euros per month (for higher amounts you pay a 2% commission), spend the equivalent of 2.000 euros per month in foreign currency and apply for the physical card at a cost of 4.95 euros. Monese Classic costs €5.95 per month and allows you to withdraw up to €900 per month and spend up to the equivalent of €9,000 per month in foreign currency. Monese Premium costs 14.95 euros and has no limit of use, nor commission costs for spending in foreign currency.
Oval Pay, features and costs
Born in the UK, but with an Italian "heart", Oval Pay is the account card with Italian IBAN by OVAL, a fintech startup created with the aim of educating people about savings and investments. With Oval Pay you will not only have access to services and functionalities typical of an online current account, but you will also be able to access micro-investment services and investments calibrated on the most varied needs. Oval Pay, in fact, allows you to invest even small amounts (even 10 euros), allowing users to learn the dynamics of stock and financial markets.
By creating an Oval Pay account, therefore, you will not only have a prepaid card of the Visa circuit and the typical functions of a current account, but you will be able to start investing small amounts in a simple and fast way. The opening of an Oval Pay account is totally free, while there are some small fees. For withdrawals from ATMs outside the Euro area you will have to pay a fee of 2.5 euros, while instant transfers have a cost of 1 euro each.