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Money Fix: Using payroll cards

Employers increasingly are using payroll cards -- a

Employers increasingly are using payroll cards -- a debit card with a paycheck on it. There are benefits to the card for employer and employee, but experts advise both parties to know the rules. Credit: iStock

Employers increasingly are using payroll cards -- a debit card with your paycheck on it. Eliminating paper checks saves companies money and employees have convenient access to their money. However, payroll cards aren't simple.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a bulletin warning employers against using payroll cards exclusively and outlining rules and regulations.

Payroll cards offer pluses for those without bank accounts. They are cheaper than check cashing services that take a percentage of a check, and safer than carrying lots of cash.

Here's what you need to know.

Ask about fees: "You could be charged for receiving paper statements, using out-of-network ATMs, or checking your balance. Every card has different rules," says Bradford Pine, president of Bradford Pine Wealth Group in Garden City.

Read the fine print: "Some cards don't offer any 'fee-less' transactions," warns Larry Dunivan, executive vice president of Ceridian HCM in Minneapolis.

Be savvy: "Use the card at least once a month to avoid inactivity fees, and choose the credit option instead of debit for purchases," says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action.

Know what you're getting: "Some have features that include online bill pay and text message and email alerts on account balances. Learning about the extra features helps you determine if the card is a good fit for you," says Gary Lott, general manager for payments and compliance at ADP.

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