H&R Block’s Emerald Prepaid Card Touts ‘Instant’ Mobile Check Deposit, Rewards (Dec. 6, 2012)
Dec. 6, 2012
H&R Block, in an effort to drive up year-round usage of its Emerald Prepaid MasterCard, this week added a mobile check-deposit feature with “instant” funds availability, plus a new shopping incentive that provides instant cash rewards for making purchases at about a dozen different retailers. Though a growing number of prepaid card issuers are pushing various types of rewards, H&R Block touts its offering as unique because the deals are automatic and the rewards funds appear immediately in a cardholder’s account. “The cardholder doesn’t have to do anything to get the rewards … there are no points to track,” an H&R Block spokesperson tells Paybefore. Customers may sign up through H&R Block’s mobile app to receive e-mail notifications of Emerald Cash Rewards that change each week, H&R Block said. A typical reward now is $10 for a $100 purchase at Target Corp.; during tax season customers may get a $2 reward for a $10 Burger King purchase.
Emerald Prepaid cardholders also may deposit checks to their prepaid accounts using a smartphone with a mobile and online banking app H&R Block launched Nov. 26 in association with financial services platform provider Plastyc Inc. Block charges 2 percent of the value of a government check and 4 percent of the value of all other checks deposited through its mobile channel. What sets the service apart from rival offerings is the fact that as soon a check is approved—typically within three to five minutes—cardholders may use the funds, without waiting for the check to clear, an H&R Block spokesperson says. While the immediate availability of funds typically is not offered by banks to their traditional checking account customers, in October, Visa and Chexar announced a platform that provides Visa prepaid cardholders mobile deposit capture and immediate funds as well. Adding mobile check deposit is a plus for cardholders, Madeline Aufseeser, a senior analyst with Aite Group, tells Paybefore, noting that other prepaid card issuers offer a similar service. JPMorgan Chase & Co. in August added mobile capabilities, including check deposit, for its Chase Liquid prepaid card. And U.S. Bank in 2010 introduced mobile banking for AccelaPay prepaid Visa, which now includes mobile check deposit. “Prepaid card issuers have different charging models for remote deposit, and the speed of funds availability tends to affect the cost,” Aufseeser says.