For some employers, paycards have become a convenient and cost-effective alternate method to pay their workers, and for employees to have fast and easy access to their wages. Even direct deposit, for all the administrative ease it provides, is often less attractive than paycards for employees whose banks have a mandatory deposit holding period before wages can be accessed. As a consequence, the move to paying employees with a paycard system is gaining traction, and appears to be growing in popularity among employers and employees alike.
A paycard system functions similarly to a bank debit card, except it does not require an employee to have a personal bank account from which he or she draws funds. Instead, an employer funds an account linked to an employee’s specifically issued paycard, and on every payday the funds paid to the employee are immediately accessible for access through any ATM terminal or debit card pay station. This gives employees the freedom to take as cash all their wages at once, or to spend them in smaller amounts, such as when they buy groceries at a market. The companies that provide these paycard benefits often offer less expensive administrative fees to employers than more traditional payroll services, and many employees appear to like paycards because there is no need for them to have a bank account or use a paycheck cashing service. Paycards can also be convenient to employees because of the immediate access to funds without any bank holding period and the ability of employees to access their pay at any of thousands of locations. However, paycards have not come without some concern on the employee side, as the paycard service may charge fees to the paycard user based on the way he or she uses the card. For example, while a paycard administrator may allow an employee the ability to withdraw the entire balance of his or her recent paycheck without a fee, or allow a specified number of debit transactions without a fee, subsequent transactions carry a small fee taken out of the employee’s balance.