Dedollarization in Zimbabwe left many people in a lurch. I personally used to take my ordinary Standard Chartered Bank card down South before the fall. There, I would use it to swipe for goods from My Price, Jet, and any other store that accepts VISA cards, much to the amazement and amusement of my brother, with whom I stayed on those visits. Amusement, because he couldn’t really fathom that Zimbabweans actually had the money to go around “doing shopping.”
He was to be excused however. At the time when he left, around 2008, things were so bad that it didn’t appear as if there was going to be a ray of hope in the near future. Anyway, that is a story for another time. In response to dedollarization, Banks in the country are now offering prepaid cards as an option for travelers.
If you wish to go to South Africa, as an example, you don’t need to carry around wards of cash. All that you need to do is go to your bank and deposit the money into a prepaid card. That way, even if those Tsotsi that make South Africa so terrifying stumble upon you, they won’t be able to find anything more than a few Rands. So, what’s up with FBC MasterCard?
The FBC MasterCard
I haven’t been down south in a while, yet I have recently had reason to acquire the prepaid FBC MasterCard. That was because I wanted to receive money via Wire Transfer from the United States, and the MasterCard was the cheapest of the available options. I have been using it for a few days, and thought I should share the following information with others;
- The prepaid MasterCard from FBC is actually a separate account. So, even if you already have an account with the bank, you are going to have to go through the hassle of opening a new account, including by bringing a passport sized photo, proof of residence and proof of employment.
- The Prepaid MasterCard from FBC can be used in any place that accepts MasterCard. That’s pretty much globally.
- FBC charges 2.5% when you deposit money into the Mastercard. They then charge 1.88% as transaction fees. If you are getting cash withdrawals, you are charged 3%.
- There are no monthly maintenance charges for the FBC prepaid MasterCard. This is what attracted me to the card. You don’t have to worry about your account being closed because you do not have sufficient amounts in there, as is the case with other nostro accounts.
- The Prepaid MasterCard from FBC will accept deposits via Wire Transfer from abroad. I have been using mine to get money from Google AdSense. Wire transfer is good because Zimbabweans do not have that many options when it comes to getting money from abroad.
- You can register on the FBC MasterCard portal to check your balance online.
- Should money be deposited into your account, you will get notification via SMS.
That’s it! That is all I have learnt in the short time that I have been using the FBC MasterCard. I need to repeat that the card is attractive since there are no maintenance fees. However, it is expensive in the sense that withdrawals attract a 10% charge.