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Teens are an attractive market for prepaid cards, which can teach lessons about personal finance, provide protections similar to credit and debit cards, and give parents a way to track spending, according to Mintel International Group Ltd., a Chicago-based marketing-research firm. In an April survey of 2,000 consumers, Mintel found 62% of respondents with children attending or planning to attend college are interested in having their children use a prepaid card instead of a credit card. Teens using prepaid cards cannot amass debt or overdraw their accounts. Prepaid cards offer the protection of credit cards, and some prepaid cards provide an opportunity to build credit, Mintel says. Prepaid cards teach teens how to use plastic within limits and help them learn to budget, says Susan Menke, Mintel senior financial services analyst. "The words 'credit card' scare people a little bit [when they are] in the hands of youngsters, even though a credit card has a credit limit," Menke says.

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