Prepaid Debit Cards for Research Participants

The Prepaid Debit Card program has been developed to allow researchers to pay their participants using a prepaid visa card.

On this page:

Program Descriptions

Eligible studies may enroll in one of the following programs. Study participants receive compensation simply and securely through a prepaid Visa debit card.

Our research team has been very happy using the US Bank Card reloadable Focus Blue Visa cards to pay our study participants since February 2023.  A main benefit of this program is that there is no charge to the grant for the cards or for loading payments.  In addition, the financial management team who supports the program is very helpful and responsive to questions and concerns.

Larry Hawk, Psychology

Available Card Programs

Program 1: Reloadable Card

Program 2:
One-Time Digital Reward

Program 3:
One-Time Plastic Reward Card


Name not printed on card, but personal information is collected to register

Name not associated with digital reward, but email is required to activate


Type of Card:

Physical, plastic card

Activated by consumer via website. Email is sent with authorization code

Physical, plastic card

Reloadable with Additional Funds:




Replaceable if Lost:




Technology Required to Activate:

Email address, access to the Internet, or phone

Email address and Access to Internet

Phone number or Access to Internet

Subject Participant's  Information Required to Register:

First name, last name, physical mailing address, DOB

Email address


IRB Approval Required:




Subject's SSN Required*:




Taxable Income Reporting Form Required:
No No No

Release of Funds (48 hours max approval):




Cash Access:

Yes (ATM fees apply)



Where to Use:

ATM, anywhere Visa Credit or Debit cards are accepted (in-person and online)

Redeemable via online retailers accepting Visa Debit Cards

Anywhere Visa Credit or Debit cards are accepted (in-person and online)

Initial Cost per Card:

No cost

$1.00 per card

$1.50 per card

Cost of Replacement Card:

No cost

No cost

$15.00 per card

Inactivity Fee:
$2.00 per month after 365 days of no activity does not apply
does not apply
Monthly Maintenace Fee:
does not apply does not apply
$3.00 per month begins after 12 months

*In general, the SSN isn’t required, however, if a subject receives payments of $600 or more in a calendar year then the SSN will be required at that point via completion of the W-9 or W-8 tax form.

Who is Eligible

Research Foundation (RF) Studies meeting the following criteria are eligible to enroll in the program:

  • Current approve IRB
  • Avaliable Funding
  • RF funded activity (Sponsored or Non-Sponsored)

How to Apply to the Program

Before Completing the Application Have the Following Ready
  1. IRB Approval
  2. Account Number
  3. US Bank Advance Request Form
  4. Study Payment Schedule  

To apply for the program the following information must be provided through the on line application:

  • Card program choice: Reloadable, Digital Rewards, or Plastic Rewards
  • PI Contact Information (Name, Email, Phone Number)
  • Project or Research Study Information (Name of Project or Study, Name of Sponsor, Project Study or Description, Project-Task-Award Account number, Department, Decanal Unit, Current IRB Expiration Date, IRB approval document to upload, Study Begin Date, Anticipated Study End Date, Anticipated Timeframe for Fund Disbursement, Study Payment Schedule [if applicable])
  • Participant Payment Information (Total dollar amount of request and number of cards)
  • Contact information for project or study staff who will register cards, load cards, and or report on funding through the website portal (Name, Title, Email, Type of Access: Register Card, Load Card, and or Reporting)

Next Steps

After submitting the form, the information will be reviewed by Financial Management staff and the following steps will take place:

  1. You will work with your award analyst in Sponsored Projects to provide advance funds to US Bank.
  2. Financial Management staff will set up your security for the US Bank website and you will receive two emails to establish your account.
  3. Financial Management staff will contact you and your team to schedule training in the U.S. Bank Administrative website.
  4. You will schedule a time to come and pick up any physical cards from financial management (if needed).

Reconciliation Process

Principal Investigators (PIs) are responsible for reconciliation of cards disbursed (subject identifier, dollar amount, and date).

For sponsored awards: PIs are required to provide monthly reconciliation documents to the Sponsored Project Services (SPS) Award Analyst.

For non-sponsored awards: PIs are required to provide monthly reconciliation documents to the Non-Sponsored Group.

Any undistributed funds will be returned to the originating award upon the completion of the study.

Contact an Expert

Valerie Dennis.

Valerie Dennis

Asset Management, Card Programs and eProcurement

Financial Management

Phone: 716-645-2604


Ragland, Kevin.

Kevin Ragland

Procurement Card Administration, Financial Management

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