(BPT) - Many Americans use prepaid cards because they are a convenient, safe and secure way to manage their finances. In todayís digital world, prepaid cards can also help protect your privacy and money when making online transactions.

Here are four tips for using prepaid cards as efficient identity-protecting payments tools:

1. Use a prepaid card when travelling to other countries. Prepaid cards can be loaded with a set amount of funds before a trip and used to make purchases in the local country currency. The cards arenít tied to a bank account or large credit line, yet they offer more protections than cash, which if it is lost or stolen is gone forever. The funds on prepaid cards can be replaced if the card is lost or stolen in accordance with the zero-liability policies of the payments network (such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa). There are also many cards specifically designed for international travel with locked-in exchange rates and 24 hour help.

2. Reduce the risk associated with paychecks. Getting a physical paycheck is not only a hassle, itís insecure. Millions of paychecks are lost and stolen each year, leaving workers without immediate access to their money. With prepaid payroll cards wages are electronically deposited onto the cards and employees receive immediate access to make fee-free purchases and withdrawals.

3. Combat concerns about online breaches. According to ComScore, 78 percent of the American population 15 years of age and over purchased something online in the first quarter of last year. But with several online data breaches in recent months, consumers are left wondering about their online payment security and privacy of their purchases. Prepaid cards with the American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa logo offer zero-liability protections but with added peace of mind for consumers. The cards are loaded only with a set amount of funds of the consumerís choosing, so hackers cannot get access to bank accounts or credit lines. Consumers who want to ensure their sensitive purchases of medication or personal care products remain private can also use a low-denomination prepaid gift card, which requires no personal information to purchase.

4. Give college students money management training wheels. College students need a convenient way to pay for books, food and gas, but in many cases they are managing their budget on their own and without Mom and Dad for the first time. Student prepaid cards offer all the benefits of a payment card product, but Mom and Dad can set the funding limit every month and rest easy their college student will not rack up long-term debt or expensive overdraft charges. Another bonus: many college campuses offer the option to roll student ID cards, library cards and meal plans onto one student prepaid card, reducing the plastic in a studentís wallet.

Visit www.nbpca.org for more tips on prepaid cards.