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Reasons Why You Should Get the 100% Cash Back Cascade Prepaid Card (and Why You Should Not)

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Want to get 100% cash back on all your purchases?  The Cascade prepaid card gives you 100% cash back, but there are a few catches.

Disclosure: I earn cashback if you sign-up under my code.

How to get 100 percent cash back with the Cascade card, Traveling Well For Less

Chris Lynch, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Cascade Card, emailed me yesterday. I got to chat with him this morning. Here’s what you need to know about the Cascade CrowdFunded CashBack card.  And why you should or should not get the card. You may notice a lack of actual images of the Cascade card.  Because this card is regulated by the bank, Chris has to get approval for me to use images (including screenshots) from the website.  It’s a holiday weekend so no one is available. I’ll update this post next week with images.

Cascade Card

The Cascade card is a CrowdFunded cashback prepaid debit MasterCard that lets you can earn cash back based on how much the group spends.  You earn cash back for people you refer.  And you earn cash back for your friend’s referrals (and they do too!) for up to 6 generations of referred cardholders.   So the more your friends use their card, the more you and your friends earn.  And the more friends you refer and the more friends they refer, the more cash back you get back.   In a nutshell, the more everyone spends, the more everyone earns. Here’s how you can earn up to 100% cash back from the Cascade card:  

  • Spend $350 each month in non-PIN domestic purchases
  • Refer at least 1 friend
  • Your friend spends $350 each month

And their definition of friend is very loose. It could even be someone who writes a blog that you stumbled across when doing a search for cash back cards.  Or it can be an actual friend. 🙂

How to Use the Cascade Cash Back Card

You can use your Cascade Card everywhere debit MasterCard is accepted. So you can use it domestically and internationally. And the best thing.  There are NO foreign transaction fees when you use your card outside the US. But, you do not earn cash back on international purchases.  So you should only use your card internationally at ATMs. (I’m waiting for Chris to get back with me on confirmation on this.) To earn cash back, make sure you choose credit when using your card so you don’t have to enter your PIN.  Because only non-PIN based purchases count towards earning cash back.

Where and How to Load Your Card

You can load your Cascade Card with:

  • Bank transfer (no fee)
  • Cash (load fee varies)
  • Direct deposit (no fee)
  • Federal benefits such as Social Security, Social Security Disability, etc. (no fee)


And there may be other exciting ways to load your Cascade card in the near future. 🙂 (Pending regulatory approval.  I’ll keep you posted once it’s confirmed.) You can load your card at CVS, Walmart, Family Dollar, and Dollar General to name a few places where MasterCard loads are available.  Use the MasterCard rePower locator here to find the nearest store.

You can load your Cascade card at stores like Family Dollar, Traveling Well For Less

You can load your Cascade card at stores like Family Dollar Photo courtesy of Jml0519 at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons


Monthly Limits

You can make up to 10 loads per month to your Cascade card.  Each load can be up to $5,000 per day with a maximum of $15,000 per month. However, you can only keep a $10,000 balance on your Primary card and $3,000 for a Companion card.  (I’m waiting for Chris to confirm if the monthly load limit of $15,000 is the maximum total that can be loaded to a Primary and Companion card.  Or if you can load $15,000 a month on both cards.) You can withdraw $500 a day and up to $7,500 a month from the ATM.  Cascade charges a $1.50 ATM fee (see the list of other fees below) plus any fees charged by the ATM operator. There’s also a bit of fine print that concerns me:

We reserve the right to accept or reject any request to reload value to the Card. The Card Account may only be reloaded by you. Loads are subject to appropriate anti-fraud verification. Certain delays may be required to assure funds are available for loads prior to crediting to your Card Account and making funds available to you.

  If you’re a regular reader of the blog you know I’m a stickler for the fine print.  The possibility of loads being rejected, each cardholder having to load their own card (ha, like your non miles and points finatic spouse is going to love that), and funds being withheld bother me.   But it could be standard fine print. I’m going to reread the Target REDcard fine print to see if it has similar language.

Companion Cards

You can get up to 2 companion cards per account.  The Companion card is designed to help children learn to budget their money.    

Cascade designed the Companion card for minors between the ages of 13 and 17, but I don’t see any exclusions that prevent you from getting a Companion card for another adult.  

You can load any amount up to $3,000 to a Companion card. And the money you transfer to a Companion card counts as spending to earn cash back.

So you could load your Primary card and then transfer up to $3,000 each month to the Companion card without having to make any purchases!  And you may be able to transfer the money from the Companion card back to the Primary card.  And continue the cycle indefinitely.

To load money to a Companion card, you access your account page and transfer funds.  (Because Cascade cards are not yet available, I can’t get screenshots.)


You pay no fees when you use your card to make purchases, but there are a few other fees:

  • $6.99 – new account fee
  • $4.99 – Companion card (optional) new account fee
  • $4.99 – monthly service charge
  • $1.50 – ATM or bank teller cash withdrawal fee (plus fees charged by participating ATMs)
  • $4.95 – load fee (through some stores)

How Much Can You Earn?

Your cash back is based on the average amount you and your friends (referral group) spend on their cards.  So if the average monthly spend of your referral group spends $350, and you also spend $350, you get $350 or 100% cash back.

If your referred group spends $1,000 and you spend $1,000, you’ll get $1,000 back.  And so forth.  

There’s a handy cash back tool on the Cascade card site to help you figure out how much cash you can earn.

Over 100% Cash Back

Yes, it’s possible for you to get over 100% cash back.  

If you refer 10 friends and they each refer 5 friends and each of them spend $350, you’ll get 100% cash back when you spend $350 to $1,499.99.  And if you spend $1,500, you’ll get Diamond Status and $12,303.90 cash back!

Only Diamond status cardholders can earn over 100% cash back.  You can achieve Diamond Status by referring 3 new cardholders each month who spend $750 in non-PIN domestic purchases.

You have to requalify for Diamond status monthly.  So you may want to time your referrals so that each month you refer at least 3 new people so you can earn over 100% cash back with the Cascade card.

And because you can only earn up to 6 generations of referrals, it’s better if you actively refer people so that you downline (so to speak, or circle 1 if you’re looking at the handy tool on their website) has more people than if your referrers actively refer people.

If you earn over $10,000 in cash back you’ll be mailed a check.  You can also have the money transferred to your bank account although your bank may charge you fees.

How Soon Do You Earn Cash Back?

You earn cash back immediately.  But, you can’t cash out (or get a statement credit) until you’ve had the card for 3 months AND have spent at least $350 each month.

The Dreaded 1099

Because you can earn more than 100% cash back, you will be issued a 1099 at the end of the year.  And yes, there are cash back cards that offer 1 or 2% cash back and don’t issue you a 1099.

However, the cash back earned from those cards are considered discounts or rebates are are non taxable.

Here’s a video from Turbo Tax explaining when cash back rewards are taxable.


When You Won’t Earn Cash Back

If you refer a business or nonprofit you will not earn cash back on their purchases or that of their referrers for up to 2 generations. Wait, what?  I’ll explain.

Let’s say you refer Pat, Pat refers Susan, Susan refers Michael, Michael refers Randy, and Randy refers the Live Strong Foundation, and the Live Strong Foundation refers Tommy.  You would not earn cash back for purchases made by the Live Strong Foundation or Tommy.  But you will get cash back on purchases made by Pat, Sam, Erica, and Randy.

Here’s another example.  You refer the Live Strong Foundation, the Live Strong Foundation refers Ben, Ben refers Joshua, Joshua refers Laura, Laura refers Sean, and Sean refers Tammy.  You do not get cash back on any purchases made by the Live Strong Foundation and Ben.  But you do for all of Joshua, Laura, Sean, and Tammy’s purchases.

cash back Cascade card Traveling Well For Less

You don’t earn cash back on purchases made my nonprofits or businesses

Who Ponys up the Cash?

When you use a debit card as a credit card to make a purchase, the business is charged a small fee.  Cascade uses this fee to pay Cascade cardholders.

Who Should Get the Cascade Card

The Cascade card could be a game changer and a nice addition for manufactured spending.  Maybe, maybe not.

The unlimited earning benefit is awesome. But the taxable income is not.

You should get the Cascade card if:

  • You and your friends spend $350 each month (The money you make will offset load fees and ATM fees.)
  • You want a prepaid debit card that can be used internationally
  • You have a lot of friends

Who Should Not Get the Cascade Card

The idea of earning unlimited over 100% cash back is appealing.  But it’s not for everyone.

You should not get the Cascade card if:

  • You can’t pay your bills in full each month
  • You don’t spend $350 every month
  • You can’t afford the fees to load and use the card
  • You aren’t able to save (you get a 1099 if you earn more than $600 in cash back. You have to pay taxes on this amount.)
  • You don’t have friends (the whole concept is based on referrals so if you can’t refer anyone you make $0 cash back)

How to Get a Cascade CashBack Card

Because the Cascade card is regulated by the bank, I’m waiting on approval to use images (including screenshots) from the website.  I’ll update this post next week with images.

No credit check or social security number is required.

1.  Click on the “Get a Card” link from the Cascade to reserve your card.

2.  Enter your name, email, mobile phone  number, how you heard about the card, and referral code. (You can use mine IronyMotor.)

3.  You’ll be sent a link to confirm your email.  Once confirmed you’ll be given your own referral code so you can refer others.

4.  You’ll receive your card in about two weeks.  (Everyone is put on a waiting list until cards are issued.  Cascade expects to issue the first batch of cards in two weeks.)

You can refer people before you get your card.  Happy referring!

More questions? Check out the Cascade Card FAQs here.


The Cascade cash back card allows you to earn over 100% cash back on non-pin based purchases of $350 each month made in the US.  Your actual cash back amount is determined by how much you and those you’ve referred spend.

You can earn unlimited cash back each month payable as a statement credit, check, or bank transfer.  Cash back of $10,000 or more each month is automatically paid as a check or bank transfer.

There are fees associated with the Cascade card.  But the money you earn could cover those fees.

Email me if you have any questions.

Get 100 percent cash with the Cascade card, Traveling Well For Less

I’m looking forward to trying the Cascade card. I see a lot of great potential.  Not too keen on paying taxes, but it could well be worth it.  What are you thoughts on the Cascade card?  Have you ordered yours yet?

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Ed Hasan

Sunday 4th of October 2015

Good article. Here's my question. What is the benefit for a non-profit or a business to get this pre-paid card, like what is a value for them? I am not getting it.

Debra Schroeder

Sunday 18th of October 2015

Hi Ed,

Non-profits can earn cash back as a regular person would. Not sure if a business can get the card. You'd have to check with Cascade.

Cascade Prepaid MC Cashback - FlyerTalk Forums

Saturday 23rd of May 2015

[…] anyone seen this: Also a write up here: With a little coordination of referrals (that we could easily do through FT), this looks […]

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