ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (2/10/11)--In the past, prepaid cards were primarily a gift card product for most credit unions. But times have changed, according to two white papers released by PSCU Financial Services, a credit union service organization (CUSO) based in St. Petersburg, Fla. The papers, "A Case for Prepaid Cards" and "Achieving Profitability with Prepaid Cards," are available for free at the CUSO's website. Use the link. According to PSCU Financial Services, the papers document explosive growth for reloadable cards. Sales were up 52% in 2009 and money loaded onto the cards was 46% higher for 2009 than in previous years. By contrast, sales of gift cards were up 15% and money loads increased 17%. "Reloadable cards offer the ability to strengthen existing relationships, deliver an alternative to potential new members who may not qualify for a debit card and are attractive for the underserved market," said Ron Silvia, vice president debit, ATM and prepaid products, at the CUSO. "This product also enhances relationships through the recurring member contact required to reload the cards," he added. Driven by the economic downturn, members are turning to reloadable cards to help them stick to a monthly budget. The cards also are a money management tool for those struggling to obtain or maintain credit and debit cards, according to the papers. The CUSO said these cards also deliver a strong revenue stream since they are not subject to gift card regulations in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 and new debit regulations. PSCU Financial Services, which serves more than 1,500 financial institutions nationwide, also offers free white papers on credit, debit, eCommerce, cards for small businesses and call centers.