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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bail yourself out of jail with a credit card

Credit cards are one of the most popular modes of payment used today in all merchants and establishments all over the world. But apart from being used in making purchases or paying bills, there is one more purpose the credit cards serve, and that is, to bail one out of jail.

Although this particular function may seem funny and bizarre, it is a fact that credit cards today are now accepted in jails as a payment for one’s bail. In fact, jail bail credit card has been in used since they were first introduced back in August 2007.

In Madison County, New York, jail bail credit cards are accepted and many people confronted with cases that are bail-able have been using credit cards to get themselves out of jail. They can walk away until they are scheduled to appear on court for their trial. Of course, just like in any case, failure to show up court will lead to a warrant of arrest.

How is credit card used in bailing? There’s really not much difference in how credit cards are swiped in departments stores and groceries as they are swiped in jail. The only difference is that, the prisoner will be charged with an additional, non-refundable fee that will be added to his bond payment. This means, a person facing lawsuit will not be able to refund this amount even after he appears on the court trial.

What kinds of credit cards can be used for bail payments? CitiBusiness Card, Discover Card and American Express have already been used to make these kinds of payment. Other jails accept credit card bails through with help of a separate bail transactions processing office. For instance, Government Payment EXP acts like third-part merchant that handles bails that are paid through credit cards. This company contacts the credit card issuer to make sure that there is available credit on the card and that the payment will be sent accordingly.

For jailers, credit cards used as bail payments do not make any difference in their duties. As long as the payment has been sent by the credit card company, the jailers will receive a fax informing them that the bail has been paid. In turn, they let the people walk out from their custody.

The advantages and the disadvantages about this issue is still a subject of debate for groups who are against this system and for those who agree to it. The national organization for bail bondsmen is strongly against the idea that prisoners can easily get themselves out of jail through their credit card.

For defendants, the option to get out of jail more conveniently is a much welcome change. Some credit card companies even allow its card holders to earn reward points out of their bail payments which is of course, an advantage for the credit card holder.

In any case, while the debate on whether credit cards used for bail payments are beneficial or not still continues. Nevertheless, it is a practice that is now being taken by people who are put in jail and are facing bail-able cases.

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