Prepaid cards are often used as an alternative form of banking and offer the same convenience as a credit card or debit card. Because you can only spend the amount of money you load onto a prepaid card, you can use it like cash without worrying about getting into debt or paying overdraft fees.
Prepaid cards do not require a credit check or a bank account to apply. Prepaid cards help manage your spending by setting limits and category or store restrictions. Most prepaid cards charge a fee per transaction or offer a monthly plan with unlimited transactions. Fees vary by the type and location of the transaction.
The rising popularity of reloadable prepaid cards has created plenty of options. When looking at all the card offers that are on the market today, we asked, “what are the best prepaid cards?” The best prepaid cards offer convenience and flexibility and charge no or low fees while providing consumer protection. We have highlighted each card's most notable features below.
Best for free account, setting up a direct deposit to reload. This card is one of the few free prepaid cards available on the market. Open an account, receive the first card and set up direct deposit for free. Use the card anywhere Visa is accepted, and your funds are FDIC insured by the issuing bank. Remember to use the card as credit (signature purchase) as it costs less compared to using as debit (PIN purchase).
Best for earning miles on every dollar spent. The only prepaid card that offers frequent flyer miles when you make a signature transaction. The annual plan is slightly more expensive than a monthly plan but offers more miles per dollar spent. Purchase transaction fees are included in plan price. You can avoid ATM fees by doing a cash back transaction while making a DEBIT purchase at retail stores.
Best for linking to a PayPal account and transferring funds from and to your account. The nice feature about this card is the ability to link to and transfer funds from a PayPal account for easy deposits. You also have the option to earn cash back rewards. It requires a PayPal account to link to the prepaid card, and only one card can be linked to an account. Two secondary card holders are allowed with free additional cards.
Best for showing support for your favorite team. Designed for baseball fans who want to show their support with their team’s logo on the card. Offers three different plan options: Pay-as-you-go, Fee Advantage and Premier Fee Advantage. Select a plan based on your total monthly transactions and fees. Premier Fee Advantage is your best option If you can set up a direct deposit and complete at least five transactions per month.
Best for access to 130,000 participating NetSpend ATM locations with no fees to reload or withdraw cash. Brink’s provides a direct deposit option, and you can access your funds up to two days faster. You can use any of the 130,000 NetSpend locations to reload or withdraw cash. The card also sets some decent limits: $940 on daily ATM withdrawals, $15,000 for daily direct deposits and a maximum of $15,000 balance.
|Card||Best For||Activation Fee||ATM Fee||Transaction Fee||Other Fees|
|NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card||Free account, setting up a direct deposit to reload||$0||$2.50 + any third party ATM fees||$1 for credit or $2 for debit||$9.95 for a secondary or replacement card|
|Green Dot 5% Cash Back Visa® Debit Card||Earn 5% Cash Back on purchases, up to $100 per reward year||$0||$3.00 Withdrawal and $0.50 balance inquiry, plus any fees the ATM owner may charge||Included in plan||$9.95 per month; $5.00 replacement card|
|United Airlines Mileage Plus® GO Visa® Prepaid Card||Earning miles on every dollar spent||$0||Included in plan. $2.50 for out of network ATMs||Included in plan||$5.95 per month or $85 per year plan fees|
|PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®||Linking to a PayPal account and transferring funds from and to your account||$0||$1.95 plus third-party ATM fees||Included in plan||$4.95 per month|
|Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® – Proud Partner of MLB®||Showing support for your favorite team||$0||$2.50 with pay-as-you-go plan||$1 for credit or $2 for debit with pay-as-you-go plan||No monthly fees with pay-as-you-go plan; $5.95 inactivity fee|
|Brink’s® Prepaid Mastercard®||Access to 130,000 participating NetSpend ATM locations with no fees to reload or withdraw cash||$0||$2.50 with pay-as-you-go plan||$1 for credit or $2 for debit with the pay-as-you-go plan||$0 pay-as-you-go plan or $9.95 monthly or $5.95 for preferred plans with all transaction fees included|
|24k Prepaid Visa® RushCard||Referral bonus||$3.95||$0 for in-network ATMs, $3.00 for out-of-network ATMs||$1 per purchase without a monthly plan, N/A with a monthly plan||$7.95 in monthly fees without direct deposit, $5.95 in monthly fees with direct deposit, or N/A with the pay-as-you-go plan|
|AccountNow® Gold Visa® Prepaid Card||Sign-on bonus||$0||$2.50 plus out of network ATM fees||Included in plan||$9.95 monthly fee; $10 for a replacement card|
|Carbon Prepaid Visa® RushCard||Faster direct deposits and real time alerts||$3.95||$0 for in-network ATMs, $3.00 for out-of-network ATMs||$1 per purchase without a monthly plan, N/A with a monthly plan||$7.95 in monthly fees without direct deposit, $5.95 in monthly fees with direct deposit, or N/A with the pay-as-you-go plan|
|Gloss Prepaid Visa® RushCard||No maintenance fee with a monthly plan||$3.95||$0 for in-network ATMs, $3.00 for out-of-network ATMs||$1 per purchase without a monthly plan, N/A with a monthly plan||$7.95 in monthly fees without direct deposit, $5.95 in monthly fees with direct deposit, or N/A with the pay-as-you-go plan|
|Midnight Prepaid Visa® RushCard||Low-cost monthly plan with direct deposit set up||$3.95||$0 for in-network ATMs, $3.00 for out-of-network ATMs||$1 per purchase without a monthly plan, N/A with a monthly plan||$7.95 in monthly fees without direct deposit, $5.95 in monthly fees with direct deposit, or N/A with the pay-as-you-go plan|
|Sequin KLS Prepaid Visa® RushCard||Mobile app with text alerts on purchases and other transactions||$9.95||$0 for in-network ATMs, $3.00 for out-of-network ATMs||$1 per purchase without a monthly plan, N/A with a monthly plan||$7.95 in monthly fees without direct deposit, $5.95 in monthly fees with direct deposit, or N/A with the pay-as-you-go plan|
First, write down the main reason you want to get a prepaid debit card, whether it’s to manage spending, shop online, travel, improve your bad credit or merely avoid dealing with banks. All prepaid debit cards promise to be all-purpose, so consider each card and understand how they meet your requirements by keeping the fees to a minimum. It doesn’t make financial sense to pay fees for features you won’t use and don’t need.
If managing a budget is your priority, a reloadable prepaid card is the best option. A prepaid credit card lets you preload money before you use it, and you cannot spend more than what you put on it. Look for cards with additional features like an option to limit the stores where you can purchase and other money tracking tools.
You should be able to reload and access funds conveniently with your prepaid card. A free and big ATM network is important, but also ask about online bill pay, direct deposit, money transfers and retail network acceptance.
Unlike bank accounts, FDIC and fraud protection are not standard features of a prepaid credit card despite the new rules set by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Remember to ask the questions “Are the funds FDIC insured?” and “Is there protection for unauthorized use?” Prepaid credit cards backed by a major bank are more likely to offer protection services compared to others.
Prepaid cards do not help build your credit history because they’re not associated with your social security number and don’t report to any credit bureau. That being said, reloadable prepaid cards are a good alternative to a traditional credit card for someone with poor credit while they wait on their credit history to improve.
Most prepaid cards charge some fees, such as an ATM withdrawal fee, reload fee, transfer fee and/or online transaction fee. Carefully read the terms and conditions of each card and note the various fees associated with your card usage.
You don’t have to pay to open an account, and you also don’t have to pay interest. But be aware of various fees charged by prepaid cards.
Some of the common fees charged by prepaid bank cards include ATM fee, transaction fee, reload fee, funds transfer fee, card replacement fee, foreign transaction fee, balance inquiry fee, statement fee, bill payment fee, account maintenance or inactivity fee and a monthly fee.
Yes, garnishment is possible on a prepaid debit card. However, the legal costs usually outweigh what would be gained, so garnishment of a prepaid card is not a common practice.
You can add money to a prepaid card by setting up a direct deposit or transferring money from a checking account to a prepaid card online. In most cases, the issuing bank will have options available to reload at their branch locations.
No. It is not possible to transfer money from credit card to prepaid card online, but you can try using a balance transfer check or a cash advance. Check interest rates on your credit card before you do this.
Most prepaid cards can hold up to a maximum of $10,000. Prepaid cards also have limits on daily reload and transaction amounts. Check your prepaid card agreement for more information.
If you own a prepaid Visa card, prepaid Mastercard or any other prepaid card linked to a major card network (VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover), you can use it online just like any other credit or debit card.
Yes. PayPal accepts all prepaid credit cards associated with a major credit card network. Add the prepaid credit card to your PayPal account and start using it.
No. Because prepaid credit cards do not report to any credit bureau, they do not help build credit. If you are looking to build your credit score or improve your credit score because you have bad credit, secured credit cards are an excellent option.
A prepaid card is not linked to your bank account, unlike a debit card which is linked to a checking account. Spending on a prepaid card is limited to the funds loaded on to the card, so you can’t get overdraft charges.
Any prepaid card related to the Visa credit card network is considered a prepaid Visa. Compare major credit card networks to learn about different benefits offered, and pick one that matches your needs.
Prepaid Mastercard is a prepaid card associated with the Mastercard credit card network. Selecting prepaid Visa or prepaid Mastercard depends on the services offered by each network.
MyThreeCents’ personal finance team carefully evaluates each credit card and ranks them based on their merit. The process involves analyzing various factors, including but not limited to, Annual Percentage Rate (APR), fees, cash back offers, airline miles and other rewards. Our team independently collects the information and carefully assesses each credit card, looking for maximum consumer value. As always, we strive to help consumers to become better educated before making a purchase.
The information we provide and the analysis we share is always free. So, how do we survive? We get compensated by our partners, which may sometimes influence the products or services we review and the order in which they appear. Our suggestions and guidance are unbiased and are based only on our thorough research.