Prepaid debit cards have come a long way in the last five years. Once reserved for those who didn’t qualify for a bank account, today prepaid cards are used by teenagers, the budget minded, and even as a checking account alternative. Many of the best prepaid debit cards come with excellent features and minimal fees.
Finding the card that best meets your needs depends largely on how you plan to use the card. A parent monitoring a teenager’s spending may find one card option ideal, while a different card is best suited for those wanting to shop online or travel internationally.
For this reason we’ve assembled this guide to the top prepaid debit card offers of 2015. We include the top overall picks as well as the winning cards in specific categories.
Best Overall Prepaid Debit Cards
Kaiku Prepaid Visa: A lesser known option, Kaiku is designed with millennials in mind. Its key features include mobile check deposits, direct deposit, cash loads with Visa ReadyLink, transfer payments from PayPal or Amazon, and online bill pay. In addition, cardholders can get cash at one of 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs.
Kaiku also has one of the lowest and simplest fee structures. There is a monthly maintenance fee of $3.00. Beyond that there is no fee for typical card usage.
American Express Serve: There are two reasons the Serve card made this list—great features at rock bottom costs.
First, Serve comes with the level of service American Express is known for. From roadside assistance to purchase protection, this is one of the few prepaid cards with benefits that rival most credit cards. As a prepaid card, Serve offers the features most consumers will need. The list of features include direct deposit, online bill pay, and mobile capabilities such as mobile check deposits.
Despite its long list of features, Serve is one of the lowest cost prepaid cards available today. There is no fee to get the card and a monthly fee of just $1 (which can be waived in certain circumstances). There are no additional fees for in-network ATM usage, online bill pay, card replacement, or even in-network cash reloads.
Walmart MoneyCard: This card comes in three different versions. With each version there is a $3.00 monthly fee. What sets this card apart from many is that you can load cash on the card at Walmart for free with the Preferred version of the card (there is a $4 purchase fee for this card). In addition, there is no charge for using one of 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs.
Best Alternative to a Checking Account
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard: The card offers direct deposit, online bill pay, a high interest savings account, and a purchase cushion. You can also manage your money from a smartphone with an app for either the iPhone or an Android device.
Bluebird by American Express: Described as a checking account alternative, the Bluebird offers just about every banking feature one could want. The card offers online and mobile bill pay, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and even the ability to write checks. It also enables you to set up subaccounts for children with spending limits, and to create savings goals. As an added perk, the card offers 2x Walmart rewards called the Walmart Savings Catcher. The card is available at Walmart and has only one fee—a $2.50 fee for using an out-of-network ATM.
Best Prepaid Debit Card for Teenagers & College Students
Visa Buxx Card: This card is specifically designed for teenagers and is issued by a number of banks including U.S. Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union. For parents the card is easy to load, and you can track your teenager’s spending on the card and receive text alerts. Teenagers can customize the card and get mobile access to their account.
Bluebird by American Express: The Bluebird card offers Family Accounts for up to four individuals. Each family member receives his or her own card. Daily spending limits can be set for each card, and ATM use can be turned off or on. The card offers text alerts so parents know when a teenager has used the card.
Best Prepaid Debit Card for ATM Use
There are several prepaid cards that offer free ATM usage. These cards typically require that the cardholder use an ATM within a network associated with the card. Here are several free ATM prepaid cards (along with the ATM network and number of ATMs if available).
Kaiku Prepaid Visa (Allpoint Network–55,000)
Prepaid Visa RushCard (MoneyPass® ATM network-24,000)
Walmart MoneyCard (MoneyPass® ATM network-24,000)