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 2017. We include the top overall picks as well as the winning cards in specific categories.
Best Overall Prepaid Debit Cards
American Express Serve: There are two reasons the Serve card made this list—great features at rock bottom costs.
First, Serve offers the same level of service American Express provides to its cardholders. 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 includes 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 used to come in three different versions. It has now been consolidated into a single card. With the current version, there is a $5.00 monthly fee. What sets this card apart for many is that you can earn cash back on purchases at Walmart.
Green Dot Prepaid Card: This card makes the list of best overall card because of its rich features and relatively low fees. It offers direct deposit, you can deposit checks from your smartphone, and the mobile app makes it easy to track your spending. It does charge a $7.95 monthly fee, but waives this fee if you load $1,000 or more per month. Green Dot also offers a cash back version of this card.
Best Alternative to a Checking Account
Netspend Prepaid Card: This is our top pick for a prepaid card that acts as a bank account alternative. Its features make it ideal for those without a checking account. You can deposit checks via a smartphone app. You can add money to the card at over 130,000 locations. Netspend provides an app to budget your money. And with the Premier version of the card, fees are lower and Netspend even offers a $10 purchase cushion if you run short of money.
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. It’s a popular option because of its easy integration with your PayPal account.
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.
BB&T LEAP® Account Card: This is a good option if you live or go to school near a BB&T bank. You can get cash for free at any BB&T location. The fees are reasonable. And you have access to a mobile app to monitor your money.
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).
Prepaid Visa RushCard: (MoneyPass® ATM network-24,000)
Walmart MoneyCard: (MoneyPass® ATM network-24,000)
American Express Serve: (MoneyPass® ATM network-24,000)