Want to use a prepaid debit card but concerned about having to pay to access your cash? Here are four ways to avoid ATM fees, so you don’t have to pay to get your own money.
Although consumer preferences may be shifting to digital payments over cash, sometimes you just have to have cash.
If you’re a prepaid card user, getting cash may carry its own price tag–in the form of ATM fees. Many prepaid cards charge their fees for ATM withdrawals, and that may be in addition to fees charged by the ATM operator.
Fortunately, prepaid card users have options to reduce or even eliminate ATM fees and keep more money in their pocket. Need access to cash? Here are four ways to get it without paying ATM fees.
Use a Prepaid Card With a No-Fee ATM Network
The best way to avoid prepaid card ATM fees is to start with one that offers no-fee ATM withdrawals at its in-network locations. However, even if the prepaid card has a no-fee network, not all cards are created equal.
Non-Bank Prepaid Cards with Large Free ATM Networks
There are a number of choices for prepaid cards offering large no-fee ATM networks.
Mission Money Debit Card, for example, offers fee-free ATM withdrawals from any Plus Alliance ATM. Plus Alliance is Visa’s surcharge-free ATM network. Mission Money doesn’t charge any fees either when cardholders use a Plus Alliance ATM.
also offers fee-free ATM withdrawals. It uses the MoneyPass network. MoneyPass has over 37,000 fee-free ATMs across the U.S., making it one of the more convenient choices. Other MoneyPass participants include prepaid cards like the Walmart MoneyCard® Visa®. You can search for MoneyPass ATMs here.
The Allpoint ATM network provides even more ATM options than MoneyPass–over 55,000. But there are fewer prepaid cards to choose from that use the Allpoint network. You can search for Allpoint ATMs here.
Bank and Credit Union Prepaid Cards
Most prepaid cards offered by brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions offer free ATM withdrawals at the bank’s ATMs. But ATMs for credit unions and many regional banks may be few and far between. Leave the bank’s service area or use the random convenience store ATM, and you may pay an out-of-network fee. Charges can be up to $2.95 per withdrawal, plus the fee charged by the ATM owner.
But some banks expand their presence–and their free ATM choices–by participating in one of the larger surcharge-free ATM networks. The BBVA Compass ClearSpend Visa®, for example, offers free ATM withdrawals at BBVA Compass ATMs, primarily in 5 states. But the ClearSpend Visa can also be used for free at Allpoint ATMs nationwide.
With either a regional or national bank, you just need to make sure you live in a state where your bank has a strong ATM presence or is connected to a national ATM network, to avoid those out-of-network fees.
Get Cash Back at the Register
Many major retailers allow you to get cash back with a PIN purchase. When you choose debit at the register and enter your PIN, you’ll be asked if you want cash back. Answer yes, then add the amount of money you need to your purchase. If your card doesn’t have transaction fees, you can access cash for no cost.
Others, like the Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card and the Brink's Prepaid Mastercard®, have fee plan options to choose from. You can select a no monthly fee plan that charges transaction fees for PIN purchases or a no transaction fee plan that charges a monthly fee.
If you want to use PIN transactions to get cash, consider choosing monthly fee plans with no transaction fees. It’ll be cheaper in the long run.
Use Person-to-Person Transfers
Just like more shops are adding non-cash payment options, the ways to transfer money to your friends and family for free are on the rise. Venmo, for instance, waives transfer fees for sending money with your prepaid debit card. Like with all online shopping, however, the card needs to be registered with your name and billing address.
Some cards even have their own unique transfer options with no fees. The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® allows you to send money to someone else’s PayPal account for free. The Green Dot Prepaid Visa® offers no-fee transfers to any other Green Dot card holder.
The Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card allows you to transfer money not only to other Netspend cards but also other cards managed by Netspend, like the Brink’s Mastercard or the PayPal Mastercard all at no cost.
Owe your buddy $20 for pizza? Use a no-cost P2P transfer instead of stopping at the ATM.
Minimize Trips to the ATM
Another sure-fire way to avoid ATM fees is by limiting how much you use them. Before stopping at an ATM, consider whether you can make the purchase directly with the card rather than using cash. Even call ahead to make sure the store, restaurant, or market you’re visiting doesn’t accept plastic.
More and more stores that once required cash are accepting plastic–like farmer’s markets and artisan stores. If you have a card with no signature purchase fee, merely using your card will save you some money in fees.
Still need cash? Then minimize the trips by increasing the amount you withdraw in a single trip and skip the next one. Fees are by the transaction, not the amount.
The Wrap Up
You can access cash from your prepaid debit card without falling prey to high ATM fees. The options for making payments without cash are growing every day, which makes it easier to get around the need for cash and the need for ATM trips.
But if you still regularly need cash, plenty of prepaid cards offer free and convenient options. You just need to find the card that provides the most convenient free ATM access in your area. You can find prepaid cards that offer free ATM withdrawals using our Prepaid Card Search Tool.