We surveyed over 100 prepaid cards to find the best prepaid debit card. Our list covers the best reloadable debit cards based on features and fees, tailored specifically to how you will use your card.
Choosing the card that best meets your needs depends mainly on how you plan to use the card. Those looking for a prepaid card to limit spending may find one card option ideal, while those wanting to shop online or replace a checking account might need a different card.
For this reason, we’ve assembled this guide to the best prepaid debit card offers of 2018. We include the top overall picks as well as the winning cards in specific categories.
|Prepaid Debit Card||Best For|
|Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card||Overall fees and features|
|Walmart MoneyCard® Visa®||Low fees|
|American Express Serve®||Low fee Amex prepaid|
|FamZoo Prepaid Card||Teens, students and families|
|RushCard Prepaid Visa®||Free ATM withdrawals|
|PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®||Use with PayPal and online purchases|
|Green Dot Prepaid Visa®||Bank account alternative|
|MileagePlus® GO Visa® Prepaid Card||Travel rewards|
|Green Dot Cash Back Visa® Debit Card||Cash back rewards|
|Bento for Business||Businesses|
|Chime Visa® Debit Card||Alternative to a prepaid debit card|
Best Overall Prepaid Debit CardNetspend® Visa® Prepaid Card: This is our top over pick for the best prepaid debit card based on fees and features. It offers virtually every feature available on reloadable cards. The long list of features includes a high interest savings account, mobile check deposit, smartphone app, a purchase cushion, text alerts, smartphone app and an online account center.
The features don’t come with an expensive price tag. The Netspend Visa offers two fee plans. One charges no monthly fee; you pay based on your usage. This plan is ideal for those who plan to use the card infrequently. A second plan charges a monthly fee with unlimited free transactions.
Best Low Fee Prepaid Debit CardsWalmart MoneyCard® Visa®: Although the Walmart MoneyCard charges a $5.00 monthly fee, the fee is waived when you load $1,000 or more to the card during the month. The MoneyCard charges no transaction fees either. So, if you use direct deposit for your paycheck or benefits check, the Walmart MoneyCard can be used for free. As a bonus, the Walmart MoneyCard pays cash back for online or in-store purchases at Walmart.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 Serve waives in certain circumstances). There are no additional fees for in-network ATM usage, online bill pay, card replacement, or even in-network cash reloads.
Best Prepaid Debit Card for Teenagers & College StudentsFamZoo Prepaid Card is much more than a prepaid debit card. It’s a prepaid card with excellent tools to help teens and even college students manage their money. The card enables parents to track spending on the card, and even lock and unlock the card. Parents can schedule chores and pay allowance with the card. And to encourage savings, parents can pay their children interest on any balance the teen keeps on the card.
The card comes with a smartphone app and spending alerts. Money can be transferred instantly from one family member’s card to another. And teens can make savings goals and track their progress.
Free ATM WithdrawalsRushCard Prepaid Visa®: For those who frequent ATM machines, it’s important to get a prepaid card that offers free ATM withdrawals. While several cards have this feature, our top pic goes to the RushCard Prepaid Visa®. Rushcard offers thousands of in-network ATMs free of charge.
The card has a wealth of other features, including early direct deposit, mobile check deposit, money management tools, a free mobile app, and text alerts.
Best for PayPal Use and Online PurchasesPayPal Prepaid Mastercard®: This card is a popular option because of its easy integration with your PayPal account. You can transfer money to and from your PayPal account instantly and without paying a fee.
The card also offers a wealth of features. These features include direct deposit, online bill pay, a high-interest savings account, and a purchase cushion. You can even manage your money from a smartphone with an app for either the iPhone or an Android device.
Best Alternative to a Checking AccountGreen Dot Prepaid Visa®: This card makes the list of best overall card because of its rich features and relatively low fees. It offers direct deposit, check deposits from your smartphone, bill pay, and the mobile app makes it easy to track your spending. The Green Dot card has no monthly fee if you load $1,000 or more per month. Otherwise, the monthly fee is $7.95. Green Dot also offers a cash back version of this card.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. The card is available at retail locations for up to $5 or $0 online and has only one ongoing fee—a $2.50 fee for using an out-of-network ATM.
Best Prepaid Card for Travel RewardsMileagePlus® GO Visa® Prepaid Card: Prepaid debit cards are not known for offering rewards. There are, however, some notable exceptions. When it comes to travel rewards, the clear winner is the MileagePlus GO Visa. With this card you can earn up to 1 mile for very $1 spent on eligible purchases. Miles can then be used for travel on United Airlines.
Best for Cash Back RewardsGreen Dot Cash Back Visa® Debit Card: As with travel rewards, few prepaid cards offer cash back rewards. One exception is Green Dot’s Cash Back Visa Prepaid Card. The card pays 5% cash back on eligible purchases, up to $100 a year.
Best for Small BusinessesBento for Business: This prepaid card offers features ideal for business owners. Owners can provide Bento expense cards to employees to manage and control spending. The activity on the card can be monitored from an online dashboard or mobile app. Accounting personnel can sync Bento transactions with Quickbooks.
There is no setup fee, and Bento offers a free 60-day trial.
Best Alternative to a Prepaid Debit Card
Although every prepaid card in our list is an excellent choice among prepaid cards, there are also some great alternatives that go outside the prepaid realm altogether.
One of our favorites is the Chime Visa® Debit Card. This card is part of a bank account, not a prepaid card. But similar to prepaid cards, the Chime account doesn’t require a Chexsystems or credit check. And it comes with virtually no fees and all of the features you’d expect in a bank account (ATM withdrawals, direct deposit, mobile banking, text alerts).
All of the above cards offer reasonable fees, in our opinion. If used correctly, most cards will cost less than $10 a month. Some can be used totally free.
You can use the tools on this site to look at all of the fees for these cards. Two of the more important fees are the activation fee and monthly fee. Here’s a rundown of these two fees for the above cards:
|Prepaid Card||Activation Fee||Monthly Fee|
|Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card||$0||$0|
|Walmart MoneyCard® Visa®||$1||$5|
|American Express Serve®||$0||$1|
|FamZoo Prepaid Card||$0||$2.50|
|RushCard Prepaid Visa®||$3.95||$0|
|PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®||$0||$4.95|
|Green Dot Prepaid Visa®||$0||$7.95|
|MileagePlus® GO Visa® Prepaid Card||$0||$5.95|
|Green Dot Cash Back Visa® Debit Card||$0||$9.95|
|Bento for Business||$0.00||$0.00|
|Chime Visa® Debit Card||$0||$0|
There are several things to keep mind with the above fees:
- Some fees can be waived. For example, the Walmart MoneyCard and the Green Dot Visa waive the monthly fee when you have loaded $1,000 or more to your card in the previous monthly period.
- Some cards offer multiple fee plans, so it’s important you select the lowest cost plan when you sign up for the card. Typically, cards with more than one fee plan charge either a monthly fee or a transaction fee. For most people, the monthly fee plan will be the lower fee plan.
- The above fees do not represent all the fees charged by prepaid debit cards. But many other fees can be avoided.
What are Prepaid Debit Cards?
If you are new to reloadable prepaid debit cards, here’s a summary of their features and benefits.
Prepaid debit cards are similar to checking account debit cards, except there is no checking account associated with the card. So, instead of depositing funds into a checking account, prepaid debit card users deposit or “load” funds onto the card. Similar to checking account debit cards, prepaid card users can withdraw or spend the funds on the card. Prepaid debit cards, like credit cards and bank account debit cards, are associated with one of the payment networks–Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or (way less often) Discover. So, they’re accepted for payment anywhere their equivalent bank account debit cards are.
Although prepaid debit cards are sometimes referred to a “prepaid credit cards,” prepaid cards don’t require a credit check like credit cards do. And you don’t need credit qualifications to get a card. Prepaid card users don’t incur debt when they use the card for purchases, unlike a credit card. And they can’t spend more than their available balance. In the same respect, prepaid cards don’t build credit.
Choosing the Best Reloadable Prepaid Debit Card
The best prepaid debit card depends on your specific circumstances. The key factors to consider are features and fees.
The first step is to find a card that has the features you need. There’s no point in getting a low fee card only to find out it’s missing a key feature you need.
Here it’s helpful to know that the vast majority of prepaid cards have the following features:
- No credit check
- No Chexsystems check
- Free direct deposit
- Free cash transfers from your bank
- Accepted anywhere that accepts the card’s network (e.g., Visa, Mastercard or American Express)
While prepaid cards have these features in common, not all cards are created equal. Only some cards have the following features:
- High-interest savings account
- Online bill pay
- Mobile check deposit
- Mobile app to check balances and transactions
- Purchase cushion
- Subaccounts useful for teens and students
- Parental controls
The key is first to consider the features that you will use and limit your search to cards with those features.
Once you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few cards, compare the fees. The most critical fees are those that you can’t avoid, such as a monthly fee.
You can avoid many potential fees that prepaid cards charge. For example, you can sidestep an ATM fee by getting cash back when you make purchases at a retailer. You can use electronic statements to avoid paper statement fees. And you can avoid cash load fees by using direct deposit or bank transfers.
Once you’ve evaluated the fees, you should have arrived at the best prepaid debit card for your specific situation.