Prepaid Debit Card Limits Explained

Like checking account debit cards, prepaid debit cards have limits. ATM withdrawal limits and daily spending limits, for example. Here are the key limits, how they affect you, and how 5 of the top prepaid cards measure up.

Prepaid Debit Card Limits

While fees are often the focus when choosing a prepaid card (and they should be), you should also be aware of the card’s limits. Prepaid debit card limits place caps on how much you put on the card and even how much you can spend.

The right prepaid card should have sufficient limits to accommodate how you intend to use the card. Here are the key limits for prepaid debit cards and a comparison of those limits across the major brands.

Prepaid Debit Card Balance Limits

The maximum card balance is the total amount of money that can be on the card at any time. For most people, it’s the most important limit to consider when choosing a prepaid debit card.

That’s because your prepaid card will reject an attempt to load additional funds to the card that would cause the maximum card balance to be exceeded. For transactions like cash loads, running into a balance limit may be little more than an inconvenience. The cash load would be rejected and you walk away with cash in hand.

However, with direct deposit of a paycheck, benefits check, or even a sizeable tax refund check, a rejected deposit to the card can result in delays of weeks or months to get your funds.

And there’s a big difference in the card balance limits offered from one prepaid debit card to the next. Maximum balance limits range from as little as $2,500 to as much as $20,000.

There’s one outlier worth mentioning–the American Express Serve card. The AMEX prepaid cards, including Serve and Bluebird, offer a maximum card balance of $100,000 (not a typo). Whether anyone actually takes advantage of that is another question.

Here’s a look at the card balance limits for 5 of the top prepaid cards.


Spending Limits

Most cards have a spending limit that would exceed most needs for regular daily purchases. But occasionally we all make larger single purchases–like a new major appliance or a TV or other electronics purchase.

Spending limits on prepaid debit cards don’t just include purchases. They cap the total amount of transactions that use funds on the card. The total amount of transactions generally includes ATM and other cash withdrawals, as well as purchases.

Spending limits can be as low as $500, which could prevent you from using the card for those major purchases. Among nearly 70 prepaid cards that we track, limits can be up to $15,000.

The spending limits for the same 5 cards:

Daily Cash Load Limit

Prepaid debit cards also limit the amount of cash that can be loaded to the card on a single day. The cash load limit applies to the total of any transaction where cash is added to the card, including loading cash through a reload pack, like the Green Dot MoneyPak, or at the register, like Walmart Rapid Reload.

The daily cash load limit doesn’t apply to other methods of adding money to the prepaid debit card, like direct deposit, bank transfers, or mobile check deposits.

Cash load limits range from $500 per day to as much as $10,000.

As with the balance limits, cash load limits will cause transactions that exceed the limit to be rejected.


Prepaid Card ATM Withdrawal Limits

Prepaid debit cards, like checking account debit cards, limit the amount that you can withdraw at an ATM for security reasons. An ATM limit caps the total ATM withdrawals in a day.

Most prepaid debit cards allow for over-the-counter cash withdrawals at a bank teller, as well as withdrawals at the ATM. The ATM limits apply only to cash from the ATM.

Daily ATM withdrawal limits range from a low of $300 to a high of $2,500.

The Final Word

When choosing a prepaid card, consider the limits. Will the card balance limit accommodate using direct deposit for your paycheck? Will the spending limits meet your daily spending needs? What about those occasional larger purchases?

Most people don’t need the highest limit prepaid debit card. But the limits need to be adequate for your use. To make sure you get a card that will hit the mark, you can use our search tool to compare prepaid debit cards, including their limits and fees.

11 thoughts on “Prepaid Debit Card Limits Explained

  1. Hi Dee Dee, If your employer is involved and this is outside your healthcare plan, you might want to check out a business prepaid card. This would involve the employer creating and administering the primary account and then issuing virtual or physical prepaid cards to participating employees. However, if this is something you and your co-workers are doing on your own, I’m not sure a prepaid card will be a good fit (but neither would a credit card or bank debit card). All of those solutions would involve using your personal information to set up the account, and you wouldn’t want that. Really, this question presents a broader issue. How does a group of individuals pool money and then create a vehicle to use (and contribute to) that venture. Well, it’s probably not what you’re looking for, but the only answer is to create a legal entity, such as a corporation, limited liability company, partnership or other entity that could own a bank account as an entity, albeit a non-profit entity. That would really require a legal professional to be involved. Sorry I can’t provide the easy (and inexpensive) answer here.

  2. Hi!
    Is there such a debit card where I can load it but. It associate it with my personal bank acct?
    See I have funraised $ from our wellness team at work. We want a card so we can use specifically for wellness purchases. I’m in charge of the $ but I don’t want this funraised $ going into my personal bank account and I certainly don’t want to open a separate bank account with my personal Info . Anyyyy suggestions will be helpful.

  3. A few banks offer their own prepaid cards, like Wells Fargo and Fifth Third, but most cards you can get online. You can use our prepaid card search tool to find the one you’re looking for, and click the Apply Now button to go to the card’s site to get the card.

  4. Michael, I think a lot of people like Bluebird. It’s among the least expensive cards out there, but you’re right about the downside–a number of businesses don’t accept it. That’s an issue with American Express cards generally.

  5. I have a American Express Bluebird prepaid card and I love it I’ve used this card for about 6 years and I still love it however , it sucks that because of the restrictions of the card a lot of Businesses don’t accept the card and the processing fee is probably part of it. American Express is really strict about the use of the card and if you forget your pin they will lock the card after 2 or 3 tries , they also monitoring the amount that is purchase Shaq have an American Express card they locked his card when he tried to make a 5 figure purchase at Walmart. They will also lock the card if there’s a verification of address issue that happened to me before and I had to explain that I use my mailbox through UPS store for both personal mail and Business. You can do a personal savings account with the set aside option and you can send money to family and friends that have the card , I had my sister get the card so I could send her money faster she went to the bluebird website and ordered the card. I got my card years ago from Walmart it was free I had to load it with $20 but the minimum is only $10 when you load it again , you have $50,000 in your set aside account and the other $50,000 in your available balance. The card is ready to use after you load it at Walmart and it’s only Free to load it at Walmart other places charge to load it , I loaded it once at Walgreens and I had to wait 30 minutes to use it because it didn’t hit the card right away there’s no monthly fees at all. This card is better than NetSpend I’ve had them they stealing from you they’re charging you for everything you do they take a dollar per transaction , it’s $2 to load the card and don’t get me started on the Green Dot card and Walmart card they both have monthly fees. Just be careful not to lose the card because it doesn’t require a pin except at certain places and ATM other than that if you lost it anyone can use it

  6. It’s a good question. I think of prepaid cards and credit cards as pretty different. Credit cards are borrowing to spend. If you pay the balance each month, they’re kind of like prepaid cards, but few people do. If you tend to carry a balance, credit cards are likely to be more expensive. You might take a look at our comparison of credit cards and prepaid cards for the pros and cons of each.

  7. if prepaid cards have so many problems – why not just get a regular VISA/MC credit card ?
    is there a difference?

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