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, benefit 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 include 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 over 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.