8 Best Prepaid Debit Cards for 2023

Banking

You can use a prepaid debit card just as you would any other debit card. The only difference is that you preload it with cash instead of it being connected to your checking account.

The benefits of a prepaid debit card may appeal to both those with and without bank accounts. Prepaid cards help keep you on a budget because you can’t make larger purchases than your current balance.

You won’t need to carry cash around and can also shop or pay bills online even if you don’t have a bank account. However, some prepaid debit cards have different restrictions and fees, so it’s wise to explore your options before choosing one.

The 8 Best Prepaid Debit Cards

Bluebird by American Express

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Bluebird prepaid cards allow you to shop anywhere American Express is accepted. Plus, you have access to over 24,000 fee-free ATMs throughout the country.

Even better is that there are very few fees associated with the Bluebird by American Express. For example, there is no activation fee or monthly fee.

There are also no foreign transaction fees, making this a better alternative to carrying cash when traveling abroad.

When you’re ready to reload, you have several options. First, you can enroll in direct deposit as you would with a traditional checking account so that your regular paychecks go straight onto your prepaid card.

Or you have the option to deposit cash at just about any Walmart checkout register. Debit card transfers and mobile check captures are also available when it comes time to reload your prepaid debit card.

Bluebird prepaid debit cards also offers various user-friendly features. It’s great for families because you can have up to four different cards, each with its own spending limit (making it great for allowances).

There’s also a personal finance management tool called Insights, which gives you just that — insights and advice on how you spend your money and how to stay on track with your budget.

PayPal Prepaid MasterCard

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The PayPal Prepaid MasterCard is accepted anywhere you can use a MasterCard, both online and in person.

You aren’t required to have a PayPal account to get a prepaid card from PayPal. However, it does allow you to access useful online functions like direct deposit that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

There’s no credit check performed when you sign up. However, PayPal charges a $4.95 monthly fee to use your prepaid card.

Depending on how you choose to reload, you might incur a reload fee ranging between $0 and $3.95. Unfortunately, PayPal also doesn’t have any free ATMs you can use, so you have to pay an ATM withdrawal fee whenever you need cash.

On the bright side, the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard offers cash back rewards and other special offers. You can also sign up for a high yield savings account to get up to 5.00% APY on your balance up to $1,000.

Another bonus is PayPal’s refer a friend program. Get a friend to sign up for a prepaid card and deposit at least $10, and you’ll both receive an extra $5 in your account.

American Express Serve Cards

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American Express offers three different types of Serve prepaid cards. The regular Serve card is a basic account that provides free direct deposits, fee-free ATM withdrawals from any MoneyPass ATM in the country.

Additionally, it comes with free online bill pay, and you can sign up for multiple subaccounts.

The card is free if you get it online. Otherwise, it costs up to $3.95 if bought at a retail location. In addition, there is a $1 monthly fee, but you can get that waived if you make at least $500 in direct deposits each month.

Cash reload fees can also be to $3.95, depending on where you go to reload your card. If you use a non-MoneyPass ATM, there’s a $2.50 charge in addition to any charges from the ATM company.

There are no fees for mobile check deposit, in-network ATM withdrawals, or online bill pay.

Another option is the Serve Free Reloads Card. Along with the basic Serve card, this one offers free reloads at tons of national retailers, such as CVS, Walmart, Dollar General, and 7-Eleven.

The monthly fee is $4.95, but that may not be a lot to you if you frequently pay reload fees.

Your final option is the American Express Serve Cash Back Card. The monthly fee is $5.95, but you earn an unlimited 1% cashback on all purchases made on your card. So if you spend a lot of money with your prepaid debit card, you could quickly earn a nice bonus.

Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

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Netspend is one of the leaders in prepaid debit cards. Signing up is quick and easy since there is no required credit check and no activation fee. In addition, this prepaid debit card comes with a free mobile app so you can easily manage your money.

You’ll load money onto your card using the company’s mobile check deposit feature. And you can reload your account at any of Netspend’s 130,000 reload locations.

With the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, you can get paid faster, up to two days earlier, if you use direct deposit.

When you sign up for the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, you can choose between two different accounts. The Pay-As-You-Go is the company’s default account, and it comes with no monthly fee. However, you will pay $1.50 per transaction.

If you plan to make direct deposits of at least $500 or more, you might want to consider the Premier Plan. You’ll pay $5 per month, but the company claims you’ll save up to 50% on fees.

FamZoo Prepaid Card

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FamZoo offers prepaid debit cards and a financial education for kids and teens. It allows parents to set up a virtual family bank for their kids designed to teach them how to earn, save, spend, and give money wisely.

You can get up to four cards on the monthly plan for $5.99. There’s a one-time $3 fee per card for each additional family member. However, you can also pay for up to 24 months at a time, which would equal $2.50 per month for four cards.

Using the FamZoo website or app, you can send allowances, split payments, see balances and activity on all prepaid cards. You can also set up text and email alerts.

There are no costs to activate the FamZoo Prepaid Card, and no fees for purchases. However, the FamZoo prepaid debit card doesn’t have its own ATM network, so you will have to pay ATM fees.

You can reload the FamZoo debit card via direct deposit or bank transfer, or through Apple Pay, PayPal, Square Cash, or Venmo. You can also reload it at retailers like 7-Eleven and Walgreens.

Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard

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The Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard makes it easy to use your card and quickly add money to your account. To add more money, you can sign up for direct deposit, transfer funds from another account, or visit one of the 130,000 reload locations.

This prepaid debit card comes with several helpful features, including a mobile app, cash back rewards on certain purchases, and more. And you can quickly transfer money to family and friends at no cost with the mobile app.

And by using your Brink’s card, you may even be able to receive your tax refund sooner. When you file your taxes, you can get them deposited to your Brink’s prepaid card. To achieve this, you’ll simply add the account number and routing number when you e-file.

H&R Block Emerald Card by Axos Bank

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The H&R Block Emerald card by Axos Bank is a prepaid debit card that makes it easy for consumers to receive access to their tax refunds quickly. However, you can use the card year-round.

It’s easy to apply for the Emerald card, and there is no setup fee or annual fee. In addition, you can add more money to your card anytime you want through direct deposit, reloading networks, or by transferring the funds from another account.

And you’ll manage your funds with the MyBlock mobile app. The app allows you to view your transactions, pay your bills, and more.

However, you do want to watch out for the inactivity fee the bank charges. If you go more than 60 days without completing a transaction, there will be a charge of $4.95.

Western Union Netspend Prepaid MasterCard

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The Western Union NetSpend card has several tiers of fees for its prepaid cards, so you can choose the one that best suits your spending style. The first option is the Pay-As-You-Go Plan.

There are no monthly service fees. Instead, you have to pay $1.00 for each signature purchase (when you run your card as a credit card) and $2 for each PIN purchase (when you run your card as a debit card). This can be an expensive option if you use your prepaid card for purchases regularly.

Your next choice is the Monthly Plan. Instead of paying for each transaction, you instead have a flat monthly fee of $9.95.

The final option is the Premier Plan, where you pay a monthly fee of just $5. To qualify, you must have at least $500 in monthly direct deposits.

It’s also worth noting a few additional fees you might incur with all of these plans. There is an account inactivity fee of $5.95 a month, plus a $0.50 balance inquiry fee over the phone or at an ATM (*text inquiries are free).

Finally, you’ll incur a $2.50 fee for ATM withdrawals from an ATM, plus whatever fees the ATM owner charges.

Before deciding which Western Union prepaid debit card is right for you, think about how and where you spend money and what kind of direct deposits you might be able to use. It’s better to think about these things in advance because small fees can quickly add up.

Best Alternative to a Prepaid Debit Card

Chime Visa® Debit Card

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The Chime Visa® Debit Card is not a prepaid card, but it can save you more money than some prepaid cards on this list. With Chime, there are no monthly fees, and that is also true of the debit card.

To get started, you will have to open a Chime Checking account. Then, you can manage your account with the bank’s mobile app. There’s no minimum balance you have to maintain and no monthly fees.

One of the advantages of using the Chime Visa® Debit Card is that it can help you save money over the long run. This is because every time you swipe your card, Chime rounds up your transaction to the nearest dollar.

The bank will then transfer these savings into your savings account. It’s an easy way to save money without even having to think about it.

Chime allows you to get paid up to two days early with direct deposit. You’ll also get over fee-free1 ATM withdrawals at over 60,000 stores like Walgreens, CVS, and 7-Eleven.

Chime also just launched a brand new secured credit card that can help you build your credit.

How We Chose the Best Prepaid Debit Cards

After reviewing over 40 of the most widely used prepaid debit cards from banks, credit unions, and other financial organizations, we have compiled a list of the top options based on multiple considerations, including fees, user-friendliness, and reloading convenience.

In addition to this, we thoroughly evaluated all the unique features and benefits each prepaid card offers. The selected prepaid cards on our list boast an optimal blend of these essential factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best prepaid debit card?

Finding the best prepaid debit card depends on your needs. If you’re looking for a prepaid card that replaces a bank account, try NetSpend. Bluebird by American Express is the best prepaid debit card for international use as the foreign transaction fee is $0. However, if you’re looking for a prepaid debit card for a child or teenager, go with FamZoo.

As you can see, the best prepaid card truly depends on what you want to use it for.

What is the best prepaid card with no fees?

No prepaid card is 100% free. However, Bluebird by American Express card is the closest you’ll get. This card can be reloaded for free through various methods, such as a cash or debit card transfer at Walmart stores, mobile check deposit, and direct deposit.

There’s no activation fee or card fee when purchased online, and no monthly or pay-as-you-go fees either. Using the card at a MoneyPass ATM, transferring money to other linked Bluebird accounts, or SetAside Accounts also incurs no fees.

What are prepaid debit cards used for?

You can use a prepaid debit card online or at retail shops just as you would with a traditional debit card linked to a checking or savings account. Major brands like Visa or MasterCard issue prepaid cards so you can use the card anywhere credit cards are accepted.

This includes physical retailers as well as online stores. Prepaid debit cards are highly accessible if you don’t qualify for a bank account or have problems shopping online without a debit or credit card. Prepaid debit card issuers don’t check your banking history when you apply.

What is the difference between a debit card and a prepaid debit card?

The most significant difference is that you don’t need a bank account for a prepaid debit card. Debit cards typically require a checking or savings account with a financial institution like a bank or credit union. Many people, however, can’t qualify for a checking account. If that’s the case, you can purchase a prepaid card that you can use in almost the same manner.

Instead of depositing funds into your bank account, you load funds directly onto the prepaid card. The exact process depends on the card you choose. Often, you can set up direct deposit, add funds online or through your phone, or add cash in person at a participating retailer.

Another difference is that while checking accounts and debit cards from your bank are FDIC-insured, most prepaid cards are not. So if the company goes out of business while you have funds on your card, you may not see that money.

Who should use prepaid debit cards?

A prepaid debit card may not be the ideal choice for you based on your credit history and financial standing. Prepaid cards often come with higher fees and more limitations compared to conventional debit cards. They also won’t help you build credit as they’re not a credit line.

However, prepaid debit cards can serve as a practical solution for those with a history of exceeding their checking account balance and for those looking to dodge overdraft fees.

Prepaid cards can also provide a useful tool for parents who want to control their children’s spending by allowing purchases within a set limit.

Many unbanked and underbanked consumers also rely on prepaid cards for financial management.

Bluebird prepaid card

Do prepaid debit cards come with fees?

Yes, prepaid cards generally have higher fees than debit cards linked to your checking account. The following are some of the most common fees to be aware of:

  • Monthly fees: A fee charged every month, regardless of usage.
  • Transaction fees: A fee for each transaction completed using the card.
  • Inactivity fees: Some prepaid cards, like the H&R Block Emerald Card, charge an inactivity fee. This is a fee you pay for not using the card for an extended period of time.
  • Cancellation fees: Some providers charge a fee if you cancel your card prior to expiration
  • Reloading fees: A fee for reloading the card at a physical location, which can be avoided by enrolling in direct deposit.

How do you put money onto a prepaid card?

There are multiple options for reloading a prepaid card, some of which have no fees associated with them. Here are the most common ways to put money onto a prepaid card:

  • Retail locations: You can add money to your prepaid card using cash, checks, or money orders. Some cards have partnerships with specific merchants for no-fee reloading, such as Walmart with the Bluebird American Express Prepaid Debit Account.
  • Reload packs: You can buy a reload pack with cash and transfer the money to your card online using a unique identifying number.
  • MoneyGram or Western Union: You can transfer funds to your prepaid card by entering the information at a MoneyGram kiosk or agent location, or swiping your card at an agent location with Western Union Reload+.
  • Debit card transfers: If you have a checking account, you can do a debit card transfer online or retail locations.
  • Electronic funds transfer: You can link your checking account to your prepaid card and transfer funds between the two.
  • Direct deposit: You can have your paycheck or government benefits directly deposited into your prepaid card account.
  • Mobile check capture: Some prepaid cards have mobile apps, such as Ingo Money, which allow you to deposit a scanned check to the card.
  • Bank teller: If you have a prepaid card issued by a bank, you can reload it with cash or a check by visiting a bank teller.

Before choosing a prepaid card, be sure to check the available reload methods and the fees for each method.

Can you use a prepaid debit card at an ATM?

The best prepaid debit cards have access to free nationwide ATM networks or branded bank networks for cards issued by banks. Make sure to check your prepaid card for participating ATMs.

There are two things to remember when making ATM withdrawals. First, check on the ATM fees from both your card issuer and the ATM you’re visiting. Additionally, check your prepaid card agreement to see if there is a daily withdrawal limit.

Can I transfer money from a prepaid card to my bank account?

In most cases, you can’t transfer money from your prepaid card to your bank account. You would need to first cash out the funds and then make a separate deposit into your account. However, prepaid card companies vary, so check their user agreements to see if they offer this service.

Do prepaid cards require a social security number?

No, this is one of the benefits of using a prepaid debit card. No credit scores, banking history, or residency status is required, as long as you have the funds to load onto the card. Prepaid cards provide a convenient alternative to cash for a wide range of individuals.

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.

1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

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