Prepaid reloadable debit cards, sometimes called prepaid credit cards, offer an alternative to both credit cards and bank accounts. The key is to find low fee prepaid cards that offer the features and benefits you need. We examined nearly 70 options to help you find the best prepaid debit cards.
Prepaid debit card transactions are on the rise, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Board. In the latest year examined, prepaid debit card transactions increased by over 10%.
I’ve covered the prepaid card market since 2008. Over the years there have been major changes to the features and fees offered to consumers. For the most part, these changes have been positive. Still, there are many prepaid debit cards that charge outrageous fees, offer limited benefits, or both.
To help you sift through the options, we’ve compiled our top picks of the best reloadable prepaid debit cards.
- Best Prepaid Debit Cards
- Best banking alternative
- Best for budgeting
- Best for teens and families
- Our pick for Paypal transfers
- Our pick for the best Amex prepaid cards
- Our picks for Walmart shoppers
- Our pick for Target shoppers
- Our pick for digital prepaid debit card
- Our pick for prepaid card alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Prepaid Debit Cards Evaluated
We evaluated 70 reloadable prepaid debit cards (see list below). To determine which cards made our list, we considered each card’s fees and features. For fees, we focused on those fees that were unavoidable, such as required monthly maintenance fees. Some fees, like ATM withdrawal fees, can be avoided by getting cash back at retailers. For features, we looked at each card’s money management tools, mobile apps, and customer service.
Best Prepaid Debit Cards
Best banking alternative
Netspend Prepaid Visa Card
The Netspend card offers several features that make it ideal as an alternative to a traditional bank account.
- Free direct deposit of paychecks, government benefits payments or tax refunds
- With direct deposit, get paid up to 2 days faster
- Mobile check deposit
- A mobile app to access your account
- Text alerts
- FDIC-insured savings account that pays up to 5% APY
- Purchase Cushion: Netspend may cover you up to $10 if you fall short
- Reload Locations: Load money at over 130,000 locations
- Earn cashback
- Refer a friend and you both can earn $20
The fees for the Netspend card depend on the plan you choose and how you use the card. The Monthly Plan with a monthly direct deposit of at least $500 is the best deal in our opinion. This keeps the monthly fee to just $5, with no fees for purchase transactions.
Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® – Proud Partner of MLB®
- Show support for your team with your team-branded Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® each time you use your Card.
- With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
- No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
- Use the Netspend Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text messages or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
- Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
The features, fees, and benefits of the MLB version of the card are the same as the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card above. As a baseball fan who takes his son to spring training every year, however, I had to mention this version of the card. When you get the card, you can select your team’s logo to appear on the card.
Best for budgeting
Western Union® Netspend® Mastercard® Prepaid Card
This card could also be listed as a great bank alternative prepaid option. Why? For several reasons. The Western Union Netspend Mastercard Prepaid card offers online bill pay. It also comes with an optional savings account that currently pays interest as high as 5.00% APY on balances up to $1,000. You can create a virtual card to use online so that you don’t compromise your account. It also comes with a Purchase Cushion of up to $10. And if you refer a friend, you both can receive a $20 credit to your account.
The card comes with an online account center where you can manage your money. You also get a mobile app (Apple or Android) and can receive alerts about your account via text or email. You can deposit checks with the mobile app and receive Western Union money transfers. Finally, get paid up to 2 days faster with direct deposit. It’s free.
Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard®
- Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
- With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
- No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
- Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
- Subject to card activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs Apply. Issued by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. Click for full details.
- Get your tax refund direct deposited to your Card Account and no more waiting in line to cash your paper check!
- See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
The Brink’s card has a long list of features. These include direct deposit, alerts, an online account center, a mobile app with photo check deposits, payback rewards, and a refer a friend program.
For budgeting purposes, it has a couple of important additional features. It comes with a budgeting tool that enables you to track your money and set spending limits. It also comes with an optional savings account and prescription discounts.
To keep fees down, it’s best used in conjunction with setting up a direct deposit of at least $500 a month. This keeps the monthly fee down to $5 with no transaction fees.
Best for teens and families
Greenlight Debit Card
- First month free. Cancel anytime.
- Includes debit cards for up to five kids
- No minimum age. No minimum balance
- No transaction, international or overdraft fees
- Only $4.99 per month.
- Chore management
- Allowance on autopilot
- Instant transfers to kids’ cards
- Real-time transaction alerts
- Store-specific spend controls
Greenlight was built for parents and children. For example, parents can set up weekly or one-time chores in the app and allowances once a child completes the chores. Parents can automate payment of allowance through the app. The card offers real-time notification of transactions. Parents can even implement controls over which stores a child or teen can use the card.
Parents and turn a card off or on from the app. They can pay interest to their young ones to encourage savings. Parents can also control whether their child can use the card at an ATM. It works with Apple Pay, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
You can try the card for free for the first month. After that, the fee is just $4.99 per month for a family with up to five children.
FamZoo Prepaid Card
I’ve met the founder of FamZoo, Bill Dwight, at conferences over the years. He has a heart for teaching children about managing their money. His team has created an excellent tool to help any family better manage their money. And FamZoo is much more than a prepaid debit card for teens.
Parents have total control over the child’s account if they want it. Children see just their accounts while parents see all transactions from all family members. Parents can transfer funds instantly to a child’s account, ideal when paying for chores or allowance. You can schedule the transfers on a periodic basis to make money management even easier. And parents and teens can receive text alerts when certain transactions occur.
Parents can lock and unlock accounts. You can set and track savings goals. Parents can pay interest to their child’s account as a way to incentivize savings. Payments can be split across multiple accounts.
There is a monthly fee, but it’s as low as $2.50 a month, and it’s for the entire family. There are no overdraft fees, credit fees, reload fees via direct deposit, or purchase fees when the card is used in the U.S. FamZoo also doesn’t charge for in-network ATM withdrawals.
Our pick for Paypal transfers
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®
- Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
- Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
- With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
- Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
- Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
- Get your tax refund direct deposited to your Card Account and stop waiting in line to cash your refund check!
For those who use PayPal frequently and want an easy way to transfer money out, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is the answer. You can link your PayPal account to the prepaid card and then transfer money from your PayPal account for free.
Everything else about the prepaid card is fairly standard. It offers free direct deposit, cash loads at more than 130,000 locations, and a relatively low monthly fee.
Our pick for the best Amex prepaid cards
Bluebird by American Express
When I choose any financial product as the “best overall pick” in any category, I ask two questions:
- Which product would I select for myself?
- Which product would I recommend to my mom or daughter?
In both cases, the answer is clear–Bluebird by American Express. That’s not to say the card is perfect. We all know that Amex isn’t accepted as widely as Visa/MasterCard (see below for those options). Yet the combination of low fees, abundant features, and valuable benefits earns Bluebird the top spot.
Simply put, the card comes with virtually no fees. There is no monthly maintenance fee. No transaction fees. You can withdraw money from MoneyPass ATMs for free. You can even add cash for free at most Walmart stores.
The features and benefits are also excellent. The card offers online bill pay, mobile check deposit, free direct deposit, and a mobile app. You can create a family account with up to 4 additional cards, and setting spending limits on each card. The account also enables you to track your spending by category for better money management.
American Express Serve
We’ve already mentioned Bluebird, which is as low fee as you’ll find. Another Amex option is Serve. Serve comes with a long list of features:
- Subaccounts: You can create subaccounts for your children, for example, and each will receive their own card.
- Free ATM Withdrawals: At over 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs
- Bill Pay: Free online bill pay. You can also write a check online and Amex will mail it for you.
- Free Transfers: You can send and receive money with other Serve account holders.
- Cash Reloads: Reload cash onto the card at over 45,000 retail locations, including CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Rite Aid, Walmart, and participating 7-ELEVEN locations.
- Mobile App: iOS and Android app available. Text alerts and mobile check deposit.
- Amex Benefits: Serve comes with Amex perks including purchase protection, FDIC insurance, fraud protection, 24/7 customer service, and travel protection.
It comes in three flavors:
American Express Serve: The basic card charges a monthly fee of $6.95. However, each month you have direct deposit of at least $500 drops the fee to $0.
American Express Serve FREE Reloads: Reload cash to the card for free at over 45,000 retail locations. The downside is that the $6.95 monthly fee can’t be waived, even with direct deposit.
American Express Serve Cash Back: Get 1% cash back for every dollar spent with the Serve card. The monthly fee is $7.95, which can’t be waived. Therefore, you’ll need to spend $795 on the card per month just to break even. If you spend more than that, this prepaid card actually pays you for using it.
Our picks for Walmart shoppers
Walmart MoneyCard Visa or MasterCard
This low-fee prepaid card is ideal for those who frequent Walmart for two reasons. First, you can load cash onto the Walmart MoneyCard for free at Walmart. Second, it pays 3% cash back on purchases from walmart.com, 2% cash back Walmart/Murphy USA gas stations, and 1% cash back at Walmart stores, up to $75 a year in rewards.
There is a $5 monthly fee. It can be waived, however, each month you have direct deposit of at least $1,000. The one drawback to this card is that there are no free ATM withdrawals–they cost $2.50 each.
Our pick for Target shoppers
RedCard Debit Card
Without question, the Target RedCard is the best cash back debit card available today–if you shop at Target. The RedCard pays 5% cash back on all purchases at Target. The 5% cash back applies to in-store Starbucks purchases and speciality gift cards.
You get free 2-day shipping on thousands of items from Target. And you get an additional 30 days for returns and exchanges. Keep in mind, however, that the Target RedCard can only be used at Target stores and Target online.
Our pick for digital prepaid debit card
MOVO® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card
If you plan to use your card online or through your phone, Movo Digital Cash is the debit card to use. Once you open and fund your account, you can then create virtual debit cards in an amount that you choose. Each debit card you create has its own unique account number. You can use it once online, for example, and then dispose of it. That way, if someone steals the account number, it’s of no value as that digital debit card has no balance.
The card can also be used with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. You can also easily transfer funds to friends and family members who have a Movo account.
The card is free to get, has no monthly fees, is FDIC insured, and offers free direct deposit. On the downside, there is a fee to use the card to pay bills.
Our pick for prepaid card alternatives
- Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit
- Track your account balances and daily transactions with the Chime mobile app
- Get daily balance notifications and instant transaction alerts
- Send money instantly to friends
- Chime Visa® Debit Card
- 0.50% APY
- No monthly fees.
- No minimum balance requirements.
- 38,000+ fee-free MoneyPass® and Visa® Plus Alliance ATMs.
Chime is not a prepaid card. It’s also not a bank. Not exactly.
Chime is an app with a Visa debit card. But if it’s not a bank, where does your money go with you deposit it into a Chime account? It does to an FDIC-insured bank account connect to the Chime app. Money is deposited into one of two banks–The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A. Both are members of the FDIC.
What Chime adds is an excellent app to help you manage your money. You can set up direct deposit of your paycheck. You can automate savings with Chime’s round-up feature. You can also automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck into a linked savings account.
Chime comes with no monthly fees, no deposit required, no minimum balance, no foreign transaction fees and 38,000+ fee-free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. Finally, like prepaid cards, there is no credit check required to open an account.
Frequently Asked Questions
Determine what features you need and how you’ll use the card. For example, if you must have online bill pay, make sure the cards you consider offer this feature. Likewise, if you plan to make numerous ATM withdrawals each month, find a prepaid card that offers free withdrawals. Once you have your list of required features and know how you’ll use the card, find the lowest cost option that meets these requirements.
No. You can only spend the money you add to the card. As a result, there is credit or borrowing involved with prepaid cards. As such, they do not help you improve your credit score.
The best will depend on the features you need and how you’ll use the card. Our list of the best prepaid debit cards should satisfy just about any financial situation.
All prepaid debit cards have some type of fees. In some cases most fees can be avoided based on how you use the card. In addition, some prepaid cards will waive some or all of the monthly fee if you load a certain amount of money on the card via direct deposit.
Generally, yes. Based on recent rules enacted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, prepaid debit cards offer protection if they are lost or stolen that is similar to credit cards. Your potential liability is capped at $50 if you give timely notice that your card has been lost or stolen. You can find more details of this new rule here.
Reloadable cards can be used over and over again. Load money on the card that you can then spend. As you run low, you can add more money onto the card. In contrast, prepaid gift cards cannot be reloaded.
Some prepaid debit cards charge a host of fees. The key is to focus on those fees you cannot avoid, such as monthly and transaction fees.
Generally, yes. In some cases there may be a fee, although money of the cards listed above offer free ATM withdrawals from in-network ATMs
Prepaid Debit Cards Evaluated
- NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card
- Brinks Prepaid Mastercard
- Bluebird® by American Express
- Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card
- PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®
- American Express Serve®
- American Express Serve® FREE ?Reloads
- American Express Serve Cash Back®
- WeSwap Mastercard®
- Control™ Prepaid Mastercard®
- Walmart MoneyCard® Visa® with Cash-Back Rewards
- Walmart MoneyCard® MasterCard® with Cash-Back Rewards
- Western Union® Netspend® Mastercard® Prepaid Card
- Netspend® Small Business Prepaid Mastercard®
- Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® – Proud Partner of MLB®
- Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
- Univision MasterCard® Prepaid Card
- Kroger Rewards Prepaid Visa® Card
- Green Dot® 5% Cash Back Visa® Debit Card
- Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card
- MOVO® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card
- Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card
- Wells Fargo EasyPay Prepaid Card
- ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card
- ACE Flare™ Account by MetaBank®
- AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card
- BBVA ClearSpend Card
- Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card
- Mango Visa Prepaid Card
- RushCardPrepaid Visa Card
- Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card
- Card.com Prepaid Mastercard®
- Cascade Prepaid Mastercard
- Fancard® Prepaid Mastercard®
- H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard®
- AAA MemberPay Visa® Prepaid Card
- CUMONEY® Visa® Everyday Spend Prepaid Card
- Cashpass Visa Prepaid Card
- Commerce Bank mySpending Card
- DrawPay Commercial Visa® Prepaid Card
- DrawPay Visa® Prepaid Card
- FasterMoney® Visa® Prepaid Card
- Fred Meyer Rewards® Prepaid Visa®
- Midnight Prepaid Visa® RushCard
- Money Network® Card
- MyVanilla Prepaid Visa Card®
- NexsCard Prepaid Visa
- PNC SmartAccess® Prepaid Visa® Card
- PrestigePay Visa® Prepaid Card
- READY Debit Visa® Prepaid Card
- Ralphs Rewards Prepaid Visa®
- Regions Now Card?
- South Carolina Federal Credit Union
- TD Connect Reloadable Prepaid Visa®Card
- Unidos Visa® Prepaid Card
- Vision Premier
- Waleteros Prepaid Visa® Card
- excella® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card
- smiONE™ Visa® Prepaid Card
- Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot
- Insight Visa® Prepaid Debit Card
- Coopera Prepaid Reloadable Visa® Card
- MileagePlus® GO Visa® Prepaid Card
- Community Financial Resources Prepaid Debit Card
- Bank of American CashPay Card