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 or even free prepaid debit cards that offer the features and benefits you need. We examined nearly 70 options to help you find the best prepaid debit cards.
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 Prepaid Card Alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to pick the best prepaid debit card for you?
- Do prepaid debit cards build credit?
- What is the best prepaid card?
- What prepaid credit cards have no fees?
- Are prepaid cards safe?
- What is a reloadable prepaid debit card?
- What fees do prepaid debit cards charge?
- Can you get money from an ATM with a prepaid card?
- Prepaid Debit Cards Evaluated
Best Prepaid Debit Cards
NOTE: Before we get to prepaid cards, you should consider Chime. It’s not a prepaid card, it’s better. For no monthly fee, you get both a spending and savings account. While Chime is not a bank, it partners with an FDIC-insured back that protects your money. It offers a free debit card and a free secured credit card. And with direct deposit, you can get paid up to two days early.*
Netspend Prepaid Visa Card
Best banking alternative
- 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
- Monthly Fee: $0 to $9.95
- 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.
Our pick for Walmart shoppers
There is a $5.94 monthly fee. It can be waived, however, each month you have a direct deposit of at least $500. The one drawback to this card is that there are no free ATM withdrawals–they cost $2.50 each. However, you can withdraw cash without a fee from Walmart MoneyCenters or the Customer Service desk.
Western Union® Netspend® Mastercard® Prepaid Card
Best for budgeting
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®
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.
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.
Greenlight Debit Card
Best for teens and families
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 transaction fees, foreign transaction fees or overdraft 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
Best for teens and families
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.
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®
Our pick for Paypal transfers
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.
You can also take advantage of PayPal Payback Rewards and earn on qualifying purchases from select merchants.
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 above 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. It’s one of the best free prepaid debit cards available today.
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
Our pick for the best Amex prepaid cards
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 four flavors:
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.
American Express Serve Free Direct Deposit: You can waive the $6.95 monthly fee with a direct deposit of at least $500 each month.
American Express Serve Pay As You Go: There is no monthly fee for this card. But, you will have to pay $1.00 for each transaction and $2.25 for ATM withdrawals.
RedCard Debit Card
Our pick for Target shoppers
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.
MOVO® Digital CASH Card®
Our pick for digital prepaid debit 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.
Best Prepaid Card Alternatives
Chime is an award winning financial app and Visa® debit card. But if it’s not a bank, where does your money go when you deposit it into a Chime account? It goes to an FDIC-insured Checking account connected to the Chime app. Money is deposited into an account backed by one of two of it’s banking partners–The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
What Chime adds is an excellent app to help you manage your money. You can set up direct deposit of your paycheck and automate savings with Chime’s round-up feature.1 You can also automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck into a linked savings account.1 A Chime Checking Account is required to be eligible for a Savings Account.
Chime comes with no monthly fees, no deposit required, no minimum balance, no foreign transaction fees and 60,000+ fee-free~ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. Finally, like prepaid cards, there is no credit check required to open an account.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
~Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
1Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Checking Account to into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
Extra is a debit card, not a prepaid card. To get the card you must link a bank account to the card. So why does it make our list of prepaid card alternatives? Because it can help build your credit. Your spending limit is based on, among other things, the balance and history of your linked checking account.
When you use your card for purchases, Extra spots you the money. In other words, the money is not immediately taken out of your bank account. Instead, Extra pulls the money you spent from your bank account the next business day.
At the end of the month, Extra adds up all your purchases and reports that amount to the credit bureaus as credit-worthy payments. Currently, they report to Experian and Equifax.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to pick the best prepaid debit card for you?
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.
Do prepaid debit cards build credit?
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.
What is the best prepaid card?
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.
What prepaid credit cards have no fees?
All prepaid debit cards have some type of fee. 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.
Are prepaid cards safe?
Generally, yes. Based on recent rules enacted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, prepaid debit cards offer protection if they are lost or stolen which 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.
What is a reloadable prepaid debit card?
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 to the card. In contrast, prepaid gift cards cannot be reloaded.
What fees do prepaid debit cards charge?
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.
Can you get money from an ATM with a prepaid card?
Generally, yes. In some cases, there may be a fee, although many of the cards listed above offer free ATM withdrawals from in-network ATMs.
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.
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