A prepaid reloadable debit card is not the same as your regular debit card.
While there are several, the biggest difference is that you don’t need a bank account to use a prepaid card.
You go to a store that sells one, CVS and Walmart, for example, buy the card, load some money, use it and then reload. Easy as that!
7 Best Prepaid Debit Cards
Are you looking to buy a prepaid card but don’t know which one to choose? The list below should help you find the best one to fit your needs and preferences.
- NetSpend Visa – Best all-in-one Banking Alternative
- PayPal Prepaid Mastercard – Best for Paypal Transfers
- Walmart MoneyCard – Top pick for Walmart Shoppers
- RedCard Debit Card – Top Pick for Target Shoppers
- FamZoo – Best Prepaid for Parents
- Bluebird – Cheapest Reloadable AMEX
- American Express Serve – Best Prepaid AMEX with options
1. NetSpend: Best Banking Alternative
NetSpend offers two different solutions, a Visa prepaid card, and a prepaid Mastercard, so you can choose the card issuers you like the most.
Both are great ways to replace all the functionalities of a bank without having to open an account at one.
There is a NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard and a NetSpend Prepaid Visa Debit Card. They both have the same features, with only one difference.
With the prepaid MasterCard only, you can select your favorite baseball team logo to appear on the card. It’s an excellent, fun addition.
The two NetSpend prepaid debit cards offer different plans, one with no monthly fee and the others starting from $5 of a monthly fee, in exchange for unlimited free signatures and PIN transactions.
The account you choose is up to you, and it mostly depends on how you plan to use your prepaid card.
The best plan for most people, according to our research, is the one with a fee of $5, with no purchase transaction fees, and a minimum balance of $500 in monthly direct deposits.
With direct deposit on this debit card, you can get paid faster than your colleagues with a direct deposit in the bank. Up to 2 days faster. Direct deposit is free for checks, government benefit payments, and tax refunds.
NetSpend Savings Account
NetSpend’s mobile app allows you to check your balance, set up mobile check deposits, and get text alerts for every transaction.
It is even possible to earn rewards and cashback. If you refer a friend, you immediately get $20 each. Another perk of NetSpend cards is the purchase cushion, which covers your expenses up to $10 if you are falling short.
2. PayPal Prepaid Mastercard: Top Pick for PayPal Transfers
The Paypal prepaid debit card was made especially for people who use Paypal and would like to have an easy way to withdraw money from their account. The card is issued by The Bancorp Bank.
You can easily link your card to your Paypal account, withdraw money from ATMs, and load money at more than 130,000 locations for a small monthly fee.
Perks of the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Include:
- Faster way of getting paid than a paper check, if you set up direct deposit
- Member FDIC
- You can get your tax refund directly deposited on your card
- Payback Rewards to earn at a wide selection of stores
3. Walmart MoneyCard – Top Pick for Walmart Shoppers
If you frequently visit Walmart, getting one of their prepaid debit cards could be a good idea.
Walmart MoneyCard is low-fee, can be loaded for free at any Walmart location, and even offers up to $75 in rewards.
You can get 1% cash back for in-store purchases, 2% cash back at Walmart/Murphy USA petrol stations, and 3% cashback on Walmart purchases online.
Walmart MoneyCard also has a savings account, it earns 2% APY on up to $1,000, and it is family-friendly. There is the option to add up to 4 additional people to the card account, provided they are 13 years or older.
Its $5 fee can be easily waived – you only need to have at least $1,000 on the card or, as an alternative, set up a direct deposit on the card.
You can add money for free at Walmart. Money withdrawal is free at Walmart Money Centers and Customer Service desks.
At other ATMs, you will have to pay an ATM fee of $2.50 every time, though.
4. RedCard Debit Card – Top Pick for Target Shoppers
Target’s RedCard Debit Card is very convenient if you are a Target shopper, and you will appreciate it even more if you like cashback.
This card pays 5% cashback on every single purchase at Target branches, plus the same cashback rate applies to Starbucks’ purchases and specialty gift cards.
Cardholders get many added perks, such as dedicated 2-day shipping of any product ordered from the Target online store and a 30 days extension for returns and product exchanges valid on thousands of Target items.
Don’t forget that this card can only be used at Target brick-and-mortar or online stores, though.
To benefit from the features of this particular prepaid debit card, you should be a frequent shopper at Target. Otherwise, it risks becoming an inconvenience.
5. FamZoo – Best Prepaid for Parents
FamZoo’s prepaid debit card, with many budgeting tools, is an excellent option for families with children.
Bill Dwight, FamZoo’s founder, created this card to educate children about personal finances. FamZoo can be opened even for kids younger than 13 years old.
With this prepaid debit card, parents can have total control over their kids’ operations. They can lock and unlock the card, set up alerts at every transaction, and decide to add funds to the card with an automated system regularly.
Families can share and track their funds using the convenient Virtual Family Bank App. There is also a pretty cool shared dashboard.
There is a low monthly fee of $2.50 (per family, not per person!).
FamZoo prepaid cards can be used at any merchant that accepts Mastercards. ATM withdrawals are free for in-network ATMs. Otherwise, a fee will apply.
Reloading is free with direct deposits, bank transfers, and retailers such as 7-Eleven and Walgreens.
FamZoo lets you have multiple cards per account to be convenient for the whole family. Someone will be the main owner of the account, which will hold the most power over the card.
It is really easy to teach young adults how to earn and manage their money with his card. Parents can reload the card at any time or transfer money to their children’s card for chores and so on. They can also block the card if there is a need to do so.
In summary, FamZoo offers great tools for kids to learn about personal finances and budgeting with the help of parents and without many of the risks that come with opening a checking account at the bank.
6. Bluebird by American Express – Cheapest reloadable AMEX
Bluebird by American Express is most definitely one of the best deals you will be able to find regarding prepaid debit cards. This card has the lowest fees possible, plus some very good benefits.
Bluebird charges no monthly fees, no activation fees, and no transaction fees. You can withdraw MoneyPass ATMs for free ($2.50 at other ATM networks). You can also add money on your card for free at any Walmart location (Bluebird was created in collaboration with Walmart).
The benefits of this card are also excellent. It offers a mobile app with mobile bill pay, online bill pay, and free direct deposit.
Bluebird is family-friendly, allowing you to add up to 4 people to the card’s account. You can set limits specific to each card in case you want to manage your children’s expenses.
A drawback I have to mention for this card is that, as you might already know, unfortunately, AMEX cards are not as widely accepted as Visa cards or Mastercards. Also, there is no cashback allowed at retailers.
7. American Express Serve – Best prepaid AMEX with options
On top of the cheap Bluebird, American Express has another prepaid debit card if you’d like some more options, the Serve American Express Prepaid Debit card.
American Express Serve Options:
- American Express Serve basic version, with a $6.95 monthly fee. Set up a regular direct deposit of at least $500 on the card each month to waive the fee.
- American Express Serve + free reloads. But you won’t be able to waive the monthly fee, even with direct deposits. In exchange, it allows you to reload the card at more than 45,000 retailers for free.
- American Express Serve + cashback, which has a steep mandatory monthly fee of $7.95. That said, it will get you 1% cash back for every dollar spent with the card! This option only makes sense if you think you’ll use this card a lot. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing money on it.
Common Features of These 3 Options:
- FDIC insurance
- 24/7 customer service
- free money transfers to and from other Serve account holders
- app for Androids and Apple products
- free online bill pay
- free withdrawal at more than 30,000 MoneyPass free ATMs
- free subaccounts for your family, with additional cards available
How We Came Up With This List
To find the best prepaid debit cards, we reviewed the major ones on the market right now.
We looked for things like card purchase fees, low monthly fees, free ATMs, easy ways to add money, security, mobile app features, and rewards.
Only the best ones made it onto this list – and each one for a reason. We tried to differentiate as much as possible to consider possible different consumers’ needs and wants.
Prepaid Debit Card Pros & Cons
- Availability: Anyone can purchase one. Some people don’t qualify for a checking account because of poor credit scores or other reasons or don’t want to have one to avoid maintenance fees and overdraft fees. Fortunately, they can manage their finances with a prepaid card! There’s no credit check or credit history required either.
- Functionality: You can use your prepaid card for multiple functions. In some cases, it can effectively replace a bank account. Some of the uses of a prepaid card are bill pay, direct deposit, ATM withdrawal, cashback, etc. It does virtually everything you can do with a bank account.
- Security: Sometimes it is better to opt for a prepaid card just because it isn’t linked to your personal account information. So, if it gets lost or someone steals it, it’s not a big deal (unless you had charged a large sum on it). No one will be able to get to your data or sensitive info.
- Budgeting: It’s super easy to stick to a budget simply by charging on the card only the amount of money you intend to use that week/month. This way, even children or teens can be trusted with their own debit card and gradually learn about personal finance without incurring risks for their money and data. I have a bank account, but I use my prepaid debit card for online purchases. That way, I don’t risk my data being stolen, and I always keep a limited budget on it. If I were to get scammed, I wouldn’t lose that much money.
- Extra Fees: ATM withdrawal fees, activation fee, monthly fee (can usually be avoided), consumer support fee.
- Spending Limit: The card will be denied if you try to make a purchase that exceeds your budget. Not like with credit cards that take money directly from your account. We suggest checking the fine prints to avoid all or most of these inconveniences if you can.
Prepaid Debit Cards FAQs
What is the best prepaid debit card?
The best-prepaid debit card overall to replace a bank account would be NetSpend.
Do you frequently shop at Walmart? Then the Walmart Money Card is a no-brainer.
If you are looking to buy one for a child or teenager, I’d recommend FamZoo instead.
It’s hard to give a definite answer because it will always depend on what you need and what you are looking for in a card.
Read the reviews and tips in the article above for a clearer picture.
How Does a Prepaid Debit Card Work?
Prepaid debit cards work really similar to regular debit cards, and you pay as you go.
- CASH RELOADS: You can reload your card at many cash networks, like Green Dot, MoneyGram, Western Union, and Visa Money Link. These can be found at most retail stores where the cards are also sold (Walmart and CVS, to name a few). Watch out for reload fees.
- CASH WITHDRAWAL: Cash withdrawals are made at ATM networks, just like any other debit card. Fees may vary.
- USING THE CARD: Since prepaid debit cards are either Visa or Mastercards, you will be able to use them anywhere these two types of cards are accepted.
- DIRECT DEPOSIT: You can set up direct deposit for your checks on your prepaid card, which gives you the advantage of avoiding card fees (or at least reducing them).
- MONEY TRANSFERS: Most cards support the function of transferring funds to your friends or family using an app, which is super convenient.
Does Tesco sell prepaid debit cards?
Yes, it does. Tesco sells a card called Tesco Pay+. It’s free, and it comes without hidden fees. You can use the money stored on your prepaid card in Tesco shops and gas stations. At Tesco, you can also buy e-gift cards if you like.
How do I get a prepaid debit card?
Getting a prepaid card is easy – you don’t need to fulfill any special requirements. There are three viable options to purchase one: