Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2020

Businessman holding wallet full of credit cards.
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Prepaid debit cards are an alternative way to access and spend money by using a physical card, mobile app, website or electronic payment. The best prepaid debit cards offer features that are comparable to a full-service checking account.

Visiting a physical bank branch for basic banking services can be time-consuming, inconvenient and expensive. For people looking to simplify the banking process and possibly save some money on fees, or for working Americans who don’t have an established banking relationship, prepaid debit cards can be the ideal solution.

What Is the Best Prepaid Debit Card?

There are many types of prepaid debit cards, all with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Keep reading to find out which are the best.

Best Overall: American Express Bluebird

American Express Bluebird Card

While no one card can be perfect for every customer, GOBankingRates has determined that American Express Bluebird is best overall. American Express Bluebird improves on American Express Serve prepaid debit cards by cutting out the monthly fees.

What makes this prepaid card the best overall winner is that it includes high-quality features that you’d expect from a traditional checking account. Cardholders can even write paper checks and have access to a linked savings account — all for free.

Advantages:

  • Virtually all features are free
  • Offers features that make it the closest prepaid debit card to an actual checking account, including:
    • Access to paper check writing
    • Online bill pay
  • Fully integrated with Walmart MoneyCenter

Disadvantages: American Express cards aren’t accepted everywhere.

Card Purchase Fee: Up to $5 at retail locations; $0 if purchased online

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Monthly Fee: None

Reload Fee: No fee from American Express; retailers may charge up to $3.95

Reload Methods:

  • Cash reload at Walmart stores
  • Debit card transfers
  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit

ATM Fees: Free at all MoneyPass ATMs; $2.50 at non-MoneyPass locations

Best for Cash Reloads: MOVO Digital Prepaid Visa Card

MOVO Visa Card

When having a variety of easy-to-use cash-reload options are important, the MOVO Digital Prepaid Visa is the card of choice. It offers several unique ways to fund your card, including PayPal and converted cryptocurrency transfers.

Advantages:

  • Virtual features add a layer of security and privacy when making online purchases
  • Create free single-use virtual cards by creating a temporary card number that masks your main account number online
  • Compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay

Disadvantages: PayPal and bank transfers can take up to three business days to post.

Card Purchase Fee: $0 to purchase; $5.95 to order a physical EMV with Tap-n-Pay Card

Monthly Fee: None; $4.95 fee per month charged after three months of inactivity

Reload Fee: Varies according to retailer

Reload Method:

  • Cash reload at Visa Readylink, MoneyPak and Reload @ Register retailers
  • Cryptocurrency conversion transfers for a fee of 2% plus $2 per transaction
  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit
  • PayPal balance withdrawals

ATM Fees: $0 via Visa Plus Alliance network; $2 fee at other ATMs

Best for Cash Rewards: Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

Most people have heard of cash-back credit cards, but did you know that some of the best prepaid debit cards offer cash rewards as well? When it comes to cash rewards, the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is the best.

Advantages:

  • There is a good variety of reload options.
  • It gives cardholders easy access to their money through the website or smartphone app.
  • It offers an optional savings account and budgeting tools.

Disadvantages: Fees add up. Customers need to read the cardholder agreement for important cost details.

Card Purchase Fee: Free if bought online; up to $9.95 at retailers

Monthly Fee: Between $5 and $9.95 per month or $1.50 per transaction, depending on the plan

Reload Fee:

  • $3.95 at Netspend locations
  • Mobile check deposit (standard): None
  • Mobile check deposit of government or payroll checks with a preprinted signature (expedited): Greater of 2% of check amount or $5
  • All other accepted mobile check deposits (expedited): Greater of 5% of check amount or $5

Reload Method:

  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check load
  • Cash deposit at participating Netspend locations

ATM Fees: $2.50 per withdrawal

Best for Direct Deposits: Brink’s Money Prepaid Mastercard

BRINKS Mastercard

Brink’s Money is the best option for cardholders who plan to use direct deposit. If cardholders opt to have payroll checks electronically deposited into their Brink’s Money prepaid debit card, they can have access to their cash up to two days earlier.

Advantages:

  • Brink’s Money comes with a state-of-the-art mobile app that enables quick mobile check funding.
  • It features a robust, customizable rewards program that includes generous cash back.

Disadvantages:

  • Checking your card balance at an ATM will cost you 50 cents each time.
  • If you lose your card, Brink’s will charge $9.95 to replace it.

Card Purchase Fee: None if you apply online; $2.95 at participating retailers

Monthly Fee: $5 to $9.95 per month

Reload Fee: $3.95 for cash reloads; greater of 2% of total amount or $5 for check reloads

ATM Fee: $2.50 at domestic ATMs

Best for No Fees: BBVA ClearSpend Visa Card

BBVA Visa

Because the low monthly fee can be easily waived, BBVA ClearSpend Visa Card is the winner for excellent features with minimal fees.

Advantages:

  • Free online transfers from PayPal, Popmoney and Venmo make sending and receiving money fast and easy.
  • The card can also be funded securely and instantly by visiting any BBVA branch.

Disadvantages: It’s only available in states with BBVA branches: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas.

Card Purchase Fee: None

Monthly Fee: $4 per month; waived by depositing at least $400 per month

Reload Fee: None, usually; third-party fee may apply for reloading at a Visa ReadyLink location

Reload Methods:

  • Bank transfers
  • Visa ReadyLink locations
  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Paypal, Popmoney and Venmo

ATM Fees: $0 in-network; $2 out-of-network

Best for ATM Withdrawal: Card.com Prepaid Mastercard

Card.com Mastercard

 

Having access to a large selection of conveniently located ATMs without having to pay fees is a huge benefit. The Card.com Prepaid Mastercard gives nationwide ATM access through the extensive MoneyPass network of ATMs.

Advantages:

  • Useful online banking tools make it simple to check your balance, transfer money and find local ATMs.
  • By enrolling in direct deposit, you’ll have quick access to your paycheck.

Disadvantages: Excess fees can really add up. For instance, a $9.95 maintenance fee applies if you don’t deposit $1,000 or more per month. Plus, you can incur a reload fee of up to $5.95. Setting up direct deposit can help lower some of these costs.

Card Purchase Fee: None

Monthly Fee: $9.95 per month for cardholders who deposit less than $1,000 per month

Reload Fee: Up to $5.95 per reload

Reload Methods:

  • Bank transfers
  • Cash reloads through Green Dot Reload or MoneyPak locations
  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Virtual Wallet transfers using PayPal or Google Wallet

ATM Fees: Free at MoneyPass ATMs; $2.95 out-of-network

Best for Kids: FamZoo Prepaid Debit Card

FAMZOO Mastercard

There’s no better way to teach kids about money and budgeting than by loading their allowance onto their own kid-friendly FamZoo prepaid debit card.

Advantages: 

  • You can track up to four cards with the well-designed app or website.
  • Parents can check card balances, get text and email alerts about spending activity, send each child an allowance and even pay them interest.
  • Kids learn more about financial literacy by viewing helpful infographics that let them set and track their savings goals.

Disadvantages: Fees increase with the number of cards issued.

Card Purchase Fee: None

Monthly Fee: $5.99 per month or one-time payment of $25.99 for six months, $39.99 for 12 months or $59.99 for 24 months 

Reload Fee: None

Reload Methods:

  • Bank transfer
  • Cash top-ups at retailers
  • Popmoney
  • Direct deposit
  • Apple Pay, PayPal, Cash App

ATM Fees: $0 from any of the 33,000 MoneyPass ATMs

Frequently Asked Questions on Prepaid Debit Cards

Here are some of the most common questions about prepaid debit cards.

What Is a Prepaid Debit Card?

Prepaid debit cards are not bank accounts, although they can provide many of the same functions. They are issued by financial institutions like American Express, Mastercard and Visa, and they provide cardholders with essential banking services.

How Is a Prepaid Debit Card Different From a Regular Debit Card?

Unlike a debit card issued by your bank, a prepaid debit card is not linked to a checking or savings account. Prepaid debit cards are not necessarily associated with your primary bank at all. Instead, you load funds onto the card and use it the same way you would use any credit card.

Where Do I Get a Prepaid Debit Card?

Prepaid debit cards can be obtained online directly from the institutions that issue them. They can also be purchased at participating retailers, such as Walmart and Target.

What To Look For in a Prepaid Debit Card

If you are considering a prepaid debit card, look for one that offers widespread acceptance. Check to be sure that it’s easy to load and reload with funds. Compare fees for such services as direct deposit, mobile check deposit and ATM use. Be sure to read a card’s terms of service agreement before applying.

This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.

Unless otherwise noted, information on accounts and fees is accurate as of  Sept. 16, 2020. This content is not provided by any of the companies or financial institutions mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies or financial institutions.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been endorsed by American Express.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.