5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2022

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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.

Although a traditional checking account provides a less expensive and less restrictive way to manage your money, folks who don’t have an established banking relationship might turn to a prepaid debit card as an alternative.

What Are the Best Prepaid Debit Cards?

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: Bluebird American Express Prepaid Debit Account

While no one card can be perfect for every customer, GOBankingRates has determined that the Bluebird Prepaid Debit account is the best overall. 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 similar to what a traditional checking account offers. Cardholders can even write paper checks and have access to a linked savings account — all for free.

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Advantages:

  • Virtually all features are free.
  • The card offers features that make it the closest prepaid debit card to an actual checking account, including online bill pay.
  • It’s fully integrated with Walmart MoneyCenter

Disadvantages: American Express, Member FDIC cards aren’t accepted everywhere.

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

Monthly Fee: None

Reload Fee:

  • No fee from American Express or to reload at Walmart
  • Up to $3.95 at other participating retailers
  • Mobile check capture by Ingo Money (expedited) for government and pre-printed payroll checks: Greater of $5 or 1% of check amount
  • Mobile check capture by Ingo Money (expedited) for other check types: Greater of $5 or 5% of check amount

Reload Methods: 

  • Cash reload at Walmart and other participating retailers
  • Bank account transfers
  • Direct deposit
  • Mobile check deposit

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

Best for Cash Rewards: Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

Netspend Visa 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 high-yield savings account and budgeting tools.
  • You earn a $20 bonus for every friend you refer to Netspend once they’ve added $40 to their card.
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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:

  • Up to $3.95 at Netspend Reload Network locations
  • Mobile check deposit of government or pre-printed payroll checks (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 Methods:

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

ATM Fees: $2.75 per withdrawal

Best for Spending Cushion: Brink’s Money Prepaid Mastercard

BRINKS Mastercard

Brink’s Money is the best option for cardholders who tend to overdraw a checking account. At Brink’s discretion, established cardholders are allowed to spend up to $10 more than their available balance under certain circumstances. 

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.
  • You get a $10 spending cushion and a discount on your monthly plan once you’ve received $500 in direct deposits.
  • Brink’s offers an optional high-yield savings account.
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Disadvantages:

  • You’ll pay a monthly subscription plan of $5 (discounted) or $9.95 per month or pay $1.50 for each card transaction.
  • 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:

  • Up to $3.95 for cash reloads at a Netspend Reload Network location
  • Mobile check load of government or pre-printed payroll check (expedited): Greater of 2% of check amount or $5
  • Mobile check load of all other checks (expedited): Greater of 5% of check amount or $5

ATM Fees: $2.50 at domestic ATMs

Best for ATM Withdrawal: Card.com Prepaid Visa Card

Having access to a large selection of conveniently located ATMs without having to pay fees is a huge benefit. The Card.com Prepaid Visa 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 ATM
  • By enrolling in direct deposit, you’ll have quick access to your paycheck.
  • No lost/stolen card replacement fee (standard delivery)
  • Live customer support is available.

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 cash 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:

  • Cash reload: Up to $5.95 third-party fee
  • Mobile check load of government or pre-printed payroll check (expedited): Greater of 2% of check amount or $5
  • Mobile check load of all other checks (expedited): Greater of 5% of check amount or $5

Reload Methods:

  • Bank transfers
  • Card transfers from eligible cards issued by The Bancorp Bank
  • Cash reloads through Green Dot Reload or Western Union 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 Card

You can teach kids about money and budgeting by loading their allowance onto their own kid-friendly FamZoo prepaid debit card.

Advantages:

  • You can manage multiple 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.
  • A free trial lets your family try the platform before you pay a fee.

Disadvantages: After the first four cards, additional cards are $3 each; expensive cash reloads.

Card Purchase Fee: None

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

Reload Fee: Free for most methods or up to $4.95 at participating retailers

Reload Methods: 

  • Bank transfer
  • Direct deposit
  • Digital wallet bank transfer from Apple Pay, PayPal, Square Cash
  • Digital wallet instant transfer from Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo

ATM Fees: $0 from any of the 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs

Takeaway

Prepaid debit cards can be a viable alternative to a basic checking account, but they also have other uses. Give them to kids to carry instead of cash or set them up to save for special spending. The important part is to read the fine print; even the best prepaid cards come with several fees you should look out for. As long as you are aware of the costs and know when and how to avoid the extra charges, a prepaid debit card could have a place in your wallet.

FAQ 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 should I 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.

Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of May. 06, 2022.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. 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 included in the article. All fees and rates are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Verify terms and conditions before opening an account.

GOBankingRates bases its assessment of “best” and “top” products on the above-stated parameters to create a baseline for comparison. This assessment is an approximation of “best” and “top” designed to help consumers find products that might be appropriate for them. There could be other options available as well. Consumers should consider various options appropriate for their circumstances.

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

All information about American Express card offers have been collected independently by GOBankingRates and have not been reviewed or approved by American Express. These offers are not available through GOBankingRates.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. American Express credit card products are not available through GOBankingRates.com.

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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.
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