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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:

Disadvantages: American Express cards aren’t accepted everywhere.

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

Monthly Fee: None

Reload Fee:

Reload Methods: 

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

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.

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Advantages: 

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:

Reload Methods:

ATM Fees: $2.75 per withdrawal

Best for Spending Cushion: Brink’s Money Prepaid 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. 

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Advantages:

Disadvantages:

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

Monthly Fee: $5 to $9.95 per month

Reload Fee:

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.

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Advantages: 

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:

Reload Methods:

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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:

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: 

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

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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.

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

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.